A trilobite, Ceraurus milleranus, found in Maysville, Kentucky. Whence this delight? There are two options here: (1) Ceraurus milleranus lived during the Ordovician, a period that lasted from about 488 to 444 million years ago and all its trilobyie cousins went extinct by the end of the Permian (250 million years ago); or (2) Ceraurus milleranus lived a few thousand years ago and was killed off (along with millions, and we mean many tens of millions, of other species) sometime during or after Noah’s flood. Pick one. Photograph courtesy of Rick Shrantz and the Kentucky Paleontological Society
This just in from the National Center for Science Education via the Sensuous Curmudgeon: The Kentucky House of Representatives has just enacted a nice juicy piece of anti-evolution legislation, the first of 2011. Here’s what the NCSE has to say:
Kentucky’s House Bill 169 would, if enacted, allow teachers to “use, as permitted by the local school board, other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.” Dubbed the Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act, HB 169 was introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives on January 4, 2011; the sole sponsor of the bill is Tim Moore (R-District 26).
Nice language, that. FYI, here’s the bill, in four short paragraphs. It’s just the same old nonsense: “Teach the controversy.” We at psnt.net will leave the politics and such to good folks like the Curmudgeon, whose point of view we applaud with great fervor.
Boy, Kentucky is really having it hard lately.
What motivates stuff like this? Lots of things, of course. The world is changing fast and with that change comes challenges — threats — to worldviews that have been in place for generations. So part of it is fear, the Great Motivator. But in this case there’s something else: science envy.
Last week we wrote about science envy and its effect on the humanities and social sciences, but here we have science envy in perhaps its purest form: Intelligent Design, also known as “creationism in a cheap suit.” The idea seems to be that science is some kind of steamroller than kills all religion, so it needs to be steamrolled itself. But science doesn’t kill religion. Au contraire, dear Alert Reader! Here’s good old C. S. Lewis waxing clear and sound on this issue, from his book Miracles:
It is a profound mistake to imagine that Christianity ever intended to dissipate the bewilderment and even the terror, the sense of nothingness, which come upon us when we think about the nature of things. It comes to intensify them. Without such sensations there is no religion. Many a man, brought up in the glib profession of some shallow form of Christianity, who comes through reading Astronomy to realise for the first time how majestically indifferent most reality is to man, and who perhaps abandons his religion on that account, may at that moment be having his first genuinely religious experience.
Lewis was all for science, and — here’s a little-known fact — supported evolution. Why? Because he understood it to heighten and intensify religious knowledge, and to not threaten it. Bravo, Clive!
Science just isn’t powerful enough to kill religion, is our point. And although science and religion are not independent, in general science just doesn’t work on the level that religion works. In the end, though, they work together. There is really nothing to fear here.
In its overestimation of science, science envy causes people to do silly things. Like overinterpret science. And invent nonsense like ID. And introduce clown-ass legislation.
We here at psnt.net hope, for the sake of the good citizens of Kentucky and of the whole entire U. S. of A., that House Bill 169 dies a quick and decisive death.