Friday, December 12, 2008

Salman Hameed on Islam and Creationism

I was delighted to hear from my friend and colleague Salman Hameed (whose blog we also follow on this site), that an interview with him on Islam, creationism, and science, was about to appear in New Scientist.

I was equally pleased (and more surprised) to see that Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs (LGF) gave prominent play to the story.

The influential and at times idiosyncratic conservative blog, which is the bane of many on the left (for example, it broke the "Rathergate" scandal back in 2004, supported the Iraq war, and harshly attacks Islam itself as well as Islamic fundamentalism), is also known for its resolute defense of science against pseudo-science and superstition. In particular, it has aggressively denounced creationism, intelligent design, and other manifestations of religion masquerading as--or attempting to emasculate--science.  (Admittedly, LGF has expressed skepticism regarding the human causes of climate change, but that is a debate that can take place on the plane of science.)

Naturally, this has puzzled many liberals, who evidently imagine political conservatives and religious fundamentalists as cut from the same cloth.  (Most preposterously, someone suggested that the rising prominence of science stories on LGF was some cunning attempt to secure the election for John McCain by tricking the mainstream electorate into voting Republican.)

Should LGF's stance really so hard to understand?  Humans are complex creatures, capable of holding many ideas in their heads simltaneously:  some of which are complementary, some of which are mutually contradictory, some of which simply exist separately side by side.  Determining which of those three possibilities applies in any given case is not necessarily simple.  The point of having evolved a large and powerful brain is to use it. 

Given that more Americans believe in miracles, the Devil, and a literal hell than believe in evolution, I, for one, am happy to see conservatives standing up for science rather than telling our kids (in the 21st century?? WTF) that dinosaurs survived into the Middle Ages, when they were known as dragons.  Rather than complaining, let's be thankful for what we agree on and save our energies for arguing over matters of fundamental disagreement.

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