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The Historical Background The quote above from one of the preeminent biologists of our time shows clearly how reason is retreating in the face of dogmatic religious fervor The influential Christian theologian Augustine wrote in the fourth century that Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture since that authority is greater than all the powers of the human mind And so it was The vast majority of Christendom including scientists of the day believed that God created the world as described in the Bible in the book of Genesis Then after the publication of Darwins Origin of Species in 1859 within a hundred years there was little question in most anyones mind that the powerful reason and logic of Darwins theories of natural selection were the best description yet devised of how man and the biological world in which he finds himself came to be Few believed in the literal interpretation of Genesis except for the fundamentalist evangelicals for whom the Bible was inerrant and undeniable And now just a half century later Augustines belief in the ultimate authority of scripture is making a resurgence and acceptance of the truth of natural selection is in decline for the first time in America since 1859 How has this situation come to be Why has the triumph of reason logic and evidence begun a retreat into the dark ages of mysticism and speculative faith If any one single factor must be cited it must surely be the collapse of public education and the attendant loss of widespread critical thinking skills The decline of public education in the United States began in 1865 with the end of the American Civil War Soldiers who with but three or four years of formal education wrote letters that amaze us with their quotations of Homer Plato and Cicero in their insightful discussion of the moral dilemmas they faced in battle
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