Isn’t it time to drop religious faith from human belief? Edward O. Wilson thinks so, and to that, we say: “Amen, brother.” Otherwise, at the very least, jokers like the Kansas Yahoos will be dogging us forever with their biblical delusions.
In an article in Harvard Magazine called “Intelligent Evolution,” a more accurate title for which would have been “Darwin For Dummies,” the naturalist-entomologist-evolutionary psychologist-sociobiologist writes:
There is something deep in religious belief that divides people and amplifies societal conflict. In the early part of this century, the toxic mix of religion and tribalism has become so dangerous as to justify taking seriously the alternative view that humanism based on science is the effective antidote (and here Wilson gets a little purple for our literary taste, but never mind), the light and the way at last placed before us.
Trouble is, as explained by reporter Dennis Overbye in yesterday’s New York Times, the Yahoos want to redefine the very meaning of science to include the supernatural. The crucial passage may be found on page 8 of a 78-page proposal by the Kansas State Board of Education:
Nature of Science
“Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.
Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.Science does so through the use of observation, experimentation, and logical argumentwhile maintaining strict empirical standards and healthy skepticism. Scientific explanations are built on observations, hypotheses, and theories. …”
Simply by removing the two words “natural explanations,” Overbye writes, the Yahoos have signalled their intent to turn back the clock. “The changes in the official state definition,” which are “fueled by the popular opposition to the Darwinian theory of evolution,” are “a red flag to scientists, who say the changes obliterate the distinction between the natural and the supernatural that goes back to Galileo and the foundations of science.”
In his article, Wilson asks a key question: “Will science and religion find common ground, or at least agree to divide the fundamentals into mutually exclusive domains?” And answers it in the negative:
A great many well-meaning scholars believe that such rapprochement is both possible and desirable. A few disagree, and I am one of them. I think Darwin would have held to the same position. The battle line is, as it has ever been, in biology. The inexorable growth of this science continues to widen, not to close, the tectonic gap between science and faith-based religion. Rapprochement may be neither possible nor desirable.
In other words, if the Kansas Yahoos want to “Sing Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!” — well — that’s their cross to bear. The idea is not to make it ours.
— Tireless Staff of Thousands