Government-funded accommodationism at UC Berkeley

The University of California at Berkeley has a website, Understanding Evolution, which is generally a great resource for teachers and students of evolution. There’s one fly in this ointment, though, and it’s in the section called “Misconceptions about evolution.” It includes the usual misconceptions: evolution is “just a theory”, it’s not widely accepted by scientists, and so on.  And the site does a nice job of refuting these.

But there’s an additional misconception. Guess what it is.

It’s that “religion and  evolution and religion are incompatible.” Who could have been dumb enough to think that?  And this is how the website dispels this ludicrous notion:

Misconceptions about evolution and religion

  • Evolution and religion are incompatible. Because of some individuals and groups stridently declaring their beliefs, it’s easy to get the impression that science (which includes evolution) and religion are at war; however, the idea that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect. People of many different faiths and levels of scientific expertise see no contradiction at all between science and religion. For many of these people, science and religion simply deal with different realms. Science deals with natural causes for natural phenomena, while religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world.

Of course, some religious beliefs explicitly contradict science (e.g., the belief that the world and all life on it was created in six literal days does conflict with evolutionary theory); however, most religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings. In fact, many religious people, including theologians, feel that a deeper understanding of nature actually enriches their faith. Moreover, in the scientific community there are thousands of scientists who are devoutly religious and also accept evolution. For concise statements from many religious organizations regarding evolution, see Voices for Evolution on the NCSE website. To learn more about the relationship between science and religion, visit the Understanding Science website.

Who’s responsible for this stuff?

Credits
This site is a collaborative project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education. For more information, see our credits page.

Funding
Support for Understanding Evolution has been provided by The National Science Foundation [NSF] (under grant no. 0096613) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (under grant no. 51003439).

Now I’m sure that when the NSF gave money to the Cal Museum of Paleontology, it had no idea that taxpayers’ money would go to fund theology—for that’s exactly what this kind of accommodationism is—but we need to be aware of what message taxpayer–funded institutions are putting out to the public. (Berkeley is a state university)  My position has always been that scientific organizations, particularly ones funded by the taxpayers, should say nothing about the compatibility of science and faith.  The statement about the teaching of evolution by the Society for the Study of Evolution, for instance, is a model of how to promote evolution purely on its scientific merits, without treading into the marshy hinterlands of theology.

Let’s rewrite that statement so it better reflects reality, though of course I’m not suggesting that this appear on the website:

Misconceptions about evolution and religion

  • Evolution and religion are compatible. Because of some individuals and groups stridently declaring their beliefs, it’s easy to get the impression that science (which includes evolution) and religion are at war; and indeed, in many respects they are.  Although people of many different faiths and levels of scientific expertise see no contradiction at all between science and religion, for many others the contradictions are many and profound.  Science and religion have different methods of “knowing” (science depends on reason, observation, doubt and replication, religion on dogma, authority, and revelation); science and religion arrive at different conclusions about the world (e.g., the existence of Adam and Eve or of a sudden creation); and while there is only one form of science that transcends ethnicity or faith, different faiths arrive at different conclusions, so that the idea of religious “truth” must differ from that of scientific “truth.”  Further, although many people feel that science and religion simply deal with different realms—that science deals with natural causes for natural phenomena and religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world—many others think this demarcation is misleading.  Many religions, for example, make claims about the natural world, some of them testable by science, and many of these claims have been disproven by science. Religion and science are distinct realms only insofar as religion is deistic, and posits no supernatural intervention into the creation or workings of the universe.

Of course, some religious beliefs explicitly contradict science (e.g., the belief that the world and all life on it was created in six literal days does conflict with evolutionary theory); however, some religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings. But many others, do. In fact, only a minority of Americans—16%—accept that humans evolved via a purely naturalistic process (the current scientific consensus), 38% agree with a theistic evolution of humans guided by God, and 40% of Americans think that humans were directly created by God in their present form within the last 10,000 years or so.

