29 Comments


  • We can’t leave the country because then it will never improve. (Technically, that’s a fallacy presupposing that other variables that don’t involve us at all won’t improve it. And that logic still isn’t keeping me from moving from my blue-city-in-a-red-state (Durham) to San Francisco, which is so blue that people keep trying to perform CPR on it. I reserve the right to sacrifice my larger, more noble political goals for the sake of my sanity. Plus the city living you can get around here is kind of minimal in quality.)

    Digression aside: Yeah, that’s pretty stupid. I’m reeling in amazement, but then even my rabidly religious family still views science as one of God’s tools. God still trumps science, particularly when it comes to facts-checking, but my family loves science enough that they would think that this decision is deeply stupid.

    March 19, 2005
  • As much as I appreciate James Cameron’s coments in the article, one thing he said really bugged me. He said that this opposition is “obviously symptomatic of our shift away from empiricism in science to faith-based science.”

    Faith-based science???

    But thanks for the tip of the phrase. That song is still unrecorded, but I’m hoping to remedy that in the next weekend or two.

    March 19, 2005
  • Anonymous

    “We are fighting fundamentalism abroad while embracing here at home.”
    This is so sad, but true. Religious extremists don’t only wear robes, many wear overalls and three-piece suits. Even though I work for a religious school, I’ve always had the good fortune to work for some enlightened people that have allowed my colleagues and I to teach the scientific truth as well as the religious counterpart.

    Bill

    March 19, 2005
  • A hundred years from now, scholars will refer to this as The Benightenment…

    This pun won’t work in Chinese, by the way. In a hundred years I suspect China will be running the world, while two increasingly backwards theocracies, one Muslim and one Christian, continue to claw at each other and prove that evolution at least does work backwards.

    March 19, 2005
  • What kills me is that so much science and learning used to be conducted by the Church, while everyone else was illiterate and uninterested. I wonder if our current evangelical crop even knows that.

    March 19, 2005
  • I read that story aloud to EBB over our morning coffee and he started muttering about brushing off his passport.

    March 19, 2005
  • “The last thinking adult to leave the country should turn out the lights…” is just a figure of speech, but how does one “improve” the country in this context? Are we going to educate the fundamentalists (or their children) at gunpoint?

    “Science as one of god’s tools…” I think speaks more to your attachment to your family than anything else. Either you start from the observable facts, or from faith in a supernatural being, for whom the observable facts are merely a means to an end. Trying to do both is trying to get a little bit pregnant.

    March 20, 2005
  • Yes, faith-based science. That’s a lingusitic contortion you use when you try to pretend the reactionaries aren’t complete morons.

    March 20, 2005
  • Well, the Catholic Church has a more enlightened stance on evolution and geology than the other Christain fundamentalists (though individual Catholics run the gamut from secular liberals to the far-right fundamentalists), but the church is still in the Middle Ages on abortion (medical science hasn’t advanced much in 1,000 years in Vatican City, apparently), and the role of women.

    March 20, 2005
  • Ah, yes, the enlightened Chinese: Feng Shui and Falun Gong, of course, are the outgrowths of their rigorous empiricism. Just because a country is an economic and technological powerhouse doesn’t mean it can’t embrace ignorance and superstition. The Soviets, at the height of their power, officially endorsed telekinesis and psychic readings. You don’t have to have a deep understanding of natural selection to built a $60 microwave oven.

    March 20, 2005
  • “…so much science and learning used to be conducted by the Church…” Which Church is that? The church that opposed Galileo and Newton? The church that endorsed the scapegoating of the Jews during the Plague outbreaks in the 1300s?

    March 20, 2005
  • You’d better hurry. Soon you’ll have to stand in line at the Department of Homeland Security to get an exit visa.

    March 20, 2005
  • Well, sure. And the United States rose to power with huge segments of the population devoted to evangelical / fundamentalist Protestantism. I don’t mean to imply the Chinese are less ignorant or superstitious than the U.S. But as a nation, China is advancing itself by leaps and bounds while the U.S. drifts or actually devolves.

    March 20, 2005
  • Put it this way. Not that I support it, but the Chinese government tortures and imprisons its lunatic religious zealots. We elect them, and name them to federal judgeships and school boards and so on.

    March 20, 2005
  • Yep, that one.

    In addition to those things you list, the Church was a center of literacy and knowledge for a very long time before breaking with science. (Also profiteering, power-mongering, and rewriting history, but that’s another topic.) I think there was an assumption early on that science can only reveal God’s creation more fully, so there’s no inherent conflict between church and science.

    Believe me when I say I’m not a big fan of any religion, Catholicism included. I just think it’s important not to rewrite history to say that the Church has always feared science. It hasn’t. I don’t think the conflict started until science started contradicting religious beliefs.

    March 20, 2005
  • By the way, I recorded guitar anf guide vocal for “Stupid Is the New Smart” yesterday and Mike did bass and dobro today. Should be on the web site next weekend.

    March 21, 2005
  • Yes, which makes it just a tragicomedy when Condi lectures the Chinese about religious tolerance.

