One of the questions that found me this morning, bubbling up from my recent rediscovery of Will Durant's Story of Civilization, is whether we'll ever finally become a species permanently possessed of the courage to think, to use its capacity for reason consistently, to resist the temptation to turn everything over to the magical and mystical agencies of some supposed supernaturalism.
That question also comes from thinking about the climate denier who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator Inhofe. He thinks other people's religions (like the Pope's) have no place in the public discourse on global warming but is quick to insist that "God's still up there" holding the world in His hands and taking care of Mother Nature. Concern for the human contribution to climate change is, he's said before, "outrageous."
Inhofe's colleague Sen. Santorum chimes in,
The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we're really good at, which is theology and morality."Being good at a science-denying theology is bad. Doing nothing about a worsening environmental crisis is immoral. Sapere Aude, Senators, use your heads! But they're doing their best, I suppose. Scary thought.
"Human knowledge as we have it is a mere medley and ill-digested mass, made up of much credulity and much accident, and also of the childish notions which are at first imbibed." If there's hope for us, it's implicit in the fact that Francis Bacon wrote those words centuries ago. If we despair, it may be for the same reason. Our elected "leaders" continue to appeal successfully with their childish notions to voters' credulity and inattention.
Our long-term success as a species may just depend on those voters not showing up. Or, all this will be gone a lot sooner than we anticipated.
But maybe we can still catch our "2d wind"...