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Mon, Oct. 14

Talk of the Town

The recent front-page article on "Evolution Sunday," (Feb. 11) refocused the spotlight on the opposing view of creation science, now called Intelligent Design (ID). 

The reason some Christians accept evolution while others don't is quite simple.  If you are a fundamentalist (believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God), then you cannot accept evolution regardless of how convincing the scientific evidence is.  The creation narratives in Genesis are incompatible with Darwin ­ end of story! 

For this reason, it's a waste of time using notions of science and reason when discussing evolution with fundamentalists. Equally, it's dishonest of fundamentalists to claim ID is science and that evolution is just a "theory."  The Seattle Discovery Institute and our local Creation Research Center in Chino Valley try to use science to legitimize these views. 

They know their staff represents only a tiny percentage of scientists, even less if you only consider those with degrees in biological sciences.  They know the vast majority of scientists accept evolution. They know if their views had any scientific merit, they would publish them in appropriate journals and prove their scientific points. 

To my knowledge, only one published academic paper has challenged evolution ­ by Michael Behe, who used the concept of irreducible complexity.  Knowledgeable scientists since have answered and explained that challenge in journal articles.

The recent rulings by the judge in Dover, Pa., (appointed by Bush, please note) found the fundamentalist defenders of ID had been dishonest by claiming religion had not driven their position.  Fundamentalists are dishonest when they tell you that ID is not a replacement for the discredited creation science.  A Supreme Court ruling in 1987 outlawed creationism from classrooms.  Before that, the book that fundamentalists now want school children to read used creationist terms throughout the draft.  Afterwards, it replaced all references to creationism in "Of Pandas and People," with ID!

Why are members of these institutes, and other fundamentalists, dishonest?  Again the answer is simple ­ their faith in the inerrancy of the Bible blinds them.  If you ask them what new evidence would persuade them that evolution was right, they will waffle. 

The only honest answer they can give would be "none," because evolution can never replace Genesis.  They complain about the gaps in the theory of evolution but seem to ignore the gaping holes in their own position ­ how can the two different versions of the creation story in Genesis both be 100 percent accurate?

On occasion, scientists have been dishonest too.  Piltdown man in the early 1900s is one example; the Korean stem cell research paper is another very recent one. However, science catches these errors sooner or later and denounces the transgressors ­ it doesn't defend them!

Evolution is as much a fact as the theory of gravity and atomic theory are facts.  Since Darwin, thousands of fossils have been discovered.  Why hasn't even one of them contradicted evolution?  Scientific theories are not perfect nor do they explain every detail.  Theories are continually changing and improving as knowledge expands. The strength of science is this ability to change, to admit past ideas are mistaken and correct them.  Just the opposite is true of fundamentalism. 

Here's a quote made in an Evolution Sunday sermon by the Rev. Templeton in Atlanta: "A faith that requires you to close your mind in order to believe is not much of a faith at all."  In America, everyone is free to believe as they choose, but we shouldn't abuse this freedom.  No one, regardless of religion or denomination, should impose their beliefs and rules on others, making this country a theocracy.

Half a millennium ago, all Christians were fundamentalists, and science was still in its infancy.  Supported by Biblical verses, it was common belief then that the Earth was flat and the Sun orbited the Earth.  Somehow, modern-day fundamentalists have found ways to interpret these verses differently. 

Around 1600, the Catholic Church branded Galileo as a heretic for using science to show that the Sun was the center of the solar system.  It took them almost three centuries to admit their mistake and to realize that science was as much a part of God's creation as was the Universe and man.  Today, these Catholics ­ the largest Christian denomination in the world ­ accept evolution. They learned the hard way that denying established science brings ridicule. I wonder how many centuries it will take before fundamentalists realize that fundamental truth!

Nigel Reynolds moved from England nearly 40 years ago and has been in Arizona for the past 25 years. His career in telecommunications covered both technical and management positions, based on an electrical engineering degree obtained in England. He is now retired and has strong interests in science, religion, politics and history.

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