Friday, August 31, 2012

Enough to make a biology teacher scream

There's a reason I have emblazoned on two of my four walls the words of Theodosius Dobzhansky:

"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" 

Here's what Americans believe, as of June, according to a Gallup poll.

The world is not flat, and humans have been around for a lot longer than 10,000 years.

And at the risk of Bible baiting, Good Lord, folks, if you choose to defend the Good Book (and as our cultural legacy, there's much worth defending), at least read it. Critically.

Then come chat with me--but I got to warn you, I can wile away an evening on Genesis 2:7--a beautiful passage that most "Christians" I know have all wrong.

Wise peoples knew the world more intimately than we ever can with our amygdalas hooked up to these machines of perpetual images.

They knew more than most of us can ever appreciate--even if we dumb down their words to fit the needs of our own.

The mystery is all around us--and science only enhances it.


Anonymous said...

An interesting question (to me) is, "Why does this belief persist?" in a country where the vast majority have been presented with other information to the contrary. When we find out this, we will be on the way to really educating the population.

doyle said...

Dear Anonymous,

It's a very interesting question, and I fear part of the answer is that in order to teach in many states, you do not really need to know a whole lot of science, even if you're a secondary school science teacher.

We're so disconnected from anything that matters we hardly think at all anymore.

Malcolm said...

oh dear.
i took a course on evolution and the text book we used was written by a couple of devout christians...who made the point that their faith did not get in the way of their science.

i love discussing evolution in class and always ask for the position of the faithful...and then i ask them to keep their faith for guidance and not to use it for understanding science.

i don't think we have it so desperately wrong up here in the northern climes....

Kathryn J said...

Oh that graph is scary. I had an 8th-grade student who brought her bible to science everyday as protection. Most students are amazed that I am a churchgoer and a scientist.

Anyway, I understand the concept of story and metaphor. I think it's interesting that, so far, science has not contradicted the order of appearance described in Genesis.

When my students ask about the Big Bang, I say "Hey when the concept 'Let there be light' was thought/uttered/whatever - the result was a whole lot more than expected!"

doyle said...

Dear Malcolm,

Not sure I can ask that here down in the States--I would love to face these questions head on. OTOH, if the Creationists keep pushing for "equal time," I may yet get to have that discussion.

Dear Kathryn,

Genesis has marvelous stories, and I love reading ti now and again.

The frightening thing about evolution (for many of us anyway) is that you do not need a Creator to explain things once life happens.

THe whole "life happens" thing, though, is a huge mystery in itself...but that's not a concept evolution touches.

Anonymous said...

I do find it interesting that the official Catholic belief is that evolution is a valid scientific theory. But you will find if you ask the average Catholic that some are in that category that evolution does not exist. Then there's the bible with two different stories for creation. One from a nomadic society with the 7 days and let there be light. One from a farming society with animals and humans being formed from the earth.
At least we have a chance to change that perception. I always tell my students that they need to know what it is that they don't believe. I know of at least one student whose mind was changed. Too bad I don't always have an opportunity to teach Biology.

Anonymous said...

The whole "life happens" thing, though, is a huge mystery in itself...but that's not a concept evolution touches.

This really sums it up! Love this comment.