Sunday, November 27, 2005

Understanding the Other Side

I like to think that I understand the other side of things. I analyze issues logically by separating the stated rationale from the real rationale. Doing so, I am more able to reveal the logical flaws in an errant system of thought while merely speculating on why someone would believe such a thing. My position is strong because I seek to believe that which is reasonable and defensible. Therefore I'm willing to consider changing what I believe if I find something more reasonable.

Nevertheless, I realize that because I do not hold a less defensible position, I cannot fully appreciate the motivations of those who desire to hold those positions.

With that said, there is news that Princeton is hosting three ex-terrorists who will shed some light on the mind of a suicide bomber. Many at Princeton appear to not understand the mind of an evangelical Christian. How, pray tell, do they think they can understand the mind of a suicide bomber? As noble as the attempt is, I fear they will come away with a false notion that they have some special understanding that validates a particular viewpoint on foreign policy.

While Princeton approaches a potential round of self-delusion, the University of California is blatantly discriminating against Christian high-school curricula (which includes Beka and Bob Jones) for admission to the school system. They refuse courses with explicitly Christian content while allowing curricula from other religions that have content that is explicitly religious in nature. The purported reason for this is that the UC system doesn't think a Christian curriculum offers enough understanding of honest-to-goodness requirements.

So, the UC people believe they understand Christians well enough to think that Christians don't understand them. The court case that is underway should be interesting. The UC, while discriminating on a broad range of courses is defending themselves by narrowing the scope of the debate to only evolution versus creation in the science coursework. They must think that they can influence the decision to hinge on the broader evolution-versus-intelligent-design-in-education debate that has school systems up in arms lately.

Furthermore, in South Carolina (the home of Bob Jones University, and decidedly a red state) Senator Mike Fair is seeking to encourage the state curricula makers to warrant science teachers to teach not only the reasons to believe evolution, but also the problems with evolutionary theory. He's not advocating teaching Intelligent Design or Creationism, but merely wants the students to have a more rounded understanding of evolution.

However, while some accept his proposition, he is drawing some criticism. There appears to be some science teachers who don't understand the criticism of their belief that science has proven evolution beyond the shadow of a doubt. I wonder if it is possible for most science teachers to teach evolution and oppositions to evolution so their students have an adequate understanding of evolution's strengths and weaknesses.

The level of vitriol tends to be an inverse ratio to the level of reason in one's arguments. This is because people who realize on some level that their pet views are unreasonable fear on another level that they will be proven wrong. Therefore, for those of us who find occasion to teach, I would suggest we do so with more understanding and less self-rigteous anger against those who oppose our pet views. If our pet views bear truth, they will stengthen under the test of a new generation of well-equipped critical thinkers. If they do not bear truth, it is best that they are discredited lest many are further deluded by them.


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