Thursday, February 23, 2012

Get used to it, Prof

People are such exasperating creatures. Why can’t they just accept what their betters tell them? That was the tone of an interview on RNZ’s Morning Report this week in which American biology professor Kenneth Miller bemoaned stubborn opposition in the United States to the teaching of evolutionary biology.

Even in New Zealand religious groups were encouraging resistance to evolutionary theory, the professor complained. Dammit, why must these people insist on defying the experts? It’s plain inconsiderate.

Asked by Geoff Robinson whether it really mattered, Prof Miller insisted it did, because if people rejected scientific consensus on fundamental matters such as evolution, it became easier to disregard scientific consensus on other issues such as (and I could see this coming) … climate change.

Sorry, Prof, but a free society allows people the right to disregard orthodoxies of all types. It’s downright subversive, I know, but there it is.

I don’t line up with creationists but neither do I trust academic zealots, who can be just as intolerant of dissent as the most rigid fundamentalists. The illustrious professor should get used to it.


Brendan McNeill said...


Good call.

The Christian faith for all its failings and variants has encompassed the globe over the last 2000 years, with it still being the largest 'faith story' on the planet.

Let's see if the theory of evolution and AGW climate change stands that test of time, and enjoys that pre-emenance.

Bill Forster said...

It's funny I approve of your piece as well, but in an entirely opposite way to Brendan. You (Karl) are right, there is a growing tendency to link evolution to climate change in this way, so much so that, as you say, you can see it coming. I don't find this annoying for the same reason as Brendan does though. Brendan is quite wrong, evolution is a far more powerful, useful and (most fundamentally) true idea than Christianity. Christianity is just another religion, another fairy tale. Evolution is the most important idea in the universe. Before it, nothing makes sense, once it is grasped everything does. That such a small proportion of the population grasps the majesty of the idea, and that so many actively wail against it in their ignorance is a tragedy.

But anthropomorphic climate change is another thing altogether. As a layman I can't hope to know whether it is "true" or not. If there is a 98% scientific consensus, then I suppose maybe it's 98% likely to be true. Or something. But it is nothing more than a meteorological argument, a duel of computer models. It bares no comparison to a grand unifying theory that underpins all the life sciences and explains our very existence.

kowtow said...

Interestingly,Simon Cunliffe,deputy editor of the ODT does the same thing with here.