Attacks On Science From The Right

The New York Times has an article on creationists taking up global warming denialism:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

In Kentucky, a bill recently introduced in the Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss “the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories,” including “evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”

There is really nothing new here. The issue isn’t one of beliefs on individual issues such as evolution or climate change. The real question is whether one accepts the scientific method as the most reliable and objective way to study the universe around us, or if they prefer to place their religious and ideological beliefs over the facts.

The article notes the lack of scientific controversy over these issues:

For mainstream scientists, there is no credible challenge to evolutionary theory. They oppose the teaching of alternative views like intelligent design, the proposition that life is so complex that it must be the design of an intelligent being. And there is wide agreement among scientists that global warming is occurring and that human activities are probably driving it. Yet many conservative evangelical Christians assert that both are examples of scientists’ overstepping their bounds…

Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist who directs the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University and has spoken against efforts to water down the teaching of evolution to school boards in Texas and Ohio, described the move toward climate-change skepticism as a predictable offshoot of creationism.

“Wherever there is a battle over evolution now,” he said, “there is a secondary battle to diminish other hot-button issues like Big Bang and, increasingly, climate change. It is all about casting doubt on the veracity of science — to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism.”

Adding climate change as a target is strategically beneficial to those hostile to science on the right. It helps circumvent legal decisions that their attempts to teach creationism represents a violation of separation of church and state. They remain wrong in their attacks on the scientific methods, but an attack on science itself might does not raise the same legal problems as promoting teaching of creationism alone.

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9 Comments

  1. 1
    muffler says:

    Classic – If this behavior isn’t stopped now it will be the death to science through methodical watering down.  It’s death by a thousand paper cuts.  Science must be getting too close as to scare them into questioning their precepts of faith.  The fact aren’t being manufactured to met the dogma and the dogma can’t hold up.

  2. 2
    Frankie says:

    RT @DOMINICDADAMO: Attacks On Science From The Right – http://liberalvaluesblog.com/2010/03/04/attacks-on-science-from-the-right/ #p2

  3. 3
    Tom says:

    Regarding the teaching of evolution….I don’t want to split hairs, and though I am a proponent of the scientific method, I am not convinced (religion aside) that the proponents of evolution have submitted to the scientific method in that the fossil record still has yet to verify it’s “factuality”.  Having hope that the fossil record will someday verify various claims is nothing short of hopeful thinking at this point.  I am a mathematician by trade and deeply enjoy science of all kinds, but evolution is not a model I can accept regardless of any religious perspective.

  4. 4
    Tom says:

    Frankie,
    What religious dogmas exactly are threatened by science in your mind?  I am a person who believes of God’s existence and I  am concerned more about the denial of God’s existence (which by the way can never be proven away using the scientific method or any other method because of our limited ability to observe — heck, if we can’t know if aliens exist, how can we know if God exists) than about the validity of science.  Some folk in the science world seem to work hard to create models that deny the possibility of a creator rather than merely looking at the facts and coming to conclusions inductively.  I don’t think that any verified law of science that we currently hold to in the scientific community sheds any doubt on my view of God.  And even before I had any faith, as a mathematician, I thought evolution was at best a pipe dream — lacking the rigor of other science.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    There is considerable evidence present including by not limited to the fossil record. Evolution is accepted as fact by the scientific community due to the weight of the evidence and repeatedly fulfilling the requirements of the scientific method. It is not true that scientists “hope that the fossil record will someday verify various claims.” The record has already verified the science.

    You are also incorrect when you say, “Some folk in the science world seem to work hard to create models that deny the possibility of a creator rather than merely looking at the facts and coming to conclusions inductively.”

