Bazell wrote an irritatingly obtuse commentary on Intelligent Design creationism, and I dawdled about expressing my dislike for it…but Tara and Orac and John Pieret and even non-scientific humorists (and I’m sure there are others I’ve missed) have all chimed in now, so you’d think I could just let it pass. But no! This is the blogosphere! We will all shout out our condemnations!
Bazell is not a complete idiot. He recognizes that evolution is and should be a serious component of a doctor’s education, and he is no supporter of Intelligent Design or any other brand of creationism. That’s all overshadowed by his opening premise, however.
Scientists should stop whining about threats to the teaching of evolution and spend more time discussing values.
What a weirdly askew declaration. Since others have already taken Bazell apart, I’ll just quickly mention the things that immediately popped into my head on reading that.
- This is not a zero-sum game. That we should oppose the intrusion of religious dogma into the science curriculum does not mean that there is no room left in our brains for ethics. What Bazell is implying is that the people who oppose creationists have diminished values, compared to those high-minded folks like himself who do not trouble themselves with mere attempts to corrupt public school education, but instead think deep thoughts about whether they have accepted too many gifts from pharmaceutical companies.
- Stick your “values” where the sun don’t shine. I hate to say this, but on this one thing I agree with George Will: “values” is a vacuous code word. When people say we should vote or discuss “values,” what they really mean is that they want direct, personal approbation for their opinions, no matter how shallow or wrong they are. As an atheist, I often encounter the attitude that only religious ideals count; by babbling about “values,” what they are trying to do is promote their own weird little ideas as superior to those of amoral, value-free godless people.
- Fighting against creationism is fighting for values. I value excellent public education; I value reality-based policy making; I value the institutions and procedures of science. The creationists are making the most blatant, best-funded attack with the widest popular support directly on my values—it would be a denial of what I think is important to just ignore it. Bazell’s priorities (the expense of modern medical methods, the ethical compromises of gift-giving to doctors, and human experimentation) are real and certainly worth discussing and learning about, but personally, I think the concerted effort by creationists to screw up our children’s education is a more fundamental problem.