In article 2bra64$jab@gazette.bcm.tmc.edu gwinward@bcm.tmc.edu (Georgia L. Winward) writes

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From: djones@megatest.com (Dave Jones) Message-ID: In article <2bra64$jab@gazette.bcm.tmc.edu> gwinward@bcm.tmc.edu (Georgia L. Winward) writes: GW> So, let's teach Creationism along with Evolution and let GW> the kids decide. Do you want to believe you evolved from a GW> lower[sic] life form, or do you want to believe that a GW> loving God[sic] created the first man[sic] as a companion? Why not ask them also if they would prefer to believe that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, or would they prefer to believe that it is one of the four elements? Why should teachers be allowed to make any judgements at all? Practically any fact that might be uttered is in conflict with the tenets of some religion or belief- system. Is education to be predicated on the motto, "Facts can offend; Therefore, they should not be asserted"? I was in a junior high school biology class in Texas, ca. 1958, when I heard the question that is posed above, "Do you want to believe that you evolved from a lower life form?" I had mentioned some fact of evolution that I had naively assumed was common knowledge. There was an immediate uproar, which the instructor eagerly joined. He was very stupid football coach who justified his existence to the school boards and such by "teaching" math and science. He could not do simple arithmetic involving fractions, and once beat me with a paddle constructed from a shaved baseball bat when I corrected his elementary math in front of a class. His name, incredibly, was "Angerman". Stupidity, and its constant companion, Anger, perhaps had been in his family from the time the surname was first assigned. I wonder, was it a bureaucrat in the Middle Ages or a bureaucrat at Ellis Island who made the peculiarly apt choice? Perhaps it originally meant something else altogether, but for him the name was apt none the less. On the occasion in question, Mr. Angerman roared out at me, "Do you want to believe you are related to a monkey?" I didn't say anything, but I thought to myself, "Only if it is true." It was years later when a very different kind of instructor, the legendary R. L. Moore of the University of Texas math department's "third floor" put the matter in focus perfectly. He had asked me if I thought a certain mathematical proposition was true. After I had had a few days to think it over, he asked me again. I said, "Dr. Moore, I don't know yet for sure, but I sure hope it is true." (If the question were true, I would be able to prove various other interesting mathematical facts.) He looked at me with a stern intensity. He fained incredulity. I imagine now that there were touches of kindness and impishness in the mix also. I will never forget what he said. "WHAT?! You hope it is true even if it ISN'T?" Indeed, how could I? How could I hope it was true? Well, as it turned out, the proposition was not true. It was therefore not surprising that other "interesting" theorems might be derived from it. The world is full of people who hope things are true, even if they are not. They want things to be true that would prove that they have not been narrow-minded, that the norms of behavior they seek to impose on others are the only defensible ones. They seek to validate their morals and moral certitudes. Through it all and for all kinds of self-serving reasons, they hope things are true even if they are not. They soon go beyond hope to the very pinnacle of intellectual cowardice: faith. They not only hope that things are true, even if they aren't, they have faith that they are true, even if they aren't. It is the ultimate intellectual capitulation. With faith, even verification of the hoped for is dismissed as unnecessary, indeed evil. Those who honestly and eagerly pursue truth, regardless of how it may be in conflict with their perceived best interests, with their prejudices, with their self-images, are very rare. There are many more Angermans in this world than there are Dr. Moores. --- Dave Jones

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