America: Dangerously stuck between religion and science


Salon's Andrew O'Hehir recently wrote a piece titled, "America: Stupidly stuck between religion and science," in which he makes the capital mistake of ignoring the harm inflicted by the anti-science movement in America every day.
I typically like O'Hehir's work, even when I don't agree with him, but as any regular Hazard reader knows, this is one of my hobby-horse topics.

O'Hehir slams New Atheists and religious fundamentalists alike, though he hems and haws when he acknowledges that the Christian right is more out-of-touch with reality than Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.

He points to the traditions of attempting to reconcile science and religion by mentioning Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine before he writes, "Creationists and other Biblical fundamentalists, needless to say, are having none of it: For them, the empirical realm is always and everywhere subservient to the revealed word of God. Meanwhile "New Atheists" like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, along with their pop-culture sock puppet Bill Maher, espouse a similar view from the other direction. Their ahistorical or anti-historical depiction of religion is every bit as stupid as Ken Ham's."

Here is what O'Hehir fails to mention or acknowledge in his piece:

One-third of Americans reject evolution. Thirty percent reject global warming outright while 15 percent reject it being man-made though 97 percent of scientists agree it is. Nevertheless, only 42 percent of Americans trust scientists.

And that, dear friends, is the rub.

Religious fundamentalists may be a small population but the anti-science movement is much larger and more dangerous exactly at a time the human species is facing some critical decisions.

Our present situation is not comparable to the metaphysical musings of Aquinas. Religion-based attacks on the Establishment Clause, equal rights, healthcare rights, and public education occur in our various states around the country every day.

Moreover, an insidious political force is collaborating with Fortune 500 companies to foster distrust in science for the sake of short-term profiteering.

Time Warner Cable, Budweiser, Pfizer, Reynolds Tobacco, General Electric, of course the Brothers Koch, and many others fund the Heartland Institute, which just released a report saying global warming is good for us all. 

Likely they don't perpetuate similar anti-scientific tripe within their own research and development departments.

They are appealing to an anti-scientific mindset with a focus on their own bottom line, using it politically to undermine human rights and sabotage the wellbeing of our commonwealth, and in doing so are creating some of the largest wealth and income disparities in history.

We do not have the luxury of debating the merits of Kierkegaard. This is political and urgent. We must be obliged to reject an ethos that says my instinctual opinion is just as good as your empirical fact.

Find Senior Writer David DeWitt on Facebook and Follow on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.

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