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Science and Democracy: What Scientists Canít Tell Us
Breakpoint with Chuck Colson ^ | 5/15/2006 | Chuck Colson

Posted on 05/15/2006 5:29:05 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback

When a U.S. district court ruled last December that the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district could not require the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, opponents of intelligent design thought the issue had been settled—not just in Pennsylvania, but also across the entire country. Well, their celebrations may have been premature, unless school policies are somehow exempted from the requirements of democracy.

Virginia Commonwealth University recently released the results of its “Life Sciences Survey,” which measures public attitudes toward scientific issues. Among the issues asked about was the “origin of biological life.”

By nearly a 5-1 margin, people believe that God, either “directly” or by guiding the process, was responsible for the “origin of biological life.” Only 15 percent agreed with teaching a strictly materialistic explanation.

Most Americans, you see, favor a “pluralistic approach to teaching about origin of life in public schools.” In this “pluralistic approach,” sometimes called “teaching the controversy,” students would be exposed to various explanations.

These polling results cause weeping and gnashing of teeth among doctrinaire Darwinists, who see it as evidence of irrationality or superstition among ordinary Americans. Some even suggest that America’s leadership in science and technology is threatened by these “unscientific” attitudes.

Nonsense! What’s on display is not irrationality or disdain for science: It’s simply a reflection of the innate human understanding of God—what theologians call the imago Dei. Years of propaganda by scientists and teachers can’t erase it, and it’s also a recognition of the limits of science.

Father Richard Neuhaus captured this in the March issue of First Things. The “controversy,” he wrote, “is composed of a complex mixture of science, religion, culture, and politics.” This “complex mixture,” which involves every aspect of human life, cannot be settled by a single judge’s opinion or by the Darwinists’ propaganda. People simply know better, and they want to have a say in how their children are educated.

This is true not only of intelligent design. The same dynamic is at work in the embryonic stem-cell research debate. The scientific establishment insists that it must operate without interference from those it deems “irrational,” like Christians it considers enemies of progress.

Yet 56 percent in the same survey agreed that “scientific research doesn’t pay enough attention to the moral values of society.” Fifty-two percent agreed that this research creates as many problems as solutions. For a group aspiring to god-like status, like scientists, this is bad news.

But it cannot be otherwise. Science does not operate independently of the larger culture. Scientists are not exempt from, as Neuhaus puts it, paying their respects to democracy. Thinking otherwise is not science: It is scientism, the ideology that regards science as the only way to the truth. And if this survey is any indication, Americans don’t buy it.

That’s why debates over science and culture will continue. They will continue until the scientific establishment—and the courts—acknowledge the limits of what science can and cannot tell us, and when it begins to give a say to the people on how they want their children educated.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; US: Pennsylvania; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: breakpoint; crevolist; pavlovian
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1 posted on 05/15/2006 5:29:09 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback
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To: 05 Mustang GT Rocks; 351 Cleveland; AFPhys; agenda_express; almcbean; ambrose; Amos the Prophet; ...

BreakPoint/Chuck Colson Ping!

If anyone wants on or off my Chuck Colson/BreakPoint Ping List, please notify me here or by freepmail.

2 posted on 05/15/2006 5:30:21 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback (TRY JESUS. If you don't like Him, the devil will always take you back.)
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To: Mr. Silverback
opponents of intelligent design thought the issue had been settled—not just in Pennsylvania, but also across the entire country.

Geez, tell me about it. They post about 20 threads a week to tell people the issue has been settled. Doesn't seem to be, though, judging by the frequency and hysteria level of said threads. Expect the "you need to take a science course" responses.

3 posted on 05/15/2006 5:32:31 AM PDT by Hacksaw (Deport illegals the same way they came here - one at a time.)
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To: Mr. Silverback
>>>It is scientism, the ideology that regards science as the only way to the truth.

I blame a lot of this on the current myth abroad in America that math and science are "hard". Mathematicians and scientists by into this pernicious myth because it boosts their egos. They therefore think they are something they are not, and that's how scientism gets started.
4 posted on 05/15/2006 5:34:43 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Watching the Left turn on Senator McCain amuses me somehow....)
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To: .cnI redruM
Mathematicians and scientists by into this pernicious myth because it boosts their egos. They therefore think they are something they are not, and that's how scientism gets started.

