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Thread: Happy Evolution Day!

  1. Top | #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Should we teach evolution and science appropriately in schools? Of course. But I don't think we need to revere it to the point that it becomes a central theme in our lives, nor does anyone want to do that outside of a small subset of atheists.
    Having a story of origins isn't a choice. And it's not religious to have one, so if that's your problem with what I've said then rethink it.

    We behave in line with how we think the world is. If we think it's a place that we visit temporarily as spirits-encased-in-bodies, we sacrifice living beings and engage other magic to propitiate spirits (the theistic worldview). If we think it's a place where humans are the only entities with minds, we try to make the world comfortable for that "special" species and rip it to pieces (the enlightenment worldview). If we think we're kindred to the rest of life, we will hopefully (when the paradigm shift is more complete) live more cooperatively with the rest of life (the evolutionary and ecological worldview).

    Notice that biology doesn't determine WHAT we believe, just that we all like to believe things. If a lot of people are disinterested in science's story, that's why celebrating it openly in our culture matters a great deal.
    I agree that showing respect for science openly is a great thing - I just think it's a bit optimistic to think that science or it's implications will ever resonate for communities at large. I could draw a few analogies, but a simple one is comparing science to math. If you asked most people their feelings about math they'd probably be happy that some smart, nerd somewhere is quietly figuring out difficult problems, and that'd be about the extent of it. Similarly with science, many can appreciate scientific innovation, but it's not a field that brings warmth and joy to the individual. And more often, quite the opposite.

    When I mentioned religious dogma, what I meant is that I increasingly get the feeling from people at this message board that science and rationalism are revered in the same way Christians revere God. They have a distinct faith that science is good and is going to be the answer to all of our problems. But you know who else revered science and progress? Europeans who ended up obliterating a significant proportion of our world's cultures.

    And that's why my antennae are raised when I hear people talking about celebrating evolution. It shows a kind of reverence for an ontology that most humans simply do not share, and that I think should definitely be viewed with a certain sense of realism.

  2. Top | #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    And that's why my antennae are raised when I hear people talking about celebrating evolution. It shows a kind of reverence for an ontology that most humans simply do not share, and that I think should definitely be viewed with a certain sense of realism.
    But i wouldn't celebrate 'evolution.' I'd celebrate KNOWING about evolution. The collection of evidence for evolution. The consillience of discrete knowledge circles producing dovetailed findings.
    The science. That's the hero of the hour.

    I mean, sure, we put lobe-finned fish and trilobites on the tree, but really it's about knowing where those fit onto the tree AND HOW WE KNOW THIS.

    And Aunt Karen tries to sneak Piltdown Man or Archeoraptor onto the tree, but that still honors the svience that ultimately took those off the tree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Should we teach evolution and science appropriately in schools? Of course. But I don't think we need to revere it to the point that it becomes a central theme in our lives, nor does anyone want to do that outside of a small subset of atheists.
    Remembering the day on which a book was published that advanced our knowledge of the natural world by a giant leap is not the same thing as making evolution the central theme in our lives. And I haven't heard any atheists talking about doing that, so I'm not sure where that is coming from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by atrib View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Should we teach evolution and science appropriately in schools? Of course. But I don't think we need to revere it to the point that it becomes a central theme in our lives, nor does anyone want to do that outside of a small subset of atheists.
    Remembering the day on which a book was published that advanced our knowledge of the natural world by a giant leap is not the same thing as making evolution the central theme in our lives. And I haven't heard any atheists talking about doing that, so I'm not sure where that is coming from.
    Perhaps if you read more closely through the conversation that led to this comment it would be more clear to you.

    Mainly it stemmed from these comments:

    I would welcome this holiday being commercialized.

