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About this Document

This is part of our continuing coverage of the collisions of organized religion with the bodies of knowledge of the rest of the known world.


What this isn't about: there are millions upon millions of humans upon this planet who are also devout Christians, Jews, Moslems, or Buddhists. From what I can tell, most of these are pretty wonderful people. We have no quarrel with personal spirituality.

Believing in the goodness of people and the improvability of the self cannot be a bad thing. We have no quarrel with those who take this on faith, but faith is no substitute for reason and common sense. It would be a tragedy to be personally unable to validate and verify our highest values and tenets.

What this is about: we take serious issue with those who insist on placing their faith on the bargaining table as if it makes them an equal player. They may believe in their credos, but we do not have to. To force another to subscribe to moral credos via coercion and the political process is morally evil.

The concerted attack upon the knowledge base which is periodically mounted by religious zealots must be opposed wherever in political places it is found. This is about one such attempt to coerce citizens of a state into giving up their right to judge for themselves.

In ancient times, religious rulers controlled every aspect of human personal and public conduct, trade and business transactions, and political life of the peoples of the world. From the chronological progression of shamans and witch doctors, to popes and imams, regulation of the conduct of others has been sought as an ultimate and non-arbitrable solution to the problems of conflict, dissention, dispute and over-achievement.

In recent times, governments have tried controlling every aspect of personal conduct under contrived ideologies, rather than via hand-me-down religions, and some have tried mixing the two to enforce a balance of power between those issuing the rules, and those taking the orders.

Fiat by government has proved less popular and less workable than fiat by religious decree. You can topple a consensus of political power, but you cannot topple a consensus of belief, you can only place limitations on its political power.

The common bond between religious government and totalitarian government has been misappropriation of the power of law, the consent of the governed, to force others to comply with the program.

This is fuelled by a legal monopoly on the source of money, political power and knowledge.

The knowledge base itself is far more fundamental, and, from the standpoint of the regime, all the more dangerous.

Knowledge can be used to re-invent man's other tools of survival, like a virus that cannot completely be eradicated.

This helps explain why most modern dictatorships collapse in fifty years or less, while religious empires have stagnated nearly every continent for centuries at a sitting.

Knowledge shapes how we think about ourselves, what we can do, and the universe we live in. Unless we are able to acquire and validate knowledge independently, we must look to others to provide it for us, and offer sustenance itself, in order for us to long exist on this mortal coil.

Enter the Kansas Board of Education, and their celebrated decision to restrict teaching of Evolution and all of its scientific underpinnings. Like the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee over half a century ago, this cannot be viewed as a simple spat over how taxpayer funds shall be spent to educate the children.

This is a fight to control how and whether children can be permitted to learn to think for themselves. It is important. To understand it, you need to understand both points of view. As a community service, is more than happy to provide this unbiased overview, and we hope you enjoy it.

Copyright ©Alex Forbes October 23, 1999