Sunday, August 09, 2009

I just finished watching an old PBS which examined the Kitzmiller vs. Dover decision. I know this is old news to many. When Kitzmiller came to national prominence, I willfully ignored the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate on the grounds that even the trivial and cursory information I had gleaned on the matter of Intelligent Design proved it to be specious science at best, and thinly veiled Fundamentalist machination at worst. For me, the very existence of the deabte screamed of a kind of madness, the madness of irrational belief.

Consider this the first secular confession of a born-again atheist. Perhaps I have missed the boat a bit, but it has become galringly apparent to me, that we live in a new age of belief. We currently live in a time and place (the post-industrial West) where the availability of knowledge, information, scholarship cultural understadning is greater than ever. The internet and the democritization of technology (while flawed and incomplete) has allowed for the prolifieration of easilty accessible knowledge in a vast number of fields of science, politics and the humanities. In some ways, one could well argue that this should be the most enlightened age in human history.

What we find however, is that these very same tools of technological progress have created a crisis of authority. thoroughly researched, reviewed, contested and revised scientific theory has suddenly been thrust into apparently equal footing with spurious, inherently biased and ideologically motivated pseudo-science. As a result, I dare say, we are becoming a generally less enlightened and continually poorly educated populace.

We are told on an almost daily basis that the "terrorist" pose an existential threat to the physically safety of the United States, as well as a threat to the American way of life. While I do not want to dismiss the danger posed by terrorist organizations, barring the possibility that any such group acquires a nuclear weapon, and the capability to deliver and detonate such a weapoin on U.S. soil, the "existential" threat posed by terrorist group tends to be marginal at best.

Let's not forget, that these terrorists are often described as having some kind of fundamentalist view of the world and religion that justifies their violence and vitriol. Religion can be a dangerous thing. I would argue that one of the greatest threats faced by American civilization is not, in point of fact, Islamic Fundamentalism, but rather Christian Fundamentalists here at home. While countries such as China and India now boast universities that are quickly reaching parity with the West in terms of technical and research sophistication, the heartland of America is being besieged by an ideological virus that would replace critical thinking and intellectual rigor with blind belief in Bronze Age mythology and a world-view that flies completely in the face of hundreds of years of well understood scientific evidence.

Let us be on guard in this new age of belief. Think for yourself, question truths, all truths. It is in this way that human knowledge expands, and that life is advanced. The urge to believe is strong, and faith is a great comfort in a confusing and often cruel world. However, only the open and critically active mind can hope to bring us from the dark to light. It is, in fact, the only thing that ever has.

More later

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