I take comfort in knowing that in one thousand years, people will be laughing at today’s science. Oh, they’ll be polite and suppress the belly laugh that wants to come out whenever early 21st century science is mentioned. Things like, “they did their best with what was available to them” and “don’t be too hard on them; it’s not their fault that their perspective was so limited and their methodology so laughably inadequate” will be tossed around at future cocktail parties as a way of showing sympathy for ignorant ancestors. But make no mistake, in one thousand years, much of the science that current schoolchildren are taught will have been relegated to the historical dust heap of mostly wrong and definitely poorly interpreted. Someone should tell all of that to the current worshipers of science.
The level of hubris that’s innate in the religion of scientism is why I admittedly find self-serving comfort in current science’s future comeuppance. To be fair, not all scientists giddily sacrifice any perspective on the altar of scientific absolutism. In fact, I can’t think of any scientists that I personally know who aren’t humbled by the limitations within their field and their own fallibility. It’s the followers of science and the pop-scientists who get all worked up in the defense of their religion, especially social “scientists.”
Last week, NPR treated us to a condescending and science-worshipping article written by Barbara King, an anthropology professor whose latest book is titled How Animals Grieve. If King had stopped at the usual scientism slurping, that would have been bad enough. King, however, took the extra step and demanded an obeisance from parents and the complete sacrifice of their children to the god of contemporary science.
Taking aim at young earth creationism as manifest by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, Barbara King scolds reporters who give any positive attention to, in King’s words, “anti-science creationist discourse.” She goes on to explain how society has failed our children by allowing them to be exposed to anything but evolution. After a series of proposed remedies, King concludes her condescending rant by declaring that, “Our children must be taught about evolutionary science in order to be science-literate [emphasis added].”
The thing is, almost every single person that I know who believes that God created everything (however the specifics are defined) believes that children should also be taught about evolution in order to be science-literate. The difference between many creationists and many evolutionists is that creationists do not worship science. And that difference means that many creationists are not threatened by competing views, and they recognize that science is limited and prone to being proven wrong. They believe that being science-literate includes also being taught competing ideas and theories as well as learning the blind spots and weaknesses of the currently favored scientific paradigms.
Barbara King and her ilk, however, are not actually concerned with guarding the scientific purity of our children. Their real objective is to require that their worldview be privileged over competing worldviews.
Since scientism is a faith-based religion, and a faith-based religion that has the entire trajectory of science history undermining it, scientism’s adherents have to forcefully clear the worldview deck in order for their religion to flourish. In the marketplace of ideas, the weaker ideas are going to need some handicapping, so to speak.
The thing is, next to no one is attempting to keep children from learning about evolution. Creationists that have any sway over policy want children to learn options. There is a concerted effort, however, to frame worldview discussions in a manner that eliminates any worldview that doesn’t bow down to the current, most-privileged group-think. In other words, Barbara King isn’t really concerned that your children be science-literate; she wants to make sure that your children aren’t exposed to ideas that threaten her larger worldview. She wants control.
Controlling the education of children is one of the front lines in the battle of worldviews. Barbara King realizes that for her religion of scientism to flourish, children’s education has to be devoid of competing ideas.
You don’t need to believe that the earth is only six thousand years old and that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as humans in order to see the danger in surrendering the control over education to Barbara King. Regardless of what you think about Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, it’s important to guard the freedom of ideas for all. And it’s important for our children to be exposed to a variety of worldviews, because that’s true education.