Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Evolution and Creationism - The Monkey Trials Continues

Before I begin this post, I would like the world to wish my dear sister in law a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Yeah. Emily, I hope your day is filled with joy and happyness and, well hell, not just today but your life. :) I am not sorry to say that the debate between evolution and creationism or intelligent design is not over. The reason I am glad the debate is not over is simply because debate is healthy. An ultimate answer to our beginnings has probably not been found. With this said you, dear reader, might as well know that I lean towards evolution and science— that’s right—monkey men and women. I am, however, open to debate. For example, being a spiritual being, I am also attracted to the “intelligent design” theories which would leave room for both science and spirituality. You may notice here that I have not used the word “religion” until now. For me, religion is a weighted word, filled with bureaucracy and elitism: “My religion is right and your religion is wrong. I will go to heaven because of my beliefs but you will not.” This is what I mean by elitism. This is not to say that all religious people are elitists. I do not believe this and life have taught me otherwise. I have met many religious people who are not elitist and who respect my position. However, I have found, again personal life lessons, that religion tends to be elitist and fillrd with bureaucracy, which is why, like Groucho Marx, I have no interest belonging to any clubs that would have me. Debate is healthy. The continuous flux and clash of ideas like tennis shoes clashing and intertwining with my towels in the dryer. You may be surprised by my next statement, I surprise myself – I don’t have a problem with creationism being taught next to evolution. “What’s this?” Says my sister in shock and awe. “Rebecca, what has happened to you!” states my Mother looking down, up, sideways from the realms of the unknown. “Hold on there; don’t get all flustered and frustrated. I have more to say on this point. Just calm yourself down a moment and let me explain myself!” I do not mind these two theories being taught in school but I do mind them being taught as “absolutes” and I also think that if we are to include the “spiritual” doctrines, we cannot stop at creationism but should teach all the other theories about our beginnings so that true education really happens. In a recent New York Times article, part of their series on religion and science, Jodi Wilgoren in “Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defense,” examines how the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank, has taken evolution vs. creationism as it central, thematic, issue:
Pushing a ‘teach the controversy’ approach to evolution, the institute has in many ways transformed the debate into an issue of academic freedom rather than a confrontation between biology and religion.
I agree with academic freedom, but offering only two alternatives in a world filled with diversity and complexity is not “academic freedom,” but, again, a type of elitism. If we are to go this route, the doors must be swung wide open. Let’s open the way for, for example, some Polynesian accounts where there was a forcing apart of the deities, Sky and Earth, to release their children (us humans). Or maybe the stories from the Gibert islands, Kiribati, where the “primordial” deity Nareau (also described as the “primordial spider”) convinced an eel to separate Sky and Earth to release their children—the humans. The idea of the “first cause” being a spider is not limited to these places but has been embraced by many other cultures. Or there is one of my favorites, the Boshongo (Bantu) myth where Bumba literally vomits up the world:
“In the beginning, in the dark, there was nothing but water. And Bumba was alone. One day Bumba was in terrible pain. He retched and strained and vomited up the sun.” Next, in progression came the moon, starts, nine living creatures (animals) and finally man.
“This is preposterous!” Some of you say, “Who would believe such silly things!” “No,” I say, “not preposterous! Remember, one person’s ‘myth’ is another person’s ‘religion.’” If we are to teach one point of view in the name of “academic freedom,” then we should teach the many points of view. Elitism is when we say that only one theory, or possibly two, are valid because that is the way our dominate culture thinks. This, dear reader, is Bull Shit (excuse the language) reasoning. The blog Rapture Incorporated (a very interesting blog) also looks at this issue when covering the story about a Marion County judge in Indianapolis who tried to stop some parents from teaching Wicca to their children because it was “non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.” Thankfully the order was overturned, but yet this one case shows the tendency towards elitism in religious beliefs and cultural norms. If we truly wish, dear reader, to embrace freedom and truth, we must avoid the elitist tendency to exclude others from the debate. Debate, again, is only healthy when it is inclusive. Rebeccaor


  1. I Continue to believe our children would be more tolerant, well-rounded individuals if a World Religions class were introduced into our schools. I would gladly pay taxes in order that kids could learn more about not only their own faith, but the faiths of their friends.

    Thank you for the link, by the way. :)


  2. Thank you for the Happy Birthday! I agree with you that our society as whole would be better off if we taught more, in regards to our beginnings. It is one of the great fascinations of humankind to deliberate and debate our origins, and what happens after-life. They are in fact, both un-knowns, and will always be so in some way or another. Who's to say what's right for they are both subjects that are in some ways subjective.

  3. I am strongly opposed to teaching "creationism", or any other religion based theory, in our public schools. To do so would violate the concept of separation of church and state. This is a "slippery slope", one that I do not want to stand on the top of. Today it is creationism, and tomorrow do we begin the debates on the Ten Commandments? And if we are going to discuss the Judeo-Christian theory, are we obligated to discuss the Hindu side? Or the theory from a small village in Africa? The government has, on too many occassions, ignored the concept of separation of church and state, and has even denied funding if an organization does not say what the gov wants them to say. I think now is the time we draw that line in the sand and say enough - just govern me, don't mother me and don't preach to me.


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