Although many religious people, including theologians, feel that a deeper understanding of nature actually enriches their faith, that can be seen as a way to avoid the cognitive dissonance of simultaneously entertaining two incompatible worldviews.  And although in the scientific community there are thousands of scientists who are devoutly religious and also accept evolution, around 60% of scientists are atheists or agnostics, a figure that rises to 93% for members of America’s most elite body of scientists, the National Academy of Sciences.  Clearly there is a profound disconnect between science and religion, one that reflects their fundamental incompatibilities.

But don’t worry about that, just take our word that that science and religion are compatible.  After all, there are all those religious scientists.

50 Comments

  1. dunstar
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    lol. Maybe the statement “religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world” is a nice way of saying that it is make-believe.

  2. Posted December 18, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Tell it to all of those UCB Sikh and Moslem students who are pretty impressionable and also very conscious of their new immigrant or pre-immigrant status.

  3. dunstar
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    lol.

    It’d be funny and awesome if someone re-wrote the King James Version of the Bible with what we know about the world know through Science. It certainly would highlight and put into context how silly the stories in that book really are.

    For example, it’d be funny to estimate what size Noah’s ark would have to be to cram all the species of animals that ever existed into that one boat! With the weight of all the animal species (only in 2’s of course) in that one boat, I wonder if it would even float! lol.

    • Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      “(only in 2′s of course)”

      No… 7 of each clean animal; 2 of each unclean animal. (Also, iirc, there’s ambiguity as to whether Noah was counting individuals or pairs.)

      /@

    • qbsmd
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      “We’ll have to call it “early quantum state phenomenon.” Only way to fit five thousand species of mammal on the same boat. ”
      -River Tam

  4. Dermot C
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I would want to re-work this line:

    “Religion and science are distinct realms only insofar as religion is deistic, and posits no supernatural intervention into the creation or workings of the universe.”

    Deism does posit a supernatural first cause for the creation of the universe, and thereafter a cross-armed and indifferent god.

    So, something like:

    “Religion and science are always distinct realms, and even in the case of the most minimalist religious philosophy, deism; the latter posits supernatural intervention solely in the creation of the universe, and that creator’s indifference as to its workings.”

    Perhaps, then a comment that, as far as I can see, there is no practical difference between a deist’s and a materialist’s approach to doing science.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      My immediate reaction was to comment on that too. I don’t think that, say, Carroll’s dystheleological physicalism is compatible with deism. It observes that “the universe has no ultimate goal or purpose.”

      It is “the most fundamental insight that science has given us about the ultimate nature of reality. The world consists of things, which obey rules. Everything else derives from that.”

      Put that way deism is incompatible with science. Or in a weaker sense incompatible with theories that are compatible with science. Or at least, if you don’t agree with my claim that physicalism is testable, incompatible with ideas that are compatible with science. Hence deist religion and science do not inhabit “distinct realms”.

      • Dermot C
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        Interesting, Torbjörn. I had a quick look at Carroll and agree with all you say in your post. However, I’m confused by your final sentence.

        ‘Hence deist religion and science do not inhabit “distinct realms”.’

        Do you mean, ‘Hence deist religion and science inhabit “distinct realms”.’

        In other words, did you mean to omit the negative?

  5. Stonyground
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    According to the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Earth does not move and has foundations, corners, edges and rests on pillars. To claim that this stuff is compatible with the scientific worldview you would have to be an idiot. Either an idiot or a liar, we don’t want to alienate those religious folk by admitting that science has pretty much proved that their religion is false, so let’s keep them on side by lying to them.

    Dead people coming back to life, food falling from the sky, talking animals, magic fruit trees, yes, all very compatible with science.

  6. oldfuzz
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    As has been posted here before, it depends on how one characterizes both science and religion. Neither is intuitively obvious, even to the most studied observer.

  7. Badger3k
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    The site is a joint venture with the NCSE – could anyone not expect an explicit accomodationist leaning?

