Friday, June 03, 2011


Indiana man calls police
when kitten in woodpile
bites him on the thumb.

“The abundance, the solidity, and the splendor of the results already achieved by science are well fitted to inspire us with a cheerful confidence in the soundness of its methods. Here at last, after grasping about in the dark for countless ages, man has hit upon a clue to the labyrinth, a golden key that opens many locks in the treasury of nature. It is probably not too much to say that the hope of progress---moral and intellectual as well as material---in the future is bound up with the fortunes of science, and that every obstacle placed in the way of scientific discovery is a wrong to humanity.” (Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study of Comparative Religion, 1890:825).

It has been said that Frazer was the last of the scholastics and actually wrote The Golden Bough as a extended footnote to a line in Virgil he felt he did not understand. Be that as it may, he was writing at a very exciting moment in history when science was becoming increasingly important and promised to lead the human species out of the dark ages and into the light of a more reasoned and understandable condition. This optimism and hope can also be seen in the fine book by Andrew White a few years later:

“My work in this book is like that of the Russian _mujik_ on the Neva. I simply try to aid in letting the light of historical truth into that decaying mass of outworn thought which attaches the modern world to mediaeval conceptions of Christianity, and which still lingers among us--a most serious barrier to religion and morals, and a menace to the whole normal evolution of society.” (Andrew Dickson White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, 1896).

We know, of course, how far science has taken us since these scholars wrote in the 1890’s. Darwin wrote his definitive work, The Origin of Species in 1859, by1865 the most famous Geologists of the day had conceded that the earth was very old indeed, infinitely older than 6000 years. And there was the famous Scopes trial in the 1920’s that should have put an end to arguments against the teaching of evolution by that relatively early date. Virtually all educated people accept the general idea of evolution, the backbone of evolutionary biology, and also have confidence in science and the scientific method. While the precise age of the earth is not known, that the earth is extremely old is not a matter for dispute…except, it appears, for a relatively small number of people, including some of our Congresspersons and candidates for President, who still somehow cling to supernatural fantasies generated almost exclusively from the Christian bible, a collection of strange tales and oddities written over time by different authors that purports to be the absolute truth. That “believers” still exist in the 21st century is a fact I find virtually impossible to comprehend. These people also do not believe in science, or so they claim when it comes to global warming and other things they choose to reject. It is possible that some may have other motives for rejecting science, monetary and political, for example, but that is another matter.

It probably wouldn’t matter much if a few strange people, sects, or cults still existed that rejected science in favor of superstition, but when such people achieve sufficient positions of power and influence they can block needed legislation to solve critical problems, like global warming, or other problems that require scientific knowledge, it becomes a serious matter. At the moment all of the potential Republican candidates for the highest office in our country, are either Evangelicals (Palin, Pawlenty, and Bachmann) or Mormons (Romney and Huntsman). Huckabee, who might well be a frontrunner had he stayed in the race, was another Evangelical. Gingrich, who fortunately has no chance of winning, is a newly converted Catholic in addition to being a lying hypocrite. George W. Bush, the latest Republican President claimed to have messages from God and made decisions depending upon his “gut feelings” rather than science or facts (and we know how successful he was). One could assume the religious beliefs of Presidents probably don’t matter, but they do, especially when they deny the reality of scientific information in favor of nonsensical beliefs generated out of ignorance. Those individuals who cling to their superstitions can readily be seen as atavistic survivals, as out of place in the modern world as dinosaurs, witches, and unicorns. One of them could be your next President. Wheeeee!

Since the whole affair had become one of religion, the vanquished were of course exterminated.

Insurance companies and banks are not “friendly.” Actually I learned this a long time ago, not today.

No comments: