When the Earth Flexes Its Muscles
What follows is part of an interview by Sarah Cohen with author Simon Winchester
"Simon Winchester, the author of Krakatoa, talks about the natural and cultural reverberations of a famous volcanic eruption.
"In the chapter of the book that explains the science behind volcanic eruptions, you describe the development of the science of plate tectonics as being entwined with the development of the theory of evolution. I was wondering if you felt that with this section that you were entering into the political debate about evolution versus creationism?
"I did. I continue to wave the flag for evolution against these morons who believe in creation science. I make no apology for thinking that the creation science mob is utterly ludicrous. I first encountered them in The Map That Changed the World. That book is about a man named William Smith who essentially created the science of stratigraphy, and who was the first to draw a geological map, going up against people who believed that the earth was created in seven days—that it was divinely done and how dare this new science of geology come along and upset the apple cart. I can't exactly remember the statistics, but only something like two percent of the European public now believe that the earth was divinely created within the last ten thousand years, whereas something like sixty percent of Americans believe that; including, I suspect, a gigantic proportion of the people who are in the White House today. Creation science is big here, and getting bigger all the time—Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas are all restricting the education of children in evolutionary science. It's dangerous. And so if I have a chance to wave the flag for evolution then I do. That was not the purpose of the book, but when I got into the chapter about the history of geology and started discussing the discoveries of scientists like Wegener, Wallace, and Darwin, I was jolly well going to remind everybody of the good sense of it."
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