  8. joandenoo
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Trying to blend science and religion is kind of like trying to blend oil and water, it takes a tremendous amount of effort, unless ones uses a mechanical blender, and they always return to oil and water, given time.

    One deals with facts that Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, atheists, and freethinkers can agree. Water flows down hill, oil rises to the top of water, gasoline, wood and coal burn. Helium rises in air. These are all testable, verifiable,and replicable, facts religion cannot dispute and occur in all religions and traditions.

    The other deals with beliefs based on stories, remembered histories, attitudes, beliefs, customs, traditions and values, none of which are testable, verifiable and replicable.

    Keep religion out of science.
    It is reasonable to include religion in history, social studies, and literature taught as part of human experience. To claim a 10,000 year old universe is historical may be true as far as history or story telling is concerned and is not a scientific fact. Adam and Eve are social history but not scientific fact.

    Religious literature teaches values, morals and ethics and expectations of a community, as remembered from traditions of the past, not a scientific endeavor. Some examples are:
    Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible, Muslim Qur’an, Zoroastrian Avesta, Hindu Vedas, Sikh writings of gurus and Ragas, Jains Sutras, Buddhism Tantras and Tibetan Book of the Dead, Confucian Five Classics and Four Books, Taoist Tao Te Ching, Shinto Kojikis, African rituals and traditions, Native American rituals and traditions and Shamanism, and many others. All are interesting and should not be excluded, but not as science.

  9. Launcher
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Once I saw “accommodationism” and “UC Berkely”, I instantly assumed the hand of the NCSE as they are based in nearby Oakland (though I seem to remember walking pass an NCSE office in Berkeley itself). Certainly they are an effective organization, fighting the good fights across the country, but they should keep their arguments strictly science-based.

  10. Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    “Science and religion have different methods of “knowing” … religion [depends] on dogma, authority, and revelation);”

    But those are the nail in the Nail Soup. For its ethics, religion also uses humanistic principles, compassion, empathy and common sense (the vegetables, meat, herbs and spices). The problem arises when they serve up the soup without having thrown out the nail.

  11. Griff
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    A religion may not be incompatible with science – it really depends on what you define your religion to be. And as much as I think religious belief is just a relic of a more superstitious age, if you declare that the two are incompatible, then you instantly lose a lot of support for science, in particular in the US

    • Pieter Z
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Religion and science compatible? Come on! What religion does not believe in a super deity which cannot be proven by science. The Christian religion for one believes in impregnation by a god, a virgin birth, a rising from the dead, an ascent to heaven (is that the sky above us or some distant planet?) and a return on the clouds. Scientifically compatible my foot.

      • Griff
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps I should have been more precise with my words. By not being incompatible, I mean a religious belief may make a statement that does not contradict something which can be tested.

        So creationists daily make statements that are demonstrably testable and can be confirmed to be false. Someone with a more “sophisticated” theology (the quotes are deliberate) may not make a scientifically testable statement.

        • Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          Sorry, which religion is it that makes no statement that is testable (and falsified) by science?

          /@

          • Griff
            Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

            Any religion which makes a statement that their god exists but cannot be detected by any natural physical method.

            It is always possible to put your god beyond science, just by the act of saying your god is beyond science. Devotees do not believe in burden of proof.

            • Posted December 19, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

              “Any religion…”

              Name one! (Other than deism and pan[en]theism!!)

              “It is always possible to put your god beyond science, just by the act of saying your god is beyond science.”

              Bullshit — unless you make no claim that your god intercedes in the world. (Back to the first point.)

              /@

              • Griff
                Posted December 19, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

                Religions constantly redefine themselves as we both know. By “Any” I am not referring to particular religions. And, of course, they can always claim “God intervenes in the universe in ways that are not detectable by science”.

                If you have no burden of proof, you can make any claim you like – and they generally do.

                Of course it’s bullshit – IT’S RELIGION.

