Thursday, May 01, 2008

Creationism, The Big Band Theory, and Omaha Community Playhouse

Dear friends:

One of my student's essays was on evolution v. creationism. In attempting to explain creation theories, she was criticizing the obvious scientific flaws in evolutionary theory and the big bang theory of the universe - "but there's no proof." I pointed out that 99.9999% of scientists believe the theories to be true, generally accept them in their totality, and that the disagreements in the scientific world are more related to evidentiary matters and the interpretation of the millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of fossils, scientific dating of rocks, astronomical observations that galaxies are moving away from each other, physics super-colliders doing their stuff, and mathematics explorations of dozens brilliant people from Einstein to Hawking. All are primarily interpretations of the intricacies of the evidence, not challenges to the basic theories.

Her main source for the creationism point of view was a born-again former high school science teacher turned preacher currently serving a 10 year sentence in a Federal Prison for tax evasion. I attempted to discuss issues of credibility and evaluation of source material. Her primary response was that evolution says that people descended from apes and the chap in prison said that could be proved to not be the case because of some carbon-14 dating and argon gas thing. I tried to steer her to more credible sources and peer reviewed material and am hoping for the best.

I need to develop a better pedogogy for dealing with issues where the overwhelming totality of evidence is on one side and fringe conspiracy theorists or religious beliefs are on the other side but both are "equal" in the eyes of the internet and the eyes of those who look at them. I for one am far more willing to consider our mythology and religious texts as metaphor and truth, but not necessarily as fact and facts, and have been able to continue my search for faith and a continue simultaneous appreciation for science and actual knowledge.

My student was more willing go along with the imprisoned high school teacher than the best and brightest minds in the scientific and theologic world of the last two and half centuries. It's unsettling. I have another student wanting to write about the theory that it wasn't a handful of Saudi anti-American zealot jihadists who piloted the jets into the World Trade Centers; it was a vast US Government conspiracy, including George W Bush and VP Cheney, the Pentagon, and Congress who planned and carried out the attacks to bolster their own political careers. As much as I am opposed to and criticize this administration on a regular basis, this is just nuts. The less evidence there is, the greater the conspiracy must be. A total lack of evidence is considered to be the highest standard of proof that a conspiracy must exist! But back to evolution v. creationism.....

My student is quite willing to think there is "proof" of God; great theologians and philosophers have wrestled with this immense proposition for centuries; but to think there's "proof" or even "evidence" of evolutionary theory is too great a stretch to her. Her main source for her point of view is this imprisoned former high school science teacher. I'm going to point her in the direction of actual theologians and philosophers as well.

Now to the fun part -- her paragraph on the creation of the universe. She kept referring to the "Big Band" theory of the origin of the universe. The "Big Band" Theory. The Glenn Miller as prime mover theory. The Benny Goodman as first cause. The Music of the Spheres theory! The Lawrence Welk, and uh-one, and uh-two.......and the universe began.

Have a nice day....until I get a regular job....soon I hope....I sometimes have way too much time on my hands and get to thinking about all this stuff....and can't help sitting down here at the keyboard. My apologies.

Bud C

ps. I'll have some art in the lobby of the Omaha Community Playhouse for its Stage Right Art Gallery fundraiser silent auction from May 15 thru June 15. Crucible and South Pacific are showing during that time. Stop by and take a look and submit a bid. All the money goes to fund the Playhouse.


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