Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Trumpeting the Trivial

Today's column:

In last week's Lode, Steven O'Dacre penned an article about the Pastafarians, a group of Tech students who subscribe—or perhaps don't subscribe—to the tenants—or non-tenants—of a parody religion, whose deity is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The monster, I am told, bears resemblance to the Judeo-Christian God, though I suspect a stronger link to Bertrand Russell's teapot. The group's raison d'etre was summarized by O'Dacre, paraphrasing the group's vice president: “creationism, whether or not one believes in it, is not a science, and should not be taught in a science classroom”.

I was blown away. I didn't know they still taught anything in the public schools. Worrying about kids being brainwashed into believing in creationism is nothing more than a waste of time. If our schools demonstrated that they were even vaguely capable of educating children about anything, I might be wary of fundamentalist doctrine taking the place of “science”. It is amusing that, prior to the secularization of the schools, public educators taught non-denominational protestantism in the classroom, and—wonder of wonders—the students weren't eminently stupid. Now that we've done away with all that infernal love your neighbor nonsense, the schools have been able to concentrate on the important subjects.

Thus, according to the National Geographic Society, eleven percent of 18-24 year old Americans cannot find the U.S. on the map; eighty-seven percent can't find Iraq, and forty-nine percent can't find New York. Heaven forbid the cretins believe in creation.

Frankly. the creationism/evolution debate utterly fails to excite me. Evolution can—supposedly, and unconvincingly—explain how we got from primordial ooze to the present diversity of life forms. It cannot even pretend to deal with the origin of the ooze. I'm agnostic, and quite bored, with theories which claim to delineate just how we arrived here from the First Cause.

Anyway, as the Pastafarians point out, creationism is not science. Fine. Don't teach it in science class. But while we're purging speculation from the science department, let's get rid of evolution, too. It's not as if it's a real science either.

Consider: I can verify Newtonian physics through simple experiments. If I push a ball off of my desk, I know it will hit the ground and give evidence of the theory of gravity; I can even calculate the ball's final velocity if I wish. The same does not hold true in regards to evolution. If we have an ecosystem, no one will be able to predict whether or not speciation will take place, or in what manner. Claiming that “the strongest survive” is platitudinal; it is true, but it is not science.

Vox Day notes, “it could theoretically take as little as 20 years to forcibly evolve a species of mouse into a species of elephant given the rate of darwins observed in the laboratory and the number required for that level of transformation. And yet, after 150 years of constant refinement, evolution still appears to be more smoke, mirrors and revision of the historical model rather than the foundation of a predictive one.”

In other words, while both creationism and evolution offer explanations for what may have happened, ultimately, neither is falsifiable because neither is testable; hence neither is scientific in the sense that a true science like physics is. Neither side is able to make a prediction about the elusive future—creationists because they believe creation was a one time affair, evolutionists because their model is not predictive.

Meanwhile, a public school in Maine has decided to hand out birth control pills to eleven year olds. Boy, I'm glad we got the Bibles out of the schools. One of these things is the greater threat to civilization: teaching creationism, or the fact that children are attempting to have babies. See if you can guess which.


troutsky said...

From such boredom springs science= prediction? You aren't getting this from teachers, but if you were I'd have to agree with you about our failing secular schools.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

In attempting science, one comes up with a hypothesis, probably based on intuition. Then the hypothesis is tested and refined as needed. After rigorous testing, a theory presents itself. These theories have been "proven"--actually, you can't really prove anything so much as you can fail to disprove it--and you can use them to predict what will happen.

Saying that such-and-such may have happened may be interesting, but it is not scientific. Neither evolution, nor creationism, is a real science in any sense of the word. Don't let your allegiance to the former cloud this fact.

Alternatively, you could attempt to prove that I am wrong, but it's easier to simply imply that I'm stupid. I admit I don't know much about evolution. Pray, enlighten me.