On Creationists And Convicts
Wednesday - October 12, 2005
Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a nether world in which I know my instincts are right but I’m out of tune with the majority.
This overwhelms me when I read that 45 percent of Americans believe in Genesis where it says the “Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”
Evolution, on the other hand, a true science, only persuades one-third of our people.
Evolution is true science. It can be tested. Intelligent design (the new language of creationists) is a faith or cult - not testable. It says we’re being evolved in a plan by some “thing” we can’t see or measure.
I don’t care if you believe that. I respect faith. But to want to teach it to children in public schools is like teaching that crystals have healing powers.
As the eminent Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins says: “Why insist on adding in a diety?” He calls God a “gratuity.” That is to say, if there were one, what would it matter to those who don’t believe? Life goes on. We’d keep evolving either way.
Science is about finding physical evidence in our world. Religion is personal belief. No evidence required.
I’d have no problem with a sociology or politics class discussing the evolution vs. intelligent design argument as a social phenomenon, but to teach I.D. in a science course as an “alternative theory” is ridiculous. It’s no theory at all.
Teaching that would run against grain for most trained science teachers. A study done seven years ago showed that only 7 percent of National Academy of Sciences members believe in God. Only 5.5 percent of all biologists.
So this comes down to a whole lot of parents, politicians and religionists who want kids to learn Genesis or some variation of it in public schools.
Then there’s me, most scientists and maybe a dozen people I know who say that’s unacceptable.
Can my smallish side possibly win out?
The Honolulu Advertiser’s managing editor came close to saying it all for me in her two-Sundays-ago column: The paper’s series about sending our convicts far from home to do their time is an “investment in readers’time” - i.e. boring and likely left unread.
The points of the articles were that families can’t visit prisoners sent to Mainland jails, kids suffer because they have nothing but occasional phone contact with those moms or dads, the inmates don’t get drug treatment (very little here, either), they get involved with gangs and are not prepared to re-enter Hawaii society.
Also, we’ve sent more than $175 million out of state that could be kept here, although labor costs are much higher here and new prison space on Oahu is hard to come by.
So maybe I should be sympathetic? Why do you suppose it is that I don’t care?
Probably because I figure that once you’re a convicted felon you lose the right to ask anything of society other than lawful treatment behind bars - wherever those bars may be. We don’t love felons, whether of the Class A violent variety or the Class C drug abuse type. We want to be rid of them.
Good people have been urging us to reform our penal system for half of the past century. Fact is, we’re lock-‘em-up folks at heart. A woman I know had her van violently car-jacked by a guy who brutally tossed her on the road and almost ran over her. I hope they put the guy away and lose the key. I don’t say “Gee, maybe he had a bad family life and needs drug treatment and counseling.” They can put him to work digging holes in the Nevada desert for all I care.
So thanks for telling me about the out-of-state incarceration of our criminals and how hard it is on them.
But to be honest, you didn’t cause me any tears.
(Oh-oh, I think I just booted myself out of the Liberal Journalists’ Society.)
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