Tuesday, January 23, 2007

You keep using that word "study" ...

Over at Pharyngula, PZ summarizes a much longer piece with:

It's like asking someone if they understand science, and they can recite a string of facts at you … but they haven't absorbed the concept.

Anyone who's read physicist Richard Feynman's book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" knows exactly what PZ is talking about, as Feynman's stint of teaching physics in Brazil is summarized here:

Richard Feynman, in “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”, related a story from his experiences teaching science to university students in Brazil. Feynman found that the students in his class could, with great speed and accuracy, recite passages verbatim from their physics text, and give equation upon equation from that text. But when challenged to explain the theories behind what the text postulated, or when challenged to explain the meaning of the equations they were reciting, the students were speechless.

The students believed that they were doing well, because they were in fact getting high marks on their exams (which were really little more than recitation). But the truth was that they had no real understanding of even basic scientific principles. Perhaps even more troubling, they had little or no experience with these principles first-hand. They could certainly recite equations on optics, or gravity, or any other topic in physics, but had they experienced them first-hand? No.

Welcome to most Biblical or Christian "study," in which one is considered a legitimate "scholar" if one can mindlessly regurgitate chapter and verse, with no understanding of their underlying meaning whatsoever. Sadly, most Biblical scholarship doesn't rise much above the level of, oh, this.


Ti-Guy said...

That was my favourite "gotcha" moment ever. If I had been that congressman, I'd have never shown my face in public again.

Crabgrass said...

Holy shit, that is wonderful.

Adam C said...

Michael Moore used to pull the same stunt on The Awful Truth. IIRC he actually got one congressman in his own office - with the Commandments on the wall behind him - who couldn't get through more than five.

Anyone who tries to tell you that the Ten are "the basis of our judicial code" or "universally applicable across religions" doesn't know what they are either, other than killing, lying and stealing.

Anonymous said...

...doesn't know what they are either, other than killing, lying and stealing.

Which means most politicians are in violation of at least one of the commandments simply by profession.

...or is the credo of politicians "Do unto others before they do unto you"?

Deanna said...

Oh good grief. I'm not even religious, but I know the 10 commandments just from being dragged to church as a kid:

- No taking the Lord's name in vain
- Don't worship other gods (for He is a jealous guy)
- No graven images
- Remember Sabbath day and keep it holy
- Honour thy father and mother
- No murder
- No stealing
- No coveting things belonging to your neighbour
- no bearing of the false witness
- no adultery

I think I've broken all but two, mind you.

So, uh, why should any courthouse have a sign that says that people can only worship one god, tell us what day we have to take off work, and remind us that it's bad to "keep up with the joneses"? Not to mention the part where we have to take down all the statues and paintings, what with them being graven images and all.

Anonymous said...

"No graven images" whats up with that, and all the lit up fake plastic baby jesuses at christmas time adorning people's lawns ?

I've always wanted to ask Christians about that.