Thinking in Darwinian Lockstep
Oh help. The religious orthodoxy that impedes discussion of biological evolution continues with its accustomed dreadful tenacity. I’m going to hide in Tierra del Fuego.
One difference between faith and science is that science allows with reasonable grace the questioning of theory. A physicist who doubts, say, the theory of general relativity will be expected to show good cause for his doubt. He won’t be dismissed in chorus as delusional and an enemy of truth.
The Metaphysics of Evolution
I was about fifteen when I began to think about evolution. I was then just discovering the sciences systematically, and took them as what they offered themselves to be, a realm of reason and dispassionate regard for truth. There was a hard-edged clarity to them that I liked. You got real answers. Since evolution depended on such sciences as chemistry, I regarded it as also being a science.
The question of the origin of life interested me. The evolutionary explanations that I encountered in textbooks of biology ran to, "In primeval seas, evaporation concentrated dissolved compounds in a pore in a rock, a skim formed a membrane, and life began its immense journey." I saw no reason to doubt this. If it hadn’t been true, scientists would not have said that it was.
I read with what would be despair if I cared enough that the courts, this time in Pennsylvania, are again getting their knickers in a knot over Evolution. Oh help. There must be another planet somewhere upon which to hide. Oprah, Rush Limbaugh, singing commercials, delayed flights, and Evolution. Anyway:
Why, oh why, are the curricula of the schools the business of the courts? If Pennsylvania wants to mention Creationism, or to require three years of French for graduation, it seems mightily to me that these things are the business of parents in Pennsylvania. Yes, I know: In practice, both freedom of expression and local government are regarded as ideals greatly to be avoided. The desire to centralize government, impose doctrine, and punish doubt is never far below the surface, anywhere. Thus our highly controlled media, our hate-speech laws, our political correctness and, now, Evolutionary Prohibition. The Catholic Church once burned heretics. The Church of Evolution savages them in obscure journals and denies them tenure and publication. As a heretic I believe that I would prefer the latter, but the intolerance is the same.
Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and the just-published A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. Visit his blog.