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Evolution and Stickers
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Here's an op-ed about the Cobb County evolution sticker controversy from Kenneth R. Miller, one of the people who actually co-wrote the textbook some people wanted to slap the sticker on.

This paragraph really sums up the whole thing:

Is evolution beyond dispute? Of course not. In fact, the most misleading part of the sticker was its concluding sentence: "This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered." Think about that. The sticker told students that there was just one subject in their textbooks that had to be approached with an open mind and critically considered. Apparently, we are certain of everything in biology except evolution. That is nonsense. What that sticker should have told students is what our textbook makes clear: Everything in science should be approached with critical thinking and an open mind.

To which any thinking person should think: duh. And that's why the judge ruled that the sticker had a religious purpose.

I remember a moment in my freshman biology class in high school very well. We were talking about sexual reproduction in animals, and the teacher was describing how the sperm whip their tails and swim toward an ovary. I raised my hand and asked how the sperm knew which direction to swim, how they knew where the ovary was. The teacher said, "Don't know. If you find the answer to that you could win a Nobel Prize."

That was the first time I'd ever heard a science teacher admit that they didn't have the answer to something. That realization, that the biology textbook was not only incomplete, but maybe drastically incomplete, was really quite a revelation.

People often have this impression of scientists as arrogant, ivory tower eggheads, horders of secret knowledge who look down their noses at the rest of the peons. But any scientist worth a damn is exactly the opposite, essentially humble. Most scientists I've ever met have an ego, to be sure, but they invariably recognize that whatever field their studying, they are barely scratching the surface. Any halfway decent scientist can reel off a couple dozen major deficiencies in knowledge in their given area, things that they'd give their left arm to know the answer to.

Kids especially have this view that textbooks are some sort of gospel, that they are everything there is to know about a given subject, rather than a constantly changing body of knowledge. I think this one of the major drawbacks to an authoritarian view of truth and knowledge, one that religion often represents as a universe where everything is known (at least everything that's worth knowing). What we don't know, god in his infinite wisdom does.

Contrast that with the view that we are essentially ignorant, that there is much more about the universe we don't know than what we do. That ocean of ignorance is actually very exhilarating. I think it's frightening to many, and that's part of the appeal of a super-wise spirit that does know everything, even if we won't share the information.

It's interesting to note that this recent attempt to single out evolutionary theory was under the guise of "open mindedness", as Miller points out:

The forces of anti-evolution will pretend that the sticker case is an example of censorship and that the sinister forces of science have converged on classrooms to prevent honest and open examination of a controversial idea.

There is great irony in such charges.

Yes. Creationists aren't at all interested in approaching the world with an open mind. They're simply interested in reinforcing their worldview and imposing it on others. Their minds are the very opposite of open and their intent is the very opposite of critical exploration of the truth.

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