HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » On Darwin Day, Promoting ...

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 02:38 PM

On Darwin Day, Promoting Scientific Thinking


Rep. Rush Holt
U.S. Congressman from New Jersey's 12th district

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Like Galileo, Newton and Einstein in the physical sciences, Darwin in the life sciences provided a new framework for thinking that led to great new understanding and eventually greatly improved the quality of life for millions of people. I have proposed that this date be recognized officially as Darwin Day as a reminder of the need to promote scientific thinking throughout our society.

Although I am a research scientist and teacher by background, the world in which I live day to day -- the world of politics and legislation -- is a fairly constrained, unscientific world. The inhabitants of that world do not often break new ground. There are not many new ideas. The work of politicians is to find a balance of existing competing interests that will hold at least for a short time. Science is not like that; it is progressive. Scientists operate on the assumption that through better and better theories drawn from evidence one can have clearer and clearer understanding of how the world works.

Science is not primarily a compilation and refinement of what is known. Science is mostly a very clever technique for venturing into what is not known. Its currency is new ideas. The new ideas are not simply daydreams or unfounded conjectures. They are extrapolations from observation and evidence. The scientists we extol, like Darwin, could see more pathways into the unknown from the commonplace.

--snip--

We learn through the study of science that the world is not capricious, that there is a majestic order and beauty that emerges from understanding. Science leads, not only to practical new ideas, but also to better thinking and to a more optimistic view of the possibilities of humans. For some it also leads to a greater appreciation of the divine. In the words of the psalmist, "the heavens are telling the glory of God; the firmament displays his wondrous handiwork." The wonder and the glory, say many religiously faithful scientists, are enhanced the more we pursue an understanding.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-rush-holt/darwin-day-promoting-scientific-thinking_b_2670084.html

4 replies, 574 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply On Darwin Day, Promoting Scientific Thinking (Original post)
cleanhippie Feb 2013 OP
bananas Feb 2013 #1
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #3
bananas Feb 2013 #2
Brother Buzz Feb 2013 #4

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 03:49 PM

1. Celebrating Darwin: Religion And Science Are Closer Than You Think

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-tegmark/religion-and-science-distance-between-not-as-far-as-you-think_b_2664657.html

Max Tegmark
Physicist, MIT
Posted: 02/12/2013

Celebrating Darwin: Religion And Science Are Closer Than You Think

<snip>

This gave me the idea to start the MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins, which we're officially publishing today in honor of Charles Darwin's 204th birthday. We found that only 11 percent of Americans belong to religions openly rejecting evolution or our Big Bang. So if someone you know has the same stressful predicament as my student, chances are that they can relax as well. To find out for sure, check out this infographic.

So is there a conflict between science and religion? The religious organizations representing most Americans clearly don't think so. Interestingly, the science organizations representing most American scientists don't think so either: For example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science states that science and religion "live together quite comfortably, including in the minds of many scientists." This shows that the main divide in the U.S. origins debate isn't between science and religion, but between a small fundamentalist minority and mainstream religious communities who embrace science.

<snip>

As a father, it bothers me if we pollute our kids' education with pseudoscientific nonsense rather than preparing them for the technologies and challenges of tomorrow. As an astrophysicist, it bothers me that we're distracted by such silliness and losing sight of the big picture. Here we are together, 7 billion of us, on this precious and beautiful blue planet that the American futurist Buckminster Fuller called "Spaceship Earth." As it blazes though cold and barren space, our spaceship both sustains and protects us. It's stocked with major but limited supplies of water, food and fuel. Its atmosphere keeps us warm and shielded from the Sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, and its magnetic field shelters us from lethal cosmic rays. Surely any responsible spaceship captain would make it a top priority to safeguard its future existence by avoiding asteroid collisions, on-board explosions, overheating, ultraviolet shield destruction and premature depletion of supplies? Well, our spaceship crew hasn't made any of these issues a top priority, devoting (by my estimate) less than a millionth of its resources to them. In fact, our spaceship doesn't even have a captain!

I feel that people bent on science-religion conflict are picking the wrong battle. The real battle is against the daunting challenges facing the future of humanity, and regardless of our religious views, we're all better off fighting this battle united.

