On BioScience and Life and Such

Are you Suffering under the Creationist Terror Regime

In Uncategorized on October 8, 2008 at 9:23 pm

post to news.thinkgene.com

Then free yourself……now !!

While reading “Postmodern evolution?” (a Nature News feature by John Whitfield) I found myself ripped out of the general feeling of bliss (caused by the fact that evo-devo is finally gaining some momentum). Because, first I read this:

Günter Wagner, an evolutionary theorist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, puts up a slide bearing the words ‘Postmodern Synthesis’. Pigliucci is moved to make an editorial suggestion from the floor: “I’d really rather we didn’t use that term.” Wagner says the slide was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but Pigliucci is worried about the impression the word creates: “If there’s one thing we don’t want, it’s for people to get the idea that there’s a bunch of evolutionary theories out there, and that they’re all equal.”

So, …. are we all forced into silence by the creationists ? The advice is not to use a term because it illuminates that there are new ways of thinking about an existing (and accepted) theory. We cannot speak in fear of being misinterpreted ? Such a coward attitude !

And then to make things worse, towards the end I read this:

…the dominant political concern was a fear of attack from fundamentalists. As Gould discovered, creationists seize on any hint of splits in evolutionary theory or dissatisfaction with Darwinism. In the past couple of decades, everyone has become keenly aware of this, regardless of their satisfaction or otherwise with the modern synthesis. “You always feel like you’re trying to cover your rear,” says Love. “If you criticize, it’s like handing ammunition to these folks.

Well, discussing in this cover-up manner will in my opinion, provide even stronger ammunition. Science is not about keeping your silence, quite the contrary.

Sometimes accusations of damaging the Darwinistic cause are used by scientists towards other scientist, – an indication of a societal reign of terror. To illustrate, here’s a comment to Oliwia Judsons blog post on Hopeful Monsters:

A “jumpy sort of evolutionary process” explains the complex organism’s sudden appearance, because there isn’t fossil evidence? Be careful or you’ll soon be agreeing with the Intelligent Design folk that there is such a thing as irreducible complexity. And “so far the data are suggestive rather than definitive”? Well, that opens a whole another box of problems, doesn’t it, Ms. Scientist Judson? Speculative articles such as these masquerade as science and do great harm to the whole field.— Posted by Charles M

Many are, of course aware of the situation, but nevertheless ends up bowing in fear of creationist attack (again from the Nature News feature):

” So don’t criticize in a grandstanding way, says Coyne: “People shouldn’t suppress their differences to placate creationists, but to suggest that neo-Darwinism has reached some kind of crisis point plays into creationists’ hands,” he says.

The glue holding a regime of terror together, are terrorized people. But, why be afraid, – facts are on our side. We are free to safely discuss the implications of these facts. There is no danger in this.

So please, please, stop holding your arguments back. It does not serve the cause of solidifying evolution as a fundamental force in biology. Speaking clearly on all scientific views of evolution theory on the other hand will, and holding back only makes things worse.

  1. You make good points, but I take exception to your quote of what I said about post-modernism. My objection there has nothing to do with creationism: the word “post-modernism” is associated with cultural relativism (though post-modernism itself is more complex and nuanced), and therefore with an attitude of “your opinions is as good as mine.” I did not want people to associate what we were trying to do in Altenberg with a matter of simple taste…

  2. Unlike most scientists and, in particular, European scientists, my family is from the American Midwest and are evangelical Christians. Many of my teachers were Christians, too. My parents are well educated but also believe in creationism. So, I have plenty experience with this debate.

    You do NOT want to engage these people on an emotional level, you will only push them away. Further, the more intelligent they are, the better they will be at rationalizing whatever they already believe. Finally, remember that even Francis Collins wrote the book: “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.”

    Instead: try, “well, I’m going by what we use to everyday in labs to make drugs everybody uses everyday, but honestly, this theory is of rather ordinary facts and it’s not very interesting. This stuff is all very elementary, and people can believe whatever they want. I don’t recommend reevaluating anything, and what you believe seems to work for you, and if it makes you happy, why change? The real science is way too hard, anyways. Don’t worry about it.”

    Stupid people will humbled but not offended, and smart people’s egos will begin working against them…

  3. […] Are you Suffering under the Creationist Terror Regime […]

  4. To me, evolution is a no brainer. Fact 1: Everybody dies, yet life persists. I think nearly everyone will agree with that no matter what they believe. OK, so how does life persist despite the fact that everybody dies? The answer is reproduction and I also think that nearly everyone will agree with that, no matter what they believe. Fact 2: Every environment changes. I think everyone will agree with that too, matter what they believe. Indeed, any environment harboring life forms must change, simply because of their existence. OK, so how does life persist in a changed environment? To me, this is possible only through natural selection for relatively small environmental changes and Darwinian evolution for relatively large environmental changes. In the long run, life persists only by evolution. It’s truly a wonderful thing.

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