Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Idiotic Design

I know that I'm not alone in feeling a bit conflicted over how to talk about that majority of Americans who tell pollsters they do not believe in the theory of evolution and think God made the whole ecosphere. It is not the case that something about human nature makes it impossible to cure the majority: among countries with universal literacy, the U.S. suffers uniquely from this endemic dementia.

But we're afraid that if we stand up in public and say that the promoters of creationism and intelligent design are either charlatans, who don't really believe what they say but are running a scam to separate the ignorant and pathetic from their pittances; or are themselves fools and fabulists, we're just insulting the people we want to convince, and that probably won't get us a respectful hearing. On the other hand, if we appear to take these beliefs seriously, and engage them respectfully, we give them undeserved dignity.

Judge John E. Jones III has done a major public service. With the full majesty of the court, he treats creationists as buffoons. His opinion in the Dover schoolboard case creates an opening through which we must advance. Denying that the ecosphere in which we live developed over billions of years through evolution is outside the realm of sane, socially respectable opinion. It disqualifies people from public office because it shows them to be intellectually crippled, incapable of distinguishing truth from falsehood. People who espouse it are to be pitied and offered counseling, like people who think that extraterrestrials are controlling their brains by radio waves. This is not a controversy, okay folks? The earth is round, it goes around the sun, it is billions of years old, life here evolved through genetic mutation, recombination, and natural selection. If you don't believe that, what you are is ignorant, deceived, used, and wrong. This is not a war of ideas, it is a simple choice between knowledge and ignorance.

And that is what people running for political office, including president of the United States, need to say. In public. Even without being asked. Otherwise, they won't get my vote.

1 comment:

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