Evolution Versus Creation
Originally Posted by General Tsao
just ordered his new book...mainly curious about the section on evolution.
No one person has perfect knowledge as to man's emergence on this earth. Yet almost everyone has a strong religious, scientific, or emotional opinion he or she considers gospel. The creationists frown on the evolutionists, and the evolutionists dismiss the creationists as kooky and unscientific. Lost in this struggle are those who look objectively at all the scientific evidence for evolution without feeling any need to reject the notion of an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator. My personal view is that recognizing the validity of an evolutionary process does not support atheism nor should it diminish one's view about God and the universe.
From my viewpoint, this is a debate about science and religion (and I wish it could be more civil!) and should not involve politicians at all. Why can't this remain an academic debate and not be made the political issue it has become?
The answer is simple. Both sides want to use the state to enforce their views on others. One side doesn't mind using force to expose others to prayer and professing their faith. The other side demands that they have the right never to be offended and demands prohibition of any public expression of faith.
Fortunately, in this country, there's no effort to establish any official state religion as has been done elsewhere. In many parts of the world today theocracies are still being imposed on many people. It is not a mystical threat, and I understand the impulse to resist. At the same time, the past hundred years have also seen secular dictatorships that banish religion in the name of shoring up allegiance to the state alone. I also understand the very real threat of that terrible reality.
The real problem comes when government gets involved in this issue, whether the goal is to push theocracy or merely prayer in a public place, or the opposite, to crush all traces of faith expression in public places.
One of the silliest questions posed to the Republican presidential candidates in 2008 dealt with evolution. Why should an individual running for the presidency in the United States be quizzed as to whether or not he or she believes in evolution? The question was designed in an attempt for the supporters of evolution to embarrass a candidate who supports creationism, or, if the candidate backs away, to drive a wedge between the candidate and the religious right.
The way the question was asked made it even sillier. It occurred May 3, 2007, in the first presidential debate in Simi Valley, California. The debate was moderated by Chris Matthews and John Harris. One of the moderators called for all the candidates who believed in evolution to raise their hands. At the time, my first impression was that this sounded like a third-grade class exercise. I interpreted raising one's hand as an all-or-nothing answer and as an insult and didn't bother to answer the question; nor was I called upon to discuss my views.
Most of the conflict between atheists and believers comes up because of public schools. This issue doesn't exist in private settings such as homes, homeschools, private schools, churches, and art studios, to name a few. In the private sector, every point of view can find a place and these ideas are not a threat to others. As Thomas Jefferson said: "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." In a public school setting, however, it's a major hot-button issue because the school curriculum and all standards of behavior are dictated by the federal government, the Department of Education, and the federal courts.
Though the Constitution in no way prohibits religious expression in public places, the modern interpretation of the Constitution, pushed by the evangelical atheists, demands strict prohibition of public expressions of faith. Athletes can't even say a prayer before a sporting event according to court rulings. It's hard to understand the great danger in a voluntary prayer while it's considered no threat whatsoever for a minority to use government power to impose its views on others.
A broad-based tolerance in all directions would go a long way toward eliminating many of the problems, but public schools and public places will continue to exist. In a private setting, the "owners" set the rules and participants come with an understanding of the rules regarding prayer and religious expression and what one wants to hear about evolution.
This still leaves some problems with the possibility that local schools will overstep the bounds of etiquette or will use some textbooks considered to be offensive to one group or another. In this case, the closest one can come to having the "owner" decide would be for the local school board to make the decision and be subject to public challenge at the polls. The Supreme Court handing down edicts that apply to every single circumstance around the country is not a solution.
This will seem to be less than perfect. But it's a far better solution than having the Supreme Court or the Congress dictate proper decorum with regards to religious expression or picking the books our children will be using in the classroom. Universalization of educational standards and curriculum is exactly the goal of those who seek tyranny over liberty. And if they can use an issue such as prayer in the schools or teaching evolution, they'll not hesitate to do it.
There is one argument against evolution that deserves consideration. If man is evolving and progressing, why is man's involvement in mass killings of one another getting worse and the struggle for peace more difficult? Government wars and exterminations in the twentieth century reached 262 million people killed by their own governments and 44 million people killed in wars. I fear that doesn't say much for the evolutionary process.