Some of you might know of this famous scientist who, back when the universe existed through the sheer will of God, dared to refute the claim that the Earth was the center of that universe. His name was Galileo and he was forced to recant his claims by the strongest power of the time: the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church, however, had valid reasons to censor Galileo. Their absolute power over its subjects depended entirely on the validity (or, let’s say, literal validity) of everything that is written in the Christian Bible. There was no space for interpretation or poetic license; if one thing isn’t true, who’s to say the rest isn’t? Of course, that’s as good a justification as governments making shit up to legally invade another country. It’s been done throughout history whenever you require a large amount of people to agree blindly to your egotistical designs, so no surprises so far. And while what I will mention next should come as no surprise to anyone living outside a cave for the last twenty years or so, it’s still very disturbing.
Turns out, there’s a Canadian book on evolution that recently won a prestigious award over there for best science book for children. You guys remember when children went to school to learn the facts of life and the universe? Apparently some folks don’t, and this group has put the fear of God (literally) on U.S. publishers so that no one on American soil will pick this book up for publication. And by “this group” I mean Christian Creationist Groups.
Now, let’s be clear about something: freedom of speech goes both ways. It means that just as much as you are free to rebuke God and religion, religion can tell you that you are wrong without fear of legal reprisals; they are within their rights to defend their beliefs. However, this is nothing of the sort. This is censorship on the scale of Galileo vs. The Church, without going so far as threatening with death (as far as I know, there are always wackos). The day has come when evolution, one of the most accepted scientific theories (facts, actually) of the last century, is a topic so controversial publishing companies are bowing out from talking about it, for fear of the Creationism faction.
I wonder what would be the public’s response if the roles were reversed and it was the scientific community trying to bury forever and without question the religious beliefs of this people, using their clout to achieve their ends. Yeah, I can already see Apple, Google, and Microsoft threatening with an embargo of their products if the U.S. Government doesn’t outlaw Bibles. Or maybe Bill Nye the Science Guy putting Creationism in its place.
The religious rhetoric in a supposedly secular state such as the United States has been alarmingly going on the rise for the last few years; at least it caught my attention since the Bush Jr. administration (I’m the first one to admit I don’t pay much attention to politics, most probably it’s been going on since way before that). It’s alarming because, historically, one of religion’s staunchest characteristics is its intolerance. Its “we are right and you are wrong, and you will pay for your mistake in Hell” mentality is eerily similar to Bush’s “you are either with us or against us” rhetoric. The values that once made the U.S. a promising nation are giving way to the censorship and oppression of the “1984” world.
And that, folks, is one scary thought.