Thursday, May 05, 2005

Happy 05/05/05!

The Kansas State Board of Education starting holding hearings today about whether or not evolution should still be taught in schools, or if it should be taught alongside creationism cloaked in its current "intelligent design" mantle.

How the hell has it come to this? How can it be 2005 and Americans are still unbelieving of the central tenet of scientific fields ranging from biology to astrophysics?

Oh, there's the usual crap about how evolution is "just a theory," putting it in such dubious company as the germ theory of disease, the theory of gravity, and Einstein's theory of relativity. There's, of course, the bit about "something coming from nothing," a concept which apparently doesn't apply to God. All of these are great soundbites, but they're not science. Apparently, decisions about science can no longer be left up to the scientists.

C-SPAN [vile streaming video link] did a bit on it's morning call-in show about whether or not people supported or opposed the teaching of evolution in schools. Along with the pro-evolution people, there were some real winners. One woman called in claiming the Bible Codes proved the Bible was correct, and therefore evolution was wrong. My favorite was the guy that called in, all but screaming into his telephone, about why are there still monkeys if we evolved from monkeys? Huh? Huh? Why? (My question: how are there monkeys smart enough to use a telephone?)

I think this whole debate is about more than just evolution. Pro-creationism are trying to force an issue into the school system by claiming there is doubt about this scientific theory and trying to make it seem like there is a debate where there is none. Science made up it's mind about this decades ago. The issue has been well-debated by people much smarter than me, and it's been decided.

I think this is about the Christian ultra-Right trying to force it's religion and its agenda into a realm of our society where it's not wanted. We're seeing it with the attack on the judiciary, the branch of government hardest for these people to control. We're seeing it in pharmacists refusing to dispense certain prescribed drugs. (Hope you don't have a Christian Scientist pharmacist. Or worse, EMT.)

This is not a small deal. The scientific literacy of the average American is horrific. We are educating fewer and fewer scientists and engineers every year. In a world where there are a billion Indians and 800 million Chinese more than happy to do our jobs for us, and in an era of increasing globalization, our growing ignorance is going to have far-reaching consequences.

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