Boston.com ran this story today about a researcher suing Woods Hole. He claims he was fired because he believes in Creationism and not in Evolution.
What strikes me as so odd about the article, the quotes presented, and other discussions of similar events in the media is that they so often miss the key point that would allow us to dismiss the notion right away that Creationism is just another theory that is in competition with the Evolution theory. And move on with our lives.
The issue is not whether there are two competing theories or not. Evolution is a theory and there is no ultimate proof, but is was established a long time ago, generations of scientists have been trying to chip away on it, and it has pretty much held up against all these attempts. It is a good theory, and chances are that it is a correct theory. One can believe in it or not, but that is not the point. The point is – there is no place for beliefs in science. The point is that in order to establish and work on a theory, one must use scientific methods, and Creationists are trying to replace scientific methods with religious beliefs and pseudo-science, which, if allowed into the world of science, would quickly undermine and invalidate everything we know today. It would no longer be required to use sound scientific methods to establish a hypothesis, and then work on proving it. Any dimwit could come along and establish new theories as he pleases, and instead of conducting scientifically sound experiements and using mathematical and statistical methods as proof, could claim some pseudo-scientific enlightenment. With the methods of science compromised, we would soon not be able to distinguish between truth and fairytale anymore. Science would become what the media is today – untrustable, and a preferred tool for political and religious manipulators.
I consider myself more an engineer than a scientist and this subject is particularly troubling to me because many engineering disciplines rest on scientific foundations. It is not difficult to imagine that someone will soon come along and rewrite engineering text books based on religious beliefs. I can think of very specific examples that sound funny today, but is this really so far out there?
God created the world, and Jesus walked over water, hence we don’t need to be quite as careful when we do bridge calculations anymore. I believe that people can walk on water if they only believe in it, too.
The attempt of establishing Creationism, or Intelligent Design, as it is sometimes called now, as an alternative theory to Evolution must be dismissed because Creationism is not, by definition, a scientific theory. There is no scientific evidence in its support and we cannot conduct experiments that would support it. One cannot allow any conceivable idea into the house of science, just because it is thinkable and it cannot be proved wrong. Most religious ideas cannot be proved wrong – they are transcendent. A theory requires more than just that to be a scientific theory. Scientists should not have to spend time defending the theory of science. Such cultish attempts to undermine science should be ignored, dismissed, and not even discussed in mainstream media. Anybody who does not agree with this is, by definition, not a scientist, but a religious quacksalver who’s firing is perfectly fine and necessary.
But is the solution really that trivial? Creationism is not simply a misguided idea propagated by a small group of naive conservatives. As it has been previously established (e.g. see Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) , Creationism is much rather the vehicle of a well-organized, well-funded, and nationwide attempt to introduce hard-core right-wing doctrin (mind you, this is not religious doctrin) into areas of our lives previously not deemed possible.
The Dover school board claimed that
there are gaps in the Evolution theory, which is a theory rather than an established fact, and that students have a right to consider other views on the origins of life.
Did you notice the subtle difference – theory vs view? Here lies the answer, which is NO! The students do not have a right to learn about other views, but certainly a right to learn about other scientific theories (if there were any). If it was so, then I could claim that my view is that the universe is really the excrement of a giant who pooped into space a very long time ago, and that students need to learn about my view.
The Catholic church has been teaching the concept of theistic evolution, and certain vatican officials are being quoted as saying that Creationism is paganism. It is clear to me that the underlying motive of propagating Creationism in the US is not religous, but deeply political. Good save us all!