Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it

Looking Ahead to 2009 – Part 1

December 28th, 2008 Posted in Creationism, Education

I’m going to do a post every day for the next four days looking forward to the positive and negative aspects that we can expect to see in 2009, looking from four different viewpoints. Firstly, today, I’m looking at the good old fashioned creationism/evolution debate.

2008 will, I believe, be recorded as the year in which Creationism began to die. I have no idea why, but I got a distinct impression that the sense of late was that the entire creationist organisation was beginning to disintegrate and resort to increasingly crazy and bizarre arguments to support their case.  This interesting post simply highlights the evidence for that.

And Creationism’s subtle younger brother, Intelligent Design, is on its way out too – perhaps even more rapidly. Ever since the result in Kitzmiller vs. Dover, Intelligent Design has been essentially dead or dying. It became clear to many during that trial that Intelligent Design was the last, (or, as it turned out, the penultimate) attempt by the religious fanatics in America to get their crazy idealogies injected into school curricula under the guise of science.

A month or so ago, I finished doing my presentation archive (see the tab on the menu bar above) and I think that it was an extremely valuable exercise for me – really highlighting something that I wasn’t truly expecting – that the Creationist arguments aren’t actually all that complex and sophisticated in the most part – in fact, the overwhelming majority come across as desperate and deluded in the extreme.

2008 marked a change for me: I now no longer see Creationists as intelligent religious fanatics, trying to forge sophisticated arguments for their fundamentalist cause – I now see them as a deluded and misled minority, fundamentally out of touch with reality; terrified that their world view might be founded on a  fictional house of cards; grasping at straws; entrenched under dozens of layers of denial; and by any definition that I can think of, mentally ill. 2008 was the year I started feeling sorry for Creationists.

So, what are those fun-loving wackos up to now? Well I spoke about this a few weeks ago in a previous blog post. The current strategy is the aim to promote “teaching the controversy” or, in its more modern form, “teach all sides of the debate” – a strategy aimed at getting nonsense into schools by insisting that every side of a scientific debate, no matter how retarded, be discussed in class as if it might be true.

I really think that this needs to be very carefully handled – the Creationists look like they superficially have a clever argument. The worst thing that scientists can do is to come across as trying to dictate truths without encouraging free thought. Who would be against looking at all parts of the debate? Well, as I discussed in the post linked above, the crux of the argument is that it should be scientists who decide the theories which are actually plausible, and which form the current scientific debate. And, of course, anyone with the capability to think freely without being constrained by the infinite carrot and stick of fundamentalist religious brainwashing, can clearly see that Creationism has not been a  viable alternative worthy of debate for roughly two centuries.

So what else will be happening in this area in 2009?

Well, of course, the most important event to happen in 2009 is Darwin Day on 12th February. This year we will not only be celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, but also the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species”, his famous masterwork. My personal hope is that these events will be accompanied by such a surge in publicity for real science, and such an emphasis on the hundred and fifty years that have gone by since its publication, that children will understand that Creationism really is a theory of the middle ages, not of a modern, intelligent, well-educated world.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll look forward to the physics and astronomy of 2009. What will the new year bring? From planetary probes and space tourism to the rebirth of the LHC.

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  1. 3 Responses to “Looking Ahead to 2009 – Part 1”

  2. By Alex Graves on Nov 20, 2010

    When you think about the fundamentals of everything – atoms, and how when you group identical atoms together in a solid they form crystals – the shape of which is determined by the components of the atom that created them. so it’s easy to understand how things really have evolved from those simple atoms, and also, fundamentally speaking, the fractals and mathematics people often love to quote as ‘evidence’ of inteligent design. I think the real unknown question that will never be answered is how did life on earth begin, what was the catalyst and what was the spark that has brought us so far?

  3. By Colin on Nov 20, 2010

    Maybe. I think it’s quite possible that we’ll have perfectly plausible models for abiogenesis (in fact, we pretty much already do) but, of course, we may never know which model was the actual one that happened.

  4. By Alex Graves on Nov 21, 2010

    that’s interesting. No we’ll probably never know. I suppose having the knowlege about the natural world that we do enables us to envisage a set of circumstances that work. I suppose also that the technology can’t be far away where you can make dimensional life pretty much like the way they make microprocessors, layer of one substance, etched away + a mask + layer of another subsance etc. of course you’d only end up with a 2 dimensional organism, if there is such a thing. but I can see that happening. 3D however, as a process, hmmm. I’m not there yet.

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