Sunday, May 08, 2005


One issue that I've done a lot of cogitating over the last few months is the concept of compromise. I define compromise as a situation in which both sides give a little to achieve an agreement that works. I suspect that Hillary Clinton's suggestion that most of us on the choice side would rather not see the number of abortions we have but would work with the right to lifers to increase contraception and pregnancy prevention to cut back the numbers although we still would support abortion as a fallback position is a true compromise. I think the fact that abortion and contraception have been used by women for millennia is evidence that it is needed. But I think the incidence might be controllable with proper sexual training. Now that's an opinion. And you may argue with it all you want to.

The question of compromise arises when one side is dealing with fact and the other side is dealing with belief and will not accept the facts. I think of bar arguments such as how high is the Montana capitol building in Helena? Or is it raining outside? It is possible to measure the capitol or to find out its height from a guidebook. We can define what we mean by rain and walk outside to find out if that mist qualifies.

Now let us look at the religious right's view of evolution. Creationists do not seem to accept the height of the building. Young earthers (those who think the world began in 4004 BCE) have to say that God is testing us so that they can deny their own observations of the age of the earth that they see in the strata on the side of most Montana highways. Those who are willing to accept some evolution but insist that a designer had to have stepped in at some point to create us and the world we live in can't seem to realize that is not an argument from evidence. In general, all scientists who publish in peer-reviewed journals accept evolution. Science magazines do not carry articles on creationism or ID because they require evidence which must convince those in the field.

Some people say it's a matter of opinion whether you want to select one side over the other. But you cannot argue facts and that's what the ID creationists want to do but without valid facts with which to challenge science. In actuality, the truth is much harder to deal with. Science is not a belief system; it is a process through which we may look at the universe and see what is there, whether it is in chemistry, physics, or biology. It has a defined, step by step process to validate all ideas. You and I can have all the ideas we want about the composition of the moon, the makeup of the human cell, the processes of life and of star making. But until we generate an hypothesis that enables us to create an experiment to prove or disprove the hypothesis, we have no support in the scientific world. But if our experiment seems to prove our hypothesis, then we can generate a concept. But is only when the idea is supported by other experiments by other scientists that we can accept it as a theory. A scientific theory has been supported time and again by the evidence. We accept the theory of relativity when we detonate nuclear bombs or run an electrical generator using nuclear power. We accept evolution because the fossils support it and because new fossils can fit into the system.

So the question becomes how can we compromise with those who refuse to accept the facts; who display their ignorance of science everytime they open their mouths? I hear calls for compromise. I hear people say that everyone is entitled to their opinion as thought an opinion overrules fact. Some people say "teach both" but one is science and other is belief. That's not a compromise, that's error. Is it possible to compromise on this issue?


Blogger The Liberal Avenger said...

Such a nice surprise to see you in my comments today, Chuck.

Can you believe that we are fast approaching our one year blog-anniversaries?!

6:08 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

Extrapolate a logical extreme: two communities are at war. One community can be identified by enormous, veiny cerebral cortices. They have transcended speech and communicate high-minded philosophies through extra-sensory perception. The other community can be identified by an excess of body hair and elongated forearms. Their diet consists largely of the body lice they pick from each other's hair. Their favorite game is to pick at their asses and compare finger stench.

Let's say these two hypothetical communities are at war, and while the brainiacs are much more efficient killers, they are outnumbered 10:1 by the trogs, whose dried, thorny sticks very effectively crush bone and render flesh. The choice they face is between eternal war or eternnal compromise.

Which I suppose is to suggest that compromise is always an option, even when the "other side" is a bunch of troglogytes who are afraid of everything.

What can reasonable people do to help unreasonable people become less afraid? Finding that answer would not only point toward an acceptable compromise, it would be a kind thing to do.

8:30 PM  
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