« An Unexpected Ally? | Main | Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself (actually, I've never said it this well.) (Personal) »

July 15, 2007

Science and Religion (logical, political)

 Less than two centuries ago, 1831 to be exact, a youthful Charles Darwin made some critical observations during the Beagle’s comparatively brief stopover in the Galapagos. Those geographically remote and unique islands had been as unknown to Darwin as to the rest of the world, yet the observations he made there in a few weeks triggered a scholarly obsession that would occupy him for the rest of his long life. That work eventually turned his last name into a household word, capable of sparking controversy as easily today as at any time since his views were first made public in 1859. Although the exigencies of Nineteenth Century travel are presumably why Darwin never returned to the Galapagos, further studies of the rich and diverse life forms found there have amply confirmed his observations and validated his original conclusions. In fact, complex observations of modern marine life that would have been well beyond Darwin’s capability are, if anything, even more convincing than his were.

 It would take nearly three decades for the world  to learn of young Darwin’s insights, and how similar they were to those of Wallace, his less famous contemporary. The resultant hypothesis quickly became a productive scientific theory and a cornerstone of of modern Biology. “Evolution” as the theory eventually came to be known, is now capitalized to distinguish it from the word’s more generic meaning, which refers to any directional changes occurring over time.

Despite the scholarly acceptance and unprecedented degree of validation it has received from several new scientific disciplines, Evolution is probably thought by a majority of humans to conflict with its presumed alternative: the belief that a Divine Being created the universe (cosmos) and all forms of life. Even though scientific thinking pointedly avoids assumptions that can’t be falsified, the creationists who make them insist that because ”darwinism” hasn’t been “proven,” the teaching of “creationism” should receive equal time and resources in schools. That such a contention betrays a degree of misunderstanding which renders any resolution by mere argument essentially impossible is implicit in their position, but It also explains their persistence in attempting to pass legislation that would force schools to devote equal time to the teaching of “creation science.”

It doesn’t take much insight to recognize that both American drug policy  and the ongoing attempts of “right to life” supporters to criminalize abortion are rooted in the same kind of religious thinking; nor that our wars on “terror” and  “drugs,” are near relatives.

As if to underscore that observation and further emphasize the futility of logic in countering such arguments, the drug czar just made a whirlwind trip to a remote venue in Northern California in support of a marijuana eradication program he promised would uproot every plant in our national forests, at whatever cost. Why? Because those who planted them are “terrorists.”

Nor is federal “science” any more enlightened than the drug czar; all one has to do is listen to the current Director of NIDA echo the absurdity trumpeted by predecessors Robert DuPont and Alan Leshner: addiction is a “disease.”

Unfortunately, despite her blather about dopamine reward, Dr Volkow doesn’t define addiction any more coherently or precisely than the Holmes- Brandeis Supreme Court did when they upheld the Harrison Act by decreeing an addict’s optimum treatment is best determined by a medically untrained federal bureaucracy empowered to arrest and imprison those afflicted.

Very little has changed since 1919...

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at July 15, 2007 05:58 AM