Don’t Know Much Biology

I found a blurb about this on BoingBoing, but it’s one of those things that just seems to be worth passing on. David Pescovitz (of BoingBoing) writes: “During the recent republican presidential debate, the moderator asked nine candidates to raise their hands if they “didn’t believe in evolution.” Senator Sam Brownback, Governor Mike Huckabee, and […]

I found a blurb about this on BoingBoing, but it’s one of those things that just seems to be worth passing on.

David Pescovitz (of BoingBoing) writes:
“During the recent republican presidential debate, the moderator asked nine candidates to raise their hands if they “didn’t believe in evolution.” Senator Sam Brownback, Governor Mike Huckabee, and Representative Tom Tancredo raised their hands. Last week, Brownback wrote a New York Times op-ed attempting to explain his reasoning.”

I chose not to post a link to Brownback’s idiocy; click the BoingBoing link about to find a link to said op-ed.

The interesting part, though, and what I want to feature, is Jerry Coyne‘s very well written reply to Brownback’s piece.

Coyne writes:
“Whether he knows it or not, Brownback’s forthright declarations, denying any possibility that empirical matters of fact might differ from those assumed by his creed, amount to nothing less than a rejection of the whole institution of science. Who is “we”, and where did “our” conviction and certainty come from? Would Brownback believe these “spiritual truths” if he hadn’t been taught them as a child, or brought up in the United States instead of China?

According to Brownback, we should reject scientific findings if they conflict with our faith, but accept them if they’re compatible. But the scientific evidence says that humans are big-brained, highly conscious apes that began evolving on the African savannah four million years ago. Are we supposed to reject this as “atheistic theology” (an oxymoron if there ever was one)?”

Coyne’s piece perfectly captures the errors in faith-based thinking, and neatly distills what’s what’s inherently wrong the popular mis-understanding of the nature of evolutionary biology. The description I’ve long used is that creationism’s rhetoric is entirely based on a failure to understand the meaning of the word ‘theory’ in ‘theory of evolution’. Coyne does a better job laying it out, in a well written (and vaguely frightening) article. I highly recommend that you go read it.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Know Much Biology”

  1. Wow.
    The…
    I don’t want to offend anyone. The sheer conviction on the part of the creationist viewpoint scares me. Especially since these are people that have been elected to their present positions.
    Good pass-on, KE. Thanks.

  2. Darwin himself presented the idea of evolution as ‘only’ a theory:

    “I do not pretend that the facts given in this chapter strengthen in any great degree my theory ; but none of the cases of difficulty, to the best of my judgment, annihilate it.” – Origin of Species

    I taught the fact of evolution to college students for several years, on the theory that theory is too selective a word. In particular, it selects against lazy thinkers.

  3. Great quote, EnG. I swear, I lose faith in humanity when I read creationist insanity, and even more when I see the stats on how many people actually buy into it. It’s absolutely bizarre that people today still buy into biblical mythology as if it were something other that that, mythology. No different than worship of thoth or baal or thor or the flying spaghetti monster.

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