We have had many a report from learned commissions one after another about how the US is declining in innovation and science, and how our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) abilities as a nation are slipping away (e.g., “Rising Above the Gathering Storm”). We see fewer people entering engineering professions, a huge shortfall of students in computing, and general math abilities are so poor that the nation is in a economic meltdown because, in part, too few people seemed to understand how interest works on credit cards and mortgages.
Meanwhile, we have people muttering about how that “atheist, communist” country China is emerging as a powerful leader in these same fields. “It must be espionage and theft” we conclude.
Tonight, as I read the article linked in below (and not the first such one I have read) it occurred to me that perhaps the biggest and most pernicious threat to the US and parts of the West is that of fundamentalism. No, I don’t mean Islamic fundamentalism, although that is one aspect of the threat. I mean religious and political fundamentalism right here in the US.
How can we expect our children to innovate and lead when their early education is shaped by the spiritual descendants of Trofim Lysenko?
How can we decry the Pakistani madrassas when we allow US schools to be shaped by some of the same forces — those who believe that religion defines what should be taught?
More and more I worry that the future may be less “Star Trek” and more “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
(And, ironically, many of the people I worry about won’t even understand the reference to Lysenko, madrassas or Atwood’s novel because those may not agree with their religious or political viewpoints and will thus never be explored.)
Ironic, also, that the “Godless Chinese” may end up dominating the future because they are simply that –“godless.”