Friday, September 30, 2016

Evolution Is Real, And Scary, Whether We Like It Or Not

In "Things to Come," a ground-breaking science-fiction film based upon his book "The Shape of Things to Come," H.G. Wells predicted that science would grow and expand both in its knowledge about the world around us, and about our ability to master that world.  In fact, he predicted that it would grow so much that it would intimidate people who were not willing to respect or even attempt to understand it, and that they would otherwise be so intimidated by science that they would attempt to destroy it, despite the benefits that it brought to them.  The film concludes with a fateful question posed by one of the pro-science protagonists, a man who understands that the human race can always choose between the ability to rise above animals, or to live like them:  "Which shall it be?"

"Things to Come" is eighty years old as of this year, and nothing much is being done to commemorate its release.  It's viewed as an early sci-fi curiosity that mainly reflects Wells' views on the discredited ideals of socialism.  But it's more properly understood in the context of its message about science, and the fragile position science has in civilization.  We are still struggling with the answer to the film's final question.  And, as of right now, here in the United States, we are failing to come up with the right answer.

Our political system has, thanks to our own intellectual sloth, produced politicians who are happy to reward that sloth with beliefs that, however spiritual or non-spiritual they may be, do not match up with the world we live and work in.  We want to believe evolution is a hoax, because evolution can somehow be blamed for the absence of a Beaver-Cleaver America?  Well, then, the people we put in office, who want to stay their indefinitely and celebrate their own sloth, will be happy to produce public policy that reflects that belief.

And if one consequence of that form of policy is to not only ignore scientific evidence, even if doing so leads us to ignore the mutating of viruses beyond our ability to control them?  Well, too bad. Life, to quote a TTC character, is short, hot and merry, with the devil taking the hindmost.  That is what you wanted.

Isn't it?

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