    March 21, 2005
  • It’s hard to blame the reactionaries for being complete morons. After all, God made them that way.

    March 21, 2005
  • Ha! I have always believed that Shrub and his minions were secretly jealous of the Chinese and the Taliban and so on. I’m sure John Ashcroft dreamed every night of driving around in a pickup truck with a machine gun mounted in the back and flogging women who weren’t as well covered up as the sculpture in the lobby of the Justice Department. And Rumsfeld and Cheney were probably dreaming about marching troops into Union Square during the convention last year.

    March 21, 2005
  • They probably don’t even realize it, but I think it’s the exact same misguided motive that puts women in burkas and detainees in Gitmo. And you just know at some Cabinet meeting Cheney has idly doodled Al Gore with a knife stuck in his eye.

    March 21, 2005
  • to teach the scientific truth as well as the religious counterpart.

    Which would be … what? Pray tell, what is the religious counterpart to scientific truth? And is this a question this year on the analogies section of the SAT?

    March 21, 2005
  • Which would probably be around the time that science started getting things right — i.e., when things like alchemy transmuted into real chemistry, and astrology into astronomy. As long as religion could use science as a tool for retaining its power, religious institutions were happy to practice it, or a form thereof.

    March 21, 2005
  • Anonymous

    Perhaps I should have worded that a bit differently. Counterpart being not quite right. What I was referring to was the fact that the science teachers teach all the current theories of creation and the religion teachers teach the metaphorical Bible stories.

    Bill

    March 21, 2005
  • Wait — alchemy isn’t real? Ah, man! What’m I supposed to do with all these lead ingots?

    March 22, 2005
  • The world is soon to be flat again.

    March 22, 2005
  • Anonymous

    stupid is the new — smart? No, stupid is the new school bully

    Godzilla here:

    I don’t know — I think maybe we have to start calling up Imax theater managers and make it clear that if they ban films for mentioning evolution, then we might just take it in our little heads to picket their theater.

    A small group of pickets might have a big effect.

    The reaction to Bush’s right wing pandering in the Schiavo case shows that the center of the country is not, in fact, marching in step with the Christian-Nazi movement.

    March 28, 2005
  • Re: stupid is the new — smart? No, stupid is the new school bully

    …stupid is the new school bully

    I like that.

    Well, there are a handful of right-wing barking heads who are saying that the polls don’t matter, because the faithful who DO care about keeping Schiavo’s body alive care deeply.

    Five years ago I wouldn’t have predicted they’d drag the country as far right as they have, though, so maybe they’re right.

    March 29, 2005
  • Anonymous

    Illiteracy is the ultimate enemy

    Godzilla here.

    Geoff gave a presentation on the future of space exploration at a local library a few nights ago. I was sitting with a friend of ours, who is incidentally a Mensan. At the end of it, I mentioned the issue of Imax theaters banning films that suggested that the world had evolved in a way not conforming to a literal interpretation of the Bible. This woman, who had previously given me no indication of being a nut case or a cretin, said, “Well, I have issues with teaching evolution in the schools. Darwin himself concluded his work by saying he had no idea why people believed him.”

    I launched into my usual speech about why would you think God was so stupid he’d have to patch and duct tape the world together, when he could have created it in the exact elegant way science tells us he did, if indeed you are a believer? Why believe the Biblical account, when it is only one of many accounts that don’t have the benefit of more recent observation? The Bible is a human document, nature is the only book that all can read, etc., etc. This is my standard riff on creationism. Geoff says it’s based on Galileo, or maybe it came from the Deists, but it’s my answer to people who think they have to choose between God and science.

    Anyway, that conversation sort of came to an end, but later I suggested that this very intelligent woman might like to join a book club I belong to. And she told me that she doesn’t read very fast, indeed, she has been reading the same book (I forget which recent NYT best seller) for the last year.

    I was somewhat amazed at both these revelations, and when I told Geoff about them, he made the usual joke about Mensa retesting. But then he became more serious and said he did indeed think this woman was intelligent. We both expressed dismay that she was a creationist.

    Later, however, I started putting two and two together. If a person doesn’t read, a person has a very small pool of information from which to gather data upon which to base opinions. And perhaps my very slow reading Mensan friend has a reading disability: dyslexia.

    If a person gets all their information from TV, that person can only receive about one-fifth to one tenth the information available during an equal period of gathering information from print, because one can read at anywhere from 350 to 2000 words a minute, but listen only at a rate of about 100 words a minute. Yes, TV does provide images, but these are only images; we have no way of reducing them to fact or data. A dinosaur painting is just a picture; an essay by Richard Bakker is full of many more times as much information.

    And how handy it would be, if one were dyslexic, to think that you only need to read one book — the Bible. This relieves you of all that tiresome labor involved in reading hundreds of sources and comparing their validity.

    And maybe that’s what’s wrong with our Chief Executive.

    March 31, 2005
  • Anonymous

    “doodling a picture of Al Gore with a knife stuck in his eye.” Love the image.

    March 31, 2005

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