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Barriers in Neuroscience?

Ian A. Paul, Ph.D. iapaul at fiona.umsmed.edu
Mon Jun 12 13:47:50 EST 1995

The principle issue here seems to be one of working at a very basic and 
early level to educate the public about what science is and is not, how 
it works and the type of questions it can and can't answer.  Although I 
agree with the gist of Matt's comment, I would have to point out that 
"Scientific Creationism" vs. Evolution is a poor comparision.  As Stephen 
Jay Gould points out, this is comparing apples to oranges since SC is 
concerned with the _origins_ of life, whereas evolution is concerned with 
its development and diversity.  Although most evolutionists have strong 
opinions about the origin of life/creation of the universe, it could just 
as effectively be divine fiat as primordial goo.  In contrast, SC folks 
like to concentrate on origins and usually prefer to base their start on 
the origin of the universe (nothing like starting with a small problem 
and working your way up....)

Notwithstanding this, my principle concern with SC is that a resort to 
divine fiat is inherently _not_ a part of scientific method.  Thus, 
teaching it simultaneously with evolution, which _is_ thoroughly grounded 
in scientific method, is inappropriate.  Again, the apples and oranges 
analogy arises.  As one of the posters noted, to do this would be no more 
appropriate than for scientists to demand a place in a Sunday school 
class to present the geological evidence that no such thing as a 
cataclysmic world flood ever took place.  A church/synagogue/mosque class 
is dealing with issue of _faith_ which is really outside the purview of 
science.  Our evidence has not the slightest relavance to these issues, 
however much it may influence our own perceptions of the relationship of 
humans to a cosmic creator.

Best to all,

Ian A. Paul, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Neurobehavioral Pharmacology and Immunology
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
Division of Neurobiology and Behavior Research
Box 127
University of Mississippi Medical Center
2500 North State Street
Jackson, MS  39216-4505
Tel.:  (601) 984-5883/5898
Fax.:  (601) 984-5884/5899
URL:  http://fiona.umsmed.edu/~iapaul/lnpi.html

"Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis 
for a system of government!  Supreme executive authority derives from 
a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!
I mean, if I went around saying I was an emporor because some moistened 
bit had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away...."

                             - Dennis ("I'm 37, I'm not old!")
                               Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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