The real roots of terror?

uncle-charles.gifFundamentalist Christians appear to have a new ally in their crusade against the evil of evolution-based biological science: Fundamentalist Islam. It’s an interesting, albeit frustrating, exercise to read through this nonsense and attempt to decipher the convoluted logic behind the claim that (the coyly unnamed) Al Qaeda and other agents of mayhem are motivated not by religion but by (are you ready for this?) the legacy of the the gentle English naturalist.

Obviously, violence and warfare predated Darwin.  They’ve been with us since the beginning of time.  It is true that our basic human natures, molded in the crucible of our long evolution, have left us with some rather unpleasantly aggressive and selfish tendencies.  Is that Darwin’s fault?  One might as well blame Isaac Newton for the fact that trees sometimes fall on people’s houses.

It is equally obvious that some of the most horrific acts of mass violence in human history have been motivated by religion, or if you prefer, perversions of religion.  Either way, an important part of the root of this violence has been the perpetrator’s unshakable faith that he is divinely inspired and that his adversary is inhuman and thus expendable in the greater cause.

Perhaps this would be a good time for American fundamentalists to step back and reflect on a few questions:

Who is the real enemy of freedom, justice, and the American way: Darwin, whose free thinking gave birth to the modern life sciences and whose insights ultimately brought us molecular medicine, modern agriculture, and the economic dynamo of American biological research supremacy?

Or Al Qaeda and other militant Islamists, whose medieval mythology brought us 9/11 and a host of similar events aimed at violent subjugation of open inquiry to a particular, intolerant version of relgious dogma?

Or does that comparison hit a little too close to home?


About Emmett Duffy

I am a Natural Patriot and an ecologist with expertise in biodiversity and its importance to human society. My day job is Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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