Incomprehensible

The United States is rooted in the Enlightenment–an era that gave us empiricism and the scientific method. Our approach to government was forged by philosophers who extolled reason and evidence. We have always looked up to scientists, and scientists–who are best able to pursue their ideas in an open culture–have historically flocked to our shores.

“Yankee ingenuity” produced a constant flow of important inventions. Fulton gave us the steamboat; Samuel Morse the telegraph, Eli Whitney the cotton gin. Thomas Edison was credited with more than 1000 inventions. The Wright brothers gave us the airplane. The list goes on and on.

Americans were first to set foot on the moon.

Technology–from the telegraph to the IPhone, from the automobile to your television set– builds upon basic scientific principles. The  inventions and advances we take for granted would not have been possible had the country remained rooted in the superstition that characterized pre-Enlightenment Europe.  Just as the early colonists rejected the proposition that monarchs were divinely ordained, they were open to the example of men like Benjamin Franklin who engaged in empirical experimentation and scientific investigation.

Okay, I hear you saying. Well and good. What has prompted this particular rant?

I just read a recent survey of the American attitudes and beliefs.  It found that 39% of us believe in evolution.

At a time when we are spending billions of dollars on medical and biological research–all of which is based upon evolution–only 39% of Americans accept a settled scientific theory. Indeed, if political rhetoric is any indication, very few Americans even understand the difference between scientific theory–an explanatory framework constructed after painstaking empirical testing–and a wild-ass guess, which is the conversational use of the term.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans are scientifically literate–or at least scientifically literate enough to understand and accept the operation and importance of evolution.

There are many indicators of a nation in decline. The Creation Museum–where Adam and Eve saddle up their dinosaurs to romp through  a world created in its current form less than 10,000 years ago–may be the most significant such indicator.

And the most tragic.

22 thoughts on “Incomprehensible

  1. I know next to nothing about science except to be in awe of the results of the evolution of scientific try-and-try-again experimentation. What keeps a mega-ton airplane in the air, a mega-ton ship afloat, how do all those TV programs come through that little wire to my TV screen, how do automatic doors open upon our arrival, how can miles of traffic signals be coordinated to move us smoothly to our destination, or try our patience when we must stop at every light? How did we get from picking up one part of a telephone, turning a crank to reach an operator, speak into another part of the phone to tell them who we want to talk to, to the miniscule, hand-held inventions that we can take pictures with, play games on, type in text messages or simply use as a telephone? These are all the results of evolution of scientific experimentation; the people who created these modern-day wonders are the result of evolving from those who began with smaller ideas and smaller wonders. If the remaining 61% of the population who do not believe in evolution had to live one day without the every-day items which make their lives easier, they might wake up to reality. Evolution is not the denial of creationism; it is the continuation and expansion of the human spirit.

  2. Such ignorance is the result of hard work by religious fundamentalists.

    The Scopes Trial was in 1925, 66 years after The Origin Of Species was published, 20 years after Einstein published his paper on Special Relativity. High school biology teacher John T. Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in class and fined $100. Scopes’ lawyers appealed, the appellate court rejected the argument. Evolution lost, and lost badly.

    After Scopes was convicted, creationists throughout the United States sought similar anti-evolution laws for their states. The opponents of evolution made a transition from the anti-evolution crusade of the 1920s towards the creation science movement of the 1960s, followed up by the intelligent design movement of the 1990’s to avoid constitutional challenges on separation of church and state. Creationists dominate the Texas State Textbook Commission, the largest single buyer of textbooks in the United States, in order to set the educational agenda for the entire country.

    This is a hundred year long war for the control of minds, and most enlightened liberal minds don’t even know that this war is happening.

  3. Not to invoke the wife clause again, BUT the wife has an advanced degree in the physical sciences field and doesn’t believe in evolution. When I asked for an explanation she gave me something much more in depth that began with micro and macro-evolution and ended with the random frequency of beneficial spontaneous mutation. I appreciate the occasional “let’s make Republicans look stupid” posts, I do. I had that agenda taught to me in college as well, and it wasn’t until I actually got out of that very closed-loop environment that I realized how loaded and bigoted those opinions were. When you get down to it I don’t think one side or the other has the “genius” card to play.

