creationist debates

William L at
Tue Sep 30 07:43:58 CDT 1997


sylvia hope wrote:
>
>           The religious endeavor needs the understanding and
>           communication with scientists, not their contempt.  For some
>           obscure reason God was set up as the authority and guardian
>           of morality and connected to the idea of solace and
>           everlasting life.  Evolution undermined all this and the
>           ancient foundation of the social order - and what have we
>           got?  Better medicine is not enough.  Clever arguments that
>           science has led to material gains leave the spirit empty -
>
>           I think some scientists are so fundamentally worried about
>           the emptiness out there underscored by their daily endeavors
>           that they express their fear as contempt for the solace of
>           religion.  Did Darwin say something about the expression of
>           an emotion by the display of its opposite?  And there was S.
>           Freud with reaction formation.
>
>           There are programs of scientific research into ethics and
>           morality - has anyone asked - why has the belief in a god
>           been such a powerful force in human history?  How did it
>           start?  Don't tell me it's a plot to control the masses.
>
>           Are such studies even more deconstructionist for religion?

In my experience, the scientific side is prepared to live and let live,
for the most part.  There are exceptions, but most scientists either
have some religion of their own, or else consider it irrelevant and
ignore it. But the creationists are unwilling to let religion remain
where it belongs, in the private sphere.  You have no right to interfere
with my religion, nor I with yours, and neither of us has any right to
interject our particularistic religious concerns into public life.  This
is a position they are unwilling to accept.

The problem arises from the resentment that some religionists (?) have
for anyone who takes a position that in any way challenges their own
belief.  This is not a new phenomenon, witness the traditional
fundamentalist religious attitude towards any dissenting movement.  And
towards any other religion.  (Christianity has probably the worst
record, but is by no means unique in this.)  Perhaps it is that they
have so much emotional capital invested that anyone who doesn't agree
with their position threatens them.  I would say that this should be
their problem, not someone elses.  However, they make it everyone elses
problem.

Creationists overtly seek to require that a subjective, untestable,
belief be given equal status with a falsifiable, and much tested,
hypothesis.  Ultimately, though, they seek to have that hypothesis
replaced entirely by their belief.  I would suggest that this is because
they find this belief comforting, but find it hard to cling to when the
general tenor of society forces them to examine it objectively.

Will Pratt

--
Dr. William L. Pratt, Curator of Invertebrates
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Natural History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Box 4012
Las Vegas, NV 89154-4012
(702)895-1403, fax (702)895-3094 e-mail prattw at nevada.edu




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