The deep sigh that goes with saying ‘only in America’ came over me upon hearing that Kansas thinks creationism is science. It’s been a long and hard battle. Repackaging creationism as ‘intelligent design’ wasn’t really enough. Definitions of what constitutes science have had to be stretched somewhat so that now astrology is a science too. In fact any idea that anybody has about anything at all is science; you don’t have to call your ideas hypothesises or bother testing them. Yet there’s nothing new. Apparently America’s been teaching creationism since the 1940s; here’s a quasi-educational film (warning: very boring) for kiddies. And as always not all parents are impressed: in Pennsylvania they’ve sacked the school board.
More interesting though, is the way the wealthiest and most technologically advanced civilisation the world has known, is able forget how it came to be in that position. Rather than pat themselves on the back for being so clever, many Americans would rather credit a mythical being. There’s nothing new in religion breeding alienation by telling believers they’re responsible for their sins, but that god’s to thank for their achievements. Nevertheless, many choose religion at a time when it’s never been easier to disbelieve, escape that trap and be happy.
Yet the pace of change in society and new threats – be they terrorist, environmental or whatever – can be worrisome. Many people simply get left behind. I guess that for some, old fashioned conservative golden-ageism and religious certainty must look like the antidotes to all that fear.