23 August 2011

Evolutionary Diplomacy

So it seems Texas Governor Richard Perry, a front-runner for the GOP nomination for President, isn't a big fan of the "theory" of evolution:
"Here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know it's a theory that's out there, and it's got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both creationsim and evolution in our public schools," Perry said. "Because I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right."
Of course, this happens in the electoral silly season - an ongoing narrative that includes promises to cut the price of gasoline in half, assertions that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is borderline treasonous, claims that corporations are people, and so on.   It's a big part of the reason most Americans don't pay attention to elections until after Labor Day.

It seems that noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is taking this rather seriously, however.  But he defends evolution ("Darwin's idea is arguably the most powerful ever to occur to a human mind") only after after a four-paragraph-long rebuke of not simply Governor Perry but also Republican voters:
There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.
I realize Dr. Dawkins is a brilliant man, and of course evolution is sound science that should be taught in our schools without religious overtones.  But I fail to see how insulting the membership of a political party does anything other than further entrench both sides in an unnecessarily polarized political argument. If Republicans are as stridently anti-intellectual as Dr. Dawkins claims, he must realize they wear his scorn as a badge of honor.  All he's done is shown his critics how to annoy him. And so the drumbeat continues.

"You're godless."
"You're an idiot."
"You're godless."
"You're an idiot."

Meanwhile, nobody steps forward to provide a positive, assertive and accessible message to explain WHY evolution must be taught in schools - at least not in a way that can resist hurling insults (and convincing the persuadable moderate to leave) beforehand.

I do, however, think that is about to change.  More soon...

2 comments:

Barbara said...

My mother told me a story about one day when she was about 8 years old the bible teacher came to her school and told them about creation. So my mother went home and asked her mother, "Mama? We don't believe in evolution do we?" and my grandmother told her, "Of course we believe in evolution. It's scientific fact." And that was the end of the some 4 hours that my mother believed the creation story.

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