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Rally For Reason

     Well, the Creationist “Museum” opened in Florence, KY last month.  It’s a disgrace for our state and a disgrace for our country since “Dr.” Ham, an Australian, found this to be the most receptive site on our planet for his assault on science.  The ridiculous notion that the universe is 6000 years old reveals the desperation of the biblical literalists – it requires a significant degree of desperation, after all, to fly in the face of reality and refuse to acknowledge evidence that is contrary to revelation.  What fuels this desperation?  Well, if the creation myth is false, perhaps the whole Bible and its Middle Eastern mythology is false.  What’ll they do then?

    I’d like to say a few words about Ham’s Folly from my atheist’s point of view.  First, a little of my background – I’ve been a physician for over 30 years and I work for the military.  Of the many places I’ve lived, and the many things I’ve done, the military is an institution which – at first glance – seems to be imbued with religiosity – mainly literal Biblical Christianity.  Many meetings and ceremonies at work have organized prayers, thanks to God, and other accoutrements of the faithful.  New recruits are held to mandatory informative sessions where they’re given information about shipping out to basic training or boot camp.  During these mandatory sessions, they’re visited by members of the Gideons who pass out New Testaments in camouflage covers and told, in many instances, that these are their military bibles.
 

     I’ve tolerated this – I think toleration is something that we all need to do in a pluralistic society – but, until now, I’ve remained silent. For the silence alone, I reproach myself.  My only excuse was that I feared I would be disliked, pre-judged, and harmed both professionally and financially – and possibly even physically.  Then, in a relatively short period of time, several events occurred which were of great concern. The family of Pat Tillman – a true patriot/soldier – was vilified for not being Christian.  The Smalkowski family in Oklahoma was cruelly harassed for their atheism.  Our president openly abuses scientific facts and replaces them with supernatural platitudes. Then, 3 of the candidates for President of the United States of America declared on national TV that they did not believe in evolution by natural selection.   Belief!  Since when was any scientific theory a belief rather than a conclusion based on verifiable and reproducible facts?   Now this museum will open its doors to countless young minds and misinformed adults who cling to dark-ages superstition.  That’s it.  Enough is enough!  To be silent any longer would be an unethical complicity in the ruination of our country, our culture, our civilization and, quite possibly, our world.
 

     This is not hyperbole.  Studies show that US students’ math and science competence lags far behind that of other industrialized countries in Europe and Asia.  How can we compete in a technological world, how can we be an admirable example for our culture, our way of life, and even for democracy abroad if we cling to narrow, fearful superstition at the expense of scientific knowledge?  Most importantly, how can we ever achieve lasting peace when people are not educationally enlightened?
 

     I feel most passionately about this last point.  I have great respect for the military and for the very brave individuals who lay their lives on the line to protect us in a world which can sometimes be very unsafe.  I’m proud of my work for the military.  But if we, as a country, adopt the Leo Straussian tactic of fighting for a country which is blessed by God, then we are doomed to fighting other peoples who are blessed by their own special God or Gods.  No lasting understanding can be achieved between countries and cultures which have diametrically opposed and dogmatic supernatural beliefs intertwined with their nationalism.
 

     So what’s the solution??????  Education is the solution.  It’s the key to peace and stability in our world – not mindless fanaticism.  Any entity – such as this creationist museum – that endeavors to promote ignorance is a pernicious influence that must be vigorously protested and exposed for what it is – a deliberate attempt to bolster delusional and magical thinking.  As stated above, this behavior smacks of desperation among those people of faith who fear that disproving creationism may cascade into a challenge of the entire Middle Eastern mythology which is the prevalent religion in our culture.   
 

     So, my hope is that we all promote evidence based knowledge and education in our own fashions.  I suggest – if you haven’t yet – read Darwin’s Origin of the Species – an elegant book which is remarkable in its clarity.  Discuss it with friends and colleagues.  Tell people about supernova 1987 – a supernova seen in the 1980’s which was so close it could be seen with the naked eye, but still almost 170,000 light years away – an event which in itself clearly disproves the biblical account of creation.  Tell people about molestus – the newly developing species of mosquito which has evolved in the London subway tunnels over the past 100 years – and fits that ecological niche.  This is evolution by natural selection seen in action.  Read Richard Dawkins’ book – The Blind Watchmaker.  In it, he beautifully describes the evolution of the eye in humans and other species.  Read about ring species such as varieties of gulls ringed about the Arctic Sea who vary just a bit from area to area, but by the time the variations get back to the starting point, they’re so different that they cannot interbreed any longer and are therefore different species…………..for me, all of this is more awe-inspiring than any religion.  

      Just don’t be silent.  But most of all,  continue to promote science education.  To tolerate ignorance in ourselves or in others would not be decent, reflective, ethical or responsible.  The Rally For Reason – a peaceful protest against ignorance – was a remarkable event which was an example of what can be done to make it clear that Bronze Age thinking will not be accepted by all Americans.  On the day before and the day of the “museum” opening, those in attendance (including myself and my family) were present to hear speeches, organize our demonstration, and rally one another in front of TV and print journalists from all over the world.  Interestingly, the foreign journalists were not there because the evolution/creationism “debate” is so controversial – it’s not.  They were there because it’s astounding to the rest of the world that the US is so medievally superstitious and ill-informed.  I don’t believe anyone in attendance at the Rally For Reason was so delusional as the creationists.  For example, we don’t think we’re going to convince someone brainwashed since birth to despise reality that Charles Darwin was anything but evil incarnate.  However, on viewing those poor little faces of the school children being bussed into the “museum”, I can say that if even one of those children (victims of abuse in my opinion) pauses to think that there just might be a small chance that there’s another way to look at the world, then some significant good has been done.  Here’s the website for the Rally:  www.rallyforreason.com

-Gretchen 

 

 

 

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