Mathematics is "hard" because it takes discipline. It's not a subject where you can "baffle 'em with BS". I always did bad in math until I got to college and realized I actually had to study and work example problems. Once I got the basics down, I started getting A's and made it all the way through Calc 3. If someone told me when I was in high school that I could take (let alone understand) higher math I would have thought they were nuts.

5 posted on 05/15/2006 5:41:10 AM PDT by Hacksaw (Deport illegals the same way they came here - one at a time.)
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To: Hacksaw

I am glad to read that you're beyond your need for 'science courses', though I believe it a way of life. Instead I'll suggest engaging in the Science Wars and reading the genre of literature epitomized by Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt's works, including Higher Superstition: The Academic Left's Quarrels with Science (JHU, Baltimore, 1998, ISBN 0-8018-5707-4) and The Flight From Science and Reason (NYAS, NY, 1997, ISBN 0-8018-5676-0). The bibliographies will suggest titles to appeal to your particular bent. Also Alan Sokal's seminal essay and foreign literature. Maybe The Bell Curve too? Tagline


6 posted on 05/15/2006 6:16:32 AM PDT by dhuffman@awod.com (The conspiracy of ignorance masquerades as common sense.)
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To: Hacksaw

It's like hitting a curve ball. I used to teach high school algebra and used this as an analogy. I compared doing your homework to taking your daily batting practice if you played baseball.


7 posted on 05/15/2006 6:21:32 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Watching the Left turn on Senator McCain amuses me somehow....)
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To: Hacksaw

Same here for math. I never took Trig because I had such rotten math teachers for Algebra and Geometry. It was a college prof that finally explained it in a way that made sense. I also passed 3 semsters of Calc. Never would have dreamed it in a million years.


8 posted on 05/15/2006 6:34:36 AM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: Mr. Silverback; PatrickHenry
Most Americans, you see, favor a “pluralistic approach to teaching about origin of life in public schools.” In this “pluralistic approach,” sometimes called “teaching the controversy,” students would be exposed to various explanations.

That's the problem. Most Americans are so scientifically illiterate that what they think is scientific controversy is really scientific ignorance against current scientific understanding. To teach the controversies in evolution, or in any branch of science (because they all have controversies in their repsective frontiers) would require a graduate-level background in the respective subject. With respect to evolution, ther are no rational explanations that fit all of the observed facts.

Science is not a democracy. You can't vote or mandate by law a scientific result. Science is morally neutral. To inject morality into science means taking science and turning it into something that it isn't. Science deals with the material universe and is hence, materialistic. Science is not equipped to deal with questions of morality. On that basis, these anti-evolution attacks really are undermining the future scientific capabilities of the United States. We are already graduating more foreigners than Americans with advanced degrees in science and engineering and this type of anti-science hyperbole isn't helping.

9 posted on 05/15/2006 6:36:14 AM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: .cnI redruM
I blame a lot of this on the current myth abroad in America that math and science are "hard".

I disagree, but to a point. The "hard" sceinces aren't "hard" becasue they are a challenging discipline to study. THey are difficult to learn compared to other college subjects. But they are "hard" because, in any given problem, the answer is either right or wrong. There is no opinion, nothing subjective, or guess work involved. Either you know the material or you don't. Verbal arguements don't work unless you have facts to back you up or can conduct research to illustrate your answer. There are no opinion/essay questions in science.

10 posted on 05/15/2006 6:40:35 AM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: Mr. Silverback
That’s why debates over science and culture will continue. They will continue until the scientific establishment—and the courts—acknowledge the limits of what science can and cannot tell us, and when it begins to give a say to the people on how they want their children educated.

Imagine that. Parents having a say in how their tax money is used to educate their children. What a novel concept.

11 posted on 05/15/2006 6:43:38 AM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past; ohioWfan; Tribune7; Tolkien; GrandEagle; Right in Wisconsin; Dataman; ..
Science does not operate independently of the larger culture. Scientists are not exempt from, as Neuhaus puts it, paying their respects to democracy. Thinking otherwise is not science: It is scientism, the ideology that regards science as the only way to the truth. And if this survey is any indication, Americans don’t buy it.


Revelation 4:11Intelligent Design
Constantly searching for objectivity in the evolution debate...
See my profile for info


12 posted on 05/15/2006 6:45:16 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com/)
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To: Mr. Silverback; metmom

good article...put me on......


