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Intelligent design? - Journal of Omnifarious

Jul. 10th, 2006

09:37 am - Intelligent design?

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On Friday at Convergence I attended a panel about intelligent design. It was an interesting panel. Several of the people who I talked to afterwards said that they sensed a lot of hostility towards religion in the room.

Here are some of the more important points brought up:

If I missed some here that you consider important and you were in the discussion, please point them out and I'll add them.

I didn't sense hostility towards religion. What I sensed was a war of doctrine. I feel very strongly that various segments of our society are warring over our children's minds. The implicit assumption is that parents can't be trusted to teach their children the 'right' thing and that children can't be trusted to be able to reach their own conclusions after having been handed the evidence. I think this is extremely damaging to our democracy.

I wish both sides would quit it. I especially wish that the side I happen to agree with would quit it. I strongly suspect that the side I happen to agree started the whole thing at one point when they used their political power to force their point of view on others using the public school system. And to be upset over the backlash and attempt to do the same thing by the other groups smacks of either stupidity and/or ignorance or the kind of conniving disingenuity I would expect of the worst of politicians.

Control over what other people's (or even your own) children think is an illusory power. But I think everything possible should be done to remove even the illusion that it can be done by the state. One of my biggest reasons for supporting school vouchers is that I feel this is a way to permanently and very visibly move the illusory power to the parents where it belongs. I do not like seeing various groups fighting over it and ripping the country apart in the process. But really, if you think school vouchers would break the educational system in other ways I'm happy to entertain any other solutions you think would accomplish this goal.

I have a bunch of thoughts on my personal value system for evaluating new ideas, but I realize now that they probably belong in another post.

Current Location: Wilde Roast, Minneapolis
Current Mood: [mood icon] contemplative

Comments:

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From:sassy_54
Date:July 10th, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
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I miss the days when kids just went to school and it was up to the parents to discipline their kids and teach them morals. Although I do wish schools were able to be more like montessoris so that kids didn't feel the need to conform with everyone else. I think my son is getting a good education, but I know the teachers have problems with the fact that he's not like everyone else, both because of ADHD and because he just doesn't want to be. Which I am perfectly okay with and very proud of, actually.
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From:eonen
Date:July 10th, 2006 04:40 pm (UTC)
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Historically speaking, religion (or rather, humans in the name of religion) has promoted ignorace over knowledge, censorship and persecution of scientists when their beliefs and sacred writings can be shown to be patently false in the physical world. That'd make me hostile towards it...

I mean, sure, nobody likes to have their beliefs challenged, and if religion can be proved to be false, well, then believing in religion could make one look, well, rather ridiculous, like and adult clinging to belief in fairy tales or Santa and the Easter Bunny. If some busy body who went around actually measuring and testing things might end up making look like a fool, mightn't you try to stop them out of some irrational defensiveness? That's basic human nature (unfortunately).
So I understand why they might do it...but I also understand why that might be people quite cranky with religion with relation to religion's attitude toward science.
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From:klicrai
Date:July 10th, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
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Actually, that's not true. Until fairly recently all science arose from religion. A vast body of scientific research has been funded by the vatican. Most major world religions don't actually have a problem with evolution. The Pope has said he dosn't consider evolution to be incompatible with Christian faith. The problem, in my estimation, is that scientists consider faith incompatible with science.

I also don't agree that Wicca is better for society than other religions. Yes, it's kinder to the environment, but Wiccans simply don't spread the charity meme the way the Christians do. They also don't form cohesive communities. They form very small groups that are largely isolated from eachother and don't draw entire towns together for a purpous.

What I would like to see is more funding for comparative religion classes in which intelligent design (and not just that of the Judaeo-Christian faith) can be discussed. Some of the most intelligent, scientific people to ever live considered the search for God to be a valid one. For most of them science was their way of examining him, her or it.

There are two kind of scientists: those who examine the world out of a sense of honest wonder and curiosity... and those who examine the world for the most efficient way to make money. In my opinion, a strong sense of spirituality or religion lends itself to creating the first kind of scientist, and that can only be a good thing.
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From:ice_hesitant
Date:July 11th, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC)
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I assure you that atheists with a sense of honest wonder and curiosity are not in short supply. People who are out for money and nothing else are likelier to have no opinion on non-monetary matters rather than a skeptical one.
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From:mysticalforest
Date:July 10th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
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I, for one, am generally hostile toward organized religion for reasons including comments aforementioned. On balance over history, I think it's done more harm than good.

Unorganized religions, like Wicca for example, seem much more friendly to civilization. Deeply personal, open source, and non-destructive—pretty much everything that the top three organized religions aren't.
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From:ice_hesitant
Date:July 11th, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
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I took an optional World Religions class in Grade 10. It was fun, though it was a bit disappointing to be only one of three atheists in the whole class. The teacher was an agnostic, but that doesn't count.:P

It covered Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Lots of niftiness, but little emphasis on creation myths.

We did do a unit on creation myths -- Greek, Inuit, Sumerian, Native American, etc. -- in Grade 10 Enriched English, but that was more because of the teacher than any mandated curriculum. Mr. Falkeberg's a kewl chap.:)
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From:omnifarious
Date:July 11th, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC)
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I think a class in which these beliefs were not called a mythology would be a little better. The people who hold various beliefs often take them quite seriously and are very upset when you call them a mythology.

In some sense, it would be good if it were more of a philosophy course, and one of the philosophies were science. In some sense, science is based on a belief. A belief that the concept of a repeatable experiment has meaning.

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From:ice_hesitant
Date:July 11th, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC)
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The ones in English class are generally not believed in nowadays, whereas the ones in World Religions class were not called a mythology.

There are Philosophy of Science courses in university, but I have not taken any. Science is more based on the idea that sight-sound-touch-smell-hearing provides accurate data. The idea of repeating observations to verify them derives from that and from our everyday experience -- we all do it as toddlers to learn about the world.
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From:elinara
Date:September 7th, 2006 11:42 pm (UTC)
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I was a history major in college, and one of the things I was struck by was how often the prevailing social beliefs of the day affected scientific "facts." Circa 1900 or so, it was scientifically proven that whites were the superior race and women were inferior to men. It's we see what we want to see and find what we want to find all "unbiased" scientific method to the contrary.
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From:omnifarious
Date:September 8th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC)
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I do not think science is infallible or that it isn't prone to confirming pre-existing prejuidices about the way the world works. But I do think that over time science is one of the best ways we have of evaluating ideas and getting closer and closer to the truth.

But, I believe in the usefulness of repeated experiment and that the rules of the Universe aren't going to be different tomorrow.

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From:ice_hesitant
Date:October 30th, 2006 01:28 pm (UTC)
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And then it was scientifically disproven.

You start out by taking "common sense" and advancing hypotheses based on it. You then experimentally test those hypotheses. Results and method are published in a journal so that other people studying the same thing can confirm or fail to confirm your results. In the end, it was people trying to prove that whites were superior who ended up proving that they weren't.
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