Just a few days ago, the “American Family Association,” an organization of religious fundamentalists bent on imposing their particular superstitions on the rest of the country (U.S.), sent an email “alert” that called for their members to “take action” against the “Darwinists” who are attacking the Texas public school system.
Make no doubt about it, the Texas public school system is under attack, but its under attack by the ignorant and superstitious who want to devalue science and eliminate threats to their superstitions.
And that is key to getting at the core issue in trying to discover what motivates the fear these people have about science, particularly evolutionary sciences.
The AFA begins their email with, “Texas public schools science standards are under attack from those who deny there are any weaknesses in Darwin’s theory of evolution.” This statement is fallacious and wrong in so many ways, most notably that most biologists, scientists and those who have had a few years of college are not covered by their accusation. Nor is there any evidence that any other group is “attacking” science standards in Texas.
Darwin’s theory of evolution had many weaknesses. Darwin even discussed them. However, over the course of the last few decades, science has been able to improve on Darwin’s theory to the point at which it really isn’t “Darwin’s” but, rather, the theory of modern science. And, as theories go, it ranks up there with gravity, atomic, and relativity in the body of work that supports it.
What these religious nuts fail to say is that, while there are still some weaknesses (i.e. questions about the hows and whys), there are absolutely no competing theories which provide any rational explanation for how life on this planet came to be. Their alternative is that a god did it -but there is absolutely no demonstration or support for that claim.
The “weaknesses” of evolutionary science are, in fact, its strengths. Science admits to having questions. It admits to the possibility of being wrong. It admits to the willingness to revise in light of new data. None of this can be said about the alternative explanations of religious dogma -explanations which are so absurd as to be easily considered mental delusion and downright wacky.
The motivation, then, that religious nuts have in fearing evolution is that of education. The more educated their followers become -the less likely they are to accept hokey and wacky ideas. It follows then that they will be less likely to attend meetings where these wacky ideas are espoused. It also follows that the are more likely to question the dogma of any organization that is willing to admit some of its ideas are too wacky to be taken literally.
Less following, less membership, and decreased superstition = less money, less power, and decreased influence.
Leaders of religious nuts must, by definition, fight rational thought and science lest it cure the delusions they’ve built around their followers and break the spell they hold over them.