Thursday, December 29, 2005

A view from across the pond

The Guardian commented last week on the Dover decision and delivered a stinging rebuke to "George Bush's United States":
This ruling matters, not just to the parents who brought it on their children's behalf, but because the belief in biblical literalism is on the march in America. A recent survey found only 26% of Americans believe, with Darwin, that life on earth has evolved through natural selection. Two-thirds favour the teaching of creationism alongside evolution, against which the judge ruled, while 38% think evolution should not be taught in school at all. ID has powerful adherents - including Mr Bush himself - and rich and militant supporters who will make trouble for those who hold the line on behalf of Darwin, evolution and science - no corporate sponsors came forward this year for the big Darwin exhibition now in New York, for instance.

America's evolving confrontation

4 Comments:

Anonymous American Living in UK said...

It's a shame that the gaurdian is such garbage or it might have meant something.

It takes anti-Americanism just for the sake of anti-Americanism to an artform

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are a couple of comments on the story in The Guardian. You may find them interestng and surprising. I will approach this by inserting a quotation from the article and then comment on that quotation:

1) "This ruling matters, not just to the parents who brought it on their children's behalf, but because the belief in biblical literalism is on the march in America."

I'm not sure what the author means by "on the march." If he means that more and more people are becoming fundamentalists for the first time, he might be right. However, he may just mean that a certain more or less constant percentage of die-hard American fundamentalists is pushing their agenda with a very loud voice and with much "vigah" (apologies to the Kennedy family).

Neither of those alone are my primary concern. My concern is the absence of an equally loud and strident voice opposing them. While the ACLU does good and effective work, it sometimes seems like only a single match that has been struck in a vast sea of darkness. We need large floodlights, and I think those floodlights need to be the millions of churches around the world and here in the U.S. who know that the gospel preached by the fundamentalists and religious right is not the real gospel of Jesus Christ and his love. Someone needs to wake up the churches and get them off their duffs. They had better do it and do it soon. When the fundamentalists take over the government here in the U.S. (and I think it is more a matter of "when" than "if" right now), I hope they realize that their churches will no longer be allowed to operate because they preach a "...false and apostate gospel."

I wish some of those at the ACLU and on this forum could get together and find a way to mobilize the millions of nonfundamentalist churches against the fundamentalists and religious right. The fight now is not to convert fundamentalists because, if you have ever met one, you know that they are unconvertible. The fight now is to preserve our civil liberties by winning the hearts and minds of the vast number of people who sit ignorant in the middle.

2) "A recent survey found only 26% of Americans believe, with Darwin, that life on earth has evolved through natural selection."

This is not surprising at all---but not for the reasons the ACLU and the average guy on the street might think. The fact of the matter is that many high schools in the U.S. do not teach Darwin, natural selection, biological evolution, Homo erectus, etc.---even though they are in the state-wide science curriculum standards. You didn't know that???!!! C'mon!!!!!!

Many local school boards use the state-wide science standards as mere guidelines for developing local standards, which are what is actually taught to the kids. To avoid the whole evolution vs. creation issue and the civil strife it engenders, many school systems just leave evolution out of the local curriculum---or it is left in the curriculum for the sake of deceiving college selection officials and is totally ignored in the science classroom. If you never mention evolution and you never mention creation in class, it keeps everyone happy. However, in these school systems, no one ever learns anything about evolution and most people do not go to college. That leaves two thirds of the American public perpetually ignorant about biological evolution---making creationism the only available default option when someone is taking a poll.

When I was in 10th grade biology here in Tennessee back in 1969, the teacher might have mentioned natural selection for about 10 seconds as we quickly leaped over it to some more important subject, such as how bivalves siphon. That was about it. I had to wait for college geology and physical anthropology at two universities in Tennessee to really learn anything about evolution. My education about evolution in college was astoundingly detailed and in depth---especially in my undergraduate and graduate anthropology courses. I do not see how anyone could study human paleontology in depth, as I did, and not plainly see that an evolutionary process was at work---and I say that as a devoted Christian. It's plain as the nose on one's phase, and no reasonable person could ever doubt it---unless of course they are never exposed to it.

I think the ACLU could do a great deal of good by taking local school systems to court for not teaching evolution. The choice to not teach it and thereby maintain peace is really nothing more than bowing down to the religious intimidation that is rife in many communities. It is not enough to simply oppose creationism or intelligent design. If a school system says it is going to teach evolution, someone needs to make sure that they actually do it. Otherwise, we are going to continue to have 75 % of the American public being ignorant about the subject and taking the religious default option. In fact, if the school systems would actually teach evolution in biology class (rather than just ignore it as many do), I think that the cry for creationism and ID in the classroom would slowly die to a whisper and perhaps be snuffed out completely.

For the sake of the real gospel of Jesus Christ, I hope it will be snuffed out. For those of us Christians who would like for the gospel to be successful all around the world, I think fundamentalism (along with the ignorance and total absence of love that go hand-in-hand with it) is one of the chief impediments to that success.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so right. Amen.
People have zero knowledge of what evolution is. They are trapped in the "your family may have come from a monkey..." sydrome. They get their science from an opposing view from an uneducated (in science) pastor who preaches what his pastor taught him, etc. Our schools suck at science. So long as kids can pass "the test" and make the school look good no one really cares if they know anything.
I have gone to creation science lectures / events to see what they say. It is no wonder people eat it up. They go in knowing zip and come out with an explanation that sounds reasonable enough. Not to mention the guilt of rejecting creation to follow "Satan, athiests and liers." Of course they buy it, it is the only line they are ever fed.
I talk to teachers all the time who feel their hands are tied, piss off the school board and your out. Piss off the parents and your out. Avoid the "conflict" and pay your mortgage...they can't fight alone.
Maybe more of us need to run for school board, or volunteer to work in science ed in whatever fashion, go into schools and put on programs, get churches to put on "evolution and Genesis" programs, whatever. If people understood simple things that they could relate to, like how eveolution helps to keep them healthy, cure illness, it might make sense. No complex arguemets, basic stuff they can relate to.
The ACLU cannot change it's goals to focus on changing all the ills in the world. Others must contribute their part. MoveOn.org does theirs, the ACLU does theirs, the 700 Club does theirs. A new org needs to fight for good science education, or else support science agencies that do fight fight...there are many.
Don't forget to support teachers, send a note to your kids science teacher, encourage them, support them. Many of them walk on eggshells, enable them to do their jobs.
Be pro-active.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure wish that instead of just saying "a recent survey" says only X amount of people believe Y, they would actually say which survey they are referring to, so that we may check the validity of the claim ourselves! I have a hard time believing the 26% figure.

2:08 AM  

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