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Re. the alleged decline in belief in evolution as level of education increases (I, too, am skeptical and await a citation):


Even if it *is* true, why is it relevant?


Scientific theories stand or fall on their ability to explain the relevant evidence in a more coherent way than competing theories. The raw number of people who believe (or don't believe) in a given theory counts for zip in this calculation. Raw numbers of "educated" people who believe (or don't believe) in a given theory count for not much more. "Educated" is too broad and complex a category for that. If I have a PhD in history, does that make my opinion on nuclear physics worth more than the opinion of somebody with only a high school diploma? Would you go to an oral surgeon to have your appendix taken out (if you had a choice)?


Numbers of people *with relevant expertise* who believe (or don't believe) in a given theory *can* be a valuable barometer of the theory's value. If 99 of 100 working astronomers you talk to tell you that astrology is hogwash or that the Big Bang is real, or 99 of 100 working biologists tell you that "nothing in nature makes sense except in light of evolution," it's usually time to pay attention.


Science isn't a democracy . . . it's a meritocracy, and a pretty ruthless one, at that.

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Hello Folks, I see the inevitable has happened and the topic has turned to science vs. religion. As a diversion, I offer the following to remind us how lucky we are to be able to invest time in such discussions.


A Thanksgiving story from Costa Rica:

My friend from Costa Rica works in the Ministry of Education. We had visited schools with him for much of the week and he invited me and my companion visitor to his home for dinner one evening. Although he was a little hesitant, he really wanted us to meet his family so we graciously accepted the invitation.


His home was an hour drive from San Jose (about 30 miles) and located way up on a mountainside. We arrived at his house at sundown. The house was nestled into the hillside right beside the narrow road. In the distance across the mountains, clouds bathed the forests in the evening light, mists just beginning to creep in from the heights. At the far distant edge of the earth, across the hills and forests and floating like an apparition in a dream, was the Pacific Ocean.


His home was very small, three tiny bedrooms, a tiny kitchen, and a little living room. The furnishings were modest, even on a Tican scale. The only photos were of his three children as infants and toddlers. The middle girl had her first communion the weekend before and they had 4 photos of that as well. His family was lovely. The oldest girl (who may visit with us this coming year sometime) spoke a little English...the next younger daughter was just learning. My friend announced that he would purchase our meal locally, to save time, rather than prepare it. We agreed and he left to make the purchase.


He returned shortly with the food and we gathered around his small table for the meal. My companion (a Catholic) blessed the food in Spanish. We ate. The meal consisted of a small, thin hamburger in a small bun with a small shred of lettuce on it. We each had half a cup of orange juice to drink. I noticed that my companion and I were the only ones to be given a small paper napkin. During the meal, the youngest daughter became sleepy and we helped tuck her into her little bed. She had not finished eating (nor had the mother) but we nevertheless adjourned to some chairs to sit and talk that evening. The table was directly beside the chairs so as I left the area, I noted that the two older daughters remained, so I thought, to clean up. As I left the area, I watched them as they quietly and carefully divided the two partially eaten hamburgers, and ate the remains...hungrily. They watched each other during this, there was an understanding there.


At the end of a very nice visit, the middle daughter presented my companion and I each with a small handmade statue commemorating her first communion. It was the nicest gift I think I have received in many years, obviously a product of much labor and determination. But they were so proud that I was bound to accept it graciously. It now resides in a prominent place in my living room...nearly the size of their entire house.


I have thought about this lovely family often in the few days following. But especially this Thanksgiving as I practice gluttony amid a culture of excess, I will think of their generosity...and of two beautiful young girls, still hungry after a meal with friends. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Packsaddle


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