Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fact Deniers are Hurting America

Once again I found myself having to defend a very-well-established scientific theory to a bunch of knuckleheads on an Internet forum. Nobody has to defend quantum theory, relativity theory, or the atomic theory to religious nut-cases, because they don't see these as threats to their precious bible. But evolution is different. God said he made all living creatures in six days so that must be the truth. Except that no one has any evidence that God said any such thing.

Evolution is not pseudoscience or imaginary. It is one of the best-supported theories in all of science. It is just as valid as theories about gravity, relativity, and quantum mechanics. Evolution theory is based on the same scientific principles as all the other scientific theories that fundamentalists happily accept. In fact, fundamentalists have no problem using all the life-enhancing products of science, even evolution science. Yet they still reject evolution, even though they don't really know anything substantial about it.

Evolution has been thoroughly tested for more than a century and has withstood the test of time. There is no doubt whatsoever that it is factual. At least 97.5% of biologists worldwide accept evolution as fact. Most of the others are bought and paid for by creationist organizations or Ken Ham. I dare say there are far fewer people who call themselves Christian that believe the bible is the literal word of God. The vast majority of Christians worldwide have no problem accepting evolution as fact. That includes the pope, his cardinals, bishops, and priests. That includes the United Church of Christ. It include Disciples of Christ. It includes the United Methodists. It includes the Episcopalians. It even includes the more moderate Baptists.

Now, I know that some people will come back with the standard reply that these are not "true" Christians. The fact is, conservative fundamentalist Christianity hasn't really been around that long. Going back to the ancient Christian scholars, it was understood by almost all of them that the bible was allegorical, not literal. A literal interpretation of the bible didn't really catch on until the 19th century.

Even a little consideration of what Genesis is saying should tell anyone with half a brain that a literal creation is utter nonsense. It's very disturbing to me that so many Americans (yet very few people anywhere else in the world) believe that this bible nonsense is really true. Its especially disturbing to me because I'm a biology teacher and I have to spend considerable time each year trying my best to un-brainwash my students. It makes me sad for these kids, and not fair to them that their parents fill their heads with superstitious nonsense. It's not at all surprising that America fails so badly when comparing its science education to the rest of the modern world.

If this kind of religious zealotry continues much longer, I fear for America's future. It's fine if someone feels the need to believe in a god, but when a belief in God necessitates the denial of facts, that's when a nation is headed for trouble. It's unfortunate, but true.

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