What is blocking truth and understanding?

America has many great Museums. There you can see the great bones of animals long extinct

The public understanding of Evolution in the United States is abominable. Actually, it is scandalous. Arnold did some playtime with his housekeeper and fathered a child. Bill Clinton enjoyed some sexy play with a secretary. These events are very small "scandals". What is really a big "scandal" is the ignorance of a large number of Americans of the "History of Everything". There is, in the United States, the greatest number of schools, Colleges and Universities of any country in the world. The United States is technologically driven. Americans have made great contributions to knowledge in scientific fields. That is, some Americans have. Sadly the "brain power" of a large proportion of the nation has been wasted.

They seem afraid of Science.  Not all Science. They can believe in Chemistry [ atoms, electrons, covalent bonds, isotopes.] They can learn about Laws of Motion and Gravity. Mathematics is not threatening. But try to take them to the subjects of the Origin of the Universe, the Solar System, or the history of life on this planet, and their brains go into full lockdown. If you start on the evolution of living things, from a common ancestor, be prepared for your audience to surround their brain with a steel curtain. They may very well turn angry, outright hostile. They will go to any length to deny the significance of data, regardless of statistical validity, and repeated validation by thousands of investigators working in hundreds of different laboratories.  Any absurdity seems a satisfactory alternative to Charles Darwin's great idea. The mountain of information now accumulated, supporting Natural Selection as the Origin of Species, is all just a giant conspiracy, if you listen to half the folks in America.

So, what is the reason for all this? Why should educated, competent, successful people turn their back on the accumulated knowledge of the past 200 years? Knowledge in Paleontology, Geology, Biology and Astronomy, which explains are very existence, is denied.

You want to know the reason?

Religion.

 

From Sean Carroll's book, "Endless Forms Most Beautiful",  I show you the results of a survey that he reports. Citizens of 21 countries were asked; "In your opinion, how true is this?  Human beings developed from earlier species of animals". Using a four-point scale [1. definitely true 2. probably true. 3.probably not true 4. definitely not true.] the citizens responded correctly, as follows:

                     Nation or area                       mean score

1                  East Germany                        1.86

2                  Japan                               1.89

3.                  Czech Republic                       2.04

4.                  West Germany                       2.08

5.                  Great Britain                         2.18

6.                 Bulgaria                              2.28

7.                 Norway                              2.45

8.                 Canada                               2.45

8.                 Spain                                 2.45

10.                Hungary                               2.50

11.                Italy                                  2.51

11.                Slovenia                               2.51

13.                New Zealand                           2.54

14.                Israel                                 2.66

15.                Netherlands                            2.67

16.                Ireland                                2.70

17.                Philippines                             2.75

18.                Russia                                 2.80

19.                Northern Ireland                         2.99

20.                Poland                                 3.06

21.                United States                            3.22

 

So the United States of America finished dead last.  I suspect that Americans are not used to finishing last in any kind of competition. This is in spite of the plethora of information available to everyone, regardless of their level of formal education. There is a constant stream of documentary movies on education channels. You can educate yourself with DVD'S created by "The Great Courses". Or you can read National Geographic. Even Time magazine or the lay press will report new findings.

There is no excuse for ignorance. We Canadians seem to have done better than our southern neighbors, but we have little reason to be smug. We scored 2.45, so there were lots of folks responding, "probably not true"

Homo sapiens needs to know his origins and his place in the web of life on this planet. We need to know the history of our planet.  The evidence is in on what is the greatest story ever. Why can't every country score 1.00?

What is the problem?

Religion.

 

Who can help them?

Zeng plays in a tide pool formed by lava from the volcano Haleakula. Maui was formed by seafloor volcanic eruptions 5 million years ago

Recently, I viewed a site on You tube recording the opinions of one Paul Broun. You don't know who is "Paul Broun"? Neither did I. Apparently he is a  Member of the US Congress, representing the state of Georgia. He is a member of the House Science Committee.  He is also a Medical doctor.

He is standing for re election, unapposed. He recently spoke to a group at the "Sportsman's Banquet" at a Baptist Church in his home state. In his speach, he had these words:

"God's word is true. I've come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,"

"You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says."

These are the views of a man born and raised in a country with more schools, colleges and universities than any other country in the world. He does not seem to be afraid of some science. He became an MD. He must apply his science knowledge to the treatment of his patients. Hopefully.

He selectively denies, blocks, shuts out the accumulated knowledge of the past 150 years. He returns to Medieval times, or before. The great contibution of Charles Darwin is denied. The life works of thousands of dedicated scientists in the fields of Astronomy, Paleantology and Geology are ignored. The discovery of the structure and function of DNA and the understanding of immortal genes, fossil genes and the mathematics of evolution, increasing exponentially, over the past 20 years, in his view, nothing but a conspiracy to delude.

This science, locked out  from the brain of Mr. Broun, is not one small theory, yet to be proven. This is a massive parcel of knowledge,  one field linked to another, explaining our very existence. The understanding of the origin of our planet and the multitudes of diverse organisms that have populated it, is possibly the greatest human achievement. Congressman Broun doesn't want to even go there. He won't open a National Geographic, go to a Natural History Museum, watch Discovery Channel. For sure, he will never read "The Making of the Fittest" by Sean B. Carroll.

If Mr. Broun was one small voice, calling out absurdities, there might not be reason for concern. But he is not. Surveys indicate that 50% of Americans might be right on the same page. Thirty percent more might agree with him to a variable extent.

The congressman is a prominent member of the House Science Committee. Oh, my.

Heaven help the Americans.

"It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the advance of science." [Darwin]

The "gradual illumination of men's minds" is obviously taking longer than Darwin predicted.