Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Undoing the Enlightenment: Divide First, Conquer Second

In an earlier post I digressed from some Senator Rick Santorum language associated with the No Child Left Behind legislation to a broader discussion of the Orwellian language used by creationists (now repacked as 'intelligent designists").

Upon discussion with my Muse (Emily), the diabolical strategy of the counter-Enlightenment agenda was revealed to me (how's that for theological language?). It is a strategy that Machiavelli, a scion of the Englightenment, would have most appreciated. For that matter, Sun Tzu would also approve. Consider this paragraph in a National Center for Science Education essay:
Santorum language appeared in the 2003 Kansas legislative session in the form of Senate Bill 168. SB 168 encouraged curricula that helped students understand "the full range of scientific views that exist," and exempted educational staff from any penalties for deviating from state curriculum requirements. SB 168 further betrayed its creationist leanings when it explicitly singled out "origins science" for special treatment, requiring that "origins science" -- but not other science -- be taught "inclusively, objectively, and without religious, naturalistic or philosophic bias or assumption." The artificial distinction between "origins science" (sciences dealing with the past) and "operations science" (sciences dealing with the present) has been a running theme in creationist publications for decades.
If one wished to undo the Enlightenment, how would one begin? One would not strike at strength, but at weakness. First divide, then conquer. "Operations Science" includes physiology, biochemistry, bacteriology, molecular biology, meteorology, chemistry, applied physics and far more. This is strong science. (Note, however, that medicine, a profession related to some of the strong sciences, has been shown to be vulnerable to attack.

On the other hand "origins science" is less immediate to the everyday life of the average person. Origins science is concerned with history, with fossils, with cosmology, and with evolution. The average citizen would feel that their life is not affected one bit by the study of dinosaurs, of quasars, of Neandertals, of the Aztecs, or of natural selection. This is vulnerable science. This is where one would start undoing the Englightenment.

Children of the Enlightenment -- arouse yourselves!

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