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All sciences aren’t equally important

May 1, 2014

To continue with the meme from my last post, Jonathan Coppage explains why belief in evolution isn’t really that important (emphasis added):

Yet when the AP interviewed laymen about their cosmological confidences, they received such answers as “But when it came to Earth’s beginnings 4.5 billion years ago, he has doubts simply because ‘I wasn’t there’” and “when it comes to the universe beginning with a Big Bang or the Earth being about 4.5 billion years old, she has doubts. She explained: ‘It could be a lack of knowledge. It seems so far’ away.”

These don’t sound like Bible-thumping religious fundamentalists; they actually sound more like skeptical empiricists. Truth be told, relatively speaking almost no one in the United States is competent to judge the physics that go into judging the Big Bang’s credibility. For the rest, blue state scientific adherents as much as red state fundamentalists, it’s a leap of faith, or at least a trusting in the judgment of others. The Origin of Species has almost no relevance to the everyday life of a person, the age of the Earth even less so. Whether the Big Bang tests out and multiple universes are the logical result, absolutely none. It makes scientific prophets comforted to see their creeds affirmed by the masses, but such popular affirmation has little relevance to the priests of science making measurements in the laboratories.

We all do have a stake in the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and the resulting superbugs that threaten to defeat any of the remedies we have come to rely on, the treatments that allow us to safely cut people up for surgeries. In that case, we should be quite heartened that at the more practical level, 88 percent of Americans are at least somewhat confident that the overuse of antibiotics causes these superbugs. That indicates they should be more receptive to messaging to curb antibiotic overuse. Prophets of science, direct your sermons in that direction.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Victor permalink
    May 1, 2014 9:28 am

    Interesting and refreshing.

  2. May 1, 2014 10:39 pm

    But if they are confident that the overuse of antibiotics prompts resistant bugs, then they are confident in evolution. All hail self-delusion.

    • May 2, 2014 9:46 am

      Thanks for the comment! But I would not characterize it as self-delusion. Many evangelicals have no problem with micro-evolution. It’s macro-evolution they have a problem with.

      If their approach is delusional, I would say it’s no more so than the natural scientists who think rejecting evolution automatically means someone is unscientific and incapable of, e.g., becoming a doctor or engineer.

      Thanks again.

  3. May 9, 2014 11:04 pm

    It would be lovely if you would talk consistently about creationists, rather than conflating them with evangelicals and other people of religious belief. It provides wiggle room in your arguments and assertions that gives cover to people who would teach non-science as science.

    I oppose all creationists who would seek to teach their beliefs as science. Do you? Why or why not?

    • May 15, 2014 8:04 am

      Thanks for the comment, and sorry for the slow response. I’ve been traveling.

      I’m constantly trying to better identify the group I’m discussing (and I’ve mentioned that here). So thanks for reminding me I have to do a better job. Part of the issue is that unlike, e.g., African-Americans, creationists don’t necessarily self-identify as such. There’s a lot of overlap between them and the other groups you mentioned. I would humbly submit that a significant percentage of evangelicals are also creationists. But in either case, I see what you’re saying.

      I think creationism should not be taught as science. But note that it’s not because of the loony, unscientific notion that teaching creationism as science will undermine economic growth or scientific thinking. I think some things are just wrong even if we can’t identify specific consequences. This is one of them.

      Now my question for you: what do you mean by “oppose”? Is it that you disagree with them? Or will you go out of your way to attack and dehumanize them? How about devaluing their other contributions to society?

      Much of my writing here tries to make the point that being a creationist does not make you worthless. You don’t deserve to be wiped off the planet forever. Many scientists (and you as well?) seem to take the stance I don’t sufficiently “oppose” creationism unless I also take the time to make those additional claims.

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