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Continuing with the anti-religious theme, let us now turn to Kentucky, where creationism apparently trumps education every time:
In December, I reported that the Kentucky creationism theme park set to open in 2014 will “include dinosaurs.” The park “will feature a 500-foot-long wooden replica of Noah’s Ark containing live animals such as juvenile giraffes.” It will also include “a replica of the Tower of Babel with exhibits.” …
Now the park has been granted $43 million in state tax breaks. At the same time, “the state has gone through eight rounds of budget cuts over the past three years,” including cuts to “education at all levels” and a pay freeze for all teachers and state workers. …
In addition to the tax incentives, approved unanimously by the state’s tourism board, taxpayers may have to pony up another $11 million to improve a highway interchange near the site.
This is the very definition of idiocy, and another prime example of why we need to fight against religious belief in every way we can. It is not simply a matter of respecting the beliefs of others, allowing people to live according to their own wishes. The problem, as anyone who has ever met a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim understands, is that a substantial percentage of religious people are not content to keep their views and way of life to themselves. Spreading religion is built into the very fabric of their belief system, as is the case with every successful collection of memes.
Many Christians do not believe in the reality of evolution, in spite of an enormous mountain of evidence. But rather than keeping such an illogical perspective to themselves, a large number of Christians actively seek to influence the state school curriculum in an attempt to water down the teaching of evolution (it is just a “theory,” after all) and to introduce the “teaching” of creationism. But creationism is not a plausible alternative to the theory of evolution; the facts of reality support the latter, while the former has been debunked by virtually every piece of evidence science has ever accumulated.
And as we have seen, religious beliefs have very real and extremely negative consequences. Consider, for example, the long-term implications about stripping educational funding while promoting a creationist theme park. If children are raised with a poor understanding of the scientific method, then the future technological development of our nation is doomed. And teaching children to reject the findings of science which happen to conflict with our personal beliefs will lead to precisely this result. After all, how can a person respect and understand the merits of the scientific method when he refuses to accept its most fundamental findings?
Children must be taught to embrace the scientific method in its entirety, not simply to utilize those fruits of science – iPads and cell phones, to start – which they happen to enjoy. Critical thinking skills must be taught and applied to all aspects of existence, not merely those which happen not to conflict with religious belief. If scientific research has shown us that the earth is more than 4.5 billion years old and not the laughable 5,000 years of the Christian Bible, we must accept that result until further research proves otherwise. If careful observation and experimentation has convincingly demonstrated that human activities are responsible for changing the climate, then we must embrace the findings and learn to act accordingly.
Teaching our children otherwise – and allowing state and federal budgets to support it – is a travesty that darkens the future prospects of our very species itself.