New Hampshire sci tech geek blunders to the defense of “science”

And the situation is far too important to justify stopping to find out what is going on. Here, "Granite geek" David Brooks warns, "Creationism trying to sneak into New Hampshire laws" (July 4, 2011):

… two possible bills may come up in the fall to get creatonism into the classroom. One would mandate teaching "intelligent design", the other would mandate teaching evolution “as a theory”. Both lawmakers agree there are theological/philosophical elements to their proposals – one wants to examine how much atheism is being the push for evolution in classes; the other is concerned by the lack of a deeper meaning in evolution. I argue in the column that evolution, linking us to the understandable reality of the universe, has more meaning that an arbitrary creation by some other-worldly being or beings, but I also note that the argument is irelevant: Science classes should teach science.

The Granite one seems unaware that just saying that "evolution, linking us to the understandable reality of the universe, has more meaning that an arbitrary creation by some other-worldly being or beings" means that he has a definite theological position, and saying that "Science classes should teach science" only raises the question of what he means by "science." Happily, he answers that:

Interviewing the sponsor of one of the bills, he reports,

Rep. Gary Hopper, R- Weare, approaches the matter more directly with an LSR “requiring instruction in intelligent design in the public schools.” In a phone interview, Hopper said his concern with evolution as a science involves the beginning of life.

“Darwin’s theory is basically antiquated,” he argued.

This is such a big unknown that some scientists would be happy to believe some unspecified Designer created life and then sat back to let evolution take over.

Hopper doesn’t agree with this idea, because of what he says are too many problems with evolutionary theory, which he thinks is fueled by scientific group-think, driven by research funding that ignores creationism.

Yeah, that's it. When Darwin is doubted, it must be those slimy creationists at work. 

Brooks, whose sci tech geekiness exempts him from keeping up with the news, probably doesn't know stuff like this: Darwinist David Penny (Massey University, New Zealand) is constructing a face-saving strategy for how how Darwinism can encompass non-Darwinian processes of evolution, provided we junk the central metaphor of the Tree of Life. Which means jettisoning Brooks' most sacred belief – common descent – so that Darwinism can continue in name only. And Penny pretends to find justification for this in the Sayings of the Master.

Whether he succeeds or not, the important thing to see is that he is doing it in Darwin's name, to save face and maintain perks and perches while the theory crumbles. That's only to be expected. What's unexpected is the vast ignorance that envelops geeks like some kind of smoke bomb. They used to be "in the know" types. Brooks finishes, predictably, with his theology of evolution. Given that he thinks that doubts about Darwin could be taught in

Religion or philosophy class? Of course. History class? You bet. Literature, too. But not science class.

the only reasonable approach should be that his pro-Darwin philosophy should be taught in those venues too. Given the current ferment, it's a good question whether science classes should teach very much about evolution at all.

My prescription? Move both origin of life and human evolution to social science class – not because they are controversial but because of their minimal, contradictory, highly politicized information streams.

In a study of biological evolution in science class, I would teach Darwinism as one theory among many, and focus on timelines for the history of life. Origin of life theory and human evolution would be great "across the curriculum" projects – solo, group, or for science fairs.

My nightmare? Students graduate knowing about the gay gene, the Big Bazooms theory of evolution, and that cell phones cause cancer, but they don't know the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the science around radioactivity, or even how ecologies maintain stability.

In other words, they're well set up to be passive recipients of junk science, without the tools to free themselves.

Worse nightmare: For many current lobbies, that's a solution, not a problem.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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