    A perfect example is global warming, or climate change, or whatever it’s being rebranded as now. For Pete’s sake a high school geography class refutes most of the science that’s being employed, just as it did the rapid depletion of the ozone layer, global cooling, etc. Nonetheless, it’s become a cause du jour of the left, even after a tacit acknowledgement that the books have been cooked. At some point the conservationist wing of the environmental movement will stand up and point out that fighting global warming in many ways is very contradictory to traditional environmentalism. Until then we are going to completely ignore the real things that are destroying our ecosystems, such as the introduction of non-native invasive species into our habitats, topsoil erosion, and rapid deforestation of old growth forests (for which “carbon offsets” don’t really solve the problem.)

    Something people fail to realize, IMHO, is that we read ‘studies’ and never do any critical thinking about their inception, funding, logistics, etc. Do you really think there’s any objectivity to a study focused ONLY on Southern states asking whether or not Obama is a Muslim? Really? No different than a ‘study’ released when I was at IU that Bill O’Reilly makes a hateful comment every 8 seconds (neither defining “hateful,” nor defining the parameters around which the clock starts and stops.) Generally speaking, these political surveys are almost always an attempt to make someone else look stupid. Only the “hacks” tend to buy into them.

    It’s a push.

  4. What’s incomprehensible is that “a Professor of Law and Policy in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis” is commenting on science. Your ignorance on the difference between observational science and historical science is obvious throughout your article. Your assertion that “medical and biological research” are based on evolution are are false premises. I would suggest that you practice a bit of the tolerance that I’m sure you advocate. Take some time to, with an open mind, hear out the clean, concise arguments provided by the Creation Museum. Do it without blindly following your religion of evolutionism.

  5. I would think that Ms. Kennedy would show support for the 61% who understand that evolution is a false science even if she disagrees. After all, I understand she was the Executive Director of the Indiana office of the American Civil Liberties Union. Maybe the ACLU only helps thoes who are in line with their own ideologies. After all, the most basic of all scientific reasoning is this: you can’t get something from nothing, thus no Big Bang. And only life begets life: thus no spontainious generation of life from ooze. These are the two fundamental requirements or pillars you need to have occur. The 61% have shown great logic. The have looked at the “evidence” and used “reasoning” to come to a different scientific conclusion. You should be supporting and not degrading them, even if you do not agree with them. It is the freedom to have free thought and free speach which made this country great. As a member of the ACLU, maybe you should consider that.

  6. In fact, there is a problem in regard to scientific literacy in this nation–but: the teaching of creation has all but been removed from public schools and evolution has been taught as fact for many years; evolution has been taught as fact in most universities for years; Christian prayer, God, the Bible have been thrown out of public schools for years–and she blames creationists for undermining science????? Amazing! The more God has been eliminated and evolution taught as fact, the more we see this nation continue to decline–and she tries to blame those who believe creation?

    And to say that “At a time when we are spending billions of dollars on medical and biological research–all of which is based upon evolution…” is just plain wrong. Real medical and biological research has NOTHING to do with the belief in evolution, if the scientists conducting it are evolutionists. (for example: antibiotic resistance etc has NOTHING to do with molecules to man evolution (as we’ve written about on our website many times).

  7. Ken Ham posted a link to this article on his Facebook page. You can expect to be swamped with emails from his ignorant followers.

  8. i would like to understand the YECist community. to that end i read Ken Ham’s blog pretty much daily, reading the comments carefully and try to understand what concerns people.

    today he points to:
    http://sheilakennedy.net/2012/04/incomprehensible/

    quote from a comment on that page labelled as written by ken ham:
    And to say that “At a time when we are spending billions of dollars on medical and biological research–all of which is based upon evolution…” is just plain wrong. Real medical and biological research has NOTHING to do with the belief in evolution, if the scientists conducting it are evolutionists. (for example: antibiotic resistance etc has NOTHING to do with molecules to man evolution (as we’ve written about on our website many times).

    nothing in biology can be understood apart from evolutionary theory. it forms the basic framework for learning an doing biology, without ET biology is fragmented into virtually useless pieces. yes, antibiotic resistance, esp. when you look at the various ways it can/does happen is a good example of natural selection at work. do you really think he believes “Real medical and biological research has NOTHING to do with the belief in evolution,” or is it exaggeration and polemics? or is he just plain ignorant of how important ET is at the organizing/explanatory level?

