As the presidential candidates come together to discuss faith and issues of morality — at Saddleback last week and at the Democratic National Convention this week, there’s a large contingent feeling excluded. American atheist and agnostic voters are increasingly feeling left out of the debate or flat out ignored and taken for granted as politicians scramble to better woo the “faithful” .
One of the greatest scientific achievements of the human mind “ranks with Copernicus’ discovery that the Earth is not the center of the universe” … “compares with Einstein’s formulation of the laws of general relativity” … “is as important as the Watson-Crick model of DNA which set off the genetic revolution.” This is the language used by historians of science to describe Charles Darwin’s principles of evolution. These principles underlie and inform every facet of the biological world. They are the foundation on which all of biology and medicine are built.
There exists, however, one glaring exception to the otherwise universal celebration of these discoveries about how the biological world operates: the Christian fundamentalists of the United States. And herein lies one of the great enigmas of our time. How is it that in the most advanced scientific country in the world, we have at the same time one of the most scientifically illiterate general populations on the planet?
In his native Spain, Francisco Ayala attended Catholic schools, where he studied evolution in science class and creationism in religion class. No one saw a conflict. Having moved to the United States in 1961, he was shocked when, in the mid-1970s, California sought to introduce an antievolution curriculum into its public schools. How could this be, in the most scientifically advanced country in the world? His bewilderment led Ayala to a lifelong study of how evolution is, or is not, taught in public schools.
As the Channel 4 series The Genius of Charles Darwin drew to an end on Monday, the usual chorus of insults reined down on the head of its star, Richard Dawkins. Despite the fact that Dawkins went out of his way to avoid bad-tempered arguments or overt proselytising on atheism, his critics saw only what they wanted to see – and often that was not what appeared on the screen.
A group of American Christians who had more than 300 Bibles confiscated by Chinese customs officials left the airport Monday after a 26-hour standoff, saying they realized officials would not change their stance.