How is it that with all the advancements in technology and science, and all the wonderful discoveries we’ve made since the Enlightenment, the Dark Age mentality about our origins is still so strong? Why do so many people still have a problem accepting evolution?
Is it possible our minds have split in two, where one half continues to progress while the other stagnates in a cesspool of antiquated ideas? Will we one day be standing on a distant planet, having crossed light years of space to spread the wisdom of humankind across the cosmos, but have to stop and sacrifice a goat to the Sun god first?
I mean, consider some simple facts about the current state of our civilization. We can solve problems with computers billions of times faster than we ever imagined possible. We can create a means by which we leave our planet, venture out beyond gravity’s reach, experiment in the weightlessness of space, and return home safely. We can load a thousand jukeboxes worth of music onto a device the size of a matchbox and listen to the studio-quality sound through earphones the size of pinto beans. We can organize hundreds of thousands of jet take offs and landings everyday without major incident. We can track storms and predict the weather with great accuracy. We can generate and regulate the energy flowing through entire countries. We can develop vaccines that cure little buggers that only a few short decades ago would kill us. We can stand in Houston, Texas and talk to someone on the other side of the globe with a wireless phone no bigger than a box of Tic Tacs. And we can pipe high quality pornography right into our homes over satellite feeds, cables, and telephone wires.
Yet there are many millions of people in the United States that, though they’ve seen the monumental successes of science, and though they proudly use the applications of those successes every single day, refuse to turn loose archaic ideas of how we came to be here and where we might be going.
These people are the latest to come to my attention. They’ve inspired this post.
They do not believe that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Nor do they believe that man evolved slowly from less complicated life, just like every other species, even though independent lines of inquiry by the very branches of science that keep them in fresh water and insulin have shown it to be true without a doubt.
The antievolutionists will have none of it. They believe that the Earth is young, and that we were created by the wave of a magic man’s hand. They believe we simply popped out of the ether, ready for the showroom floor. And . . . And they tell us about it via websites, DVDs, text messages, and satellite television.
Is there not something fundamentally wrong with that?
That’s like using microwave technology to burn witches. The fact of the innovation should indicate an understanding of the world that dispels the need for that particular application. Yet despite the progress we’ve made, Dark Age beliefs are still alive in the modern world.
In addition to the BC museum tour depicted in the video, during 2006, no fewer than 17 antievolution bills were active in nine states, including Alabama, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah. But hey folks, antievolution isn’t just for Bible Belters anymore. Michigan and New York were on that list, too. That’s 17 bills to either have evolution removed from public school curricula, or to have creationism taught as an alternate theory in science classes.
Forget for a minute how short a class that would be â€” it would take all of two seconds to say, “Boys and girls, this is the universe. God did it”, leaving students free to, I donâ€™t know, build their MySpace pages for the rest of the semester or something. As a concept, it does not make any sense.
Teaching creationism as a science makes as much sense as teaching World History alongside volleyball in physical education classes. On its own, it’s a merging of ill-suited disciplines and a foolish idea, but anyone introducing legislation suggesting we combine the two, or requesting that World History be taught in P.E, instead of volleyball, would be taking the matter way too far. Such a person would quickly be identified as a moron. And there’s not a creationist among us who would hesitate to use that term to describe them either.
Well, I’m saying to you all now, in no uncertain terms, that people who still believe creationism is more valid than evolution for teaching how species develop are morons, too. And they should be referred to as such at every opportunity.
And though it may appear so, I’m not saying that to be mean or derogatory in any way. I’m simply making an observation of fact. We’ve given them plenty of opportunity to educate themselves about reality, and they have either refused to listen, or they are not bright enough to understand the brilliant discoveries of Darwin and those who’ve come after. In either case, the term “moron” applies.
“Evolution is just a theory,” they say, as though the mere utterance of those words elevates them to some higher level of intelligence. “It shouldn’t be taken as fact.”
Well, guess what, moron, gravity is just a theory, too. And since you donâ€™t take “theories” to be fact, next chance you get, step off the roof of a high-rise just once for me, would you?
People who repeat that tired old canard clearly do not understand what a theory is, which lends further credence to the idea that they are in fact morons. They clearly do not understand the power of independent lines of inquiry all coming to the same conclusion.
Many of the branches of science that give theseÂ people so much in their everyday lives â€” things they no doubt take for granted â€” through testing various hypotheses for unrelated problems converged on one remarkable idea. Each of these independent examiners, without consulting with other inquiring lines of examination, after exhaustive study, and after repeated and repeated and repeated experimentation, and with unrelenting scrutiny of each hypothesis and each piece of evidence, all independently came to the conclusion that evolution happens. The overwhelming body of evidence led them there. They are not in cahoots as part of some child’s game. They didn’t get together at a big, secret science conference and say, “Hey, you know what would be funny? Let’s put out a bogus story that says humans transformed through periodic mutations over millions and millions of years from a common ancestor of all other mammals. Oh, and let’s say that all other species on Earth came to be in their current form in the same manner. And just to cover our asses, we’ll call it a ‘theory’.”
But a creationist, after seeing how well science works, and after gladly and blindly reaping the benefits of scientific inquiry, will still stand up and say, “No. Sorry. I don’t trust science. It’s evil. I don’t understand evolution, therefore there has to be an architect, a designer for all this, my main magic man. Now, would you care for some low fat microwave popcorn or perhaps one of these genetically engineered apples before we watch the movies I downloaded or the shows I TiVo-ed while I stepped outÂ to pick upÂ my Viagra? I used my GPS to find the drive-thru pharmacy, you know.”
How that disconnect happens is beyond me. Perhaps it’s simply a blatant refusal to understand; a willful ignorance that arises as a defense mechanism, because they think science is purposely attacking their religion.
Well, science doesn’t set such agendas. It’s goal is to come to conclusions that are most probably true. It harbors no ill will, and it perpetuates no biases. It is not motivated to attack. It means only to discover the truth.
Moreover, religion and science are not incompatible. One does not necessarily negate the other. They are not opposites. They are simply two very dissimilar things.
Religion is one of many means by which we deal with our emotional sides. The capacity to experience emotions is a wonderful part of being human, but religion does not work without it. One needs no evidence of divinity to be religious. One only needs to feel that there is something divine. One needs faith.
Science is the only means by which we discover the truth about the universe around us. It only draws conclusions based on empirical evidence. Faith has no meaning in science. Science precludes emotion, but it still works with or without it.
Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. No . . . Comparing religion and science is more like comparing apples to Thursday.
Unfortunately,Â many folksÂ cannot understand that idea either. They continue to seem fearful of progress, and progress is what science brings. It often unapologetically overturns cherished ideas, and that’s difficult for some people to take; especially if they are emotionally invested in that cherished idea.
So they’ll get their flu shots every year and forego the leaches, because they’re not emotionally invested in the ideas of 13th century medicine, but the tightly developed and supremely scrutinized idea of evolution flies directly in the face of religious ideas in which they are emotionally invested. It takes them out of their moron comfort zone.
And I have no problem with anyone staying in their moron comfort zone. I really don’t. As long as they don’t try to expand that zone to include the rest of us; or especially to include some un-indoctrinated children.
It boils down to this:
On an individual basis, the divergent brain is okay. As individuals we are free to simultaneously be astronaut and shaman. There are no governments or philosophies or blog entries that can prevent any one person from holding those diametrically opposed views. But when it comes to our species as a collective, we must go with what is right, or we risk stagnation and we endanger ourselves on a global scale.