Monday, February 16, 2009

Cultural literacy and being a naked ape: I've got to second Paul Gottfried's point. His experience with college students has convinced him that they don't know a damn thing about Darwin. But people are wrong to argue that they're ignorant because they have spent all their time learning about Jesus. Truth is, they don't know a damn thing about Him either. Cultural literacy seems to be well-rounded. And so is cultural ignorance. (Examples: Neither Gottfried or Razib, another writer at Taki's, are Christian, but they know more about Christianity than 99% of Christians).

The most important proposal Ron ever made: Human Evolution should be a required general education course in every college in the land. I've attended or worked at six different institutions in my life. None of them required this course or something like it. You answer, what about Introduction to Biology. I respond that: 1) many students don't take that course (they take some other lower-division course in science); and 2) focusing on other organisms allows students to pretend it's not about them.

Let me take it a step further and in a direction one might not expect from a conservative: Require Human Evolution in high school. Socrates said an unexamined life is not worth living. You have little self-knowledge if you don't know that you're a naked ape. Repeat it in front of the mirror ten times a day. I am a naked ape! And a damn proud one!

9 comments:

Jokah Macpherson said...

My chimpanzee and bonobo friends all think I'm pretty arrogant the way I go around bragging about my large penis, my girlfriend's swollen breasts, and my high SAT scores. I think they're just jealous that their cousin could be so successful.

In all seriousness, though, my personal experience agrees with yours regarding both biological/evolutionary and Biblical literacy. I don't think that required coursework in hs or college would completely solve the problem though. It would help to a degree, but people who aren't willing to learn Shakespeare or algebra won't be willing to learn evolution either.

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