Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Satan's evil rays

I honestly believed that the final word had been spoken on the Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution debate. But despite having elected a president who proves the theory of evolution beyond any doubt, scientifically aware people all over America still find themselves under siege from kooks and crackpots who believe that the universe is a shade over six thousand years old and was created by an angry white guy in period costume with a bushy beard.

Not content with filling their childrens' heads with the insane ramblings of 2,000 year-old desert nomads who'd perhaps snacked on one too many of the local mushrooms; creationists are now demanding the opportunity to fill everyone else's kids with the same lunacy.

The theory of Intelligent Design is a pseudo-scientific term for bullshit creationism. Religious groups in America want it taught alongside evolution in public school science lessons. This, you see, gets around the whole "separation of church and state" thang. The bible isn't a religious text at all... it's science!

What?!

President Chimpfeatures apparently supports the teaching of Creationism as a scientific alternative to Evolution. Which means that the legal challenge currently facing the University of California system may turn out to be more than the bad joke and waste of time it should be. A religious group - representing hundreds of American schools - is challenging the right of the universities to refuse to accept highschool courses in creationism as adequate qualifications for degrees in science subjects.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised... though I reserve the right to be horrified, distressed and unsettled. After all, President Chimpfeatures apparently governs a nation in which 20% of the population believe the sun revolves around the earth and 90% of them don't know what radiation is.

Note to Americans: It doesn't. And it's the emission of energy in the form of particles or electromagnetic waves.

[Aside: When I was working in the American Midwest I installed machines in several packaging factories which contained radioactive sources. They were multi-function units which - among other things - displayed the contents of each package passed through them on a screen using X-Ray photography. The radioactive source was well-shielded and there was no danger to the operator. In one of the plants, however, the line-supervisor insisted on affixing a large crucifix to the side of the machine to protect the operator from the "evil" of radiation. I didn't press the issue; he was also an active member of the NRA and it's rarely a good idea to argue with religious nuts who carry guns.]

There's nothing wrong with religious belief per se. Indeed all of us, from Darwin to Dawkins to Dubya, are guilty of acts of faith at one time or another. We all hold beliefs and assumptions that can't be supported by 'the scientific method'. And there's nothing at all wrong with that. However, there's something very wrong when a group of people start demanding that their particular unsupported beliefs are given the same weight as scientific evidence in our schools and in society at large.

The United States, even as it projects military might across the globe, is becoming more insular and less rational by the day. I would feel very uncomfortable raising a child in a culture that is degenerating into medievalism, even as it relies ever more upon technology provided by the very sciences it holds in such suspicion.

I suggest that Europe demonstrates the true depth of its compassion and high-culture by offering asylum and naturalisation to any American citizen who can demonstrate that they know what radiation is and who don't consider it the work of the devil.



Good article by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne in the Grauniad.

9 Comments:

Blogger Unity said...

I think there's a simple solution to this whole issue and that is to make the following question mandatory on all examination papers issued to schools and colleges which teach ID with a failure to answer the question correctly resulting in automatic failure.

Q1. Refute Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

1/9/05 18:40  
Blogger Andrew said...

After all, President Chimpfeatures apparently governs a nation in which 20% of the population believe the sun revolves around the earth and 90% of them don't know what radiation is.

Note to Americans: It doesn't. And it's the emission of energy in the form of particles or electromagnetic waves.


Jim, you need to brush up on your Einstein, mate. From the frame of reference of a stationary observer on the Earth, the Sun does indeed revolve around the Earth. The fact that we say the planets revolve around the Sun is because we generally choose a frame of reference of a stationary observer on the Sun (or at it's centre, to be really pedantic...). It's all relative.

But you're right on ID - load of old bollocks.

2/9/05 11:31  
Blogger Andrew said...

its centre... bloody grocer's apostrophe.

2/9/05 11:48  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

Jim, you need to brush up on your Einstein, mate. From the frame of reference of a stationary observer on the Earth, the Sun does indeed revolve around the Earth.

I beg to differ Andrew. Not about the second sentence, but about the first.

It is certainly true that from the frame of reference of an earth-bound observer, the sun does indeed appear to revolve around the earth. However as any good student of Einstein would remind you, when discussing the relative motion of two bodies with respect to one another, and barring an explicit identification of the observer's location, it must be assumed that both bodies are being observed from an hypothetical non-rotating Galileian reference body (usually represented by a capital 'K' in relativity theory).

It's also necessary to assume, of course, that the two bodies whose relative motion is being considered exist within a Galileian domain (i.e. there is no gravitational field with reference to K).

I naturally believed that all of this went without saying for my European readers.

;-)

2/9/05 13:41  
Blogger Andrew said...

Touche. ;)

2/9/05 20:12  
Blogger L said...

I don't think this country could get much worse in terms of ignorance. I constantly have people try to "convert" me at work-- people who are adamant that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, that early humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs, that science is a lie, etc. The latest? that Hurricane Katrina is punishment for abortion and Mardi Gras.

I should move to Sweden.

3/9/05 15:49  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

L, Sweden wouldn't be my first choice. They have the highest suicide rate in Western Europe (it's dark and cold for most of the year) and absolutely draconian drug laws (which I'm sure wouldn't be an issue for you, but oppression is oppression and who needs to be around it?)

That said, they have one of the best social welfare systems on the planet and very liberal attitudes to sex. So yeah, pretty groovy on some fronts, but less so on others.

The Dutch would appear to have it worked out, by and large, and Holland is a groovy place to live. Sadly the bloody country is below sea-level and so possibly not the best place to move if climate change is going to result in rising oceans.

If I were you it'd be a choice between somewhere in Southern Europe where it's nice and warm (Greece, Italy or Spain are all good) or else Ireland which has pretty crappy weather in general but looks like a good bet for the future in terms of potential self-sufficiency. And culturally it's second to none.

4/9/05 02:28  
Anonymous Peter said...

Hey, I wouldn't think of emigration, just because you temporarily got an incompetent government! Look what you got: A huge country with all sort of climate, landscapes, history... You can travel around for years without changing language, money and without showing a passport. I live in Switzerland, a very small, I must say tiny and very monotonous country. All my friends think they have to hate your land and come with stupid simple slogans, and I have to say: that's the land where the Simpsons and Rock 'n Roll come from. Sure, mass industry and neo capitalism is born here, too, but everything has more than one side.
Besides, I won't recommend you to go to Denmark. They established some nearly racist laws recently...

5/9/05 15:02  
Blogger L said...

Ireland is definitely nice, but when I went they seemed a bit more conservative on some things than even we Americans are -- but it could have just been the areas in which I traveled too

6/9/05 04:21  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Please help us to find this man!
Traitor and proud
NO2ID - Stop ID cards and the database state
Take the MIT Weblog Survey
Elect the Lords Campaign

Blogger Free Guestmap from Bravenet.com
XML feed eXTReMe Tracker

web tracker
Wikablog - The Weblog Directory