"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Creationism museum

These people are completely mad - a molecular geneticist who belives in a literal interpretation of genesis, including the 10,000 year timescale.


Anonymous said...

yes we all laughed at the American "bible belt" when they wanted to teach creationism but now we're following their lead and teaching it here, too.


john said...

Yeah I think the irony of this is these "Truth in Science" bods appear to have a poor understanding of what actually constitutes science.

Mind you, neither do the public - I did (Scottish) Higher Physics and don't remember Popperian Falsifiability ever being mentioned.

Tom said...

Christ on a bike. If 40% of Americans literally believe Genesis, then that country (not to mention the rest of the world) really has got little hope at all. If they can't accept something as obvious as evolution, how are they ever going to accept the scientific basis for climate change?

Anonymous said...

There's an increasingly large element of faith in modern science. When I were't lad we were taught that the dinosaurs died out over millions of years now it's a "fact" that they were wiped out by an asteroid. We were also taught that we're still living through the end of an ice age and that the planet was still warming and the ice sheets receding - now manmade "global warming" is the fashion. Don't get me started on Quantum Physics.

Tom said...

I don't know what anonymous is on about here. The fact that explanations have changed and replaced one another is testament to the absence of faith in modern science, as theories are falsified and refined through observation and analysis.

By contrast, if scientific explanations had remained rigidly the same for 2000 years, as with Christianity, then it would suggest that science was based on faith rather than inquiry.

Colin said...

Yes, who belives that the earth is flat, or that the sun revolves around it now? But if that was written in Genesis, these people presumably would believe it.

What is taught in school isn't exactly a very accurate indicator of what scientists are currently thinking, since it is massively simplified, un-nuanced and generally out of date - and increasingly taught by non-scientists. I suppose scientific theories do depend on an element of 'faith', if you want to call it that, but I question whether there is more of this now than in the past. As Tom and John say, theories are based on observation and analysis, consensus, the interpretation of verifiable data, and on the principle that they should be questioned, interrogated and disproved as knowledge increases. There are also plenty of scientists who have some kind of religious faith, too. There are those working in advanced mathematics and physics and the like who admit the possibility of the metaphysical, for instance, but then they admit the possibility of all manner of bizarre and abstract things, like infinite dimensions and parallel universes - and how are we supposed to react to that? But I think we'd all agree that that's not the same as believing - literally - what everyone with any knowledge of the subject believes to be demonstrably wrong, such as the world being only 10,000 years old.

Colin said...

How about this? Einstein's general theory of relativity was embraced, accepted as correct, and taught in schools long before they were actually able to conduct experiments demonstrating that it was on the right lines - which happened later. Was that a leap of faith? I am absolutely convinced by the logic of Darwinian evolution. I don't think we can disprove it. But can we actually 'prove' it either at this stage? I suspect you guys know more about this than me. What chat?

john said...

You can't prove scientific theories - you can only disprove them by showing that evidence from the natural world contradicts the theory. Falsifiability.

The Creationists/Intelligent Design/Whatever people point to features in nature that they claim are too complex to have arisen through natural selection and claim this is evidence of God.

I tend to think that there's a whole load of stuff we don't know and our brains aren't configured to comprehend. I also think some of it is spiritual in it's own right (ie consciousness), whatever one's take on matters theistic.

Colin said...

What gets me about those intelligent design folk is that a lot of them are scientists (albeit minor, peripheral ones), and yet they don't have a scientific approach. Fair enough if they want to try to disprove natural selection - it's up to the rest of the scientific community to decide whether their theories stand up (er, no). But even if they did, there is no basis to conclude that this is evidence of God. You might as well attribute it to Gandalf or Paul Daniels or someone.

I'm kind of agree with John's last paragraph above, and I think you can believe that and be an atheist.