Magi Mike's Blog

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Evolution Weekend and Darwin Day

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12 February is Darwin Day, the day when Charles Darwin was born in 1809. It commemorates Darwin, his remarkable scholarship and science in general, the methodical application of human curiosity and ingenuity to benefit us all.

Charles Darwin published his seminal book, On the Origin of Species in 1859. In it he laid out the evidence for natural selection as the mechanism behind biological evolution. The idea of evolution was already in the air. It was not evolution that Darwin discovered, but a feasible mechanism by which it could occur.

It was similar to the way even schoolchildren a hundred years ago could wonder at the way the South American and African continents seemed to fit each other like jigsaw puzzle pieces, as if the two continents had split apart and separated. It looked obvious, and geological features fitted too. But no one could figure out how massive volumes of rock—whole continents—could move. So, the theory of continental drift was pooh-poohed by many who discarded any notion that could not be explained.

Now it is accepted, just as evolution is, unless you are a Christian fundamentalist, because it has an explanation—plate tectonics, the fact that the continents are floating on molten masma. Darwin similarly allowed evolution to be accepted because he had an explanation for it.

Darwin proposed that all living beings—including humans—were related! Life is one enormous family—a kinunity! It means we are all descended from a common ancestor, far back in time. Though the idea that all of life are linked by family bonds sounds very spiritual or religious to some, the Christian fundamentalists want to be personally created by God, and not be in a mighty living family, even though they could continue to believe that this familial arrangement of life was God’s own doing! It does not actually match what their real God, the inerrant bible, says.

Religious fundamentalists believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, so they oppose evolution. Genesis has God specifically making Adam out of earth and Eve out of Adam, and it must be so, even though it is manifestly a myth, because the inerrant bible is… well, inerrant! However absurd the myths in it, like the three mile deep flood, the talking ass, the star that moves and stops and starts and ends over a stable, the earth stopping from rotating, the contradictions, etc, etc, it is inerrant, full stop. Humans were specially created out of red mud, and evolution must be wrong—not just wrong, evil! Yet a silent majority of Christians find nothing in evolution to object to. A Chicago Lutheran pastor, the Rev Steve Swanson, says:

It’s hard to believe that fundamentalism has taken such deep roots in our culture, but it has.

A Presbyterian pastor adds that religious believers think science will destroy their faith, but that scientists think religious belief interferes with the teaching and practice of science:

It’s important to have a dialogue and show these fears aren’t necessary.

Sadly, the religious opposition to evolution shows that it is indeed impeding the teaching of it, and even some pastors are alarmed by that. The consequences of turning away from science could be disastrous to the future of our civilization. The Rev Swanson thought it was important to confront the impression that creationism is necessary for Christian belief, and that all pastors believe in it. Christians had to be loud and clear in pronouncing that creationism is not science and also that it is bad religion. Unless they do, people will think creationism is necessary for Christian belief.

It ought to be plain that, given that God meant to transmit into human minds the reality of creation 2500 years ago, it could not be done. If it were done, it had to be in terms that people this long ago could comprehend. It had to be done in myths, for that is how people thought at that time. Now the believer can call them allegories or metaphors, if they think the word “myth” is demeaning.

Christians who remain puzzled, can look up Michael Zimmerman’s the Clergy Letter Project, which has collected 12,000 signatures of vicars who oppose creationism. They think intelligent design or creationism is not science and cannot be taught as science in public schools, as American creationists want.

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Written by mikemagee

12 February, 2011 at 10:08 pm

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