    Just imagine if the scientific consensus was championed, not demonized or marginalized.
    This^^. The commercialism would be a valorization of the holiday. It'd mean the idea had gained popularity and stirs excitement.
    A day for evolution is fine, sure, but should science and scientific ideas stir excitement. To me this is the wrong approach, the right approach is describing science as basically amoral. But really I was making a tongue-in-cheek comment that the idea of people getting excited about science is kind of funny, and shows a bit of unrealistic optimism about people and their motives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    ... should science and scientific ideas stir excitement. To me this is the wrong approach, the right approach is describing science as basically amoral. But really I was making a tongue-in-cheek comment that the idea of people getting excited about science is kind of funny, and shows a bit of unrealistic optimism about people and their motives.
    You wonder if scientific ideas should stir excitement in anyone? Um, yeah, if some people want to feel excited about it then why not?

    What's the connection between science being amoral and people's response to it? Let's say that someone (like me) decides that how he's a "created-by-nature" being and not a "created by-God" being is of moral significance. What's that got to do with whether science is amoral?

    You said "[most people would] probably be happy that some smart, nerd somewhere is quietly figuring out difficult problems" in your previous post. That's irrelevant too. It doesn't take indepth knowledge of science, but just knowing the general outlines and knowing they're significant to our lives. The notion it's "a small subset of atheists" who are interested is contradicted by a lot of evidence. Go look at the numerous popular titles in nature and science books. Notice the nature documentaries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    ... should science and scientific ideas stir excitement. To me this is the wrong approach, the right approach is describing science as basically amoral. But really I was making a tongue-in-cheek comment that the idea of people getting excited about science is kind of funny, and shows a bit of unrealistic optimism about people and their motives.
    You wonder if scientific ideas should stir excitement in anyone? Um, yeah, if some people want to feel excited about it then why not?
    We seem to be talking past each other, maybe because of different motives in carrying on this conversation?

    If people are excited about science that's great. What I'm addressing is the idea that people at large need to be fed science like it's a pill that's good for them. When we're moving away from extremely superstitious ideas, venerating science and reason may seem like the logical next step, but I'm arguing that it's not. Real progress away from superstitious ideas is the recognition that the world is ambiguous, complicated, and needs careful solutions.

    People should be made aware of science, and scientific implications, and if they get great joy from this awareness that's great! But I don't think we should be conveying the idea that science is a solution to our problems - we should be conveying the idea that science is a tool of engineering that can be used for any given aim, and that it won't by necessity make our lives better.

    What's the connection between science being amoral and people's response to it? Let's say that someone (like me) decides that how he's a "created-by-nature" being and not a "created by-God" being is of moral significance. What's that got to do with whether science is amoral?
    What I'm saying is that it's important that we don't push the idea that science is some kind of savior that will pave the way for our future. If any given person gets great joy by the understanding that they are created by nature, that's great. But what I actually see from so many people who consider themselves atheist is an unrealistic and unhealthy respect for 'reason', and an ill-informed view of the good that science has actually done for our species.

    It's ok to venerate nature and our understanding of nature, but healthy skepticism about how we got there should remain.

    You said "[most people would] probably be happy that some smart, nerd somewhere is quietly figuring out difficult problems" in your previous post. That's irrelevant too. It doesn't take indepth knowledge of science, but just knowing the general outlines and knowing they're significant to our lives. The notion it's "a small subset of atheists" who are interested is contradicted by a lot of evidence. Go look at the numerous popular titles in nature and science books. Notice the nature documentaries.
    These examples don't really contradict the point that most of us aren't interested in science or scientific implications beyond a superficial level. Of course people love nature documentaries, who wouldn't? But are any of these people researching the animals in these documentaries? Are they thinking about neurophysiology? Are they examining their own free will? Are they elevating science writers to the status of hero?

    But I'm certainly not claiming that people have no right to get excited about these things, I'm making the point that few people are actually interested in hard ideas or concepts, and that's ok. And I think it's more realistic to accept that this is how our species works, than thinking everyone needs a rationalist agenda pushed on them. Maybe to the extent that we minimize organized religion, but don't expect a wholesale love of or interest in science.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    A day for evolution is fine, sure, but should science and scientific ideas stir excitement.
    Yes. A thousand times yes. When I gaze up at the night sky I see a universe full of wonder and possibility, and science allows me to understand how it all works and how unimaginably magnificent and diverse our universe really is. A trillion galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars, yet to be discovered. What could be more exciting?

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    Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can."

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