Friday, May 23, 2008

On the topic of Creationism...

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about this whole evolution/creationism thing. In particular, about the way that people talk about the debate and talk to one another when debating.

I recently bought a bumper sticker that said "Keep your mythology out of my science class." I thought it was so perfect and fitting. And then the other day I realized what was really saying. I don't know how I missed it, but originally, I didn't think it was all that offensive. I mean...religion shouldn't be in a science class and I firmly stand by that. What's offensive about that? Somehow, I didn't catch the part where it equated religion with mythology.

Do I really believe this?

Yes, in most respects I do. The stories told, for example, in the Christian religion, are just as real to me as myths are: not real at all. They're stories. And they function, for many, as stories do - reflecting our humanity and carrying in them meaning that can be used to explain things and create a model for our behavior.

Do I feel the need to let every religious person in the car behind me know that I think they're stories are myths?

No. First of all, the word "myth" carries all sorts of connotation. And if people took it for what it means without that connotation, then I wouldn't mind declaring that religious stories are myths. But people don't work that way.

I don't think religion should be a special exception. I don't think that I should have to tip-toe around my beliefs in hopes of not stepping on any toes. I don't think that churches should be tax-exempt. I don't think we should let babies die because their parents don't want them to have blood transfusions because god might not like it.

But I don't want to tell the guy in the car behind me that I think his beliefs are stupid. Even if they are. Because I have to live on this planet with hordes of people whose beliefs are different than mine. And I don't think the way to go about solving this science in America problem is to let people know how stupid they're being. I think it's a ground-up thing...

But again...damned if I'm going to let mythology into my science class.


Anonymous said...

I can understand where you're coming from here. But, the problem arises when douches like Ken Ham try to convince people that his young earth creationism is actually scientific.... essentially lying for Jesus.

It doesn't give their case any credibility.

Danielle said...

The idea of a religion being a myth seems far fetched, but not really if we look at history. What are myths? Myth: a character, story, theme, or object that embodies a particular idea or aspect of a culture.

We have the greek myths for example of the gods, but at the time that they were believed in they weren't called or considered myths but truths. That is no different than the religions now. Many believe them to be true, maybe more so than the past religions. I can't think of other examples, but there are more.

But again, we might even be able to extend the idea of myths to science. Many theories from the past were proven unfounded or false, would that classify them as myths? For example the idea of the planets and sun revolving around the earth until that was proven false was considered a fact/truth. This embodies the idea that we are the center of the universe which had to do with part of the culture and way of thinking at the time. Does that make this story a myth? And if so, what myths in science are we living now? And how ironic does that make the bumper sticker?

I don't mean to attack, I just found this topic really interesting since it raises a lot of questions. :) yay amanda

Amanda said...

Thanks for the comments Danielle. They don't sound like attacks at all! Just things worthy of discussion. I think you raise an interesting point when you talk about the idea of the planets and sun revolving around the earth. I wouldn't necessarily equate that with science. The idea was a very religious one...based on the idea that God created the universe for man...and given that idea, that man was at the center of the universe. Observations were made that supported that idea (such as the stars rotating about in the sky), but those observations were made to fit an idea, not the other way around.

Good science should start with observation and ideas/theories should fit the data. While this doesn't always ensure that we are right, it does allow for ideas to be falsified. And that, I believe, is the big difference between relgion and science. I respect that science is capable of saying "Wow...we were totally wrong!"