Sunday, September 29, 2013

Biblical worldview, the South, Creationism

Looking at all this opposition to teaching evolution in schools, and anti-science things in general, on the part of people both in the South and in the Midwest, I'm reminded of one of the comments that a writer on Southern culture made, that can be summarized like this: people there live with a worldview that is very religious, that goes beyond simply believing in a particular faith but instead shapes their fundamental interpretation of the world around them. The author defended this, didn't condemn it. When these folks look at evolution, global warming, and related issues, they don't just see a different thing that science has come up with, they see something that fundamentally conflicts with their understanding of how the world works.  What they don't realize is that having a worldview like that and accepting science aren't mutually exclusive, but in the process of getting to an interpretation of things that would allow both to co-exist they'd have to recognize at least some relativity in how people view and interpret the world. That's a tall order.

While the author viewed was hopeful about this, the other side of the coin is that this static reality is something inherited from the medieval world, where people  saw the world around them as static and unchanging. Isaiah Berlin, although he has some questionable interpretations about the history of ideas, makes a very good point in his work when he suggests that the precursor to what we understand as the current, commonly held, worldview, wasn't the pure scientism of the Enlightenment, but the earlier development in the Renaissance of the sheer possibility of society having been fundamentally different in the past and potentially being different in the future. There were actually works that argued that society and the world itself, and our views of the world on all levels, were not immutable, and that these variations weren't reducible to one being good and the rest being defective.

This is what the folks in these places who are very concerned about evolution and the modern scientific worldview being taught in schools are missing. 

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