  6. 6
    Tom says:

    You say, “The record has already verified the science”.  Check your facts…many scientists do not claim this definitively, religious or not.
    And many in the science community with no faith perspective do not accept evolution.  It has not fulfilled the requirements of the scientific method.  You must not really understand the scientific method.  It is still a theory and not a law — give folk the freedom to reject it until it is proven to be a law.  That’s all I ask.  The scientific community still calls it the theory for evolution for good reason.   Even if it is “mostly reasonable” by the popular opinion of science folk does not mean it should be allowed skepticism until proven.  In mathematics, a theorem is not accepted and skepticism is allowed until a verified proof is set forth.  Evolution is far from proven, even using the scientific method which is no proof at all since it relies upon observation, which according to Heisenberg is flawed.
    When evolution is healthily critiqued, folk have the same response to that critique that you claim various religious folks do to your critiques of God.  They say — “hey, it’s a clear fact, moron”…when in fact, it is not clear and not proven factual…

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    No Tom, there is absolutely no controversy about evolution in the scientific community. It has repeatedly fulfilled the requirements of the scientific method. Evolution has become the basis of modern biology (which I have a degree in). You are clearly rejecting modern science because of your religious views. To deny evolution is as absurd in the 21st century as to claim it has never been proven that the earth is round or to deny gravity.

  8. 8
    Tom says:

    The evidence is not yet fully conclusive in my mind.  If it becomes more conclusive, I will relent.  I still haven’t seen enough change accounted for in the fossil record to see movement from one “kind” to another in the chain.  And, there are many other logical leaps in seeking to reconcile our observations with the evolutionary model (it is merely a model, like the atom).  I felt this way long before faith was in the picture for me, which is relatively recent.
    Granted, most scientists espouse the theory…but it is still not certain.  That’s my point.  Consensus is not adequate.  Recall that at one time in history, the entire scientific community thought the earth was flat — your argument works against you here.  All of the observation (from the frames we were privy to) supported a moving sun and stationary earth.  Consensus is not definitive and there are things unproven and many questions unanswered within the model proposed under Darwin’s theory.  Perhaps a different or better model could resolve the questions and better fit the reality we are currently able to observe.
    Let’s not turn science into a religion either.  It is an imperfect system designed to formally investigate processes — this investigation is flawed for a number of reasons:
    1)  Our observation is significantly flawed.
    2)  Our imaginitive ability to see processes and to create models that mimic reality in certain ways is limited.
    3)  The fact that at every point in history there are many scientific theories that will be either disregarded or changed with new evidence should lead us to approach science with a healthy degree of skepticism.
    I am not saying all of this to deny the power of science or its usefulness, but rather to put it in it’s place.  Science does not get at definitive fact since our fram of reference is so limited and our observation is grossly imperfect and affected by our progress.  Skepticism of a scientific theory (especially one not proven) should be permitted.  To not permit this skepticism and to deem it idiotic is to make, in your terms, science a religion itself.  I agree, it is foolish to believe that the earth is flat now.  At one time, however, it was not foolish to think that given what was known, especially considering the fact that most experts agreed it was flat.  It wasn’t just “religion” that oppressed round earth folk.  Most scientists thought they were looney.  But their skepticism of a status-quo theory led to great discoveries and the uncovering of truth.  Even when all or most of science promotes a theory or a model like a religion (as they did with the flat earth controversy), folk are still free to investigate other models and to espouse other theories.  Though I have faith (I doubt I have a religion in the sense you speak of it), I will not enforce it, but I will share it and to promote it as what I hold true.  Folk can reject or accept it — no skin off my back either way, but I stand convinced they are wrong as do they me.  And, I could be wrong without knowing it.
    Sure, I believe in a creator.  But I don’t doubt evolution because of that.  I find it unconvincing from the standpoint of logic, my experience, and my knowledge of probablitlity, among other things.  Equating my skepticism with believing the world to be flat today is way over the top — I hope you know that.  The evidence that the world is round is absolutely conclusive as far as our observation can possibly tell.  Evolution is not absolutely conclusive.  There are many unverified facts and unanswered questions.
     

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    You are confusing pre-scientific opinion with what has been proven by use of the scientific method. There is far too much evidence to question evolution. This includes extensive fossil evidence, geographical examples of speciation, structural homologies which is best explained by common descent, biogeography, and aspects of embryology which are best explained by common descent. This was already sufficient evidence to prove evolution, but on top of this in recent years we have far greater evidence not available in Darwin’s day from molecular biology.

    Your claim that your denialism does not stem from religion is nonsense. Evolution is one of the most fundamental ideas of modern science and has far more evidence in its favor than many scientific ideas. There is only one reason that people spread false claims about this particular science–they perceive it as contradicting their religious view. Skepticism and denialism are two totally different things and you are clearly practicing denialism.

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