Tuesday, November 15, 2005

getting trampled on the middle ground 

I am going to attempt to tackle an issue that is a subject of much debate right now. I hate to take on serious themes here – lord knows I’d rather put up pics of cute farm animals, my clean kitchen, or talk about my sex life, but I aim to attempt to represent what seems to be an under-represented group.

Christian Scientists.

No, not the kind that refuses medicine and prays to God to cure their cancer. Those people are nuts.

I’m talking about scientists who are Christian. Who have to resolve in their own minds where science ends and where faith begins. And vise versa. Like me.

I want to talk about intelligent design. Mention it in a crowded room, and it has the same effect as bringing up abortion. What starts out as debate soon ends up in an all out screaming match, with both sides becoming more and more polarized and unwilling to listen.

And that’s where the problem is, in my opinion. You see, the pro-teach-intelligent-design-in-science-class people are EXTREMELY polarized. They are stubborn. They are unwilling to listen. They are members of the “nyah nyah nyah CAN’T HERE YOU CAN’T HERE YOU” debate society. But the problem is not so much with them…it’s that the more any group tries to argue with them, and the more the pro-ID refuse to listen, the more polarized that group becomes. Because that is our natural response. When we fight a brick wall…well, we get just as stubborn as that brick wall. And two brick walls standing in a field get NOTHING done, except block progress twice as effectively.

Dude…how’s THAT for an analogy? *pat on back*

So I think we can agree that the screaming and name calling approach to debate is pointless. “So what is your point, ESC? Where do YOU stand, anyway?”

Ah, well….you might be surprised.

I do not think intelligent design is entirely wrong.


I don’t! I don’t think it’s entirely right, but parts of it I agree with. PLEASE LET ME EXPLAIN BEFORE YOU GET ALL BITCHY WITH ME!

Why? How could I? It all goes back to that reconciling of science and faith. While I have dedicated years to studying the hows of genetics…nothing I have studied in school has answered the whys. And that is good. Science has no right to attempt to answer the whys. Because “why” is an opinion. It is subjective. It is the arena of theologists and philosophers.

So what is my personal belief?

Before I go too much into it, let me just say that my faith is daily struggle for me. It is especially difficult as a scientist. Resolving those two parts of me is not an easy task. But I do it. Faith SHOULD be a struggle. Faith is not easy. No one ever promised it would be easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

So what do I believe? What is my resolution? Well, I don’t believe that God is micromanaging evolution, that’s for damn sure. That’s where intelligent design falls apart in my eyes. God is not controlling every mutation, every DNA polymerase mis-read or slip, every chromosomal rearrangement. Thos thing happen by chance, and the organism either thrives or withers for it. I believe that species evolve and develop through natural selection to better adapt to their environments.

But…having said that…I believe that every once in a while, evolution gets a nudge from God. A characteristic that develops that might quickly die out if not for a little support. A slight push. A helping hand. I don’t see God controlling the tiniest details. I see God in the biggest picture. In the Plan. This is what allows me to get up in the morning. I am almost guaranteed to be very wrong in this belief. In fact, I think everyone gets it wrong. The truth is probably so hugely wonderful and terrible at the same time, that our minds would explode were we even given a hint. But as humans, we find a way to get through the day. I have mine.


I sure as HELL do not want that being taught in science class. And this debate is what REALLY burns me up. My faith…ANYONE’S faith, has NO BUSINESS being taught alongside researched theories. Science class is for SCIENCE. The theory of evolution is the general accepted way species develop on earth. Will it ever become the Law of Evolution? Doubtful. Because we can’t go back in time to see what really happened. The theory is based on the hard evidence that’s been gathered, researched, debated, agreed and disagreed on, and presented for review. That is how the SCIENTIFIC process works. That is NOT how the FAITH process works. And while the two can exist simultaneously in the same person (hello! *waves*), they don’t belong together in the same class at school.

For a nice definition of what constitutes and scientific theory, go here and scroll down to “Portraying Intelligent Design as Science.

Would faith hold up under any of those qualities of scientific theory? NO! Because my faith cannot be held up to scientific principal. It cannot be tested for. It cannot be measured. It cannot be dissected. It cannot be put under a microscope. It is not up for debate or peer review. I would be offended if anyone tried. Faith is personal. It should be shared…but NEVER forced upon (and that is a WHOLE OTHER ISSUE that gets my dander up, by golly).

So while teachers should be able to say “class, this is evolution. Not everyone believes in it, but evolution is the theory that is supported by the vast majority of the scientific community. And as this is science class, that’s what I will be teaching you. If you are interested in learning about the non-scientific explanations, I suggest you go to the library, or ask your parents, or your pastor/priest/rabbi/medicine woman.”

Should ID be taught in school AT ALL? Sure. Not in science class, of course, but I think mentioning it in a world cultures class would be very appropriate. Along with the beliefs of Muslims and Hindus, etc. That would be an acceptable forum for those ideas.

Now everything that I stated above is my personal beliefs. I wrote all that NOT to argue with any of you that disagree, OR to try to convince any you of their validity. I simply wanted to share my viewpoint. What I said earlier, about both sides getting more and more polar…well, that worries me. Because it is getting to the point that the pro-ID side is saying that scientists are anti-god…and the scientists are starting to believe it. (I’m using “scientists” as a more inclusive term here, those that anti-ID in schools). Science is NOT anti-God or anti-religion. It is not science’s job to prove OR disprove God.

Now I *heart* FSM as much as anyone else, Flying Spaghetti Monster is a symbol of the ridiculous off putting ID or any other faith based or “why” –based theory on the same level as a real scientific theory. It should NOT be used to ridicule anyone actually HAVING a faith based theory.

Doing so only polarizes us further.

I hope I’ve made some sense here. And I hope I haven’t pissed anyone off TOO badly. While the zealous extremists are already undoubtedly beyond help, my hope is that I’ve managed to snag a few of you in the middle to at least think for yourselves and not discount either side out of hand.

Leave science for the science class.

And while we’re at it, let’s overhaul science education, because this shit wouldn’t be happening if most science classes weren't [edit, thanks Riz!] boring and confusing as hell, which only gives more strength to the nuts out there.

But that’s another rant.