Friday, December 23, 2005

A little knowledge…How’s that irony meter, Skipper?

Today’s UK Financial Times (subscription) newspaper carries a lengthy article reviewing the so-called “growing battle” (that we all know and love so well) between science and religion over the issue of evolution, particularly in the US.

The article observes the new trend of fundamentalist Christian religious groups trying to push creationism into schools under the pseudo-scientific guise of Intelligent Design, and recounts the usual protestations against this attack on the integrity of science as a whole.

There is also an overview of the Vatican’s defence of Darwinist evolution’s compatibility with religious belief. So far, so familiar.

However, this passage caught my eye:

“Attacks by the fundamentalists have not yet harmed research into evolution, which is advancing rapidly as biologists use new genetic tools to understand the process at the molecular level. If anything, the debate may be a stimulus, says Sean Carroll of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who is a leading US evolutionary scientist.

“Never before has evolution received so much attention”, says Prof Carroll. “Teachers are looking for fresh materials to bring to their students. There may be positives coming out of the struggle.”

I suppose the problem with actually engaging with the enemy, rather than just ignoring him (as most religious folk have hitherto ignored evolutionary science), is that you can end up knowing him. And a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing indeed.


Blogger Duck said...

Irony in overdrive. It will definitely help the advancement of Darwinist science by raising the public profile. As we all know, scientists are people, and people love to work in the spotlight. The ID challenge is an intellectual call to arms. The ID'ers are the heirs of Quixote, charging the Darwinian battlements on an old nag and a broomstick. I feel sorry for them, in a way... Naaaahhh!

December 23, 2005 11:58 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Yes, I mentioned to OJ that his heroic daily battles with science where Quixotism par excellence.

December 23, 2005 1:12 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

My first experience of this was when I was living in Oklahoma in mid-70s.

That was when Monty Python released The Life of Brian.

The OK (in and of itself a tiny bit of irony) legislature promptly voted to ban the movie from the state, due to its alleged blasphemous content.

Whereupon two things very predictably happened: the State court overturned the law on 1st Amendment grounds, and people packed the theatres to see that which was forbidden.

More recently, Iran's fatwah against Salmon Rushdie ensured boffo box for Satanic Verses.

The crime scene investigation variant of the police procedural TV show has a franchise on nearly every night, even excluding reruns. Those shows are primers in the scientific method, and are widely popular.

It is hard for me to think that, once people come to terms with the concept as they did in Dover, they will en masse put CSI aside and vote for the fairy tale.

December 23, 2005 7:33 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

An ironic consequence of the popularity of forensic shows, whether fictional or re-enactments, is that occasionally juries are letting pretty clearly guilty people go free, because they feel that the evidence against said people ought to be cut and dried - after all, the folks on CSI can find a murderer based on bite marks and a saliva sample, so why can't real-world crime labs supply 100% positive-match evidence ?

December 23, 2005 11:32 PM  
Blogger David said...

It will be great for evolution, which is simply applied genetics. It will kill Darwin dead.

December 27, 2005 6:56 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Sorry, but you'll have to explain that last for me.

December 28, 2005 4:33 PM  

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