Monday, April 20, 2009

The Never-Ending Religion vs. Darwin Clash

In his article “The Conflict Between Religion and Evolution,” David Masci overlooks the never-ending 150 year old fight against Darwinism, how the dispute has recently grown in both size and intensity, and why is it still prevalent today. Analyzing the dispute from the beginning in the early 1900s to the present, Masci digs for the reasons that have caused the issue of teaching evolution to manifest into a national debate on values similar to the culture war issues such as abortion.  In his evaluation of the period of the quarrel, Masci reveals that the opposition towards the teaching of evolution has itself evolved over time. From the Scopes Trial to today’s prevalent, national dispute, the arguments against Darwinism has shifted from Biblical Creationism to tactics such as intelligent design and a critical analysis of it as a unproven hypothesis.

In the last decade or so, local and state schools around the nation have presented intelligent design as an scientific alternative to evolutionism, which proclaims the belief that “life is too complex to have evolved entirely through natural processes without divine intervention. Besides this, other public schools have presented the theory of evolution to student as a theory, where the student have to analyze evolution disclaimers, so that Darwinism can be approached critically with an open mind. According to Masci, these alternative oppositions towards the theory of evolution has generated substantial support among American people with 63% of Americans advocating the belief behind intelligent design.

Overlooking this phenomenon, what is most interesting behind these oppositions against evolution is that there are religious and social incentives to fight against the possible theological, social implications of Darwinism, despite the fact that the scientific community has established evolution through natural selection as a fact. Therefore, based on Masci’s analysis, the perpetual struggle is a result of the constant battle to prove to society that Darwinism is a flawed scientific theory that should not be applied by any means to society, the human race, or to anything else because it depreciates God, religion, law, and justice. Thus, the impetus behind this ongoing struggle against evolutionary thought is to make sure that this denigrate way of thinking is never accepted as a fact that can be applicable to the way how the world and nature works. If no dispute against Darwinism never existed, then what would happen if Darwin’s theory was accepted as an ubiquitous fact that could explained how society and nature operates? Then, there would no be need for justice or law because everything would be a fight for survival, which would make murders and mass genocides justifiable and morals unnecessary. 

11 comments:

David W. said...
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AndiMS said...

I agree that Masci's central argument is over Darwinism in public schools - the debate over Darwin's theory of evolution is sensitive because many people fear that their children will be taught to reject the idea of God as our creator if they are introduced to Darwinism and it is treated as fact. I also agree that, as David mentioned, this debate should not be a brutal struggle to perpetuate only one theory. Because the practice of science rests on a series of paradigms which are constantly changing, the idea that Darwinism is *at this time* considered scientific fact does not make it an objective fact, because this is a field which never ceases in development. We should keep as many theories alive as possible, and we should keep students informed of all of them - it would be culturally regressive to act differently.

In my opinion it is in everyone's favor to teach both Creationism and Darwinism: as subjects of God, creationists should take the moral high ground by encouraging progress through intelligent dialogue and openmindedness, whereas Darwinists should keep in mind that humans have evolved from creatures who pursue animalistic instict to intelligent beings with the capacity to further causes which extend beyond oneself... in this case, the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Mallory H said...

I agree with Andi that the debate of whether to teach Creationism or Darwinism does not have to be resolved by choosing only one to promote. Students should be aware that there are multiple beliefs about how humans were created. Science and religion do not have to be mutually exclusive. This has been shown in the intelligent design theory, which I believe is a good way to compromise the two beliefs. If one theory is pushed over another, some students could end up being offended and confused as to what to believe. There is evidence that supports evolution and natural selection, and this should be presented to students. They should be able to generate their own interpretations when it comes to the part that religion plays in creation.

David W. said...

I read Masci’s essay slightly differently from Mike, in that anti-Darwinism does not perpetuate itself to ensure that no one applies natural selection to government or society. Masci comments on the concern some have in this regard, but he says, “the larger and more intense debate still centers on what children in public schools learn about life’s origins.” This means that, in Masci’s mind, the debate is not about limiting how a dictator might wield natural selection, but rather is about limiting what children learn. Edging evolution out to make room for creationism does not offer a comparison between the two; rather, it confuses cultural theories with scientific ones. The science classroom is not the place for social studies or theology to be taught.

