Monday, June 04, 2007

Starting at square one -- Part 1

Two articles in the May 18, 2007 issue of Science.

One briefly notes the establishment of a new "peer-reviewed" International Journal for Creation Research by the Institute for Creation Research in California. The purpose of the journal is to offer scientific evidence for the literal Genesis story of the creation and Flood. The nearly half of Americans who accept young Earth creationism will now have one more reason to assume that such views are scientifically respectable.

A review article in the same issue summarizes research on why children and many adults often resist scientific accounts of the world.

For example, it has long been recognized by psychologists that infants have intuitive (innate?) ideas about the physical world, such as the ideas that objects are solid and persist even when hidden, that unsupported objects will fall, that objects will not move unless acted upon, and so on. These primary beliefs cause children (and adults) to resist or misunderstand some scientific ideas -- a spherical Earth or inertia, for example.

Likewise, children believe that everything has a purpose (clouds are "for raining"), that natural things are made artificially for a purpose, and that the mind is distinct and separate from the brain, all of which runs counter to what we have learned about the world in the past few thousand years.

The history of science has been a struggle away from the intuitive or innate notions of children. What psychologists call the "naive physics" and "naive psychology" of infants (and of our prescientific ancestors) go a long way toward explaining the attraction of so many adults to "creation science" and body/soul dualism.