How one goes to heaven, not how the heavens — or biology — go

The Texas Board of Education made its ruling on the science curriculum last week. Evolution supporters won a battle in removing the phrase “strengths and weaknesses,” but lost the broader conflict as more doubts of evolution, and even the Big Bang, were inserted.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Chairman Don McLeroy is a dentist who believes the Earth is several thousand years old. Which is fine for him to believe personally, just not when his beliefs put millions of students at an educational disadvantage in virtually every science I can think of, except, possibly, dentistry.

The difficulty of this debate has never been especially clear to me, from either side. From the side of science, it’s fairly obvious why evolution is taught and not alternatives: rebuttals are long, and time is short.

Continue reading How one goes to heaven, not how the heavens — or biology — go

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People have a lot in common with all sorts of rural animals

A friend of mine, a cowboy in the rancher-philosopher mold, once passed along some equine-related knowledge to me.

“The thing you have to remember about horses,” he said, “is they aren’t as smart as they think they are, but they’re smarter than you think they are.”

I reminded him I was much more city slicker than good ol’ boy and didn’t really run into horses that often. He assured me it was just as applicable to jackasses. I thanked him, and as with all of his advice, I’ve remembered it and done my best to keep it in mind through all my dealings and relations.

Continue reading People have a lot in common with all sorts of rural animals

You love a thing because of, not in spite of, its shortcomings

I have a friend who works at a local television station. We argue occasionally about whose mistakes are more embarrassing, and I guess by extension, whose job is more important.

“Look,” she says, “I understand you have deadlines, and I’m sure that’s very stressful, but the stuff we do is live. We’ve got to do our jobs correctly to the second because if we don’t, it’ll mess everything up, and everyone will notice. And unlike newspapers, we actually have an audience.”

And she has a good point. Television news certainly has to have a greater sense of urgency because it’s immediate and it’s a performance as much as anything (though I’d like to point out comparing our circulation to any local station’s ratings doesn’t work in their favor).

But I still disagree.

Continue reading You love a thing because of, not in spite of, its shortcomings

There’s something to be said for leaving a bit to the imagination

In his suicide note, rocker Kurt Cobain, quoting Neil Young, said “it’s better to burn out than fade away.” I imagine it’s nice to catch alight at all. I’d rather almost anything but fizzle out, but then whoever lived up to expectations?

I’ve always hated the 19th century Romantic poet John Keats. If he isn’t it, he’s at least in the conversation of greatest English poets. “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” and “The Eve of St. Agnes” are really good stuff, by any measure, and “Ode on a Grecian Urn” gave us one of the handful of all time wonderful poetic lines: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth and all ye need know.” He died at 25 and has haunted high school students and their exams ever since.

Twenty-five! And famous forever. How could you not hate him?

Continue reading There’s something to be said for leaving a bit to the imagination

For all those who doubt, God is real — and Spanish

The other day, I heard a pastor preach about how uniquely divinely blessed America was, and I wondered if he was right.

As I see it, no group of people has been more fortunate than the Spanish.

Continue reading For all those who doubt, God is real — and Spanish