Masci reports that creationists have a distaste for the “panorama of brutal struggle and constant change” that they view natural selection as. If they really wish to combat that, then let us show that, from the chaos of this struggle, a civilized race has emerged. And the way to do that is not to propagandize the schools, nor is it productive to close our eyes to reality.

Limor B said...

I think Mike makes an interesting argument about why the religious community is so determined to prove Darwinism wrong or flawed. If the scientific community can disprove one of the most basic concepts of the Bible, how are Christians supposed to trust that the Bible is correct in many of its other notions about life? This is especially scary for the church, as the country becomes progressively more secular and less dependent on the church for advice about living. Although I think Mike goes a little bit too far in claiming that mass genocides would be justifiable, I do think that there would be an absence of moral arguments to defend people’s everyday decisions.

Andrew F. said...

I don't think rejecting a literal interpretation of Biblical creation suddenly negates the entirety of the Bible. Consequently, I still can't understand why people get so worked up over this issue. Evolution does not necessarily exclude a divine presence (which, in any case, lies outside of the natural world and scientific study), and the idea that human beings are, biologically, animals does not exclude morality. Darwinism does not demand that we unanimously drop our beliefs and descend into a sociopath's "fight for survival" because Darwinism does not claim to offer us a philosophical "game plan" for our lives. Darwin's theory merely offers an explanation for how life diverged into its present variety. This is wholly irrelevant to human morality.

That said, I don't believe intelligent design belongs in science classrooms. I'm all for "critically examining scientific theories," but the existence of a creator cannot be deductively proven, nor does such a creator lie within the realm of the natural world. If someone wishes to present a scientific criticism of Darwinism, I'd be glad to hear it; meanwhile, current "criticisms" stand on shaky ground. When last I researched this topic, I came across a list of "ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution," a pamphlet distributed to students by creationism advocates. A little more research confirmed that these "ten questions" have already been thoroughly refuted and dismissed. And yet, that hasn't stopped the pamphlets from being distributed. It comes off as more of a propaganda effort than a rigorous "criticism."

Amit R. said...

I disagree with Mike's ending comment that natural selection being accepted as fact would lead to "murders and mass genocides." While some people, such as the dictators mentioned by Masci, would surely use natural selection as an excuse for doing these things, I don't believe the majority of people would. Game theory, for example, shows us that cooperation tends to lead to the best results, and I just don't believe that it's in the majority of people's nature to commit such acts.

Victor S. said...

I agree with others that the two practices should both be introduced to students who are learning. The theory of evolution is one with much scientific backing, and it would be downright ignorant to dismiss it completely. When students know all there is to know about the debate going on our origins, they will be able to support their own belief.

Vignesh N. said...

To pious American parents, the idea of their children being taught Darwinism may seem frightening, since it fundamentally rejects that which is taught in the Bible. However, in today's world, and according to our scientists, Darwinism is accepted as a fact. However, I agree with others in that Darwinism should not be the only theory taught in high school, given by the religious nature of Americans. Rather, students should be taught creationism and Darwinism, and be allowed to choose between the two theories which they want to believe.

Devin said...

I do not believe that darwinism should be taught in public, or private schools therefore because it is a direct debate against not only creaitionism but intelligent design. I believe that what is taught inside a schools doors should be facts; as far as science is concerned. For example: the facts of geology, the weather and other fact based topics.

I believe that if schools begin to not teach but to "preach" it would only cause chaos from within and a sense of displacement with certain students. Student's should not feel out of place and unwilling to want to learn from a certain educator because of a topic braught up in the classroom.

Besides, any college will eventually teach the student's what they want to know or have to know about the topic's. For instance, in World Literature 205 there is a Greek and Roman god in mythology named "Hades" he is also braught up in revolutions in "The Holy Bible". Also, World Literature 205 will teach student's of the literary connections between "The Epic of Gilgamesh" and "the Holy Bible", even down to Jesus and the greatly known Garden of Eden.

I am an educated Christian I will not lie, that is why I believe in the possibility of intelligent Design, which means a higher power (doesn't have to be God) could have helped the process cell's had to take to create humans.

Devin said...
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