The Creation-Evolution Controversy by Dr. David N. Menton, Ph.D. Copyright (c) 1993 by the
The Creation-Evolution Controversy
by Dr. David N. Menton, Ph.D.
Copyright (c) 1993 by the Missouri Association for Creation
[No. 1 in a series]
"Some piously record 'In the beginning God,' but I say in the
beginning hydrogen." This pompous claim of crass materialism
challenging the creative work of God by astronomer Harlow Shapley
reflects the quandary students face today in our public and private
schools. Many students, for example, have been required to watch and
discuss the 13-part television series "Cosmos" featuring one of
Shapley's best known students, Carl Sagan. In the first sentence of his
book _Cosmos_ (which is meant to supplement the television series),
Sagan confidently declared in capital letters that "THE COSMOS IS ALL
THAT IS OR EVER WAS OR EVER WILL BE." Sagan assures us that "we humans
are the products of a long series of biological accidents" and concludes
that all of our human traits - loves and hates, passions and despairs,
tenderness and aggression are simply the result of "minor accidents in
our immensely long evolutionary history." Sagan believes that "men may
not be the dreams of the gods, but rather that the gods are the dreams
of men." In an interview published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat
(Oct. 6, 1980), Sagan was asked to comment on his view of the future of
man. Sagan replied, "I feel in order to survive we someday must be able
to give up our allegiance to our nation, our religion, our race and
economic group and think of ourselves more as just a temporary form of
life . . ."
We hear much about that great "wall of separation" that the framers
of our Constitution were supposed to have erected to protect us from
state-mandated religion. But are we to also be protected from
state-mandated instruction in evolutionary beliefs and speculations that
threaten to undermine the religious beliefs of many of our students?
Evolution is a jealous god that neither seeks nor welcomes divine
intervention. Julian Huxley, one of evolution's most vocal champions,
declared that "the whole of reality is evolution -- a single process of
self transformation." In this view there can be nothing above or
outside of evolution, and thus the origin of religion itself is merely a
minor blip in the recent evolutionary history of the universe. Even so,
evolutionists often argue that there is nothing incompatible between
religion and evolution as long as each confines itself to its own
legitimate domain. But what limits can be set for a natural process
that claims to be nothing less than the whole of reality?
Science, or more accurately "scientism," has not hesitated to wade
into the domain of religion. In 1981, theologians and scientists met at
MIT under the auspices of the World Council of Churches to discuss
"Science, Faith and the Future." The general premise of the conference
was that modern science requires us to develop an entirely new religion
for the future. One theologian proposed evolutionary theory as an
especially rich source for this new religion. Another proposed
"ecotheology" as an approach to religion that starts with the premise
that the universe is god. Not to be outdone by theologians, a scientist
claimed to have localized the exact part of the brain responsible for
what "traditional religion calls the intuitive perception of God."
Religious experience, he claimed, is a product of the parietal-occipital
region on the nondominant side of the brain! Who knows -- by now he may
even have found a cure.
Although many popular spokesmen for evolutionism are
self-proclaimed atheists or agnostics, this certainly does not mean that
all those who accept evolution in principle are atheists or agnostics.
Indeed, many leaders, teachers and clergy in most major Christian and
Jewish denominations have tried to make their peace with Darwin. These
theologians generally argue that the Bible tells us who created, while
science (that is evolution) tells us how He "created." This perhaps
explains why a large gathering of Catholic educators meeting in St.
Louis a few years ago invited Carl Sagan to be their keynote speaker!
Darwin himself received his formal education in theology, not
science. His atheist father sent him to divinity school at Cambridge
University after he dropped out of medical school. In his
autobiography, Darwin claimed to have once believed in God and "every
word of the Bible" but confessed that his growing evolutionary views
gradually led him to unbelief. In the end he considered the Old
Testament to be a "manifestly false history of the world" and said that
he "could hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true."
Sadly, the widespread rumors of his deathbed repudiation of evolutionism
and return to Christianity are unfounded.
Today we encounter evolutionary indoctrination wherever we turn. It
may be incorporated into almost any subject at any grade level in our
schools, but it is especially prevalent in classes dealing with social
studies, history and science. Outside the classroom, evolution is
heavily promoted in our newspapers, popular magazines, television,
radio, movies, national parks, museums, science centers, zoos and even
on the backs of breakfast cereal boxes. Despite all this exposure, most
Americans are still not convinced that evolution can explain the
marvelous complexity we see all around us in nature.
A 1992 Gallop poll revealed that 47% of Americans believe "God
created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last
10,000 years." Only 9% believed that "man has developed over millions
of years from less advanced forms of life" by a purely materialistic
process. Most of the remaining respondents believed in some form of
divinely-guided evolution. Still, the media would have us believe that
those who reject evolution in favor of special creation comprise only a
tiny minority, even among the religious -- a small band of ignorant
fundamentalists who are "poorly educated and easily led."
In the months ahead, we will critically examine the scientific
evidence both for and against evolution. Is the evidence for evolution
so overwhelming that teachers may be justified in running rough-shod
over the most cherished religious beliefs of many students and their
parents? On the other hand, is there scientific evidence in support of
special creation? Finally, can Bible-believing Christians safely make
their peace with Darwin? We will attempt to answer these and many other
questions on the relationship of science and Scripture. I think you are
in for some real surprises.
Dr. Menton received his Ph.D. in Biology from Brown University. He has
been involved in biomedical research and education for over 30 years.
Originally published in:
St. Louis MetroVoice, July 1993, Vol. 3, No. 7
Electronically distributed through the Missouri Association for Creation
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