Human Brain, side view
The War between religion and science--between blind faith and a knowledge-based collection of empirical data or prescriptive practice capable of resulting in a predictable type of outcome--goes way back. The Church attacked Copernicus, and found Galileo "vehemently suspect of heresy" for inventing the telescope and daring to suggest that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Giordano Bruno was beheaded for saying the same thing. Religions are based on faith, and the devout often fear science because it can contradict faith, as they see it. Of course, this concern doesn't stop them from enjoying the fruits of science (using a telephone, say, or getting a flue shot, or watching television) but it makes them downright cranky at times. Traditionally, that's when they start gathering kindling for a heretic bonfire. Fortunately--in most modern, secular societies, anyway--they no longer burn heretics at the stake, though they may attempt to roast them on Fox TV. Once again, we're reminded why society must insist upon the separation of Church and State, and why we must keep the fundamentalists out of the science classroom.
Bill O'Reilly interviews Oxford fellow Richard Dawkins on Atheism and Science in the Classroom - 10/9/2009. Dr. Dawkins is an ethnologist, zoologist, Neo-Darwinian evolutionary biologist, scientific theorist, intellectual and popular author. O'Reilly is...well, a talk show host, a "Christian," and all around conservative assclown. (Unlike Dawkins, we don't claim to be objective)
"Imagine that you are a teacher of Roman history and the Latin language, anxious to impart your enthusiasm for the ancient world — for the elegiacs of Ovid and the odes of Horace, the sinewy economy of Latin grammar as exhibited in the oratory of Cicero, the strategic niceties of the Punic Wars, the generalship of Julius Caesar and the voluptuous excesses of the later emperors. That’s a big undertaking and it takes time, concentration, dedication. Yet you find your precious time continually preyed upon, and your class’s attention distracted, by a baying pack of ignoramuses (as a Latin scholar you would know better than to say ignorami) who, with strong political and especially financial support, scurry about tirelessly attempting to persuade your unfortunate pupils that the Romans never existed. There never was a Roman Empire. The entire world came into existence only just beyond living memory. Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan, Romansh: all these languages and their constituent dialects sprang spontaneously and separately into being, and owe nothing to any predecessor such as Latin."
So begins chapter one of Richard Dawkin's most recent book, "The Greatest Show on Earth: Evidence for Evolution."
Dawkins on the CBC television show, "The Show," in 2007
In The Greatest Show on Earth, according to Dawkins website (link below), Dawkins "takes on creationists, including followers of 'Intelligent Design' and all those who question the fact of evolution through natural selection. Like a detective arriving on the scene of a crime, he sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case: from the living examples of natural selection in birds and insects; the 'time clocks' of trees and radioactive dating that calibrate a timescale for evolution; the fossil record and the traces of our earliest ancestors; to confirmation from molecular biology and genetics. All of this, and much more, bears witness to the truth of evolution."
A documentary based on Dawkins' The God Delusion
Dawkins' previous book, the bestselling The God Delusion, argued that a supernatural creator does not exist and that belief in a personal god qualifies as a delusion. How does he define delusion? "A persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence."
Dr. Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the author of many bestselling books;
besides the two we mentioned, others include The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker and The Ancestor’s Tale.
Visit Dawkins' website