  9. Haven’t heard a rebuttal yet, I was kind of hoping for more enlightening conversation…

  10. The mention of the moon landing is interesting, since the late Dr. Wernher von Braun, the ”father” of the Apollo moon program, was Darwin-skeptic who saw evidence of design in the universe. And not just any design but Divine design.

  11. Well, well, well. Sheila, how can you be so ignorant of science while claiming to understand it?

    I suggest you investigate the history of Darwin’s idea of universal common ancestry. Please try to find out what scientific observations — i.e., according to the scientific method and repeatable — are responsible for this idea becoming over the years to be considered in your words, a “scientific theory” involving “painstaking empirical testing.”

    You will find instead that Darwin’s idea has become “settled science” more by ridicule, bullying and control of financing than by the scientific method.

    Think about it. What have the scientists observed?

    Medical research is entirely concerned with observations and testing done in the present … and the common ancestry is supposed to have happened years ago. Medical research has nothing at all to do with evolution.

    Most of biology — except for “research” (I characterize this as speculation, actually) on evolution itself — is also done in the present.

    And as for evolution “research” — well the scientific observations are primarily similarities and differences among creatures observed in the present … which are assumed to indicate descent and ancestry. The descent is all assumed, not observed.

    Please, Sheila. Think a bit. You certainly have the right to believe what you like … but don’t pretend that evolution is more than a belief accepted by faith, fiat or default.

  12. I suggest that it’s not possible to make a convincing presentation to those that don’t “believe” in evolution. Their own beliefs are likely rooted in the early education they received from their families that taught them that god created the Earth in 6 days and put all plants and animals here in their present forms. The same teachers taught them to never question their beliefs. I find it impossible to ignore fossil records and scientific research that has proven that the religious account of genesis never happened.

  13. How do fossils demonstrate that various creatures are related, Dale? All that can be observed from them are a few similarities and differences … not behavior, not ancestry, not relatedness. It is not the creationist who won’t question their beliefs … it is one like you who can’t tell the difference between observations, interpretations and assumptions.

    I’m wondering … what research has “proven that the religious account of genesis never happened”?

  14. Bob:
    Are you suggesting that there is scientific research that supports genesis? I need to see that.

    The fossil records support the concept that the similarities that can be observed would suggest to an open mind that there are connections between organisms past and present. I think that would satisfy the “relatedness” criterion.

    As far as ancesrty is concerned, read the comments above regarding antibiotic resistant bacteria. Bacteria with their short life cycles demonstrate that ancestors give rise to progeny with different characteristics that have evolved in response to changing conditions in their environment , i.e. exposure to the antibiotic. The bacteria are certainly related.

  15. No, Dale, like evolution, the history revealed in the Bible (including Genesis) is unavailable for study by modern scientists. We do have observations from the present which sometimes inform us about such history (or in the case of evolution, prehistory).

    All of these observations made in the present we hold in common because we can check what the observer-scientist observed ourselves. All the study of the past must be done more like history than like science. Our explanations of the past must be based on assumptions of one kind or another, or as I like to alliterate it, “faith, fiat or default.”

    The fossils do not show relatedness or ancestry, they can only show certain simlarities and differences — except, of course in the cases where a mother is fossilized in the process of giving birth.

    Similarities and differences beceome ancestry only by assuming they depict ancestry.

    Now the bacteria make a fascinating case, don’t they? What has been discovered, though, is that the bacteria did not actually develop resistance to antibiotics in response to changing conditions.

    Rather, a certain small percentage of the bacteria have had all along a mutation which makes their metabolism work less well. This is “less fit” characteristic is the reason that those with the mutation are a small percentage.

    However, this flaw does prevent them from taking in the antibiotics and thus gives this smaller group an advantage over the majority in the presence of the antibiotics. For this reason the relative percentage of the bacteria with the mutation increases dramatically in the presence of the antibiotics. This percentage goes back to its normal small size after the antibiotics are used up.

