Science vs Superstition

My time machine has allowed me to nip foward into the future and bring back this story:


BBC exclusive, 22 July 2011.

Working as a fryer monkey in McDonalds is depressing enough, but imagine doing it when you've got a double doctorate in Physics and Molecular Biology.

Dr David Smith (name changed to protect identity) doesn't have to imagine, he's living it. Smith came to England last year, his degrees, with the ink "still wet", clutched proudly, seeking a postition in Britian's ever growing scientific research community.

Smith was to be discouraged by the reaction. Thanks to policies implemented by President George W Bush, degrees from US schools are nearly worthless anywhere in the world.

"Seriously," said Smith, "A degree from the University of Baghdad is worth more than mine, and that keeps getting blown up."

Smith left High School with no knowledge of the most important scientific theories, evolution having been banned, shortly followed by gravity, electricity and quantum physics.

A record number of college graduates in the US are also members of the Flat Earth Society, and firmly believe that the sun orbits the Earth. US law, enacted under the current President, Jeb Bush, prevents any teacher - from preschool to college - from correcting this falsehood, if even one parent objects on "moral or ethical grounds".

Smith has considered joining the Church of England. "About the only thing I learned through school was the Bible, which I'm now word perfect on. I guess that's a job I could do."

Smith shares the McDonalds where he works with two other doctorate holders, who work the night shift sweeping up.

(That article was originally posted on Atheist Parents)

Yes, it may surprise my friends over in England to learn that there is serious debate going on here over whether to continue teaching evolution in the nation's schools.

See, a bunch of christians have gotten together and decided that evolution is anti-god, and therfore must be stamped out at all costs. Initially, they simply challenged it in court - the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" in 1925 - and lost, repeatedly. The reason for the trial needs to be set out briefly.

The US constitution contains, in its first amendment, a prohibition against making any laws concerning religion - both facilitation and prohibition. The framers, we are told through their own writings, wanted to create a "wall of separation" between church and state. This principle means that the government has no business messing with religion, and religion has no business messing with the government. The principle has been busted a few times - all American coins and notes contain the unconstitutional phrase "in god we trust" and the Pledge of Allegience was altered in the fifties to include the words "under god", for example - but it remains a guiding principle of the country.

The problem is that education in the USA, as with almost all developed countries, is a government system. And thus, adhering to the constitution, schools can't teach religion unless they are privately funded. Schools can teach about religion, but they cannot teach one religion as true. It is this principle that has defeated all previous attempts to foist religion upon kids using state or federal funds.

The last challenge was called "Creationism", in which the proponents postulated that life on Earth was and is so complex and perfect that it had to have been created by god.

Yeah, okay.

Creationism was defeated because it's pretty obvious that it's religion.

But no they're back, with the so-called "Theory of Intelligent Design". ID (as it is known) postulates that life on Earth was and is so complex and perfect that it had to be created by something, we're not saying who, we're not saying god, but it was something, and we're not talking aliens here.

Replacing the established science of evolution with ID was dead before it started, so the proponents argued that ID should be given equal time. It didn't work, because not only is ID not a theory, it is not science. So then they wanted schools to "teach the controversy", claiming that many prominent scientists reject evolution and embrace ID, so teachers should have to devote a segment of their biology class to telling their students this.

Scarily, some county education boards in the US are actually considering this and worse. Cobb county, in Georgia (that's the state, not the country), ordered stickers placed on every science textbook that mentioned evolution, describing evolution as "a theory and not a fact". A federal judge ordered them removed, seeing the stickers for what they were, an attempt to impugn genuine science for the advancement of religion.

This battle has been raging ever since Darwin first published his abstract works The Origin Of Species and, later, The Descent Of Man, and, although most countries around the world have made peace with the fact of evolution, America - well, "red state" America, anyway - is still fighting it kicking and screaming.

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