Monday, September 26, 2011

Free to Believe Anything

Recent physics data coming from CERN seems to suggest that neutrinos might— I say MIGHT— travel faster than the speed of light. If true, this would prove Einstein wrong about a crucial fact of physics. Already, evangelical Christian fundamentalists are seizing on this to say that, “If Einstein is wrong about physics, then science can be wrong about evolution, too.” This would be amusing if it weren’t so pathetic. For evangelicals to try defending their thoughts about science based on their logic is like an illiterate non-reader critiquing the sentence structure of F Scott Fitzgerald and Norman Mailer.

Here’s the thing. If Einstein is found to be in error about the speed of light, the revision of his theory will come from scientific testing and computation. It won’t come from The Old Testament. And if evolution someday turned out to be a flawed notion (I guess anything is possible) then that revision as well would be based on science, not The Old Testament.

And here’s why this is important to all of us. In the United States we bend over backwards to accommodate the radical anti-science conservative beliefs of the evangelical Christian fundamentalists, because they compose a large voting block when it comes election time. If a large segment of the voting public consolidated themselves around a hardcore belief in Santa Claus, then the political forces would devote some happy talk to Santa Claus too. Meanwhile, China and India don’t burden themselves with The Old Testament or anti-science fundamentalism. In China, EVERY student in eighth grade is REQUIRED to begin their multi-year curriculum in physics, biology, and mathematics. In America, only 18% of high school students EVER study physics or biology at any time in their undergraduate public schooling.

In the United States, people are free to believe in The Old Testament, and they are free to not care a thing about science. They are also free to be poor and unemployed while they watch all the wealth and jobs go to China.

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