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Sunday, August 28, 2005

New York Daily News - Home - Stanley Crouch: Faith lost in W's designs on science

New York Daily News - Home - Stanley Crouch: Faith lost in W's designs on scienceFaith lost in W's
designs on science

The newest controversy surrounding George W. Bush brings into plain sight the issue of the relationship of religion to our educational system. President Bush has said that he believes that the newest term for a universe created by a supreme being, "intelligent design," should, right next to evolutionary theories, be given equal time in public schools.

Perhaps he has forgotten about the separation of church and state. We do not have any obligations to religion other than to allow those who believe to state their beliefs freely unless those beliefs embrace terrorist acts or the murder of abortion doctors (which are largely the same thing).

At the same time it seems to me that those who want to rant and rave about the stupidity of those who believe in God seem to miss another very important point about the species: People love to know things, and they also find great comfort in thinking they know things.

Those in religion and those in science will become huffy and condescending if asked for a bit of detail about how they concluded how it all began. That is because our insecurity demands that we have some sense of where it all came from and, as some in the sciences now claim, when our world came into existence.

But what those in the sciences do not seem to understand is that there are people in their own world who have no difficulty accepting "intelligent design" even if they have risen to the top of their fields.

I know two men, one a master of high-tech innovation and the other a neuroscientist who teaches at a blue-ribbon university. Neither of these men has lost or questioned his faith in the face of his scientific knowledge. That is how it is and that is why, however glibly one can dismiss religious belief, it is an absurd proposition.

We should all know by now that either position can lead to insanely immoral actions. Overweening religious confidence has allowed people to brutalize others throughout human history. On the other hand, the confidence that there is nothing beyond what we currently live has shown in the totalitarian barbarism of Marxist-derived regimes.

The problems of both extremes makes it important to stick with our fundamental separation of church and state. The world of religion is safe as long as religious freedom is considered a fundamental right, but the world of politics is always endangered when there are those who are sure that a democracy is not enough; what we need is a theocracy that bends its knee before a particular god and a specific area of belief. We know what that can lead to; we have seen the footage and heard the explosions all over the world because religious hysteria can easily give way to immense brutality.

Those given to an "intelligent design" need to assume that their churches can handle the job. Preachers and holy men are better at their trades than politicians who rarely ever express the poetic power at the center of great religions. Those politicians willing to sell out to the religious right need to take cold showers and calm down. There is always room for more opportunism. They can leave religion alone and be sure that there will soon be another bandwagon that they can jump aboard. That is part of their skill and part of human failing that always invades the world of the political. Our Founding Fathers understood those truths very well and that is one of the reasons that our system remains great.

Originally published on August 25, 2005

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