Monday, May 09, 2005


The Religious/Republican Assault on Science and Education

Two weeks ago I attended the Science and Technology Policy Forum hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). For those of you who don’t know, the AAAS was founded in 1848 and has been publishing its flagship journal Science since 1880 (look in volume 1 of this journal for an article by the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell).

Several hundred of us were in attendance at the Forum and listened to a riveting panel about the Religious (and Republican) war on science that is gaining steam nationwide. The panelists at the time made reference to some upcoming staged debate designed to criticize evolution that would occur in Kansas, and I had no idea what they were talking about. But of course that debate has taken place and is now all over the news. (for example, here)

Some education administrators in Kansas want evolution out of the classroom, and put on a staged fake debate to consider different educational guidelines. This ridiculous event reminds many people of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial because it pretends that somehow evolutionary biology and religion are mutually exclusive, which of course is simply not the case: just because the scientific method doesn’t include God doesn’t mean that it rejects God. But, for some reason many religious groups are going around the country saying otherwise.

Because religious groups have consistently failed to convince judges that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the classroom, they created their own scientific theory called Intelligent Design that they are promoting as an alternative explanation on the origins of life. (Note: the premise of Intelligent Design is that watches are complex, have many parts and were created by a watchmaker; humans are also complex and therefore like the watch that was created by a watchmaker, they must have their own maker.)

Let us not kid ourselves, Intelligent Design is fake science. It has no data, controlled experiments, or peer-reviewed journal articles to back up its claims. By, comparison, evolution has more than 100,000 different peer-reviewed scientific articles corroborating its validity.

Let us be clear: these faux-debates and their high-profile events really are not about evolution--they're about injecting Christian orthodoxy into our schools, curricula, and government. It seems to me Christianity might be a natural fit in our homes, neighborhoods and Churches, but it does NOT belong in a classroom dedicated to the scientific method, or in the governmental bodies that run those classrooms.

If you think that I’m reaching by claiming that this assault on science is partly religious and partly Republican, then please do some web searches on "Senator Santorum" and "evolution" to see how this Republican Senator from Pennsylvania amended federal education legislation to meddle with how teachers instruct students on evolution. Even Republican political commentator Ann Coulter is publicly claiming that evolution has been disproved.

WTF? When was evolution disproved?

Let the religious folks convince the nation that we don’t need science or rational thought anymore and then we’ll be no different than the days of Salem witchcraft trials or the modern-day Taliban. That’s not a thought I cherish.
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