I was highly amused by this posting on some of the school board turmoil going on in Texas right now. Basically, a school board member who ‘opposes teaching science over creationism because “. . . science is always trying to find problems with stuff.”‘ is opposed in turn by the blogger, who says ‘Well, yes. That’s, um, that’s what it does, sir.’ He then bemoans his loss of hope for the species.
Fortunately for those who happen to subscribe to the theory of evolution, our relative analytic capabilities are mostly moot in the survival of the species. We can be dumber than day-glo tetras and swim in circles as long as our little lives last, obeying the rules of procreation and sustenance, and no matter how many times we ram into the clear walls of our tank, knocking ourselves silly, the species will survive.
Do I have problems with certain aspects of evolutionary theory? Of course I do. There are still kinks to be worked out as to the specifics of how we all got here. Normally I would say science will, in its analytical way, eventually work these kinks out. But this whole school board mess has made me a little unsure. Will intelligent scientists be so boxed into a corner that they forsake questioning and analysis? Are we going to be boxing our science teachers into a corner by forcing them to balance between science and religion? It remains to be seen.
And what about organized religion and related belief? As a Christian (yes, I believe in many things others don’t, including people and justice), I know that doubt and questioning are both parts of a strong faith. I know that organized religion has its scars, but I think there is still worth in these institutions. I think if your faith is not strong enough to tolerate new and opposing ideas, you’re doing something wrong. In particular, if you don’t have the ability to trust your children to make their own choices, there’s something wrong.
Finally, the ultimate understanding of what science should be is not a negative one. It’s not all about deconstructing or testing someone else’s ideas. It’s about having your own idea, trying to think about things in a new and revelatory light, and testing whether or not your own thoughts have validity and worth. And while these kinds of test can teach us something concrete about our world and ourselves and how to do things, religion can be used in a similar way. If we refuse to make the first intuitive leap of faith – whether in social responsibility, philosophy and faith, or scientific understanding – we are not fully using our gifts. That waste is the same, whether those gifts are given by God or a product of natural selection.