Sunday, November 27, 2005

Taking the danger seriously

Many people I talk with simply don't take seriously the threat posed by the religious right to education in this country. Yet over the past 20 years, the number of school districts teaching religious doctrine in place of natural history has steadily gone up. Major textbook publishers have two versions of their science texts: one version does not contain any references to evolution or to modern cosmology. Since losing a number of cases at the Federal level, the flat-earth folks have gone local, taking school boards in towns across the country. Now, some of these folks are actually using the courts to attack the publication of web-sites that contain information about evolution (news here).

The anti-science movement is not only targeting evolution. Its hit list includes the writings of E.O. Wilson, James Watson, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Sigmund Freud, Peter Medawar and Isaac Asimov (!), to name a few. Thus, it is hardly exaggeration to say it is targeting modern science, not just Darwin. The biblical literalists have a fundraising network that operates 24/7, raising money to fund lawsuits and PR for their agenda. They are tapping many of the roughly 60% of Americans who think that the earth and humans were created in their present form some 6000 years ago. A measure of their success is that growing percentages of Americans subscribe to some or all of the tenets of creationism, in stark contrast to trends in all other industrialized countries (see poll) In the long term, the religious extremists who carry out suicide bombings in the name of Allah, are far less a threat to our country than our own, home-grown variety, who would use our political process to send us back to the Dark Ages.

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