I just got back from a performance of The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial, and I found it was very shocking. I think it’s legal to teach evolution in schools today (although I am sadly not very confident in making that assertion), and at the rate we’re going now, it won’t be legal in a few years. I guess competition encourages creativity and logic, and lack of it destroys it. There were lots of serious problems during the Cold War, and I’m certainly not going to deny that, but the governments of the US and the USSR supported advances in science and technology. What about now? The US government actively discourages belief in science. (After all, clearly if we don’t do anything logical and just pray all our problems will go away. Right?) Thinking of such stupidity fills me with so much anger. Probably more than anything else.

Since I am a member of a religion that is far from dominant in this country or world or anywhere else except one small country 7000 or so miles away, I feel that I should be able to get equal religious treatment to everyone else. I am happy to learn a certain amount about Christianity if Christians (generically in some undefinable sense) are willing to learn the same amount about Judaism. But why does it make sense for me to learn more about Christianity than that unless I am genuinely interested? (And I’m not.) Or, rather, why should I be forced to if I wish to attend a public school or can’t afford to attend a private school or whatever other reasons I may have for entrusting my education to the school that my parents’ taxes supposedly support? (I wrote one of my college essays on this topic, although my thoughts were probably somewhat less clearly formed then than they are now.)

I suppose the only logical argument against evolution is that illogical people are still around. One would think they wouldn’t have survived the “survival of the fittest” game for long.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. I’m at college to take classes, aren’t I? They’re going very well except for the game theory discussion sections. Those are still disastrous. And why do many of the homework problems for probability theory have absolutely no content? I think any two-year-old who understands Markov chains (maybe a stretch, but they’re not too hard conceptually if presented right) would think some of these things are obvious. And easy to prove.

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About Simon

Hi. I'm Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo. I'm a mathematics postdoc at Dartmouth College. I'm also a musician; I play piano and cello, and I also sometimes compose music and study musicology. I also like to play chess and write calligraphy. This blog is a catalogue of some of my thoughts. I write them down so that I understand them better. But sometimes other people find them interesting as well, so I happily share them with my small corner of the world.
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5 Responses to

  1. z9r4c3 says:

    oh yeah, the scopes trial. too bad william jennings brian was such a religious idealogue. and that’s why i’ve converted to the church of the FSM (http://www.venganza.org/).

  2. goreism says:

    Fortunately, scientific progress is still continuing at a fair clip.
    And let’s not delude ourselves that there are no Jewish creationists (Avi Shafran is the first one that comes to mind). The Rambam may have scoffed at people who took B’reishit literally, but then, St. Augustine didn’t take it literally either. Historically, Christianity hasn’t required any more belief in young-earth creationism than Judaism.
    At any rate, school curricula are determined on the state level, and it doesn’t look like any Kansas school boards will be taking over here any time soon.

    • Simon says:

      Actually now that you mention it, I remember being told in elementary school that in a certain town in Israel, references to dinosaurs was outlawed. Since I was told that a decade or so ago, I don’t feel too bad about not remembering the name of the town.
      I don’t support Jewish creationists either.

  3. aaronlehmann says:

    It’s kind of funny that this post is pretty much right on the dot even though you obviously aren’t following the news. A Supreme Court ruling around the 1960s found teaching creationism in public schools unconstitutional. Now there’s an epic court case in progress in Pennsylvania to decide whether “intelligent design” can be taught in schools. Intelligent design is creationism repackaged as a “scientific theory” with the removal of references to specific religions. It’s obviously unscientific because it needlessly multiplies entities, there’s no evidence to support it or experiment that can be done to confirm or disprove it, etc. Almost all of the backers have a religious agenda. Anyway, it’s become very popular in the past few years among people trying to get religion into schools, and even Bush has expressed support for it.

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