I saw a DVD in my public library called “Lies in the Textbook”. Before I had a chance to pick it up, assumptions came to mind. I thought it was going to be a jab at the way history books have been a product of the privileged pen.
So I was surprised when I read the back of the case to see that this lecture-on-video was the work of a science teacher. At home watching it, this man in his slacks, button-up shirt, and tie spoke to a crowd about those “religious” and “foolish” who buy into the non-scientific. The audience joined him in laughter as they mocked those who accept such stretches of logic to bend to their beliefs.
The kicker? This man was saying all these things about the teachers and scientists who support and teach evolution.
It was a total table-turner to see him get after those who subscribe to the accepted beliefs of evolution for being that which the science community accuses the religious speaker and his ilk to be! But more than a neat role-reversal, it was telling about how much we all value science, logic, evidence, reason, and how much we all have a tendency to contort the truth to fit our ideas.
The speaker demonstrated examples of modern scientists trying to squeeze all of the natural world into their theory. In turn, however, Creationists purport ideas that have no ability to be tested by science whatsoever: that God created the world in 6 days. I’m not quite sure where he gets off pointing fingers at scientists for buying into a “religion”–as he deemed it–when he blatantly accepts what his religion claims.
Despite this, I appreciated the speaker because we don’t hear too many Creationists laud science as he did, and so did something I rarely see: taking a very critical eye toward popular scientific theory and finding all the places they fall short.
We live in a world where you have to pretty much believe in what biologists and geologists teach, otherwise you’re labeled as kooky or fundamentalist. Yet I’ve had concerns about accepted beliefs about how earth formations and animals came about as they are today.
Every time there’s a geological formation that interesting, it’s explained with gradual changes stretched over ions. But when I visited Thailand and China where walls of rocks jutted out of the water, I didn’t believe that anything that gradual was the cause, but rather, that there was some real key points that made the difference:
If this river in China was slowly eking its way down through the rock, why is there an unusual amount of erosion at the river’s current level? The formation wasn’t steady, but seems to have formed fairly suddenly with it’s current state in place for a long time.
I know I’m supposed to use a time-lapse perspective when imagining geologic change, but I also have a hard time believing that the Colorado River created the Grand Canyon as theorized and accepted to the point of being considered fact:
There are a lot of these theories now considered fact. And when 8th graders take a test in school and the question is: How did the Grand Canyon form? They have to choose A, B, C, or D. And they get a worse grade if they don’t pick B: the Colorado River carved it.
These are the lies that the speaker was getting at: that we call these theories fact. And though I’m not a follower of his ideas, he’s on to something.
When something is a fact, there’s no need to question it. Blind acceptance is something people like to accuse religion of promoting, and that this is the case in science textbooks is especially troubling because science is, by definition, the act of testing and retesting, challenging and questioning. If we stop questioning, it’s not just the people who get lazy, it’s the scientists who can take it easy because they chip their theories in stone.
How do we expect future scientists to be original and creative when they are told facts that aren’t facts?
(I know some of this is in reaction to Creationists like the speaker in my DVD. Scientists don’t want to waste time battling over well-proven theories. But in this process it seems they’ve broken some of their own rules.)
My final beef with the natural science community is that I’m supposed to believe that humans evolved over generations from another, ancient species. But to me, it’s clear humans are completely unique–not just with the brains, but the hands to create. Also, to go from an assumed all-hairy ancestor to only having hair in a few places as our African relatives and ancestors have seems quite a leap. Indeed, the creation of humans appears to represent a whole new plateau in the development of life. The existence of that rock wall in China and the Grand Canyon also appear to be the result of more drastic creations.
I think there’s something more to the present state of the Earth and its inhabitants than meets the yet-scientific eye. That’s the reality of science: it only accounts for what we can measure. I’d like to see a scientists acknowledge these holes. It isn’t an either/or thing. Either science has the answer or it’s Biblical. Maybe it’s something totally different–not yet measurable.
to new plateaus,
p.s. The man in the video was Kent Hovind, a well-known speaker and advocate of Intelligent Design, a 6,000 year old Earth, and the Creation as it is written in the Bible. He is now in prison; the feds locked him up for not paying enough taxes.