Recently, in my Law, Literature & Film class, we read a play called, “Inherit the Wind.” You might have seen it in film as it has been adapted multiple times. By way of background, the play is based on the Scopes Monkey Trial, an actual
You see, these problems all started with the event called, The Enlightenment, which refers to “an intellectual movement…which advocated reason as the primary basis of authority.” Prior to this movement, individuals did not have rights and lived in authoritarian states governed heavily by religious orders (think of fundamentalist Muslim countries of today). The Enlightenment spawned philosophers such as John Locke, Thomas
In my opinion, The Enlightenment was a high point for human intellectual thought, leading into the early 19th century fascination with natural law and sciences, and then into the industrial revolution of the early 20th century. The human race then succumbed to a disgraceful display of non-rational thought with World War I and World War II (including all associated genocides) that lead to destruction on a scale never before seen. Following World War II, the human race then again rallied to a
Of course, the last century of American history has been accompanied with an associated decline in education, intellectual thought and reasoning. (Please read, “The Dumbing of America,” a recent essay on this decline whose only fault is that I did not manage to write it myself.)
The lack of education referenced in this essay, in my opinion, lead to the Kansas Evolution Hearings, where a
In addition, this surge of irrationality has lead to contradictions such as protestant religious conservatives who:
- Criticize the Catholic Church’s persecution of Galileo for his theory that the earth revolves around the sun, but cannot see the hypocriticalness of denying the similar scientific advances in genetics, which naturally involve evolution.
- Have religious beliefs based on “faith,” but then fear that their faith will be damaged by hearing other (and not necessarily opposing) points of view.
- Support the President’s theory that we are battling religious fundamentalist terrorists who “hate our way of life and our freedom,” while they themselves systematically attack the very freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, such as the separation of church and state, and privacy.
Emmanuel Kant’s ideas of freedom begin with rational, thinking, modern man. In Kant’s point of view, freedom is respecting the ability of man to make moral choices. In this case, doing what one wants to do because one feels like it is immoral and therefore not freedom. Kant’s view of freedom requires respect for the ability of man to make moral choices. This leads to his conclusion that one should, “never act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become universal law.” However, the people who are the driving force behind such movements to limit the teaching of evolution forget this maxim. Would they be so inclined to inject religion into education if it were a religion other than their own? I doubt it.
 I find it an interesting contradiction that religious conservatives discount the theory of evolution when it comes to teaching the evolution of the human species, yet invoke the notion of “natural selection” as a reason not to assist poor people, who apparently need to be weeded out because they are too weak to care for themselves.
 These rights include ones that most Americans today consider fundamental, such as the right to live, liberty and the pursuit of happiness along with constitutional rights such as the right to property, to bear arms, to religious freedom, and to due process of law.