13 posted on 05/15/2006 6:45:36 AM PDT by tgambill (I would like to comment.....)
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To: Hacksaw
When referring to science and math as "hard", the meaning above was not that they are "difficult to learn", but that they are normative.

The opposite of being "hard" in this sense would be "relative": the hogwash notion that something might be "true for you" but not "true for me."

Don't get me started on THAT one.

14 posted on 05/15/2006 6:53:18 AM PDT by thulldud ("Muslim Community Leaders Warn of Backlash from Tomorrow's Terrorist Attack")
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To: metmom

Now, now, you know the experts know best. That's why they've declared themselves to be the experts.

Nope, Dover didn't "settle" this issue. Not even close.

I feel sorry for Christian evolutionists should this issue ever be "settled" on behalf of the hardcore evolution political lobby. Right now, the Dawkins types grudgingly accept people within their ranks who believe evolution was "God's method of creation", but that's because they need them. If the issue is ever "settled" the way Judge Jones thought he was "settling" it, those Christian evolutionists will get unceremoniously shown the way to the door. And if you think there's a lot of mocking of Christianity now during evo-debates, wait'll you see the fury unleashed on believers once Christians are no longer needed to keep evolution politically viable.


15 posted on 05/15/2006 6:54:41 AM PDT by puroresu (Conservatism is an observation; Liberalism is an ideology)
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To: doc30
"That's the problem. Most Americans are so scientifically illiterate that what they think is scientific controversy is really scientific ignorance against current scientific understanding. To teach the controversies in evolution, or in any branch of science (because they all have controversies in their repsective frontiers) would require a graduate-level background in the respective subject. With respect to evolution, ther are no rational explanations that fit all of the observed facts. Science is not a democracy. You can't vote or mandate by law a scientific result. Science is morally neutral. To inject morality into science means taking science and turning it into something that it isn't. Science deals with the material universe and is hence, materialistic. Science is not equipped to deal with questions of morality. On that basis, these anti-evolution attacks really are undermining the future scientific capabilities of the United States. We are already graduating more foreigners than Americans with advanced degrees in science and engineering and this type of anti-science hyperbole isn't helping."

I was going to edit out the superfluous parts of your post, but found that each and every word was critical to pointing out the elitism and disdain for 'those not like one's self' that it represents.

Sadly, I've known all too many who believed themselves to be scientists who shared that attitude.

So far I've been content to assign it to people who have so much invested in a single bit of knowledge that they must give it special status over the efforts of lesser beings.

16 posted on 05/15/2006 7:03:24 AM PDT by norton
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To: puroresu

Interesting point of view. I think you're right.


17 posted on 05/15/2006 7:03:45 AM PDT by mlc9852
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To: thulldud
The opposite of being "hard" in this sense would be "relative": the hogwash notion that something might be "true for you" but not "true for me."

Relativism is okay if it's about science. It's only when we venture into morality or ethics that there are absolutes. See how it works?

SW

18 posted on 05/15/2006 7:05:47 AM PDT by Snidely Whiplash
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To: doc30
Rejecting the ToE is not a blanket rejection of science in general. Evolution is a branch of science; not all science is evolution.

So is it better for a special interest group to decide what is and isn't to be taught in public schools using the power of the judiciary to force on unwilling parents and students that philosophy?

As far a creationists undermining science, I guess the great strides made in science for the hundreds of years before Darwin's theory was published were just coincidental. Someone probably forgot to tell Newton, Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, Pasteur, etc. that science couldn't be *properly* established all the while believing that everything was created by a God of order. My understanding is that if they had not had that concept, they would not have started looking of patterns of regularity and orderliness in the world around them.

Somewhere along the line, science got divorced from philosophy and morality and it shouldn't have been. It needs both to moderate it and keep it from being abused by man. Besides, if science has nothing to do with philosophy, then perhaps there should be some change made in giving scientists who highly specialize in their fields a . Perhaps they could rename it.

19 posted on 05/15/2006 7:21:39 AM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: doc30
We are already graduating more foreigners than Americans with advanced degrees in science and engineering and this type of anti-science hyperbole isn't helping.

That's probably because foreigners are weaker and will take the abuse dished out by arrogant priests of the church of Darwin better than strong minded, independent thinking Americans.

20 posted on 05/15/2006 7:21:39 AM PDT by The Ghost of FReepers Past (Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light..... Isaiah 5:20)
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