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Monday, February 4, 2008

New Someone Else's Idea!: On Evolution

Someone else wrote this response to the argument of Evolution vs. Intelligent Design, but it's worth reposting, as it's far more articulate than anything I can come up with:

I haven't read this thread, but I stopped getting worked up about this issue a long time ago. In the grand scheme of things, the fact that large numbers of Americans disbelieve in evolution is completely insignificant, except for the fact that this will be another eventual historical "black eye" on our nation, not unlike our treatment of Native Americans and the institution of slavery. So Clem and Billie Jo from down by the railroad tracks believe that the Universe was created in its present form 6,000 years ago. So what?

I've said this before, but scientific theories rise and fall on the basis of how well-supported they are by the evidence. They do not rise and fall on the basis of public opinion. If a poll were taken today that indicated that the majority of Americans no longer believed in gravity, the planets would not spiral drunkenly into the interstellar void, freed from billions of years of Newtonian imprisonment by a disbelieving public. Science just doesn't work that way.

Scientific advancement in several key fields may have stagnated in America, but let's not pretend that we were on the top of the heap anymore anyway. The advancement of science and of the knowledge of mankind will continue unabated, and if America is no longer able or willing to carry the torch, somebody else will. Internally, I can say that my own children will be given lots of exposure to math and the sciences -- if not by their teachers, then by myself -- and there's nothing that the self-appointed "guardians of morality" can do about it. If you want your children to end up as ditch-diggers, then more power to you; we need them, even in this day and age.

All of that having been said, I do consider religious fundamentalism to be anti-American and, in general, a threat to the American way of life. The lessons of the Cold War taught us that a real commitment to science and technology can produce a generation that would end up winning that war for us. And now that we face a threat that many would consider more grave than the Soviet Union, that lesson has been forgotten by many Americans, who are now descending into a frenzied pit of religious fanaticism, not unlike their fundamentalist brethren on the other side of the globe -- the same people they claim we're at war with. It's lunacy. And we may have to endure some proof of its lunacy before we set America back on the right track again.

God, it's frightening to think of where this country is going to be ten, twenty or fifty years down the line.

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