~Living a life of sophisticated domestication deep in the heart of Texas~

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Misleading religion fuels the Texas creationist machine

(Sneak preview:  This column submitted today to the San Angelo Standard-Times.) 

Just finished surfing the web a bit to check, and science has not yet come back with anything on what makes the right wing so cussed and so brainless.  We are going to have to be patient.  But this, our Texas, is most certainly the laboratory for it.  As Paul Jury explains, “Everything is bigger, even our morons.”  

Math skills and U.S. history aside, boneheadedness in our state government is most glaringly and tragically evident in the area of science.  Recent efforts of our state legislature and governor to put a brutal sharia on women’s health highlighted this deficit, as does a tireless spite-fest to undermine and defund the beneficent Affordable Care Act.   

By the same right-wing Republican token, we might expect the willful ignorance of climate-change denial to flourish where so much wealth comes of raping the earth night and day. 

Such pandering by sold-out politicians invariably includes an obsequious connection to Christian fundamentalism, so it’s little wonder they grapple and contend with our having rights based on the values of humanism and instead churn out the toxic products of spiritual darkness.

Buddhism identifies the “three poisons” involved:  Anger (meanness), greed and stupidity.  We all have some of this blend in us, of course; there is help for it in the light of a good religion, but a bad religion can only make things worse.

There is in Texas a perennial skirmish within false religion’s war on science that is at least as embarrassing and tiresome as the crimes mentioned above.  I refer to the State Board of Education’s commitment to the abject folly of Bible creationism. 

My earliest opinion letters to the San Angelo Standard-Times addressed this, way back in the 1980s.  In those days, busybodies Mel and Norma Gabler of Longview lobbied the Textbook Selection Committee to considerable unfortunate effect, but from that zany endeavor – perhaps ironically – there has been descent with modification and development of an antievolution cadre of some diabolical sophistication. 

According to the Texas Freedom Network, of six prominent creationists invited to review biology textbooks and influence their publication for Texas and America, some even have doctorates – and one of those is in molecular and cell biology!  (Never mind how a man can hold such a degree and retain in his heart an animosity for science; a zealous handful are apparently able to accomplish the contortion.) 

Only half of the half-dozen are engineers (traditionally a discipline overutilized as “scientists” of creationism), to include a Baptist university’s professor of engineering, a chemical engineer who’s a business instructor, and a systems network engineer. 

There may be a Christian schoolteacher or two, and then it made this ol’ Aggie hang his head to learn that a chemistry prof from A&M has made himself available to the quixotic contingent.  They all probably will reflect some grudging advancement over the “dinosaurs-walked-with-men” sect and aggressively favor the euphemism, “intelligent design.”    

But even these champions of the fantasy could not effect serious destruction.  The danger to science education comes from the 60% of high school teachers identified in a notable study ([Berman, Michael and Plutzer, Eric.  "Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom," Science 28 January 2011) as "cautious," i.e., prefer to avoid lending their support to “either view.”  It is these brave souls who are really working for the creationists, since they allow fervor to trump knowledge and effect a de facto "balanced treatment" in their classrooms.

Bleating platitudes about “both sides” only gives aid to the creationist dream of having a leg to stand on.


No comments: