Friday, November 12, 2004

Darwin who?

Having almost finished reading "Angels and Demons" one thing the book mentions surprised me, and I read a couple of other things recently that have combined to shock the hell out of me. One of the characters in the book mentions in passing that half the schools in America teach Creationism (basically, that God created man in six days), and not Evolution as the method of origin of humankind. While I took that with an enormous helping of salt, I cannot do that with the following two news items:
1. There is a trial going on in Georgia (heart of the Bible Belt of course) right now as to whether textbooks with a disclaimer sticker that evolution is a theory and not a fact (which was introduced after 2000 parents DEMANDED that evolution NOT be taught!) should be removed or not.
2. In rural Pennsylvania a school board today passed a ruling that students be taught the doctrine of "intelligent design" which holds that 'the universe is so complex that it must have been created by an unspecified higher power'. Basically, creationism in non-Biblical terms. Today, in the year 2004, in a day when commercial space trips are possible, schools are going to TEACH that God made us, and we did not evolve from apes. Science and all of that is just, well, wrong! We would rather believe the Church's politically motivated interpretation of ambiguous writings about things that might or might not have happened, recorded decades after they might or might not have happened! Even if I didn't have a problem with the idea of God making us, what's wrong with the idea that God could have caused evolution? Why can't people live with compromises like that? I just don't get the reason for this Evolution versus Creationism debate...(by the way, brilliantly portrayed in the movie/play "Inherit the Wind" which is about a very similar trial in 1925. Guess nothing much has changed since that famous Scopes' Monkey Trial!)
You only have to have a conversation with a rural Ohioan or a Texan rancher, or even watch Fox News as the anchor talks about "barbarian terrorists" and "the ignorant Middle East" to realize the stereotype-filled blinkers these people have on! The world is black and white (preferably more white of course!), if you're not with us, you're against us, any brown skinned person with a non-American accent must either be a terrorist or from a country with starving masses and a pagan dictator. The fact that Bush got re-elected based mostly on so-called moral issues like gay marriage, abortion and stem-cell research is a clear sign to me that no longer is there no church interference with state. While all the world marches forward, America marches backward into narrow minded Bible thumping and zero-tolerance policies.


Blogger phucker said...

Oh dear, I do hope you keep this Blog private from the majority of Americans. If they catch it, you'll be in trouble...The change that swept thru America after 9/11 is one of the main reasons that I left America, and another reason why I started blogging in the first place. America was meant to be a place where you could believe what you wanted, so long you didn't put anybody else in danger...but no longer. Now it's just like a gazillion xenophobic, chauvinist countries/kingdoms that existed before it...

I once posted the following on a website... and got me some non-American fans.

They only see what they wanna see, like the dead people in 6th Sense....Remember in the American Bizarro take on the world the following are all true:
1) Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are brothers
2) Iraq is full of WMDs
3) Torturing Human beings, killing innocents and holding prisoners in violation of the Geneva convention are all okay if you think you have a big male sexual organ.
4) The Metric system is for wimps
5) Anybody who's neither black nor white must be a terrorist.
6) India = Pakistan, Australia = Austria and there is no such country as Kazakhstan.
7) Pakistan is a liberal secular democracy which respects human rights, is responsible with it WMDs and good team player, and thus merits the purchase of F-16s and Stinger Missiles, miraculously similar to those owned by Osama Bin Laden's Men.
8) India is a place where people ride on elephants and camels. If you're not an elephant-rider or camel-fornicator, then you must be a software developer who stole an American's God-given right to own an SUV.
9) Those dang Brits have corrupted "American" and speak it with funny accents, spelling and words. (Who the heck takes a 'lift' to the 4th floor anyway?).
10) (my Favourite) It is better to be committed to your cause and completely wrong, then to support a cause and change your position on the release of new information(i.e. flip-flop).

10:04 PM  
Blogger RTD2 said...

Thanks Tarun..Sometimes I need voices like yours to help me realize that I'm not the one going crazy! And I don't really publicize the blog, so I'm not too worried..anyway, the Americans who know me know how I think!
Btw..yay for the Star Wars poster..loved your post!

6:47 AM  
Blogger SilWhoEtte said...

I totally agree with you - the blatant forms of racism - and a close-mindedness beyond reason - never cease to amaze me! However, the more subtle forms, shrouded in a cloak of high-minded acceptance - a condescension too subtle to pinpoint - that is just impossible to fight.

