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I Wish We Weren't In Kansas Anymore, Toto
The Kansas Board of Education voted to remove mention of the theory of evolution from science curricula last week, if anyone cares. And everyone should care: the grounds on which evolution was dismissed were as flimsy as cheap nightgown. As one school board member said, "evolution is just a theory, not a fact." This sentence alone is the epitome of ignorance - not because evolution isn't a theory (it is) but because ALL rational knowledge depends upon "mere" theory. If we dismiss the teaching of an idea because it is theoretical in nature, our schools will be left with nothing to impart except the dual wisdom of metal shop and P.E.
Theories are constructed to explain data, to make sense of them. As such, theories never, never, never present themselves as full reality; they are foreshortened, abstract versions of reality, and as versions of reality, they will eventually prove susceptible of revision. Eventually, data will emerge which a theory cannot explain adequately and a new theory will have to be created to replace the ruptured one. In this manner, science progresses - science persists not by proving its theories true (i.e. coextensive with reality) but by proving its theories false, by replacing less complete theories with more complete ones which will also be replaced later on. But obviously, unless one learns about the presently ruling theories, one cannot hope to see where the weaknesses in those theories lie. If evolutionary theory is unsatisfactory in its present form, we will not progress beyond it by ignoring it or by replacing a scientific theory with a mythological story (e.g. "creation science"). Nor do we get anywhere by confusing "theory" with "fiction", as if scientific creativity were purely artistic in nature so that one theory is as good as any other.
Science, religion, and art all present and explain reality from different perspectives and by different means. Each is legitimate in its own sphere. But a great disservice is done to human life when one sphere attempts to hijack another, such as when religion begins to see itself as science, or when science proclaims itself to be a sort of religion. Both extremes represent a gross misunderstanding of the proper role of the vital impulse involved in either scientific reason or religious belief. 44% of Americans believe that God created man & the world inside the last 10,000 years even though our best scientific evidence places the age of the world at around 4.5 billion years. The scientific number was arrived at by a complex rational analysis of data, such as strata positions, carbon dating, and so on. The 10,000 year number was arrived at by someone counting generations backward in the Bible and assuming that the Bible is to be taken literally. Obviously, the two attitudes are incompatible, and the question for our generation is which approach to reality will prevail.
This is not the place to go into this question in detail, but the focus of the attack has to lie in whether the literalist, fundamentalist approach to knowledge is going to be allowed to persist as a feature of our culture. There is nothing inherent in religion per se which demands an anti-rational attitude. The problem is not religion: it is the irrational, ill-educated horde that uses religion as an excuse to remain ignorant and fearful of reality. The problem is the mob that takes the by-products of science for granted while attacking the scientific attitude that makes their bourgeois paradise of a world possible. And, dare I say, it is also the fault of the scientist - who has paid no attention to philosophy, religion, history, or art which must be strong and alive if science is to be allowed to thrive in a society; they are the preconditions of science. Man cannot live by science alone and if he tries to do so, he will not even have science in the end. Barbarism is not too strong a word for what our nation is drifting into due to a lack of attention to general learning.
We cannot count on a mystical tornado coming down to deliver us from the Kansas-esque predisposition to idiocy that plagues the land. We must, each as he is able, become cultured and politically active. Otherwise, prepare to drown in a tide of drool, the high water mark of which is presently Kansas City. degenerate RVI
Friday I walked over to the park where Cartoon Network was setting up
a big show, complete with giant inflated figures from their newer
shows and 400 inflated chairs to be given away to the first folks in
line - who were under 13, they let me know after I'd lurked in the
blazing sun for an hour at the head of the line. They were doing
market research of kids and their parents and ignoring those of us
who, despite watching hours of their programs, they perceive as
valueless. Having done two weeks of spying from the inside over at
that branch of Time Warner I can tell you for a fact this is
intentional - the network refuses to acknowledge to their advertisers
that there is a sizable adult audience for cartoons. Why? Because
their advertisers consist almost entirely of 100% sugar breakfast
cereals and fad of the moment plastic toys targeted at 4 year olds
able to influence their underattentive parents into buying them the
useless garbage as a substitute for their lack of time for their kids. We now return you to your irregularly scheduled program, already in progress.
After the Cartoon Network debacle we headed down to the Star Bar.
Yeah, we're tired of rockabilly, but everybody had raved about the
headliners The Paladins and nothing else in town had grabbed my eye. Flathead Mike and the Mercurys opened, hard, fast, loud rockabilly that's good. Skinny McGee followed, rockabilly with only a slapping stand-up bass
for the beat, and electric and acoustic guitar to fill out the sound.
It scared off the former Point regulars and had the Buckheaders
buckdancing in front of the stage, no joke, when they did their
stripped down, roots rockabilly and covers of Johnny Cash and Carl
The Paladins followed. After a long week at the office and a couple
hours in the park I was beat but willing to see if they deserved the
reviews everyone had given. The three piece charged into rockabilly
territory full out, electric guitar blazing and the rhythm section
pounding. Damn good. Really damn good. But they weren't even warmed
up yet. A few songs later they had it turned up to 11. The bass
player huddled over his stand-up with a pained expression, sweat
dripping from his forehead down onto the strings, the drummer sat,
eyes shut, grimacing with arms flailing, and the guitarist looked
like he was pushing out kidney stones with the blistering notes, all
three a study in concentrated rapture as they cross the line from
rockabilly into dark, stormy electric blues the likes of which are
rarely seen in this town. The women all turned into snakes, the men
into drooling fools, the room filled with smoke as fire poured from
the amps and two hours later I was beginning to wonder if it would
last into eternity.
So when the apocalypse comes, some four months from now, this is the
music that will be blaring from my stereo as I slide out into the
street with a pistol under my car seat and a full tank of gas, headed
for the hills.
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