I was watching Bill Maher’s show on Friday and the round table discussion ended up on the topic of evolution. Why? because the GOP representative from Georgia – Jack Kingston – said he didn’t believe in it. Naturally the Congressman is getting all the attention for that statement as an elected official, but kind of buried in that was that right at the end of the discussion comedian DL Hugley ALSO said he didn’t believe in it. Both Kingston & Hughley referenced their “belief in God” as a reason why they did not believe in evolution.
All I could think was “Since when did we have to BELIEVE in science?” Seriously – think back to your own childhoods no matter your religious or political background – when did you learn about evolution? Was it in a philosophy class? Or a religious history class? Or was it in SCIENCE?
Were you taught about the Theory of Relativity? How about the Theory of Gravity? Right along side the Theory of Evolution right? Do you have to BELIEVE in the first two? Does your religious belief preclude you from BELIEVING in them? The irony of course, is that you DO need to BELIEVE in religion. And that belief in something not scientifically proven somehow overrides facts which ARE scientifically proven. That image I attached is from a survey done in 2006. At what point did this all happen?
I’m 46 so I was in school in the 70s and early 80s. I went to private school all the way through. A Montessori school run by devout Catholics. My parents raised me in a religion that encompasses facets of just about every religious theory (though not specifically Christian). I went to an Episcopalian high school where a full year of religious study was required (Old Testament one semester, New Testament the other). At NO POINT in my education was evolution questioned. NONE. The whole idea that this was not settled science did not cross my mind until perhaps the last 10-15 years? Does that seem right to everyone else? Was it the 90s Christian Right movement that brought all this out again?
What frightens me though is seeing men like Kingston and Hughley – men my age who you know damn well were not RAISED to doubt evolution. Men who were not EDUCATED to question it. The scary thing is that their religious belief and teachings as adults has caused them to change their stance. To ignore science. Now, some could argue that Kingston does that for political gain. Ever the political cynic who has watched John McCain twist himself into so many positions on issues that pretzels look straight, I can totally buy into that. But DL Hughley? It’s not political with him – he was taking obviously liberal Democratic stances on the panel on all other topics. This was purely based on his religion.
The thing is, just about anyone you talk to of any political stripe will acknowledge that the US education system has fallen behind. PARTICULARLY in math and science. And yet there is a growing movement in conservative circles to “update” our textbooks to present evolution as an “optional” theory to be “believed” or not. Not to mention the already approved curriculum changes in Texas to “update” our history books removing references to people and events that don’t support their predominately white Christian conservative beliefs. It’s just disgraceful!
Seriously – religion is wonderful for those who need it. But it is also personal. It should not preclude science and it should NOT influence public school education. Shutting a child’s mind to science and history will just keep pushing us further and further behind. Is there any other developed country that rejects new discoveries and runs away from science as much as the we do?