The cure for cults that want to deny others
their freedom of speech is more freedom of speech
-- Fredric Rice

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Creationist Cults

Truth is casualty in this war

September 04, 2002

Does one have to be an atheist to believe that life on Earth evolved over billions of years rather than being created piece by piece and species by species over a few thousand years or a few days?

That's how the "evolution versus creationism" debate has been framed by some of the more vocal parties on either side as they carry this endless campaign of the culture wars to school boards around the land.

The atheists would like to use the classroom to liberate coming generations from what they see as the superstition that stunts societal growth. The religionists, far more influential for all their cries of persecution, view mainstream science as a superstition in itself, foreclosing questioning and denying youngsters access to revealed Truth.

"Anything involving God, or his works, they believe, is to be censored because humankind must study only ideas it comes up with apart from any other influence," the Christian conservative columnist Cal Thomas says of his adversaries. "Such thinking led to the Holocaust, communism and a host of other evils conjured up by the deceitful and wicked mind of uncontrolled man."

See? I told you this was war. And as usual, truth is the first casualty.

In fact, there is no bar to a religious person's acceptance of evolution as the mechanism by which a supreme being causes natural history to happen -- unless that person is of a particular faith that takes its non- scientific account of creation literally.

Most Christians are not biblical literalists. They embrace Genesis as a divinely inspired human effort (undertaken long before the discovery that the Earth orbited the sun) to impart spiritual truth rather than historical fact.

Every culture has its creation myth. Turtle Island for Native Americans. Great Brown Bear for the ancient Ainu of Japan. Siva-Brahma-Vishnu for Hindus. Those wise and beautiful stories must be preserved and taught, as the Quran and Judeo-Christian Scripture must be taught.

But they are not science. Science, religiously speaking, is people using the minds God gave them to pursue the never-ending quest of unraveling his mysteries. It does not rely on revelation and cannot proceed from anybody's sacred text; but there is no conflict with that sacred text, any more than there is competition between a sculptor and a poet. Those zealots who argue otherwise would sacrifice children's minds to a bogus battle for a specifically and ethnocentrically defined national soul.

My son attended a Christian (OK, Catholic) high school in which evolution was taught in biology class, a global range of faiths was studied in religion class, and theological doctrine was instilled at Masses and retreats. Public schools may do only two of those things, but they can do them well if they see them as companions and not combatants.

Stephen Jay Gould, the noted science writer who died this past spring, was both a defender of evolution as a basic fact and a challenger to some of its practitioners. In an essay a few years ago, he pointed out that it was not atheists who cast out creationism as a scientific tool.

"The final irony and deep message is simply this: Flood theory, the centerpiece of modern creationism, was disproved 150 years ago, largely by professional clergymen who were also geologists, exemplary scientists and creationists. The enemy of knowledge and science is irrationalism, not religion."

So throw down your muskets, already. The war's over.

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Copyright 2002 The Indianapolis Star


Any text written by the creationist cult which may be quoted within this criticial examination of the creationist cult is provided according to U. S. Code Title 17 "Fair Use" dictates which may be reviewed at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html


"You can lie about ICR all you want." -- Jason Daniel Henderson

"Thank you for your permission however there's never any need to. Creationist propaganda is already self-debunking." -- Fredric L. Rice

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