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Darwinism As A Campaign IssueRalph E. Stone Salem-News.com
How are we going to keep up with the rest of the world in innovation and scientific discovery when adherents of pseudo-science wield so much influence in our society?
(SAN FRANCISCO) - Darwinism versus creationism became a campaign issue in the Alabama GOP nomination for governor. A conservative political action committee (PAC) called “True Republican” put out a television ad denouncing Bradley Byrne, who is seeking the GOP nomination for Governor, for saying that he believes in evolution and that the bible is “only partially true.”
The ad, funded by PACs connected to the Alabama Education Association, describes Byrne as “another liberal blowing in the wind trying to look conservative.” Byrne responded stating that he thinks “every single word” of the Bible is absolutely, positively the truth.
A little background information on the Darwinism versus Creationism controversy is in order. Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution set forth in his "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life," and subsequent writings, is considered the foundation of biology.
Darwin posited a tree of life with one species giving rise to another species over billions of years. Species evolved over time through natural selection acting on inherited traits. Darwin had no idea how those traits arose or how they were passed on from generation to generation. The discovery of DNA gave rise to a new field of science called genetics, which confirmed Darwin’s theory and explained how traits are passed on. Genetics also confirmed the most controversial part of Darwin’s theory that humans and apes have a common ancestry. But even after 128 years, his theory supported by information which has been tested again and again over time is still anathema to many Americans.
The Bible (Genesis) tells us that God created heaven and earth and all contained therein in six days. (God rested on the seventh day). Genesis is treated by most scholars as an allegory, not literally true. Remarkably, about one-third of Americans do believe the Bible is literally true. While most Americans probably agree that God was responsible for the creation of life on earth, many disagree on what happened next. About 49 percent believe that humans and other living things evolved over time (Darwin) while 48 percent believe that humans and other living things have stayed the same since creation (creationists).
Creationists believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that Darwin’s theory does not adequately explain the complexity of life. They believe that various forms of life began abruptly by an intelligent agency (God) with their distinctive features in place, i.e., fish with scales and fins, birds with feathers and wings, etc. Creationists cannot accept that humans evolved from apes. To them this is sacrilege. "Intelligent design” -- creationism repackaged -- holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause (God), not an undirected process such as natural selection.
The courts have ruled that intelligent design and creationism should be taught, if at all, in Sunday school - not in our public schools. Some important court decisions in this area include the 1968 case of Epperson v. Arkansas, where the Supreme Court found an Arkansas statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution unconstitutional on the grounds that "the First Amendment does not permit the State to require that teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma."
In 1987, the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard held unconstitutional Louisiana's "creationism act," which required "creationism" be taught if Darwin's theory of evolution was taught. The Supreme Court found that such a requirement "impermissibly endorses religion" and therefore violates the U.S. Constitution's "Establishment Clause," which requires the separation of church and state.
In 2005, a federal district court in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (Pennsylvania), ordered the school district to refrain from maintaining an Intelligent Design Policy whereby intelligent design had to be offered as an alternative to evolution. The court stated: "Intelligent design cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents" and thus, is unconstitutional.
The judge also stated: "Intelligent design is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community." (I recommend Nova’s “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” (2007), a documentary about the Kitzmiller case. I also recommend the movie "Creation, which may enlighten more Americans about evolution and its important place in science.)
Who are these creationists? Broken down by religious groups, 70% of white evangelical Protestants say that life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time; fewer than half as many white mainline Protestants (32%) and white Catholics (31%) agree. In addition, only 48 percent of American adults accept evolution (even if guided by God) and only 26 percent are convinced of the validity of Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection.
What is troublesome about creationism and intelligent design is that it contributes to an anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism in our public life and in our schools, resulting in a dumbing down of Americans. For example, 38 percent favor replacing evolution with creationism in public schools. The ignorance of the average U.S. adults of basic scientific facts has been well documented by surveys, finding that fewer than one in five Americans met a minimal standard of scientific literacy.
How are we going to keep up with the rest of the world in innovation and scientific discovery when adherents of pseudo-science wield so much influence in our society? Even more troublesome, there are creationists teaching science in our colleges and universities and in our high schools. Junk in, junk out. And reportedly, Sarah Palin is a creationist--or at least she advocates teaching creationism alongside evolution in the public schools. I, therefore, conclude that she believes that Charles Darwin's tested theory of evolution is on the same scientific level as creationism.
Remember, however, we should never underestimate the power of ignorant people in large groups.
================================================== Salem-News.com writer Ralph E. Stone was born in Massachusetts. He is a graduate of both Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School. We are very fortunate to have this writer's talents in this troubling world; Ralph has an eye for detail that others miss. As is the case with many Salem-News.com writers, Ralph is an American Veteran who served in war. Ralph served his nation after college as a U.S. Army officer during the Vietnam war. After Vietnam, he went on to have a career with the Federal Trade Commission as an Attorney specializing in Consumer and Antitrust Law. Over the years, Ralph has traveled extensively with his wife Judi, taking in data from all over the world, which today adds to his collective knowledge about extremely important subjects like the economy and taxation. You can send Ralph an email at this address firstname.lastname@example.org
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