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Faulty biblical literalism doesn't belong in schools

Gary L. Bennett

Educated people around the world are continually amazed that the United States, leader in science and technology, can still seriously consider teaching the pagan myth of creationism in our public schools.  The latest bit of silliness occurred in Cobb County, Ga., where the school board voted to include creationism in its curriculum.

Ultra-fundamentalist commentators like Cal Thomas ( Aug. 27, The Idaho Statesman) then proposed the absurd notion that creationism and evolution should both be taught and the students should then vote on which they prefer.

 Perhaps students should also be allowed to vote on the biblical description of the Earth (flat) versus the scientific observation of the Earth (spheroidal).  Dr. Isaac Asimov once observed that if everyone voted that the
Earth was flat it wouldn't change the fact that the Earth is spheroidal.

In case anyone thinks this is absurd, consider that the creationist who gutted the Kansas school standards three years ago isn't sure that the Sun doesn't go around the Earth, because that's how the Bible describes it. 

There have been an estimated 100,000 religious myths about creation. Does Thomas want students to study each and then vote?

Science isn't about voting on beliefs.  Science is the process of studying the natural universe.  In science one develops hypotheses and tests them with evidence.  When sufficient evidence has been gathered in support of
a hypothesis it may become a theory.  A theory is a well-substantiated explanation - it is not a guess.

Unlike creationists, scientists don't "believe", they accept a theory based on the evidence supporting it.  But their acceptance is provisional unlike the dogmatism of creationists.

Contrary to Thomas' assertions there is ample evidence to support the theory of evolution (but none to support creationism).

Genetic studies and anatomical studies have clearly established the similarities of living organisms.  If creationists were right about a "special creation event", living organisms should differ and chimpanzees
wouldn't share 98% of their DNA with humans.

Evolution is simply the change in the hereditary characteristics of groups of organisms over the course of generations.  Everyone has observed that offspring are not exact copies of parents.

Evolution is silent about how life began and silent concerning religion.  That is why the major religious denominations in the United States, from Catholic to mainstream Protestant to the American Jewish Congress to the American Muslim Council, support the teaching of evolution not religion, in science classes.  Evolution is consistent with Latter Day Saints Church doctrines (see "Evolution and Mormonism" by Idaho State University biologists Trent D. Stephens and D. Jeffrey Meldrum).

But ultraconservatives like Cal Thomas want people to believe that this is a battle between evolution and Christianity, because in such a battle they win.  What the creationists don't realize is that their erroneous views play right into the hands of atheists who eagerly pounce on each new promulgation
of nonsensical biblical literalism.

Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, a working biologist and a practicing Catholic, has argued in his book "Finding Darwin's God" that evolution offers a powerful logic for a divinely created world that is the incubator of human freedom. 
Miller observed that "The scope and scale of evolution can only magnify our admiration for a creator who could set such a process in motion".  Apparently the creationist god is too puny to create something as complex as evolution.

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