I’ve recently started going over facebook atheist groups, and I think we’ve got a serious problem.
On the one hand, I think it’s the best argument to teach evolution in schools, along with a basic understanding of the ethical implications of it. On the other hand, I sometimes wonder if the religious right doesn’t have a point and we shouldn’t be teaching evolution at all.
A lot of people (who usually seem like they’re very young and not very bright) who get a basic grasp of evolution start thinking that they’re hard-bitten realists with a deep insight who are ready to make the hard decisions for the future betterment of the human race.
And then, they start spouting pseudo-science nonsense backed up right-wing propaganda.
They decide that “survival of the fittest” is a normative statement, and it’s unethical to interfere in any situation that can be construed as a struggle for survival. (Hurray for the strong who abuse the weak!)
They say that feeding starving children in third-world countries or through the Welfare system in the US is creating a perverse incentive that’s going to flood the world with the stupid and useless.
The same thinking can be applied to economics as a reason to support unregulated markets.
Obviously, these are not things that they learned from Carl Sagan. And I don’t really think I have to point the error in this thinking, but I happily will if anyone here indulges themselves in this illusion.
But there are an enormous number of people (at least in the US) that support these ideas, and there are so few atheists that aren’t also right-wing eugenist nutjobs that I think The New Atheists should speak out specifically on this subject.