Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Science and its detractors

In the recent Delaware senatorial election debate with her Democratic opponent Chris Coons, Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell said:
"Talk about imposing your beliefs on the local schools," she said. "You've just proved how little you know not just about constitutional law but about the theory of evolution."
Coming from someone who didn't know that the principle of separation of church and state arises from the First Amendment, this is a bold statement indeed. Coming from someone who claimed that "there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting [creationism]", well, it's a breathtaking display of ignorant arrogance. She's batting 0-for-2, after all.

What is it with the creationist crowd that they think they know so much about science that they can pooh-pooh it? They manifestly don't. No, no, stop with the "reputable scientists work at the Discovery Institute" blather. Creationism is not science, period, end of discussion. Intelligent design is creationism with an asterisk and therefore is not science, period, end of discussion.

Why? Because any question posed by the fossil record that does not have an answer is assumed to represent the handiwork of God (or in the parlance of intelligent design, a designer that could, if you wished, be regarded as God).

Positing that God is responsible for as-yet unexplained anomalies in the fossil record allows creationism's supporters to declare victory and go home without even trying to answer the question. That, I suspect, is the tremendous appeal of creationism to its advocates: it forecloses the need for inquiry. It is a step toward removing the study of life from the realm of science.

No one who has the slightest inkling of what science is, and who has the tiniest shred of intellectual honesty, can possibly buy into such an intellectually dishonest way of thinking.

O'Donnell's advocacy of creationism demonstrates her anti-scientific bent. At a time when we need more and smarter people running the country, she and her ilk are the last ones we can afford to be setting policy. They are intellectually lazy or dishonest and they have a profoundly harmful agenda.

O'Donnell would have been a more reasonable candidate if she'd stuck to being a witch.

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