There was a PBS documentary recently called 'The Question Of God'. Religion (read Christianity) vs. Science. And funnily the two main characters contrasted were Freud(an cocaine-addicted, having-issues-with-his-mother, most probably manic-depressive atheist) vs. C.S.Lewis( a calm, peaceful and peace-loving, Christian believer). It was really difficult to guess the leanings of the program. I'm an unapologetic agnostic - an atheist if forced to choose - and even I would rather contrast an amalgamated assortment of religions - than choose just one. You can't argue religion seriously if you start discounting science. Or if you take a literal view of things.

It is sad that teaching people to think is at such a premium.

P.S. Kudos for a blog well done!

7:12 AM  
Blogger Parth said...

These elections have helped identify the true nature of America. This is a Christian country whose heart lives in the middle and southern states, and whose religious beliefs and isolationist leanings will screw them and the rest of the world in times to come. To emphasize Tarun's point about ignorance, a survey was conducted of high school graduates in America. 11% of them could not identify North America on the map of the world. As a kid, I heard about the 'frog in the well' approach. That's what it is.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Avinash said...

Read an interesting analysis on this topic. I agree with it too. Globalization has got a lot to do with this turn in US popular thinking. Thru out the 20th century, the economic, cultural, technological and educational dominance of the west was absolute. But now, countries like India and China are proving that they are better than the west in any arena they choose to compete in. So the westerners are searching for answers and failing to come up with rational ones, they take refuge in the divine.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Ubermensch said...

hmm interesting.first time here.good gang uve got here.

9:28 PM  
Blogger carnaby said...

Disclaimer: I am not a Christian nor religious in any way (not exaclty an athiest, might be agnostic, dunno).

That said, I found some problems with your post.

First, be careful acusing others of using unjust stereotypes while using them yourself (rural Ohioan or Texas rancher).

Second, although there is incontrovertable evidence that evolution of organisms occurs, nobody actually knows how or why life, or the universe, or anything, exists. Evolution does not explian why life exists in the first place. As far as I can tell, although there is great evidence that animals evolve within species, there is not concrete evidence that one species of organism evolves into another. Now, that doesn't mean that evolution is wrong, it only means that we don't know. Evolution theory is certainly not incompatible with the notion of intelligent design. What's wrong exactly with teaching this?

Lastly, in the constitution, the separation of church and state is there as much to protect the church (whatever your church might be) from the government, as it is to protect the government from the church. The government shall not meddle in peoples religions, and neither shall any religion have sway over government business. That doesn't mean that the members of government may not be religious. To be fair, I think GWB does bring up his beliefs to much for my tastes. Remember though, that secular humanism is officially a godless religion, and as such gets the same protection from government, as well as the same exclusion from government, as any other religion.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

Interspecies evolution, where one species morphs into another, is NOT a theory, and should not be taught as such. The fossil evidence is overwhelmingly against it, and Stephen Jay Gould's idea of punctuated equilibrium, which was supposed to explain away the lack of fossils showing transitional species, is a spectacular failure.

What most people object to is this conjecture being taught as absolute truth. Very few would object to Darwinian evolution being taught in the same spirit as Ptolemaic theory, i.e. it was interesting, it was investigated, it doesn't work. But do you really think it's wise for public schools to completely marginalize the views of over 90% of the world's people, who do believe in some form of god? Rural Americans aren't the only ones who believe in Creationism -- many of the "brown people" in the Middle East believe that Allah created the universe. Your characterization of religious people extends to them, as well, and you end up sounding just as stereotype-filled as the Bible-thumpers you criticize.

As for whether or not the Six Days of creation is a scientific fraud, check out Gerald Schroeder's explanation for how the Six Days can actually work if you account for time dilation caused by the expansion of the universe.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

Sorry about the repeat posting. I keep losing my formatting.

Read an interesting analysis on this topic. I agree with it too. Globalization has got a lot to do with this turn in US popular thinking. Thru out the 20th century, the economic, cultural, technological and educational dominance of the west was absolute. But now, countries like India and China are proving that they are better than the west in any arena they choose to compete in.India and China have not yet proven they are better than the West in any economic or technological respect. But India is building up a massive middle-class, and the degree to which it experiences economic success has to do with the degree to which Indians have removed themselves from the socialist trough and embraced Western-style economic policies.

4:41 PM  

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