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Friday, April 28, 2006

Scorning Science in the "Culture of Life" - by Pierre Tristam

Witch trials weren't exactly backwoods excesses of zealotry. They were elaborate performances grounded in law and the expertise of what was then, in early modern Europe, considered the best-available evidence. That witch-hunting's most feverish age coincided with the rational insurgency of Galileo, Descartes, and Newton didn't diminish witch trials' credibility. To the contrary, the trials reset morality's clock to God time. Scientists were the heretics.
Trivia? Not in light of the Bush administration once again scorning science in the name of rabid theologies. Whether it's the war on drugs, stem-cell research, global warming science, sex, abortion, or evolution, demagogues -- channeled through Bush policies -- are enslaving evidence to ideology and reducing facts to three-fifths the weight of faith. Witch judges had the authority of the Church behind them for evidence. Today's demagogues have co-opted the manners of empirical science -- the academic lingo, the Ph.D. next to their names, the peer-reviewed studies. And they're making faith the loyalty oath of 21st century America. But every time a public figure cashes in on faith, the American experiment loses altitude.


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