Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

August 25, 2008

From the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Filed under: Education, politics, religion, science — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 8:06 am

The New York Times has a story of a biology teacher in Florida trying to teach evolution.  Obviously it is an uphill battle.  PZ Myers asks whether or not we will ever stop running away from the source of the problem?  The source of problem, in Myers’ opinion, is religion.  I can’t help but draw parallels to Eugene V. Debs who wondered if we ever going to tackle the source of social inequity, which was in Debs’ opinion, capitalism.

Both capitalism and religion are entrenched power structures, in many cases reinforcing.  This is evidenced by the United States adding “under God” to the pledge of allegiance to stave off communism.

The goal of science education has to be in honing a certain sensibility.  A sensibility whereby people who examine the same set of evidence draw roughly similar conclusions.  If we draw vastly different conclusions, then it should be on a general acknowledgment among the informed that there is a lack of evidence one way or another.

The fact that religion falls on geo-political fault lines, as Richard Dawkins demonstrates, tells us something.  Namely, religious belief is antithetical to scientific sensibility previously described.  As long as superstition exists, including its institutional manifestation in the form of religion, there will continue to be a culture war.

I will say again, superstition is a terminal disease.  Humans are too clever.  We’ve built weapons that are too dangerous.  We made it these last 50 years by the skin of our teeth.  In case one has been paying attention, the situation is significantly worse today.  Nuclear proliferation has increased, meaning the possibility of a loose nuclear weapon is more probable.  September 11th demonstrated the resolve of religious extremists to kill scores of innocent civilians.  Population has increased.  We are having a measurable effect on the climate of the planet via our use of fossil fuels.  There are vast oceanic dead zones due to pesticides.  We are poisoning the environment, and there is an increasing probability that we will use the most lethal environmental poison we have developed so far, nuclear weapons.

We can no longer afford to entertain ignorant delusions.  It will be the undoing of civilization as we know it.    We must challenge idiocy.  We must also push aside the concern trolling reformers.  One is either for the continued survival of the human species or against it.  Either god is going to save us, or there is no help in sight.  With our collective survival at stake, do you want someone who believes in an invisible man in the sky or someone who will carefully examine the evidence and reach a reasonable conclusion?  Not teaching evolution means we will have more of the former than the later.

I say we must deal with the inconvenient truths of existence instead of shrouding them in fanciful myths.  Having a crippled intellect is no longer a matter of personal vice, but rather a moral failing.  The future depends on the choices we make today.  Failing to educate oneself or hampering the education of others is a dereliction of duty to the species.

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2 Comments »

  1. So, what is your point. If you think for one minute that a collective populous can do better without beliefs in a Creator, then you need to take a look back into history. There have been many societies who believed just as you are laying it out. Did they make the world into a utopia? I think not. In fact the norm is that a society without fundamental beliefs in anything outside of itself has done little more than persecute, kill, hurt and punish. The basis for most religions has a peaceful underlining. The basis for a society without religious hope, would have no peace in sight. To think that you/we are the biggest, brightest, most endearing, capable thing in the entire spectrum of life, is more arrogance of man. Man is destine to hate and fail, history has shown that. What have we if we have no hope beyond this life? In some ways you argue for what you are opposed to. What does believing in God and saving ourselves through reasonable conclusion have to do with evolution or creation. I see accounts on both sides of that coin and I can tell you which side I would hope for in a time of crisis. That makes me laugh. The population on this planet is out of control. My only faith in us is that we will fail. We are too ignorant and too arrogant as a whole, ring a bell?

    If you tell me you have no soul then I will understand. If you tell me you do have a soul then tell me what is it’s purpose? To die when your human body dies? Believe me when I say, there are things much larger than we are. That is not based on religion but rather spirituality.

    Comment by tchro — August 25, 2008 @ 9:01 am

  2. Hello Tchro,

    Baseless appeals to “history” are hardly convincing. Please present evidence. For example look at the Scandinavian social democracies, they have some of the highest human development indices in the world.

    http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/

    Then look at the atheism demographics:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Demographics_of_atheism&oldid=234222107

    Is it mere coincidence more secular societies like Norway, Sweden, etc. beat out the United States?

    I don’t believe there is such a thing as utopia. There is always going to be dissent, arguments, etc. But there is a huge difference between basing decisions on evidence and sound reasoning rather than interpretations of the made-up stories of our ignorant ancestors.

    I would also contend that the cure to hubris is not subservience, but rather skepticism.

    I would agree with you that our moral obligation is larger than ourselves. I subscribe to the notion that “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Although, I find it rather pathetic that you’d cheer on calamity for your own personal edification to see humanity collectively punished.

    Comment by codesmithy — August 26, 2008 @ 8:36 am


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