February 7, 2009

Respect for beliefs

When I read Chapman's God or Gorilla, I started thinking about ALL my beliefs. This doesn't happen too often. I grew up on the Navajo Reservation, informed on Navajo culture. My mother and her side of the family were the big influences on me with that. As for my father, he was very knowledgable with different science's and even was the first one to tell me about the Theory of Evolution. I was very young, still in the single digits at the time. There even was his side of my family with Christian religious beliefs. So, growing up there were so many sides pulling at me. There always came a choice between one or the other. For instance, when I was in middle school, my biology teacher said we would be dissecting a frog and if we wanted to, we had to fill out a permission slip. I was confused, why? I wanted to do this soon as possible, I had been wanting to for a long time. Then, a few of my classmates said they couldn't. The teacher said they would have to dissect something else like a part of pig or sheep. I asked my classmates why and they said it was against their beliefs. I was still confused but didn't ask them too much more about it. So, I went home with my permission slip, gave it to my mom and dad. They were happy to sign because I was so excited. No questions about it. The evening went by and I was still confused and went to my mom. I asked her why the other kids couldn't dissect frogs. She said, "Navajos can't." Well, we're all Navajo and wouldn't that be bad? She simply said, "Yes, we're Navajo but we can't learn by not doing things. People say it is against our culture. Navajo tradition says that reptiles and amphibians are our ancestors. We are supposed to respect them and not hurt them. They have helped us in our history come to this world. I know you want to dissect a frog. You and your dad have talked about this for a long time. We both agree that it would be good for you. You know where you come from and you respect that. Dissecting a frog will not make you bad or disrespectful. It is a way to increase your knowledge about the world you are in. I know you want to be a doctor and have said this since you were 5. This will help you and is a great part of biology. You will not be a bad person for doing this. Now, if you grabbed a knife out of the kitchen, went outside, caught a lizard, stabbed it all up, and flung it on the ground then, you would be disrespectful and downright nuts." She smiled, hugged me and asked if I felt better. I did and never forgot that. People ask today about how I juggle all of it and what is true for me. I have a respect for it all and all of it has made me a better person.

Questioning your Morals

"God and Godzilla" is a very interesting and entertaining article. Aside from everyone else’s remarks concerning bias, I also came out with a different approach to the overall significance of this article. While reading, I got the overall impression that the purpose of this article was to suggest to its readers to think about why you believe and practice what you do on a daily basis. Chapman stressed this importance by declaring his biased towards his thoughts on Darwism in the beginning of his article. He states, “I have no evidence for this belief, and my lack of evidence is a matter of pride.? He continues to declare his bias in the beginning of the article by explaining how he negatively felt against his great – great grandfather Charles Darwin whose work on evolution was fully accepted in England. He describes his difficulty in life by being pressured into achieving academic success like his grandfather. As a result, he turned to ignorance to alleviate the stress of academia. By choosing to express these two statements at the beginning of his article, Chapman uses himself as an example to illustrate that although everyone takes a different stance in regards to ID and evolution, everyone in this trial was forced to conclude why they believed what they did. Upon doing so, people involved in the case were forced to tell lies to protect views of an issue that is a moral dilemma filled with uncertainty. Chapman clearly makes this argument by providing a quote of a man he interviewed stating “It’s an endless loop,? and “If you think too much about it you will go insane.?

February 5, 2009

Chapman's Argument

I thought this article was extremely interesting—it had a lot of entertainment value. Chapman clearly shows what side he’s on; he’s biased against ID. He’s playing to those who believe in evolution, and he’s not trying to win over ID supporters.

Chapman, in this essay, is co-opting what he perceives to be traditional ID tactics; namely, that an unsubstantiated argument somehow means more if you say it louder or more passionately. We expect these types of arguments from ID supporters—Kent Hovind, in some of his lectures, makes “straw man? argument and selectively ignores important points made by evolutionists. On YouTube, I watched him quite seriously state that “The evolutionist believes a dog came from a rock.?* When Chapman attacks easy targets and ignores the interesting point of “irreducible complexity,? we see his rhetoric for what it is. We expect more of evolutionists than we do of ID supporters. Why?

* , time 5:00

Dover Monkeys

"Dover lies a mere 30 miles from the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, and the meltdown of its core and subsequent leak in the 70's is responsible for the weird behavior now seen in the locals."
What? I have to admit that that paragraph surprised me. I think his goal with both that paragraph as well as the entire first section was to grab the attention of the reader and draw them in. His ruse totally worked on me. Even the snide remarks about Americans drew me in. I'm open to some outside views and criticism.
On thing that really intrigued me about Chapman's writing was that he described some things in a lot of detail that, at first, I didn't' think was relevant. The way he described the courtroom, Tammy and her daughters, the two local reporters, the school board president, the curriculum director, and the counsel for each side seemed odd. He even described some people down to the number of kids that they had. I think he did this to discredit the defendants' side. If you read through all of these descriptions, while Chapman doesn't specifically say that he's doing it to discredit the defendants, all of the descriptions have a negative connotation to the defendants. Personally, I think he over-did the discrediting. However, it did make for an interesting article.
While this was an incredibly interesting article that kept me entertained and attentive, I wish I could get a less biased version of the story. Along with more of a description of what went on in the courtroom, there needed to be less of the intense detail that was so demeaning to one side.

February 4, 2009

Wise Words

As I read this article, I could not help thinking about something a young rabbi once told me. He said to me that in order to get 13 year old Bar and Bat Mitzvah boys and girls to start thinking about their relationship to God he asked them these questions: Why are you here? Why did God create you? Of all the infinite ways elements could be arranged, how, with the crushing weight of statistics against you, did you come into being? I have always been a firm believer in the theory of evolution. I have always been told that a theory is not something easily dismissed (after all, gravity is only a theory). But I can not help but go back to what the rabbi said and wonder (and hope) that there is more to life than random chance. Could it be that we are all just random collections of molecules? Is God present in this world or perhaps did it create us and leave us to our own devices? I could think about the purpose and reasoning behind life all day long; but I think the most poignant message for me within the article came at the very end when the very astute greaser said, “If you think about this too much, you can go insane.? Wise words.