The Mount Rainier vandal
Tomorrow (4 November 2008), the voters of the United States of America will help to steer the direction of their country for the next four, probably eight years. It’s their choice but it is a choice that will affect us all.
In the rest of the world, polls have shown quite clearly that Barack Obama is the overwhelming choice to be the next US President.
Most Humanists would agree, especially as the Republican Party of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and now John McCain and Sarah Palin, represents what we would describe as an entirely illogical philosophy of religious fundamentalism. It rejects scientific evidence on the nature of our physical and living earth in favour of a literal belief in the Old Testament of the Bible, especially the Book of Genesis.
The worrying thing is that polls show that at least half of Americans believe that God created the world and populated it with us and all living creatures as described in Genesis, that the world is less than 10,000 years old and that evolution is a myth.
I recently returned from my first ever visit to America, visiting volcanic sites in Oregon and Washington, where the scientific view of the earth’s geological history was strictly adhered to in the displays and literature of the US National Parks Service and the US Geological Survey.
I’m afraid all that evidence wasn’t quite good enough for one visitor to Mount Rainier National Park though.
About halfway up the road leading to Mount Rainier is a beautiful waterfall, the Narada Falls, alongside which is a steep track taking you to the bottom. Halfway down is a plaque explaining the geology of the spot.
As you can see from the photograph, someone has taken a sharp implement and tried to obliterate the reference to 10 million years, presumably because the statement does not equate to their view of the age of the world.
Sarah Palin is a regular worshipper at a church expounding these extraordinary views that fly against all the evidence. If she were to become Vice-President, a heartbeat away from the top job, the baleful effect she could have on scientific progress and rationality is incalculable.
We can only hope that she and those that pull her strings don’t get within sniffing distance of the Oval Office.