              • Posted December 19, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

                “God intervenes in the universe in ways that are not detectable by science”

                You mean, in ways that have no effect? ;-)

                No, the only redefinition of any religion which means that it has nothing that is testable by science is one that makes it equivalent to deism (or pan[en]theism). (But see Torbjörn’s comments above.)

                /@

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      if you declare that the two are incompatible, then you instantly lose a lot of support for science

      While that may be true, do you think we should say what others want to hear, or what we think is true?

      • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        And there’s no evidence that that’s true except for a few scattered anecdotes. Put that in contrast to the gazillion testimonies (see Dawkins’s “Converts’ Corner” that the New Atheists not only converted people away from belief in God, but toward acceptance of evolution.

        • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          True. The people who think science and religion are compatible may not agree with us, but they’ll hardly turn their backs on science because of that. The only people who you might turn away with this are the people who are already well aware that their religion conflicts with science.

          • Griff
            Posted December 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

            Well, creationists certainly go out of their way to equate atheism with the acceptance of evolution. They APPEAR to think this tactic works in their favour (even if it doesn’t)

            It seems to be that 2 battles are being fought. One is the acceptance of evolution as a fact, the other that we must eventually abandon primitive superstition. Should those 2 battles always be fought together?

            • Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

              Not always.

              You can fight for abandoning primitive superstition in its own right.

              But it’s clear that to fight for the acceptance of evolution as a fact requires that to fight for at least some primitive superstitions to be abandoned.

              /@

              • Griff
                Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

                I don’t think we have as much as a battle in the UK with creationists as in the US, but that is changing, partly at least as a result in an increase of the Muslim population in the UK.

                But, yes, it is true that sometimes the two are inextricably linked, and fighting one battle inevitably means fighting another

      • Griff
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        Depends what the subject of discussion is. I may think a woman’s baby is particularly ugly, but I don’t think anything positive would result from me telling her :-)

        But of course, I do believe the truth is more important than anything – I think everyone here would accede to that. It’s why we’re interested in science.

        • Filippo
          Posted December 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          One is in good shape so long as the mother does not go out of her way to put one in a corner on the matter.

          As many of us have heard another say, “Don’t ask too many questions.” Which is of course to say that one may not like the answer one hears. As regards the baby, can one get by with the answer, “‘Cute’ is not the word!”? Is that a lie (or, as Winston Churchill put it, “terminological inexactitude”)?

    • joandenoo
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Since science is not a result of winner-take-all, and “might does not make right,” the issue of lost support for science may be accurate but not relevant. I know, I know, pragmatism matters but does it matter more than finding out how the universe works?

  12. Jim Thomerson
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I once read a paperback mystery novel which was based on a religion which preached that Christ would return to earth every 2000 years and rewrite to bible to accommodate the knowledge of the time. No recollection of the title or author.

  13. Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    however, the idea that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect. People of many different faiths and levels of scientific expertise see no contradiction at all between science and religion.

    The thing is, the people whose religion is compatible with science already have made their choice between science and religion. They have made the choice to move their religion out of the way of science. They already agree that it is silly to expect science to move out of the way of religion instead.

    It would be nice if they could be explicit about this, though. It probably wouldn’t sell as well if they did, though.

    • David Ratnasabapathy
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Sometimes the people who think science and religion are compatible do so because they don’t know enough science. Some Roman Catholics I know accept evolution yet believe in demons. They thought both are supported by science.

      Telling them it’s not so upsets them. But doesn’t change their view.

  14. Filippo
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    “For many of these people, science and religion simply deal with different realms. Science deals with natural causes for natural phenomena, while religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world.”

    There’s a deft exchange of of the word “religion” for the word “belief” in the above quote.

    Without a doubt, no ond can doubt that “beliefs” exist, and are inescapably to be “dealt with.” The supernatural realm to be dealt with has to exist in the first place in order to be dealt with. How do religionists propose to “show” that this realm exists?

