It is a matter of grave concern when a nation such as America, whose constitution is one of the greatest historical documents ever written and which has, for so long, embraced the principle of separation of Church and State, is in danger of being held hostage by religious extremists.
If you shout long enough and loud enough, any reasonable person will suspend his arguments to let you finish. When it comes to evolution, the Christian establishment in America is shouting ever louder. When your beliefs are questioned, and they are in danger of being proved incorrect, it is natural that you will seek to defend it using whatever means you can.
Evolution has provided an elegant and simple explanation for the development of life on our planet and it has given scientifically valid reasons to reject creationism, which is the bedrock of the Christian faith. But there are many who still fervently believe that the Earth was created 6000 years ago in 7 days by God and if that is not regressive thinking, I don’t know what is.
Considering that the Bible was written two millennia ago, it is natural that it would contain wrong explanations for several phenomenon. We tend to invoke the supernatural when we fail to find an explanation for something and the men of that time were ignorant about many things. We have always wanted an explanation for our origins and the idea that a supreme being created us and appointed us masters of the world is appealing. It would have been even more so in centuries past. Evolution though, was a game-changer.
When I was in school in Mumbai, science was not a particularly well taught subject. Not many subjects are because teachers tend to stick to textbooks and few of mine made the effort to teach above and beyond what the books contained. Evolution was not very well elaborated and beyond the fact that Charles Darwin came up with it and some short explanation, nothing more was conveyed. As a result, I never gave it much thought. Questions about human origins never played a part in my day to day life and as a result, evolution went unnoticed.
But years later, as I journeyed to America, I was struck by how many pitched battles were being fought between men of science and people of religious faith who came up with an innocuous term to describe creationism. Intelligent Design tends to give creationism an advantage because it sounds a lot more like a scientific theory. This is what it is being claimed as – an alternative hypothesis to explain human origins. But it is not. It is merely a ploy by Christian Fundamentalists to impose their religious beliefs on children.
Considering how desperate they sound, with the screams getting louder and more hysterical, it seems like the ultra religious are playing their last big hand. It seems like the final throw of the dice. But it is time to counter this. An attack on a basic scientific principle, which is the basis of all biology, will not stop at that. There will be attacks on all aspects of science that contradict religion and humanity might be in the danger of being pushed back to the dark ages.
People of reason need to make a stand and rise against this. We need to educate ourselves and educate others about basic science. Will reason triumph or will regressive thinking win? Only time will tell. But we better make a good fight of it.