Church and StateJacob NaylorPeriod 4Research paper4 March 1996The theory of evolution is at odds with the views of many religions, andmany people want to allow a religious view of creationism to be taught in thepublic school system.
The foundation of evolution is based upon the belief thatthe origin of all ordered complex systems, including living creatures, can beexplained by natural laws without the initiation or intervention of God. Aperson who believes in the biblical model of creation is viewed by some non-believers as a naive, narrow-minded religious fanatic who is not willing to lookat the observable evidence with an open mind. Because the evolutionary idea oforigins has been so widely accepted by the scientific community, many peoplehave reasoned that the creation model should be completely rejected withoutfairly examining its claims. Even many Christians who have deep trust and faithin the Bible have never really understood the claims of the creation account(McLean 11).
Over the past several years, a great deal of controversy surrounding thecreation-evolution issue has been generated by scientists who have based theirclaims on the creation model and have been willing to let their reputationsstand. Creationists have openly requested that when the discussion of originsoccurs in the public school system, both the model of creation and evolution bepresented side by side. Initially, scientists and educators who have accepted the theory ofevolution without question were reluctant to pay any serious attention tocreationism; however, it has now become apparent that substantial numbers ofpeople are taking creationism seriously. Many evolutionists view this trend asa serious threat to the advancement of science and have vowed to do everythingin their power to stop the teaching of creation in the public school system. Most evolutionists now view creationism as nothing more than a particularversion of fundamentalist Christianity with no valid scientific content. Onehundred-fifty years ago such a theory for the origin and history of the earthand life would have been termed absurd.
Today, however, those who reject theidea of random evolutionary processes being responsible for designing life andshaping the geological features of the earth are termed religious, unscientificfanatics. Today, throughout the industrialized world, the moment children are ableto respond to their environment, they are constantly bombarded with the doctrineof evolution. Faith in the biblical concept of creation by the hand of God isridiculed and rejected by the secular system of education. Humanistic thinkingwidely accepts evolution as fact, even though “The all-too frequent picture ofevolution as a progression from ameba to man, is, and always has been, utterlywithout foundation” (Weisz 665).
Oddly, it is commonly accepted that all living things are the product ofevolution, that evolution is taking place today, and that evolution willcontinue to shape the destiny of life in the future. Darwin’s theory of evolution, based upon the idea of natural selection,set off a bitter controversy among scientists, religious leaders, and thegeneral public. Noted British scientists such as Thomas Huxley and AlfredWallace supported Darwin’s work, and many different groups eventually acceptedthe theory of evolution. After Darwin’s idea of the origin and development of life became wellknown, others used the concept of evolution for developing theories aboutsociety. A number of new philosophies began to emerge based on the Darwiniantheory. These ideas came onto the world scene and made serious implicationswhich made a view of agnosticism and atheism respectable.
“As far as Darwin wasconcerned, a man’s religion was his own affair, and he tried to keep his loss offaith to himself” (Gregor 112). For example, the German philosopher and socialscientist Karl Marx, who is often called the founding father of the communistmovement, compared the struggle for power among social classes to the strugglefor survival among organisms. Marx was so awe stricken by the way Darwin wasable to explain away the need for God regarding the origin of life that hedecided to dedicate Das Kapital, a book against capitalism , to Charles Darwin. Marx and other humanists of his day believed the individual, not God, is thehighest being. The acceptance of the evolutionary doctrine soon spread throughout theacademic world in spite of the opposition put forward by scientists andreligious leaders.
Most scholars who had swallowed the humanistic philosophywere proud of the fact that they could explain the physical world around themwithout relying upon God. In many parts of the industrialized world, much of the controversy overevolution centered on the issue whether the theory should be taught in schools. Many people would not accept the theory of evolution because it conflicted withtheir belief that God is the creator and sustainer of life. The Bible alsostates human beings were created in the image of God, and were elevated aboveall other forms of life. Because of this view by the majority of people, theteaching of evolution in the public schools in the United States occurredthrough a gradual process over many years. The first major confrontation regarding the teaching of evolution inpublic schools occurred at the famous Scopes trial which took place in Tennesseein 1925.
The effect of the trial on education was felt for many years, as mostschools avoided teaching evolution and publishers produced textbooks that hardlycovered the topic. For years following the Scopes trial, the creation-evolutioncontroversy was not a high-priority issue. The issue lay dormant until the1950s, when there was a growing concern among educators that science teaching inthe public schools needed to be upgraded with current evolutionary teaching. The fact is, “The author or teacher who states that evolution is an establishedfact is either ignorant of the facts in the case, or is seeking to hide themfrom his students” (Schnabel 97). Works CitedGregor, Arthur S. Charles Darwin.
E. P. Dutton and Company,Inc. , New York, 1966.
Kerkut, ____. Implications of Evolution. Pergamon Press,1960. McLean, G. S.
, Roger Oakland, Larry McLean. The Evidence forCreation. Understand the Times, Santa Ana, CA. , 1995.
Schnabel, A. O. Has God Spoken?. Tampa, FL. , A.
O. Schnabel Publisher, 1974. Weisz, Paul. The Science of Biology. McGrawHill BookCompany, New York, 1995.Religion