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Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Demon Haunted World

This week marks the 10th anniversary of one of the death of science popularizer, Carl Sagan. As a young scientist, I was fascinated with astrophysics in part due to the "Cosmos' series narrated by Carl Sagan. Later, as I became aware of the anti-science movement (most notably ID/creationism), I read his book "The Demon Haunted World". Sagan noted that Americans were becoming increasingly enamored with nonsense posing as science. In the time since Sagan died, the demons have stirred even more and they became emboldened with the election of an anti-science president. The Republican party has waged war on science and faulted science for its tentative nature. The religious right has supported the efforts of young earth creationists and their bastard son "Intelligent Design" to get evolution out of the classroom. They will tell you it's about 'equal time' or 'teaching the controversy'. Others will pretend that it's all about admitting the 'flaws of evolution'. What has really happened here is that these socio-political movements have exploited the tentative nature of science and attempted to portray it as a weakness. To the ID/creationists, tentative science is bad science. One need only look at the propaganda put out by these organizations. No new science is ever conducted, but real scientific findings are sought out and attacked for no other reason other than to convince their followers that if real science is tentative, then ID/creationism is just as valid.
It's time for scientists to start bottling up the demons and to expose these movements for what they are. Intelligent design strives to replace normal science with supernaturalism and a call to invisible designers (but not necessarily the Christian God, of course!). Every gap in scientific knowledge can be filled with a demon or ghost to fill that gap according to ID/creationism. People are turning away from good science because good science leads them to an uncomfortable position. The propaganda teams are telling them that good science leads to atheism and atheism leads to immorality. The demons are not only stirring, they are inventing new demons and leading us further into the gathering darkness of ignorance. As Sagan noted "Science is like a candle in the darkness" and we should work hard to keep the demons of antiscience like ID/creationism at bay.


Joe Meert


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