"a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology...
"...says that evolution – along with the Big Bang theory and embryology – is a lie from the “pit of hell”)"
Is he on that committee as the comic relief?
A deep-ocean research mission along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge has yielded up an oddity: an invertebrate that called to mind the venerable Jedi, Yoda. Yoda purpurata – that is, purple Yoda – is one of three new species of acorn worm the mission discovered, as reported in the current issue of Invertebrate Biology. Don't whisper …
Regretfully, no. "First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare." Must mean 'relief'.
"I wonder if they are trying to take over and cancel science"
You clearly don't keep up with US politics: that's PRECISELY what the Religious Right (US equivalent of the Taliban) have been trying to do since Regan reached out to them in the 80s. It's not even a secret: they have quite openly stated their aim - to make the US a Christian republic in much the way Iran is a Muslim one - and step one in the game plan is undermining science teaching in American schools by getting things like Creationism taught alongside evolutionary theory.
The extraordinary thing is how effective this has been: the proportion of students - even on science courses - who arrive at US universities rejecting evolution is scary. Can't remember the exact figure but I think it was upwards of a third.
To be fair, organised religion has much to fear from rationality: when the basis of your business is irrational belief - dictionary definition of faith - then evidence and thinking risks destroying everything. I guess it's no coincidence that the majority of scientists are not religious - or Republican.
Fortunately, organised religion has millenia of experience manipulating people - sew a few seeds of rational doubt (not hard when rationality and science is all about testing and re-testing theories), then follow up with a storm of BS and enough people will fall for it to put the issue in doubt. The idea that you're being really clever seeing though some huge conspiracy that's fooled everyone else is extraordinarily seductive. With people who think they're rational, appealing to scepticism is an amazingly powerful and effective ploy.
It's not just religions, of course. Look at climate scepticism: a few seeds of doubt about some tiny, largely irrelevant point buried in a couple of papers and suddenly 40% of the population reject decades of peer reviewed research from thousands scientist in dozens of universities. The real irony? Most of 'em think they're being rational!
Evolution (as it pertains to origins) is pretty much irrelevant to science. Physics, chemistry, maths, engineering, computing, meteorology, astronomy, medicine, none are impacted evolution. Even biology appears to be a bit worst off for it - we thought randomness would lead to junk DNA, fortunately someone kept studying it and found that it has a purpose after all. Lots of things feed into evolution but precious little comes out of it, especially given the many mutually-exclusive and non-universally accepted variations.
Why shouldn't people show up at university rejecting evolution? It has no impact on scientific experimentation and many people go to university to study history, philosophy and art, not science. We have this big theory of DNA replication and mutation but we can't even get an exact DNA-duplicated sheep to live a normal lifespan.
Whatever merits evolution has in its use of science, the main use of evolution is to replace religion. Try asking a mathematician about the probability of evolution and see where that gets you.
Sure, the US Right is full of crackpot religious nutters and organised religion has used and abused power down through the ages. However, with the rise of atheism, I would disagree that the 20th and 21st centuries have been more peaceful. Its more accurate to say that people are naturally proud, greedy and power-hungry. That is the constant, down through the ages, despite any pretensions to religion or otherwise.
Perhaps people reject science (such as climate studies) because of the evolutionary baggage it comes with. Rationality is not what rules people's lives and they know it. When a mother stands next to her daughter's coffin weeping, evolution says that her daughter was just an accidental atomic arrangement, on a par with the box she's in. That isn't useful. Evolution says that societal rules and ethics are just a contract to allow us to survive. So if you find a drunk gambler with a pocketful of cash lying passed out in a dark alley, what's the rational thing to do? In an age of cheap contraception, where is the rationality in having children? Why commit to someone when it may be personally disadvantageous? Why don't we kill off the anyone who is unlikely to contribute to society? While there are plenty of nice atheists, being one isn't rational,
Worse, people rarely go against their culture. If you needlessly attach something which breaks someones culture to "science", they are likely to reject the whole lot rather than reject their culture. There are plenty of other scientific theories we don't insist on people accepting in order to be considered rational (to the extent that it is useful), so why with evolution? To a non-believer, it looks just like any other religion, but without any benefits or ethical requirements.
"unless, of course, you take the side of Republican Paul Broun, a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, who says that evolution – along with the Big Bang theory and embryology – is a lie from the “pit of hell”"
Please tell me this was some misplaced attempt at humour. It's too early on a Monday morning for that kind of dispare inducing statement.
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