  15. Posted December 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Well said, Jerry.

  16. Posted December 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    First of all I think the series, with Drs. Padian, Scott and others is extremely value able for teaching science to the general public.

    As for the misconceptions part, the category is way too broad for generalizations. How do we define religion? Are we talking about a Creationist? A Muslim? Maybe we’re talking about a Wiccan, many of whom want the absolute truth about science although their gods and goddesses are slightly likely to interfere.

    How about a Buddhist (not a religion but most people put it in that category anyway)?

    Now we have scientists versus say accountants or housewives. The latter two if very casual in their faith may ignore most religious explanations and merely pray at the table but otherwise believe 100 percent in science.

    Generally I believe scientists Cannot truly adhere to a faith and still be objective, although I celebrate solstices as do the pagans but consider it a fun and hopeful activity, maybe “good luck” for the harvest. And there again – should scientists not even be allowed to wish for simple good luck?

    To me Richard Dawkins does a huge disservice himself to science by frequently putting “God” and “DNA” in the same sentence, and highlighting the ID “debate” where really there is no real one. In other words, he’s attaching Atheism to science, when science shoul stand alone, separate from any dogmas.

    • Posted December 19, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      many [Wiccans] want the absolute truth about science although their gods and goddesses are slightly likely to interfere.

      Then they just can’t handle the absolute truth.

      a Buddhist

      Good point: many kinds of Buddhism do have theistic and other supernatural beliefs; others don’t and some (e.g. A.C. Grayling) would characterise those as philosophies rather than religions.

      but otherwise believe 100 percent in science

      Science is not something you believe in!

      highlighting the ID “debate” where really there is no real one

      The statistics Jerry cites would suggest that you’re mistaken about this…

      he’s attaching Atheism to science, when science shoul stand alone, separate from any dogmas

      Atheism [capitalised or not!] is not a dogma! Quite the contrary, in fact.

      /@

  17. Posted December 18, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for all the typos. Stupid iPad.

  18. Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Might as well substitute “facts” for science. As long as we let the opposition, falsely, use the term “science” we’re suckers.

    Exchange the term “evolution” with “electricity” or “evolution” with “medicine.”

    How does this sound?

    “Medicine and Religion are Compatible — Because of some individuals and groups stridently declaring their beliefs, it’s easy to get the impression that medicine and religion are at war; and indeed, in many respects they are.

    Although people of many different faiths and levels of medical expertise see no contradiction at all between medicine and religion, for many others the contradictions are many and profound.

    Medicine and religion have different methods of “knowing” (medicine depends on reason, observation, doubt and replication, religion on dogma, authority, and revelation); medicine and religion arrive at different conclusions about the world (e.g., the existence of illnesses or of biology); and while there is only one form of medicine that transcends ethnicity or faith, different faiths arrive at different conclusions, so that the idea of religious “truth” must differ from that of medical “truth.”

    Further, although many people feel that medicine and religion simply deal with different realms—that medicine deals with natural causes for natural phenomena and religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world—many others think this demarcation is misleading.

    Many religions, for example, make claims about the natural world, some of them testable by medicine, and many of these claims have been disproven by medicine. Religion and medicine are distinct realms only insofar as religion is deistic, and posits no supernatural intervention into the creation or workings of the universe.”

    Anyone ready to sign their kids up for faith-based healthcare?

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Definetly NOT ready to sign up for that! However medicine is something that doctors “do” to people, whereas evolution can only be studied on whatever level, and really only in depth if you’re a scientist. If we’re just talking about the public, surely a Buddhist or casual pagan could would not have much conflict.

  19. Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Exchange the word “religion” for “evangelical” on the other hand, we may have a problem.

  20. Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I have no problem with scientific groups mentioning the accomodationist position, e.g. UC Berkley is fully in line when it says this:

    People of many different faiths and levels of scientific expertise see no contradiction at all between science and religion.

    This is a factual statement, and it serves their goal. However, they cross the line when they say things like this:

    the idea that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect.

