4 March 1996
Church and State
The theory of evolution is at odds with the views of many religions, and many people want to allow a religious view of creationism to be taught in the public school system. The foundation of evolution is based upon the belief that the origin of all ordered complex systems, including living creatures, can be explained by natural laws without the initiation or intervention of God. A person who believes in the biblical model of creation is viewed by some non-believers as a naive, narrow-minded religious fanatic who is not willing to look at the observable evidence with an open mind. Because the evolutionary idea of origins has been so widely accepted by the scientific community, many people have reasoned that the creation model should be completely rejected without fairly examining its claims. Even many Christians who have deep trust and faith in the Bible have never really understood the claims of the creation account (McLean 11).
Over the past several years, a great deal of controversy surrounding the creation-evolution issue has been generated by scientists who have based their claims on the creation model and have been willing to let their reputations stand. Creationists have openly requested that when the discussion of origins occurs in the public school system, both the model of creation and evolution be presented side by side.
Initially, scientists and educators who have accepted the theory of evolution without question were reluctant to pay any serious attention to creationism; however, it has now become apparent that substantial numbers of people are taking creationism seriously. Many evolutionists view this trend as a serious threat to the advancement of science and have vowed to do everything in their power to stop the teaching of creation in the public school system. Most evolutionists now view creationism as nothing more than a particular version of fundamentalist Christianity with no valid scientific content. One hundred-fifty years ago such a theory for the origin and history of the earth and life would have been termed absurd. Today, however, those who reject the idea of random evolutionary processes being responsible for designing life and shaping the geological features of the earth are termed religious, unscientific fanatics.
Today, throughout the industrialized world, the moment children are able to respond to their environment, they are constantly bombarded with the doctrine of evolution. Faith in the biblical concept of creation by the hand of God is ridiculed and rejected by the secular system of education. Humanistic thinking widely accepts evolution as fact, even though "The all-too frequent picture of evolution as a progression from ameba to man, is, and always has been, utterly without foundation" (Weisz 665).
Oddly, it is commonly accepted that all living things are the product of evolution, that evolution is taking place today, and that evolution will continue to shape the destiny of life in the future.
Darwin's theory of evolution, based upon the idea of natural selection, set off a bitter controversy among scientists, religious leaders, and the general public. Noted British scientists such as Thomas Huxley and Alfred Wallace supported Darwin's work, and many different groups eventually accepted the theory of evolution.
After Darwin's idea of the origin and development of life became well known, others used the concept of evolution for developing theories about society. A number of new philosophies began to emerge based on the Darwinian theory. These ideas came onto the world scene and made serious implications which made a view of agnosticism and atheism respectable. "As far as Darwin was concerned, a man's religion was his own affair, and he tried to keep his loss of faith to himself" (Gregor 112). For example, the German philosopher and social scientist Karl Marx, who is often called the founding father of the communist movement, compared the struggle for power among social classes to the struggle for survival among organisms. Marx was so awe stricken by the way Darwin was able to explain away the need for God regarding the origin of life that he decided to dedicate Das Kapital, a book against capitalism , to Charles Darwin. Marx and other humanists of his day believed the individual, not God, is the highest being.
The acceptance of the evolutionary doctrine soon spread throughout the academic world in spite of the opposition put forward by scientists and religious leaders. Most scholars who had swallowed the humanistic philosophy were proud of the fact that they could explain the physical world around them without relying upon God.
In many parts of the industrialized world, much of the controversy over evolution centered on the issue whether the theory should be taught in schools. Many people would not accept the theory of evolution because it conflicted with their belief that God is the creator and sustainer of life. The Bible also states human beings were created in the image of God, and were elevated above all other forms of life. Because of this view by the majority of people, the teaching of evolution in the public schools in the United States occurred through a gradual process over many years.
The first major confrontation regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools occurred at the famous Scopes trial which took place in Tennessee in 1925. The effect of the trial on education was felt for many years, as most schools avoided teaching evolution and publishers produced textbooks that hardly covered the topic. For years following the Scopes trial, the creation-evolution controversy was not a high-priority issue. The issue lay dormant until the 1950s, when there was a growing concern among educators that science teaching in the public schools needed to be upgraded with current evolutionary teaching. The fact is, "The author or teacher who states [that evolution is an established fact] is either ignorant of the facts in the case, or is seeking to hide them from his students" (Schnabel 97).
Gregor, Arthur S. Charles Darwin. E.P. Dutton and Company,
Inc., New York, 1966.
Kerkut, ____. Implications of Evolution. Pergamon Press,
McLean, G.S., Roger Oakland, Larry McLean. The Evidence for
Creation. Understand the Times, Santa Ana, CA., 1995.
Schnabel, A.O. Has God Spoken?. Tampa, FL., A.O.
Schnabel Publisher, 1974.
Weisz, Paul. The Science of Biology. McGraw Hill Book
Company, New York, 1995.
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