In 1514, Copernicus hypothesized that the universe does not orbit around Earth. Over a century later, in 1633, Galileo Galilei was convicted by the Catholic Church of heresy for "following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of the Holy Scripture."
In 1992, the Church officially admitted that Galileo was right.
Doesn't it seem ridiculous that it took over four centuries for science and religion to reach agreement?
This winter will mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of the Species, and yet the scientific theory of evolution is still being challenged by the Religious Right. Misguided sectarian lobbies are still trying to push creationism and its latest variant, "intelligent design," into our public school system in an unconstitutional attempt to save our children from becoming "heretics."
Last week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 733. The legislation allows teachers to bring "supplemental materials" into the classroom to enhance their discussion of evolution and other "controversial" scientific topics.
Seeing the bill as what it truly is, the news media at home and abroad continue to focus on Jindal and the Louisiana legislature for their irresponsible conduct.
The weekly international publication New Scientist defined SB 733 as "the latest manoeuvre in a long-running war to challenge the validity of Darwinian evolution as an accepted scientific fact in American classrooms."
Domestically, conservative pundit John Derbyshire of the National Review featured a piece on the bill arguing that it will bring about "a noisy and expensive federal lawsuit, possibly followed by further noisy and expensive appeals. The school board will inevitably lose." He blasted the Discovery Institute, which helped push the Louisiana measure, as a "gang of sleazy confidence tricksters."
Theological debates about the nature of God and the origins of man will likely continue in houses of worship across the world until the end of time. The public school classroom, however, is not the place for that discussion. Rather, it's the place where our children, of many different faiths (and none), learn about science.
Our public schools are no place for debates about heresy. Let's hope this battle over religion and science doesn't take four centuries to resolve.