Science vs. Religion and the benefits of both...
I'm often truly depressed by the complete hypocrisy of many of those that would insist that evolution is garbage and that “intelligent design,” creationism, etc. is right and should be taught as a valid theory in science classes.
Let me start by giving an un-related example of hypocrisy, I knew a woman who was an avid protestor against animal testing. Her brother was diagnosed with a severe heart defect and in my opinion was lucky enough to obtain a transplant (obviously, the original “owner” of said heart wasn’t so lucky). After listening to one of her rants one day, I pointed out that her brother was alive because of animal testing (which I thought was exceedingly obvious). Unsurprisingly, she was extremely angry with me and proceeded to rant some more in a direction that could be best described as “that’s unfair – this is a different situation.” No, it wasn’t different. I am of the opinion that her brother was worthy of the transplant and that research to develop the techniques involved in heart transplant on animals and the development/testing of anti-organ-rejection drugs involving animals were a lesser “evil” than letting her brother die. Prior to that moment all animal testing was bad and evil to her. After that moment, her opinion evolved (I’m sorry I’m not trying to bait with the use of that term) to animal testing for the production of cosmetics is evil, etc. – OK, hard for me to argue against testing for the sake of vanity.
Evolution is a theory based on the scientific method. And it is really a pretty simple and logical theory on top of that – I would call it simple math – An animal of greater fitness for its current environment statistically bears more offspring than one of lesser fitness and after a number of generations there are fewer animals with the lesser trait. How can you not believe in that concept? How could you call that evil? The same logic would apply to restaurants/economics every day – quality restaurants with good marketing tend to prosper, bad quality restaurants or restaurants with bad marketing tend to fail. The difference between animals and restaurants – restaurants can change their basic nature and thus potentially become successful – a grazing animal with a short neck can’t become a giraffe because he wants to – his genetics don’t allow for that. However, if there is an advantage to the grazing animal with a longer neck over his companions he might very well have more kids and his kids might have more kids, etc.
So what is the relationship between the above story related to hypocrisy and Evolution vs. Creationism? I can only assume that almost all people firmly on the side of teaching Creationism in science enjoy the benefits of medicine, technology, infrastructure, etc. developed via the scientific method. Evolution is a product of the scientific method. Many current advancements in medicine are based on improvements in our understanding of DNA, RNA, etc., which are the direct result of analysis via the scientific method. The fact that Palin’s child could be in-vitro diagnosed with a DNA defect is a direct result of our improved understanding of genetic inheritance, gene mutation, etc. (which are all tenets of modern evolutionary theory). Therefore, in my opinion it is hypocritical to utilize the benefits (e.g.: knowing / being prepared ahead of time for a Down’s Syndrome baby) of science / critical thinking and turn around and insist on the teaching of an idea (Creationism) completely based on belief rather than scientific method. Similarly, you can’t blindly pluck crucial elements of scientific knowledge that contradict a Judeo-Christian interpretation of Creationism (e.g.: radio carbon dating based on radioactive decay), but utilize that same scientific method on a daily basis (nuclear power production based on radioactive decay) and it not smack of hypocrisy.
Let me finish my soap box “rant” by saying that Creationism is inherently un-scientific. The scientific method is a process of observation and measurement followed by the development of a hypothesis about the cause that yielded the observation or measurement. Creationism is the belief that everything is the way it is because God made it that way (unless you think stating that giraffes have long necks because God wanted them to have long necks is a scientific statement). That doesn’t make Creationism wrong. It does make it wrong for a science class and in my opinion there are other perfect platforms for the evaluation of Creationism (e.g.: religious or philosophical study classes).
The purpose of science courses are to teach our future scientists to think in a scientific pattern rather than assume something through belief. An example of the value in teaching them critical thinking is that they might be able to push our knowledge to the point that we could grow a new heart without needing transplants/ant-rejection drugs or miracles. Wouldn't a loving creator prefer that we obtain a level where we could help ourselves?