Adam Frank wrote a thought-provoking article at NPR's new forum on science and religion called 13.7. He addresses the concern held by European, Indian, and Chinese scientists that Americans, in general, still prefer the warm, fuzzy blanket of dogma over science and empirical evidence. Particularly, when it comes to evolution vs. creation.
Frank makes several valuable points in his article, perhaps most important of which, is that this is an argument that should have been put to bed decades ago. That, as a country, we should be intelligent and wise enough to at least separate science from the hopeless void of dogma.
Frank adds that no amount of evidence is ever going to convince a creationist that they're wrong, nor will the faithful ever convince the most ardent atheist that spirituality is important. Although, I don't know a single atheist or agnostic who is against spirituality. On the contrary, they celebrate the spirit of man and the pursuit of knowledge. They are, however, against baseless dogmatism and those like Don McLeroy, who wish to pursue politics in order to put our education system on a fast track to nowhere. Spirituality does not necessarily mean organized religion.
On one hand, Frank is right - we shouldn't be having this argument. On the other hand, I couldn't disagree with him more.
As the rest of the world catches up with us and summarily passes us by, our country is left holding the bill wondering what the hell just happened. Not only does the value of our dollar continue to freefall, but so does our overall sense of wonder. The youth of today's America seemingly no longer struggle to understand our place in the Universe, nor where we came from. And all the while, our fellow man around the world are beginning to hand our rear ends to us on a big, shiny, silver platter.
As tumultuous as they were, the 60's is almost solely responsible for producing some of the best engineers this world has ever seen. The race for space was on, and the sky wasn't necessarily the limit. Back then, American scientists made kids wildly curious about science and space. Today, however, channels like TLC would rather showcase a family who's been brainwashed by a money-hungry, tax-evading, psychopathic control freak who can't keep his penis in his pants than air a show about space exploration. Sadly, it seems the wild curiosity of youth is going the way of the dodo.
I left the chains of Christian tyranny three years ago. Particularly Christian creationism. When I did, I had no idea what I truly was for 20 years - a slave. A slave to an ideology that is not bound by scientific scrutiny. It doesn't require you to know anything about geology, meteorology, biology, electronics, astronomy, taxonomy, physics, optics, or even culture. As a matter of fact, it doesn't require you to know anything - about anything! All creationism/ID requires of its adherents is willful ignorance, even in the blinding light of scientific knowledge and research.
The change in my personality and stance toward religion did a complete 180, literally overnight. At one point in my life I was a creationist. Now that I realize the lie that I had been living, I put snake-oil salesmen, liars, and charlatans like Ray Comfort, Kent Hovind, and Ken Ham squarely in my sights.
I agree that America is unique in the world with regard to science because of clowns like those mentioned in the last sentence, and we shouldn't have to stoop to their levels. These evil men would love to set our scientific advancements back to the Dark Ages when the church controlled all knowledge. And that is exactly why they need to be kept firmly in check, and out of the realm of science.
There is a battle going on, Mr. Frank, and it needs to be fought. With due respect, while you may think you are doing a service to all Americans by being friendly and taking a seemingly neutral stance toward the damage that creationism is doing to our culture and education, all you're truly doing is appeasing those who have nothing but utter contempt toward science. Simply because it doesn't fit their dogmatic worldview. American science should press on, but all the while freethinkers have to engage in this debate.
I'm not saying that faith is paramount to sheer stupidity. Even the most ardent non-believer would be the first to admit that Christian, Muslim, and Jewish scientists have made great scientific discoveries because of their desire to understand the mind of God. But I am living proof that we shouldn't just throw in the towel and forget about cretins like Comfort and Hovind, paying them no attention. That's exactly what they want. Where would I be if it weren't for scientists like my friend David and my wife who forced me to think critically, and fellow bloggers like Peter Buckland and PZ Meyers? I'd still be in a mind-numbed, fundamentalist church, as empty-headed and willfully ignorant as I was 5 years ago.
No, thanks. Been there, done that. Never going back.