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A recent trend in the United States has centered around the idea of "creationism", which holds that 1) science does not hold all of the answers to the questions that Man has about our universe and 2) the teaching of science in schools should be augmented or (preferably) replaced by literal passages from the Christian Bible. Now, few reasonable people can argue against the first point. But the second point is a load of hooey, and most people (including the "creationists") know it.
Rest assured that I am not about to embark on a "here's lots of scientific reasons why creationists are wrong" crusade here. This has been done to death, and I don't intend to reinvent the wheel. If you're looking for that kind of debate, go here. Instead, I would like to spend a few minutes examining the dark underbelly of creationism, which is a movement that is so foul and odious that one struggles to find the words to most aptly describe it.
The relationship between science and the American public over the years of the 20th and 21st Centuries has been an interesting one, to say the least. In the years following World War II, there was very little emphasis on science in American classrooms. Most of the subject matter regarded reading and writing, and there was a very strong focus on consumerism, and conspicuous consumption in particular. Science may be interesting, people of the time argued, but most considered it (at best) amoral and of very little use to modern American society.
A Reality Check: October 4, 1957 -- 17:32 Zulu TimeThe national psyche of the United States was forever altered on a brisk Autumn evening in 1957. A sense of smug self-assuredness and invincibility was replaced by waves of paranoia, self-doubt, and fear. The "honeymoon" was over, as the saying goes. This was, of course, the day that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made object to leave the Earth's atmosphere and go into orbit around the planet. This feat demonstrated to a stunned nation that the Soviet Union had just upped the ante in the Space Race, and that the U.S. was clearly in second place.
Comfortably examining these events from our perch in the year 2002, it's easy to scoff at this paranoia. After all, Sputnik was nothing more than a metallic sphere the size of a basketball; its primary capability was to emit incessant beeping. But at the time, the nation was reeling. I know, because I was there. The initial reaction was one of denial. "They're Russians, for Christ's sake!" people could be heard to say. "How in the hell could these drooling, vodka-swilling, bushy-browed, slope-headed, Mongoloid bastards put a probe in space?"
But the period of denial was (thankfully) short-lived, and the citizens of this country got together and collectively woke the fuck up. We had been far too complacent for far too long. The early- to mid-1950s, for most of us, was a period of antlike conformity, conspicuous consumption, and "old-fashioned values" in education. This meant that we were only taught "moral" subjects in school. We were not taught many natural sciences at all, and we were only taught enough mathematics and reading to be able to "get by" in the real world.
But all of that changed on October 4, 1957.
The Mother of All Wars: January 16, 1991 -- 23:38 Zulu Time
"Operation Desert Shield has become Operation Desert Storm. ... The liberation of Kuwait has begun." -- Marlin Fitzwater, White House Press Secretary to President George Herbert Walker Bush
Operation Desert Storm (or, the "Gulf War", as it is more commonly called) has been called the world's first "media war." Certainly, there were television crews on the scene in Vietnam, and moviegoers often thrilled to the Movietone footage from the Korean War and World War II. But the Gulf War was the first armed conflict that played itself out in front of the world on live television. It was a historical event that literally put CNN on the map; the cable network that was formerly referred to as "Chicken Noodle News" suddenly found an audience of tens of millions of addicted viewers who were glued to their television sets 24 hours a day.
Oh, and what a war it was! Gone were the days of Vietnam-era carpet bombing, napalm, and government-fabricated casualty figures. No more did we have to put up with the grainy footage that war viewers had become accustomed to. This was war as it should be, with live, high-quality satellite reports directly from the action. Correspondents such as Bob Simon and Wolf Blitzer showed us U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles striking their targets in real-time, often with impressive explosions and smoke plumes. The Gulf War marked the advent of the most impressive and formidable technology ever unleashed in the history of war.
Who designed that technology?
By and large, it was the children of the Cold War era that put these military marvels together. These are people that grew up during a time period where this nation realized that it had to take science seriously. I can tell you this: the people that put together the technology that liberated Kuwait did not draw upon stories about talking snakes, poisoned apples, and leaf-obscured nudity. No, they depended upon the principles of physics, chemistry, biology, and countless other natural sciences. And they were taught in an environment where science was taken seriously.
The importance of this point cannot be underestimated. This means that we cannot ban the teaching of geology because it debunks the notion of a 6,000 year-old earth and biology because it teaches about twin-nested hierarchies of biological evolution. This means that we shouldn't ban physics, chemistry, astronomy, or any other of the natural sciences because fundamentalists feel threatened by them. The very survival of our way of life depends on us taking science seriously. Which takes us to ...
Hello, Fundamentalism: September 11, 2001 -- 08:45 Eastern Daylight TimeNobody needs to be reminded about what happened on September 11, 2001. It was a horrific spectacle, a tragedy unrivaled in recent history. Certainly, there have been tragedies in past years that have claimed thousands of lives (earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters come to mind) but none that have been committed by crazed humans with such malicious intent, with innocent civilians being deliberate targets.
The bottom line is this: On September 11th, the United States (and by extension, the Free World) was attacked by zealots who hail from countries where science, reason, and progress are shunned in favor of religious fanaticism. And so how do Christian fundamentalists in the United States propose to fight this war? They wish to turn our own nation into a country where science, reason, and progress are shunned in favor of religious fanaticism. You would think that after the attacks of September 11th, these "creationists" would have stepped back, admitted that they were wrong, and thrown their support behind full science education for the future generation of Americans on whose shoulders the burden of fighting terrorism will fall. Amazingly, their response has been exactly the opposite; they have ratcheted up their attacks on biology, chemistry, and similar sciences.
Pardon my French, but what the fuck? What is wrong with these people?
These actions are not only morally but legally treasonable against the United States of America. Those who would weaken or destroy science education in the Western world are seeking to unilaterally disarm it in its war against Islamic aggression. This is unacceptable. It is not an idea that can be digested by moral, decent people, and it is certainly not an idea that comes from the mind of patriots. It is something that can only come from the festering cesspool that is the mind of a traitor. If we are willing to try a scumbag like John Walker Lindh for treason simply because he happened to be in Afghanistan (and the government admits that there is no evidence that he ever fired a weapon at Americans), then what does that say about the eventual fate of those who seek to disarm our entire nation in its perpetual struggle against evil?
Biblical creationists are traitors, and they need to be tried for High Treason against the United States of America. If found guilty, I believe that they are deserving of the penalty that is typical for that particular crime. This is not some cosmic game of pick-up-sticks that we're playing; we're talking about the survival of our country. With that being the case, the United States cannot tolerate this type of treason within (or without) its borders.