Friday, September 2, 2011

America's Regressive Tendencies

I recently came across a Youtube video calle "Heresy" based on a production by the late Carl Sagan (saganp b;Carl Sagan.(Heresy)  [Carl Sagan Tribute Series, Part 20] - YouTube)   In this beautifully dramatized and animated production from the 1970's, Sagan discusses the oppression that organized religion historically  imposed upon science."Heresy" begins with the story of Galileo and his theory of heliocentrism which he presented to the Catholic Church ecclesiastical authority. For daring to propose that the Earth is not the center of the universe, he was charged with the crime of heresy and was forced to recant his findings under the threat of death. Sagan goes on to emphasize how important it is for science to stand its ground against intrusive dogma, to challenge religious beliefs for which there is no evidence and which serve only to block the progress of reason and enlightenment.

Sadly, his message would likely be less accepted today by the American public than when it first came out over three decades ago. Since that time our society has regressed in its understanding and acceptance of science, especially the Theory of Evolution.  Or more accurately since the 1980's beginning with the Reagan era, religious and right wing political extremism have undermined science and continue to do so.

Further,the fact that such anti-science Christian zealots as Republicans Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are already political office holders and are serious presidential candidates with sizable followings speaks volumes about the inability of a large percentage of  Americans to understand the scientific method and in the political realm to be able to think critically, especially regarding the Constitutional principle of church-state separation vs. Christian privilege. 

Sadder still is that President Obama has backpedaled from his original progressive positions on policies ranging from the economy to health care, to an almost total surrender to the GOP stance on these issues. In acquiescing to various budget cuts he has extinguished the light of hope for a renaissance of scientific and social progress that shined ever so briefly when he took office after the dark years of the Bush administration.

I despair for the future of our country. I fear that come election time in 2012, if it comes to the likely contest between Obama and a GOP right wing radical, no matter who wins, the Republican Taliban will likely prevail.  In doing so they will likely impose a benighted era of theistic dominance against science and of socioeconomic Darwinism that will make the Bush years and present times seem liberal by comparison.