Religion in Politics, Government and Science: Is there a Role?
In recent years we have all watched, in the United States, how science, politics/government and religion have interacted. Examples include the federal limitations on stem cell research and human cloning, issues involving abortion and perhaps even in the Terri Schiavo termination of life support case.
Writing in the current May 25, 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine under the title “Evolution in the Classroom and Courtroom”, George J. Annas reminds us of another example of this interaction.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides in the “Establishment Clause” that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof.” It has been the First Amendment declaration that prevented outlawing education about evolution and prevented later attempts to insert Creationism and more recently Intelligent Design into the science classrooms.
Dr. Annas states that polls suggest that in the U.S. 50% of the adults believe that God created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years.
Therefore he predicts that there will be a new wave “that will feature yet another strategy to promote creationism by questioning evolution.” This strategy will employ a “teach the controversy” approach by teaching what the promoters want in classes on current affairs, politics and religion but not in science classes.
Finally Dr. Annas writes “The quest to banish religion from politics and government is ultimately, as the Jesuit priest Robert Drinan notes, ‘hopelessly unrealistic, because religions are by their nature intended to create cultures, even civilizations.’ Religion and government are not inherently incompatible, and they necessarily have formal and informal relationships with each other. Nor are science and religion inherently incompatible. Nevertheless, religion is not science and should not be taught in science class. In the United States, the highest power that prevents this is the First Amendment.”
What do you think about the role of religion in politics, government and science? ..Maurice.