    Many people believe it to be incorrect, but UC Berkley should not be making pronouncements of this nature.

    Point out that many people don’t see a problem, and be done with it. You don’t have to then say that the people who don’t see a problem are right, because that is philosophical or even theological.

    • Posted December 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      This is also well said. Though it seems strange from a non-US viewpoint that the UC Berkley folks feel the need to say anything about it at all.

    • Paul Prescod
      Posted December 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Berkley: “the idea that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect.”

      James Sweet: “Many people believe it to be incorrect, but UC Berkley should not be making pronouncements of this nature.”

      It’s a demonstrable, sociological fact that one can be both scientifically minded and religious. This is as demonstrable as any other result in the social sciences. Are we atheists now going to take issues with facts that are in contradiction to our beliefs?

  21. Rebecca
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Somewhat related to the topic. In the January edition of the Smithsonian Magazine they introduce the concept of Evotourism: travel intended to promote awareness of evolution. They have articles on great sites to visit that relate to Evolution. I love the idea.

  22. Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I quote Eric Idle, in the November 21 New Yorker:

    Mere lack of evidence, of course, is not reason to denounce a theory. Look at intelligent design. The fact that it is bollocks hasn’t stopped a good many people form believing in it. Darwinism itself is only supported by tons of evidence, which is a clear indication that Darwin didn’t write his books himself. They were mostly likely written by Jack the Ripper, who was probably King Edward VII, since all evidence concerning this has been destroyed.

    Paranoia? Of course not. It’s alternative scholarship. What’s wrong with teaching alternative theories in our schools? What are liberals so afraid of? Can’t children make up their own minds about things like killing and carrying automatic weapons on the playground? Bush was right: no child left unarmed. Why this dictatorial approach to learning, anyway? What gives teachers the right to say what things are? Who’s to say that flat-earthers are wrong? Or that the Church wasn’t right to silence Galileo, with his absurd theory (actually written by his proctologist) that the earth moves around the sun. Citing “evidence” is so snobbish and elitist. I think we all know what lawyers can do with evidence.

  23. Paul Prescod
    Posted December 25, 2011 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Are atheism and religion incompatible? What about ancient and new religions which do not posit a god?

    What about non-credal, non-dogmatic religions?

    I agree with you that all revealed religions are incompatible with the scientific mindset. But there are minority religions which are not.

  24. Paul Prescod
    Posted December 25, 2011 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    The statement that religion and science are compatible is not theological, it is sociological. This is your fundamental mistake. Religion and science are both sociological phenomenons.

    Now it is a simple statement of sociological fact that many individuals and groups combine religious practice with an acceptance of evolution and the rest of science.

    It is also true that some religions do not accept science in general and evolution in particular. That’s another fact that should be and was mentioned.

    Now the general tone of the quotes is that religion and science “should” just get along, which is prescription rather than description. But on the other hand, getting the 90+% p Americans who believe in God to also believe in evolution is an admirable goal. Try to keep the big picture in mind.

    I am not an accommodationist at all. I am an anti-theist. But there is a time and a place to interject anti-theistic ideas and a time and a place to focus on other topics. Helping theists to understand and accept evolution is admirable, valuable and necessary.

  25. Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    The statement is political.

    Americans, as a group, as so religiously indoctrinated that they are frightened of good science education because it threatens their beliefs. They are also very scientifically ignorant in relation to the citizens of other developed nations. The best way to improve this state of affairs is probably to try to dispel the notion that science IS a threat to their emotionally held belief system.

    In the end, those who study sufficient science to automatically apply the scientific method to most things in life will eventually apply it to their religious and political beliefs as well. History shows that they will either abandon their religion or modify it to suit factual knowledge.

    If, however, they refuse to learn science because of the fear of what it might do to their religion then they will be provided with another excuse for remaining in a knowledge restricted cocoon.

    In essence, the Berkely accommodations, while not including the whole story, are a necessary “evil” at this point in America’s educational history.


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