America is Wallowing in Ignorance: Can’t We Just All Get Over Religion in Politics?

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The Big Picture
by Glynn Wilson

It is way too pretty on the porch this morning to be mad at anything or anyone. No matter who happens to occupy the White House or the governor’s mansion, or what morons serve in Congress or the state legislature, I have a roof over my head and food to eat, a little gas in the van, and I’m not in the path of Hurricane Irene making a fool out of myself on TeeVee.

On the other hand, I refuse to allow a few moments of quiet solitude to distract me from the mission at hand. The county I live in is in big financial trouble, and the state is not much better off. This country is reeling from one human catastrophe to another. And even though the U.S. is no longer rated triple A, the world still depends upon leadership from us.

But like a lot of commentators, I wonder if we are any longer up to the task. We seem to be a mixed up people now, so oblivious to the cause and effect of our problems as to defy our ability to craft solutions.

A couple of nights ago, I got a friend request on Facebook from someone in Brazil, who sent me a nice note and asked how things were going in the U.S. I jokingly told him all my friends were searching the world over on the Internet for somewhere to move when the shit goes down.

It’s true, several of my friends have recently been researching a town in Panama called Boquete. According to the National Geographic Traveler, Panama is “a slim-waisted tropical nation about the same size as South Carolina, (where) you can find sweeping rain forests teeming with exotic animals and birds, cloud forests cloaking the summits of rugged mountains, and vibrant indigenous cultures that predate the conquistadores. A cornucopia of wildlife wonders side by side with fortresses and sleepy colonial villages, Panama is a country just awakening to its vast potential.”

As for the town Boquete, it is “nestled among the country’s most mountainous region, at 1,200 meters (3,600 ft.). Situated between the Caldera River, which lies to the east, and Baru Volcano to it’s west, Boquete enjoys a comfortable year-round climate ideal for active retirement living and outdoor adventure seekers alike — birding, hiking, mountain biking, rafting, etc. In addition, the near perfect weather and rich, fertile soil has created an ideal setting for floral exportation and coffee growing.”

Now I don’t know if any of my friends will actually pack up and move to Boquete. I figure it’s just a fantasy. It might be that Front Royal, Virginia or Charlottesville might be a more realistic option to get to higher elevation away from the rising seas and intensifying heat of human induced global warming.

I am told that on a recent night in New Orleans, a city I used to call home, it was 91 degrees at midnight, confirming what scientists are saying about the increasing problem of a rise in night-time temperatures.

But then, if the Christian Republicans in Dixie and other points in rural and suburban America decide to elect another religious conservative from Texas as president, we might be in for a downward spiral so dramatic we might have to consider moving somewhere else — if we want to survive.

Shortly after announcing his official candidacy for president, conservative Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry emerged as the favorite for the party’s nomination. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide say they are most likely to support Perry, with Mitt Romney second at 17 percent.

Like George W. Bush, Perry is not afraid to go fishing for votes from the faithful by slamming science.

Consider this recent Richard Dawkins column in the Washington Post.

Texas governor and GOP candidate Rick Perry, at a campaign event, told a boy that evolution is “just a theory” with “gaps,” and that in Texas they teach “both creationism and evolution.” Perry later added “God is how we got here.”

According to a 2009 Gallup study, only 38 percent of Americans say they believe in evolution. If a majority of Americans are skeptical or unsure about evolution, should schools teach it as a mere “theory”? Why is evolution so threatening to religion?

According to Dawkins, “There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office.”

What is unusual about today’s Republican party, Dawkins says, is this: “In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.”

The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes “some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world,” Dawkins continues. “There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W. Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.”

Darwin’s theory of evolution is “arguably the most powerful ever to occur to a human mind,” Dawkins says. “Darwin explained (so much) with one brilliantly simple idea – natural selection, driving gradual evolution over immensities of geological time. His is a good theory because of the huge ratio of what it explains (all the complexity of life) divided by what it needs to assume (simply the nonrandom survival of hereditary information through many generations).”

The simplicity of Darwin’s idea, Dawkins says, “is a virtue for three reasons. First, and most important, it is the signature of its immense power as a theory, when compared with the mass of disparate facts that it explains – everything about life including our own existence. Second, it makes it easy for children to understand (in addition to the obvious virtue of being true!), which means that it could be taught in the early years of school. And finally, it makes it extremely beautiful, one of the most beautiful ideas anyone ever had as well as arguably the most powerful.”

“To die in ignorance of its elegance, and power to explain our own existence, is a tragic loss,” Dawkins says, “comparable to dying without ever having experienced great music, great literature, or a beautiful sunset.”

There are many reasons to vote against Rick Perry, Dawkins says.

“His fatuous stance on the teaching of evolution in schools is perhaps not the first reason that springs to mind,” he writes. “But maybe it is the most telling litmus test of the other reasons, and it seems to apply not just to him but, lamentably, to all the likely contenders for the Republican nomination. The ‘evolution question’ deserves a prominent place in the list of questions put to candidates in interviews and public debates during the course of the coming election.”

In other words, if someone running for president is so ignorant of the facts about evolution, they are not qualified to lead the most important country in the world over the past 200 years in terms of scientific advancement.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in a god or not. Even the Catholic church in Rome has acknowledged the power of Darwin’s theory, while the Southern Baptist Convention is still holding out so they can all be alive to see the end of the world, apparently. I’ve got news for them. They are not going to be “saved” when the next big hurricane comes to wash them away, fueled by the growing heat in the world’s oceans due to climate change from global warming.

But the fact is, we don’t have to agree on global warming or evolution to shun voting for such an ignoramus to run the country.

© 2011 – 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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