    The back and forth demographic changes here are not evidence of evolution unless we change the definition of evolution to “change” or possibly something else other than universal common ancestry.

    You may recall that I object to evolution meaning “universal common ancestry.” The bacteria are definitely not an example of this, since the change is demographic, is back an forth, involves a mutation already present prior to antibiotics, and results in descendants which are of the same species as prior to the observations of changes.

    Oh, and I’m still wondering what research shows that the Genesis account “never happened.”

  16. Bob:
    You’re really confusing. You cite good examples of evolution in your attack on evolution. Your reference to the bacteria studies makes the point that the population evolves in response to changes in the environment as the result of a mutation, which is part of the evolutionary process. The “less fit” characteristic you cite is variability which enables a species (of bacteria or frogs or mammals) to adapt, over time, to changing environmental conditions. One must study a population and its environment to determine their effects on each other.

    You talk about the demographic change as if it doesn’t count in the evolutionary process. Demographic change = population change. Also there is no argument that evolution is a straight-line process – always “forward” and “upward”.

  17. Dale, did you read what I wrote? Golly.

    Back and forth adaptability of a population is hardly a part of universal common ancestry … and neither is a mutation resulting in lack of function.

    Again, the observations made in the present so far do not show universal common ancestry … they show adaptability within species or kinds. The common ancestry with some other families orders classes or phyla of creatures must be assumed … it’s not been observed.

    Still wondering about he research that “proves” the Genesis history never happened.

  18. Bob:
    I did read your response. The proof of genesis is yours not mine. I “believe” in evolution, not genesis.

    And, you’re describing the processes of evolution to support your case that evolution isn’t happening.

  19. Dale, I proclaim my faith, you proclaim yours. There is no observation of evolution meaning universal common ancestry.

    The examples of change which have been observed are not common ancestry of two different creatures it is back-and-forth demographics of a population which does not gain but either remains the same overall or loses genetic information.

    No common ancestor has ever been observed to have descendants in two separate classified families … let alone orders, classes, phyla, etc.

    The effect of natural selection as observed by the creationists prior to Darwin remains (as they described it) a phenomenon which maintains the status quo rather than being a part of descending into something new.

    What I describe are the changes consistent with lack of common ancestry.

    Just because there is change going on, and one meaning of evolution is change, doesn’t mean that another definition of evolution, i.e. universal common ancestry, has validity.

    UCA is definitely believed by faith, fiat or default.

    Further, Dale, you said [April 14, 20:49], that you know of “scientific research that has proven that the religious account of genesis never happened.” Do you? I’m beginning to think you don’t.

  20. Bob:
    closing the circle……
    I suggest that it’s not possible to make a convincing presentation to those that don’t “believe” in evolution. Their own beliefs are likely rooted in the early education they received from their families that taught them that god created the Earth in 6 days and put all plants and animals here in their present forms. The same teachers taught them to never question their beliefs. I find it impossible to ignore fossil records and scientific research that has proven that the religious account of genesis never happened.

  21. Dale, what makes you repeat rather than citing this “research that has proven that the religious account of genesis never happened”? Why not follow up with a citation on this claim about Genesis?

    I don’t think it’s I who fail to question my beliefs. We disagree, it seems, but not because of my failure to question my beliefs.

    What makes you think I was taught 6 day creation in my family?

    Who taught you about 6 day creation? It sounds to me that these folks are the ones who led you not to question your beliefs. I would never say this except to illustrate that you really can’t know whether a person accepts his or her worldview by faith, fiat or default. I freely admit that I have no idea about your history … and am entirely content to share comments on your and my current beliefs.

    Have you ever thought about fossils and what can possibly be learned from them, especially about the distant past? How are fossils formed? Can relatedness or descent be observed in fossils? How?

    How well have paleontologists succeeded in the last two hundred years in predicting animal behaviors from fossils? How was it known, for example, that “Nebraska Man” carried a club? How was it known that coelacanth used its fins to walk on the bottom of the ocean?

    And the big one … Why is there something rather than nothing?

Comments are closed.