As I read Time Magazine’s cover story about the current trends in genetic research, I hear an echo of my conservative workmate saying: "I don’t believe in evolution. It shouldn’t be taught in schools without also teaching alternative theories on the origin of man." This, a conditioned response of his Baptist college education, makes me think of how institutions can control young minds through selective application of knowledge.
This is nothing new, of course, societies have edited information flow for centuries. Ignorance is the second best method of keeping a populace docile. Fear is the first. Let’s not forget that organized religion as an institution, regardless of flavor, has as a foremost reason of being the goal of controlling the masses. So it’s not surprising that my friend, as result of his upbringing, would utter such a narrow-minded statement.
As I read the article, I can’t help but to point out to myself the assertions and assumptions that would raise the hackles of religious conservatives. Again, I hear my friend, and again I mentally respond: "That is the sound of One Mind Closing." But, to be fair, the scientific view of evolution must also close its mind to creationism. According to TIME:
Scientists didn’t need to wait for the chimp genome to begin speculating about the essential differences between humans and apes, of course. They didn’t even need to know about DNA. Much of the vitriol directed at Charles Darwin a century and a half ago came not from his ideas about evolution in general but from his insulting but logical implication that humans and the African apes are descended from a common ancestor.
Reading the above paragraph, I recall my feeling that creationism as a theory is an application of human arrogance. To assert that, because we have dominated this world as a species, we are superior to all creations is absurd. Maybe whales think the same thing of themselves; they, too, are at the top of their food chain.
Meanwhile I recall my response to my Baptist friend. "I never understood the antipathy between viewpoints," I said. "One says that God created us, the other dhows us some of His methods. To me, they compliment each other, not contradict" I’ve said this whenever I encounter a Creationist. Invariably, the conversation shifts and I never get a straight answer to my statement.
I bounce back to pondering closed minds: What benefit does a creationist position bring to the discussion? Perhaps my bias is showing, but I cannot think of any. Darwinian thinking, however, has formed a foundation of modern medical advances, spawned new schools of scientific inquiry, genetics being the latest. Whether or not the theory is true, mankind has benefited by its exploration. Closing one’s mind to the possibility that Darwin was into something only foments division, creates animosity and hostility. I’m of the opinion that the world does not need more of that.
Mainly, though, I remain ambivalent. Who Cares? Like much of the religious realm of thinking, we should all have our freedom to pursue whatever dogma we chose to embrace. Yet, the controlling aspect of religious culture won’t allow this. We see this played out on a grand scale in current affairs: "Think as I think, or suffer." is the Theistic mandate. I project this thinking to imagine a world that shuns "secular" inquiry. The resulting model is much like Medieval Europe or 18th Century middle East, full of disease and hardship, hatred and persecution, needless suffering by today’s standards. The "Who Cares" attitude that has prevailed in our world, as regards scientific advances allows for the lifestyle our modern militant theists enjoy. Do they realize this?