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.