As an explorer, Columbus was not the first to reach the Western Hemisphere. Native Americans had been here for 10,000-20,000 years, and Vikings and Chinese are among those others who hold prior claims. Even after four attempts, Columbus never realized his goal of finding a western ocean route to Asia. As a “founding father type figure” he never set foot in what is now considered America but landed in the present day Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti.
As a Christian example he enacted terrible cruelties to friendly natives: assuming unlawful rights of authority; robbing and subjugating whole nations of their freedom and entire capital; allowing his men to rape, murder and pillage at will; and deliberately leading the way for the genocide of millions, considered by many to be the worst demographic catastrophe in recorded history.
So why do Americans celebrate Columbus Day?
While agreeing with Ted Peters (“Intelligent Religion,” December 2005) that one can both embrace the science of Darwinian theory and be religious, I take exception to his assertion that “the scientific establishment tries to assert that to be religious is like having a disease that quarantines a person against participation in science.” I don’t believe there is any such ideology in the scientific community. As a scientist, I would ask for his evidence of such a position.