<snip>


"on-board explosions" - like Fukushima.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to bananas (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 04:04 PM

3. Great article.

I take exception to this

The real battle is against the daunting challenges facing the future of humanity, and regardless of our religious views, we're all better off fighting this battle united.


While I understand the sentiment, it doesn't mesh with reality. His view of the battle requires getting both sides to cease hostilities, simultaneously. And that is not realistic. It also discounts the fact that there is even a battle to begin with because religion refuses to accept science as the best way to deal with "asteroid collisions, on-board explosions, overheating, ultraviolet shield destruction and premature depletion of supplies" and insists on inserting it's own solutions based on something that is well, NOT science.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 04:03 PM

2. Rush Holt on Energy Policy, Barack Obama and John Holdren (January 15, 2009)

Since the OP is by Rush Holt, and Max Tegmarks article mentions "Spaceship Earth" and "on-board explosions", it seems appropriate to post this here:
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/rush-holt-on-energy-policy-barack-obama-and-john-holdren/

Rush Holt on Energy Policy, Barack Obama and John Holdren

January 15, 2009, 7:40 am
By JARED FLESHER

Congressman Rush Holt, a Democrat from New Jersey, is one of four physicists now serving in Congress. For nearly a decade he worked as assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University. Supporters in his Central Jersey 12th District can be spotted driving around with bumper stickers that say, “My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist!”

<snip>

Q. In 2005, you said, “Our country desperately needs a new energy policy.” Now it’s 2009, what do you think we need to do?

A. The need is even more desperate. Each year we delay the large-scale, dramatic action that is necessary means that the chances of being able to reverse are less. The chances of even stabilizing the world’s climate are less. With each passing year there is economic and personal damage. We are years overdue in doing this. Furthermore, any change of a trillion dollar system — because the way we produce and use energy is more than a trillion dollars of our economy in the United States – takes time.

<snip>

Q. What role do you think coal and nuclear should play in America’s energy future?

A. They’re both playing a large role right now — 20 percent of our power is nuclear, more than 50 percent of our power is coal. So let’s not pretend they don’t exist. They do exist. It’s not clear to me that they will make up growing shares of our energy mix, but they might. Even if they don’t make up growing shares of our energy mix, we still need to invest in making them as clean and safe and sustainable as possible. We still need to look at the best ways to mine the coal that we are mining and will be mining for years to come, to transport it, and to burn it, or to process it before it’s burned, or to sequester the carbon dioxide after it’s burned.

So there’s a lot to be done with those. Our success in doing those things I think will be what determines whether or not they have a growing or a steady or a shrinking share of our energy picture.

On nuclear, the biggest problems are not primarily technological. They have to do with the connection between nuclear processes and weapons. Nuclear proliferation is a problem that humankind has not solved. I don’t want to see us get deeper into a dependency on nuclear power until we demonstrate to each other that we can solve the problem of nuclear proliferation. Because if we don’t, that could be our greatest undoing.

<snip>


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 04:16 PM

4. When I hear Darwin mentioned, I always think of Louis Agassiz and their fued, and God

I believe she had a wicked cool sense of humor:


During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, a statue of Louis Agassiz fell from its niche on the front of the Stanford University zoology building. Stanford President David Starr Jordan later wrote, "Somebody – Dr. Angell, perhaps – remarked that 'Agassiz was great in the abstract but not in the concrete.'"


Agassiz saw the divine plan of God omnipresent in nature, and could not accept a theory that denied the intelligent design he saw everywhere in the natural world. Agassiz even once defined a species as "a thought of God." As Agassiz wrote in his Essay on Classification, his lifelong study of the natural world eloquently documented the "premeditation, power, wisdom, greatness, prescience, omniscience, providence" of God. He declared that "all these facts in their natural connection proclaim aloud the One God, whom man may know, adore, and love; and Natural History must in good time become the analysis of the thoughts of the Creator of the Universe."

Louis Agassiz not only did not accept Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, he actively opposed it. He attacked it at a vital point, namely, its inability to show evidence of the transformation of one kind of living or fossil animal or plant into another.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread