Sorry, this isn't going to be a silly, doodle-filled post. I need to vent.
I've been thinking a lot about evolution vs. religion lately, or rather, how the "vs." need not be there. But I know that I'm in the minority with that sentiment.
I keep seeing it everywhere...
On my drive home last night, the car in front of me had one of those "truth" fish eating the "Darwin" fish. Ugh. I won't mention that the basis for this bumper decoration is a Darwinian concept of survival... but oh, wait. I just did. Also on the vehicular front, a friend of mine saw a van with this on it's back windows:
Why can so much of this debate be seen on the butts of people's cars? I feel very strongly about this, but I'm not about to decrease the resale value of my Toyota over it.
This is one of those ongoing debates where the line has been drawn and everyone has picked a side. And not unlike Coke vs. Pepsi, this debate hinges on people's gut reactions more than actual information. I argue that the majority of people on both sides know very little about evolution or Biblical scripture.
Last week, NPR posted a link to a story about evolution on Facebook. The article was about an ancient fish that all land vertebrates descended from, including us. The comment thread (which I'm sorry to have read--ha! that rhymes) disturbed me. Many people simply said something along the lines of "I'm not no fish." Confusion and double negatives.Yay. But people started chastising NPR for even posting a story that would alienate creationists. Evolutionists chimed in, and the blood bath began. Back and forth. Science and religion cannot be reconciled. Read the Bible. Everyone is going to hell. On and on and on. And these are NPR listeners, who supposedly are some of the more educated people in our country. Here come the suicidal thoughts.
I so desperately want to moderate this debate and show how easily all these views can be reconciled, but the Catch-22 is that the people that I most want to reach would never read anything I might write. And I weep...
I keep taking for granted that the vast majority of people understand evolution and don't feel that it conflicts with their entire world view. I know there are fundamentalists that take the Bible completely literally and adhere to that Bible-based calculation that the world is 6,000 years old. But I thought those were just a few people. I just recently read Unscientific America, and their scariest statistic was that 46% of Americans believe this "young earth" concept. To which I say, "bahsldjfadlsfj, what?!"
Evidence for change over time, which is really all evolution is, is everywhere. Just look at people. If you're a creationist you believe we are all related as descendants of Adam and Eve, and if you are an evolutionist, you also believe we are all related. So we all agree on this. Phew. Now then, the different peoples we have--different races and cultures--have come about because as we have spread across the earth, there have been isolated populations that slowly changed based on chance and what benefited them in their surroundings. Our languages changed in the same way. If you put people in one place long enough and they don't come into contact with other cultures, their language will slowly change into something related but different. Such as Spanish and French. I don't mean the Spanish and French never came into contact with each other, by the way, just that there was enough isolation for these two romance languages to diverge.
People offended by this post so far: evolutionists, creationists, Spaniards, Frenchmen.
So for a creationist who believes that God created people with Adam and Eve, can't they see that this change that brought about all these different races of people may have also happened with other life forms? Doesn't that make a whole hell of a lot of sense?
Also, the creation story isn't all that unlike evolutionary theory, ignoring the concept of Biblical "days." God created...
1. Heaven, Earth, Light.
2. Water, Land.
5. Marine Life. Birds.
6. Terrestrial Life. Humans.
With the exception of stars on day 4--which seems like a day 1 sort of activity--this order of events is essentially the same as evolutionary theory. That is, if you don't think about bacteria, archaea, protists, and fungi (poor little fellas, being left out of the creation story). Since most of those are microscopic, it makes sense that people didn't talk about them before the invention of the microscope.
When I taught high school biology, my students made a diagram of the geological time scale from the pre-cambrian era through present day. 1 inch of poster was equivalent to 2 million years. It showed life in the oceans, and then fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs(!), land plants, birds, mammals, and then humans. I hung all the posters in order on the back wall in the room. As they looked at their class project, I opened up the evolution debate. I asked them what the big debate was about. A student said, "People say it conflicts with the Bible." I asked him what the Bible says about this. We went over the order of the creation story, and as they observed their illustrated geological time scale, I asked them, "Isn't this pretty much the same thing?" They all looked surprised. A few nodded, a few said, "Yeah...wow." It made sense to them. Evolution wasn't scary or weird or crazy. It was the idea that things have changed slowly over time. It made sense to all my 14-year-olds, many of whom were religious. Why doesn't it make sense to adults?
Lastly, I think evolutionists need to stop attacking religion in general. While everyone is free to their opinion about religion, it's not relevant to the evolution debate. We need to emphasize that there is common ground: being religious need not mean that one can't also understand evolution.
Let's strive for the separation of scientific understanding and personal beliefs in the name of coexistence. Teaching evolution doesn't have to destroy anyone's religion. That only emphasizes the direct conflict between them, which implies that religion and science are comparable equals. They are two completely different disciplines. No one has to annihilate one to serve the other.
So stop fighting, or so help me, I will turn this car around!
(Note: I apologize for focusing solely on the Judeo-Christian religious "conflict" here. It's the debate I'm most familiar with. I'd be interested to know how all religions look at this.)