I believe that pointing fingers at external threats is often a way of drawing attention away from the fact that we are doing the same things ourselves. I believe in the Japanese proverb that says, “You can see another’s arse but not your own.”
In debates over “intelligent design” being discussed in the classroom, the most important point keeps being overlooked. The really big thing holding science back is not some discussion of the idea that evolution isn’t an accident, but the thing that most scientists have in common with most religious leaders – closed mindedness. Science and religion are both areas where different people have different interpretations. In the case of science, whether it’s nutritional theories, archeology, or whatever, the minority opinions are very often the ones supported by much better evidence. But because they are minority opinions, they can easily be silenced and shut out of the discussions by the entrenched establishment. The word “science” comes from the Latin word for knowledge, but in order to learn new things in the first place, you have to be open minded when examining different points of view.
What major advancement in medicine or any other branch of science has been made by anyone who was not considered a quack and a charlatan in their own time? Why would scientists say privately that they believe in psychic abilities, ghosts or reincarnation and then feel that they have to say the opposite thing in public to protect their careers? Why would an Egyptologist become aware of clear evidence that the Sphinx is at least 12,500 years old and then persist in saying it’s only 4,500 years old to avoid the ridicule of their peers? How does one measure the loss to science if there is evidence of an abandoned complex of buildings in the Cydonia region of Mars but serious discussion of it isn’t allowed in the mainstream journals?
It’s the fundamentalist way of thinking, religious and otherwise, that doesn’t tolerate an assortment of unfamiliar views being considered. If the scientific community won’t clean up it’s own act in this way, then the current debates over intelligent design are only a distraction from the main problem. I am thankful for the knowledge and health that I have, and for the things I believe in. But I try to be mindful of the fact that much of it is here because others had the courage to question deeply held beliefs in their own time.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.