Originally Published: November 2, 2003 10:10 a.m.
Tim Wiederaenders' series of four columns "disproving" evolution, and Bob Lockett's recent defense of Tim, are so full of errors and misconceptions that it's hard to know where to begin. Their faith in fundamentalist Christianity is obviously profound; their misconceptions about science are obviously equally profound.
Attempting to use science to support biblical verses is a losing proposition. The Bible cannot change to reflect the exponential expansion of knowledge over the millennia, while scientific theory always adapts to new evidence.
Like many others, Tim and Bob don't understand the scientific method, and misconstrue the word "theory" as used by scientists. A theory is a series of provable facts – a framework that is testable. That the Earth revolves around the sun is a scientific theory Copernicus proposed. Galileo demonstrated the correctness of this theory in 1611 but was pressured to recant by the Catholic Church. It took the church over two centuries to admit it was wrong and apologize.
Tim's main argument against evolution is to selectively quote statements that support his position. He goes back over half a century to find cases where fossil explorers lied or exaggerated to support their theories – theories long discredited and discarded by science. He wants creationism to be taught in schools, but doesn't say which version of creationism – what about the Hopi's or the Navajo's, to name just two Arizona versions?
Evolution is the keystone of modern biology, supported by thousands of experiments and refereed articles in scientific journals. By rejecting evolution, and hence all the interrelated sciences, creationists miss many of God's wonders because they are misinterpreting God's words. Evolution is not anti-Christian, nor is creationism a required Christian belief. Most Christians are not fundamentalists, so they don't have a problem when science and the Bible clash. Evolution doesn't answer whether or not there is a creator – that's a matter of faith, not science. The current pope has noted that various scientific discoveries present a significant argument in favor of the theory of evolution – not that fundamentalists care much for what the pope says!
If fundamentalists really study the Bible, it's hard to understand how they can still believe it is inerrant. For example, let's review Noah's Ark as related in Genesis. In summary, Noah and his family built an ark, accumulated at least one pair of every creature then alive, and kept them on the ark for a year. Consider that we now know there are more than 4,000 species of mammals, thousands of species of birds, millions of species of insects, not to mention reptiles and amphibia. Of course, these numbers are from scientists, and what do they know? Maybe there was a later creation not recorded in the Bible, or perhaps more species have evolved since the flood – OOPS, what am I saying! So, with millions of creatures, room on the ark would have been a problem, collecting enough food would have been a problem, removing the waste … I'll let you continue.
Here's another challenge from a different branch of science: mathematics. In school, students are taught that "pi" – the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter – is between 3.1 and 3.2, or more accurately 3.14159… You can check this yourself with a bicycle wheel and a tape measure. However, this is wrong according to the Bible, which clearly states that pi = 3.0 (check 1 Kings 7:23).
I have two different predictions. First, if fundamentalists are successful in suppressing science in America, the U.S. will become a "Third World" power within the next century – a repeat of history. From the 8th to the 11th century, the Muslims were pre-eminent in science and technology, while Christian Europe endured the "Dark Ages." Once religious fundamentalists began to control Islam, the Arabs became largely irrelevant to the expansion of knowledge and the progress of mankind. Most fundamentalists, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish, are afraid of knowledge, so they try to control what children are taught.
My alternative prediction, in which I have greater faith, is as follows: by 2100, Christian fundamentalists will have dwindled to an insignificant group, accorded as much respect as we give today to people who believe the sun revolves around the Earth, or that the Earth is flat. By the way, do you believe a globe has four corners? Try reading Revelation 7:1.
I don't expect to change Tim and Bob's fundamentalist minds; after all, facts and faith are like oil and water – they don't mix!
Nigel Reynolds is a Prescott resident and retired electrical engineer in technical and management positions.