Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Biologist Sean Carroll in Toronto
Sean is the Vice President for Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Washington DC (USA). We talked a lot about science education. One of the issues he brought up was The Clergy Letter Project. According to Sean, this is an important example of co-operation between scientists and religious leaders to support the teaching of evolution in American public schools.
I understand the politics but I find it ironic that scientists seek out religious leaders to support the teaching of evolution in the public schools. These same scientists are the first ones to trot out the US Constitution whenever Christian fundamentalists try to teach creationism. You can't have it both ways. Either religious leaders have no say in what is taught in science classes or they do.
Sean emphasized the role of chance and accident in evolution, picking up on Monod's seminal work Chance and Necessity. From studying biology you reach the inescapable conclusion that life is the product of blind chance. It has no meaning or purpose. Monod was not the first person to recognize this but he's the one who made the best case back in 1971.
After his talk I reminded Sean that this conclusion puts science in conflict with almost all religious beliefs making it difficult for clergy to support the correct teaching of science and religion in the public schools.
"Hey, what can you do!" he said, just as someone took our picture.1
I have a signed copy of his book.