I woke up this morning at 5 am hoping to grade a few papers that I have lingering from last week. Instead, my mind is replaying and sorting, and trying figure out why some folks think the way they do.There are some in this world who firmly believe that if a phenomenon is not observable, that it is untouchable by science. I guess because we have no way of verifying, with absolute certainty if our hypotheses about the past are true (whatever truth is!).
I enjoy doing science. Or as Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory said, “Peeling back the mask of nature.” I think many children are the same way; curious, imaginative, observant. We have a public school system that is supposed to nurture this natural curiosity and aid in its development. All kid sin american public school take “science.” By the time they graduate they have had, earth science, biology, chemistry, physical science, and maybe even physics. Then I get them…
When I get freshmen in General Zoology they are primed to begin their study to become doctors, veterinarians, physical therapists, dentists, and the like. Then the bomb drops. They have to learn about evolution. Being most are from Oklahoma, this is the first time they have been exposed to the idea. They should have been exposed to evolution in high school, yet most have not. Needless to say there is lots of chair squirming for the several days we talk about natural selection, the endosymbiont hypothesis, and the origin of life.
This should be a pretty cut and dry series of lectures, but this year a student attempted to trap me in the reducio ad absurdum. Where did the first elements come from. Where did the stars com from, why did the big bang happen…. She wanted me to say God made it happen. I didn’t. and I
never will….in Science class.
There is a fundamental disconnect in american society. We don’t know what science is and how to distinguish from non-science. Our public schools need to do a better job teaching kids what science is and is not. Religion is not science. Just because science does not have an answer does not mean we should make recourse to a divine power. Parents and teachers who do not know science shouldn’t teach it. Pastors, priests, and preachers should mind their own business. Help people with their moral compass, feed teh hungry and cloth the poor. Holy books are not science books. Don’t get me wrong. Holy books are important, but they don’t tell us how the world works. They tell us how we should work in the world and how we should treat this world in which we live.
My cereal is gone and I have to get those papers graded, so I will leave this post as a very rough sketch of what I wanted to say. I welcome any comments anyone may have.