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H. Arguably, he was, and remains, the most noted and influential scientist in the Western World.

The inventions and discoveries of modern science both the technological as well as the ideological ones have transformed society irrevocably, propelling us ever deeper into the seeming mysteries of the world around us.

Examples of light bulbs, medicines, computers, and space satellites readily come to mind as well as Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the Watson Crick Model for genetic inheritance. By the way, the Watson Crick Model was announced on 28 February 1953: a monumental discovery that eventually led to genetically engineered foods, prenatal screening for disease genes, and the testing of physical evidence to convict or exonerate criminals.

This multitude of invention and discovery has become the warp and weft of our identity as 21st century citizens.

But Darwin’s work put life itself into the context of an ancient, ever changing world in a far flung corner of the Milky Way Galaxy. In my mind, that makes him of greater importance than all the Isaac Newtons, Louis Pasteurs, Thomas Edisons, and Jonas Salks thrown together.

So I am puzzled by the dark inconsistencies among those who, on one hand, deny scientific findings and then, on the other hand, embrace and employ the discoveries of those same scientific principles to advance their own self seeking ambitions.

For example, how can you deny evolution and then embrace modern medicine? Vaccinations, organ transplants, antibiotics, and pain relievers all work because of our understanding of evolution. Senator Mitch McConnell (R KY) notwithstanding.

How can you assail Western ideals in the name of Islam and then promote your own damnable creed on line (whether it’s lauding the murder of cartoonists, the beheading of Coptic Christians, the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot, the kidnapping and raping of children, or engaging a black market in oil funds to bolster your propaganda)?

I cannot work out the illogic and inconsistency.

By way of understanding, however, two words come to mind: ignorance and fear. Perhaps even delusional extremism.

In each case, it shows a closing of the mind and heart to reality, whether conscionable or not. Sometimes in the name of religion. Sometimes in the name of politics or economics or social standing. Or Mammon.

The inventions and discoveries of modern science were conceived to better humankind, to improve our relationship with each other and with the natural world. Yet some, overwhelmed by fear or engulfed by ignorance, proceed with the confidence of elementary school braggarts, often to the detriment of society at large. These extremists seem unconcerned by the irony of dancing with their own devils.

Evolution is a reality. Human accelerated climate change is a reality. Like the realities of sunrises and gravity.

And burning alive a fellow Muslim, or any other means of murder of any citizen of the world, will not secure you 72 virgins in Paradise.

Every ilk of extremism ignores reality and stems from a self sustaining delusion that THEY are wrong and YOU are right. For extremists, their lack of humility is stupefying, their absolute certainty shocking.

Yet we move forward relentlessly with our discoveries and inventions, hopefully edging ever closer to a world enlightened. I cannot help to think about the Hindu image of Nataraja, sometimes called “Dancing Shiva,” who trounces underfoot the dwarf of ignorance. Shiva is the Creator and Destroyer, an image of the Divine whose raised hand signals “Fear Not” for the supplicant.

Despite the violence, the pitiable ignorance, and the extreme fundamentalism in all the world’s zealots, we have no need to be afraid. Truth will triumph. Right will win. Goodness will overshadow. Science, done well, will prevail. That much I am certain, if history is our arbiter.
adidas samba blue a Pinch of Puzzlement

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