Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Let's Defend Science for the Sake of Our Future Generation

A Brief History of Mankind

Throughout history, Man has often sought to widen his horizon and gauge his position with regards to his own existence; we are, after all, transient mortals who are somehow lucky enough to spend a brief span of time on this little blue-green blob of a planet, and soon enough we will each have to take a dark, eternal walk into oblivion (If you are a religious believer, you might have the opinion that you might carry on an ethereal existence on a higher plane, but that's beside the point).

As mortals, we are only all too aware of our weaknesses. Physically, as a species, Man has much to fear. Natural disasters, malicious microbes and other tiny creatures which, when observed under a microscope, resemble creatures from some far-flung planet. Tigers, lions and other animals of prey may, at one time or another in the sands of time, look upon us as frail easy targets for a quick snack (Human flesh doesn't hold much flesh and fats, so most mega apex predators, such as sharks, usually give us a miss. Phew!). And, the list goes on.

Because of our all-too-apparent weaknesses, Man needs to combat ignorance, and learn to survive under the harsh conditions as stipulated by Nature. Certain traits, such as the ability to live in large groups, allow us to watch each others' backs to minimize danger. Our ancestors learned how to create fire and in the process reduced the risk of food poisoning from eating raw food, as well as to scare off egregious predators who threatened the very safety of our ancestors.

As society progressed, it became imperative for Man to seek out knowledge, not only as a means to protect himself, but to enhance the human race as a whole. In the beginning, it was religion; we create our own little institutions to venerate invisible sky gods in the vain hopes of pacifying these deities into submit to our wills and whims, plus scaring the common folk into submitting to a higher authority or a host of alpha males. Priest and religious hucksters of all shapes and sizes on every continent of the planet tried their darnest to outdo each other into believing their puffed-up imaginary friends, but to no avail: Religion was inept in terms of bettering society, all the way from a tribal level to a cosmopolitan culture of the 21st century. People killed or got killed over who's God had a larger penis, and it is quite evident that whoever God is either doesn't exist, or never gives a damn shit about our existence.

That leaves us with Science, one of the most arduous institutions of learning: By using rational tools and methods to discover and determine raw phenomena, scientists help us to have a better grasp of reality and the world around us. As we discover more and more about life and the forces that determine our existence with regards to Mother Nature, the better it is for us to control our own destinies.

We might think that as inheritors of Modern Science and the Industrial Revolution, the modern Man of today will be more inclined to accept the standard tenets of Science than a bunch of loony fairy tales from a bygone past. The truth, however, is bleak. All over the world, especially in the States, religious folks, urged on by their religious leaders who perceive the world as a huge, mine-littered battlefield in their constant battle against the "evil" secular forces, still batter the courts of law, schools and government institutions to reinstate their heinous religions into secular society.

A Call From Scientists: Defend Science!

It really is a sad state of affairs when a secular folk has to email me an urgent message to seek help to defend an institution that has done so much good for civilization.

And so it was, I received an email from Laure Vaillant on the 7th of Jan 2009 highlighting this sad state of affairs:

The contents from 's email are as follows (Her words in In Blue):

Celebrate Darwin Day 2009: Stand Up For the Science of Evolution

This year, February 12, 2009, is the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. 2009 is also the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s “On The Origin of Species by Natural Selection”, a monumental work and tremendous scientific achievement.

The Importance of Evolutionary Biology

If you could imagine a world without Darwin and the theory of evolution by natural selection, it would be a world impoverished in every dimension. Modern medicine would be crippled, without a deep understanding of how to prevent infections that rapidly evolve and grow resistant to treatment; we would have a greatly diminished understanding of the threats to biodiversity from alien species and habitat alternations. We would not appreciate the “grandeur in this view of life”, to use Darwin’s own words – the beauty and amazement of how all of life developed through natural processes. And science itself would be weakened in an almost incalculable way.

Evidence for Evolution Piling Up With Each Passing Year

There is evidence of evolution everywhere life goes on. We have a sweeping, astonishing and scientific panorama of how life developed from single cells to all the complexity and diversity that we know today. The fossil record, once thought to have too many “gaps,” grows more complete every year. We have a synthesis of modern genetics and Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection that would delight and amaze Darwin, if he were somehow able to see it. This decisively confirms and deepens our understanding of natural selection by showing the source of the endless variation among individual organisms and how it is inherited.

Darwin's Fight Against Staunch, Religious Ideas

Darwin went up against the entrenched religious prejudices of his day (and ours), applied the basic principles he discovered to human beings, and suggested that human ancestors evolved into Homo sapiens in Africa, even though no fossil evidence of this existed in his day. Now immense evidence of all kinds has been discovered, and there can be no doubt that humans evolved from a common ancestor of African primates.

The Importance of Biological Evolution as a Key Tenet of Biology & Science

The concept of biological evolution is one of the key pillars of modern science. Public access to understanding evolution has in many ways become the arena in which the role of science and the scientific method in society is being fought out today. It should be a matter of grave concern to everyone that there are powerful and continuing creationist attacks on the ability of children in public schools to learn core truths of evolution. It should be a matter of public outrage that museums and public institutions like science centers exist in an atmosphere where they feel unable to openly talk about and explain evolution; that in a number of state legislatures and in state boards of education, a new round of attacks on teaching evolution is in the works; that a bill attacking evolution has been signed into law in Louisiana. It is not simply evolution, but science that is under assault.

The Disastrous Impact of The Bush Administration on Science

The Bush administration brought an eight year attack on science that enormously intensified this poisonous and deadly atmosphere. The result was more than a series of bad policies, even though many were very bad indeed, but an assault on science itself, the method of inquiry which has enabled people to understand and transform the world in very powerful and amazing ways. And the Bush years greatly strengthened the Christian fundamentalist movement which today has great reach and influence. While Obama says he personally believes in evolution, he has made embracing this movement a core element of his view of “healing divisions”. Some creationist forces have clearly stated their aim goes far beyond attacking evolution; they seek to purge society of the “disease” of systematically seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena. We do not need to seek unity with this - we need a determined fight to defend science. It is up to us.

All of this makes Darwin Day 2009 even more important – as a celebration of Charles Darwin’s magnificent scientific achievement and as a contribution towards a society in which science, scientific discoveries and the scientific method are celebrated, valued, and popularized.

Let's have a Darwin Bicentennial with society-wide impact.

Defend Science

We strongly encourage everyone to help organize and participate in Darwin Day celebrations around the country, and circulate this statement everywhere, distribute it to friends and colleagues, post it on the web. It is available at the Defend Science website, )

Raise Socially Responsible Adults, Not Religious Bigots and Ignoramuses

The Inherent Dangers of Religion is Plain to See.......

As responsible adults, it is important that we ensure that the next generation of adults are rational, even-headed people; raising a dozen or even one child to grow up as a gun-touting, grenade-tossing terrorist is a dangerous enough predicament for most societies, not to mention ignorant, religious folks who think that it is better to go to a priest to seek treatment for a heart problem than a doctor.

I urge you, therefore, as a secular reader, or whoever you might be, to participate in this campaign. If you have a blog, promote the website. If you are loaded with cash, donate to the campaigner. I sincerely believe that we are duty-bound to teach our future generation what really is helpful to society. Religious fundamentalists want to inundate this planet with religious filth in the vain hopes that God or some other deity will whisk them up into the upper echelons of heaven, and surely none of us will want to see that happening in our life time.

The Ubiquitous Ignoramus?

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
-Charles Darwin