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Supporting Civil Rights for Atheists and the Separation of Church and State
Creationism -- Mythology Trying to be Science
Some people claim that "Science doesn't have all of the answers" when it comes to the business of life. They are right. Science is less a body of "facts" than it is a method of establishing verifiable claims about the universe -- claims which can be tested and measured, reviewed and evaluated. Science cannot tell you if a certain ethical decision is correct, or make judgments about abstractions such as beauty or justice. Even so, it can tell us much about the planet we inhabit, how we evolved, and how much of the universe functions. We can know "for certain" many things, or at least be reasonably sure of their truth. We know that the earth moves in an elliptical orbit about the sun, not the opposite as was believed for many generations.
As scientific knowledge has expanded, it has confronted numerous religious doctrines and beliefs. To varying degrees, religionists have been uncomfortable with these new revelations. The more" fundamentalist" types -- that is, those who seek Absolute Truth in the pages of holy books such as the bible or Koran -- are left in a bit of a bind. How do they reconcile their beliefs and theistic interpretations with a growing body of scientific evidence?
It isn't easy.
While most religionists today may not believe that the earth is a flat surface resting on the back of an enormous turtle which swims through the firmament, they cling -- to varying degrees -- to religious notions about how the universe operates. Angels, for instance, have never been detected or examined in a scientific inquiry; but a shocking percentage of Americans (about 65% according to some surveys), believes that these supernatural "pals" exist, running errands for god, or helping people in time of need. This whole belief system constitutes a throwback to earlier times in human history, when the world was "enchanted", populated with mystical and religious entities of all sorts. Its existence today is a shadow land of arcane beliefs which co-exist with our more enlightened views about the universe. For most people, their view of the world rests with one foot in the present and the other deep in the past.
One of the more curious artifacts of this murky realm of supernatural belief is so-called Scientific Creationism, a quixotic quest to balance the fundamentalist interpretations of the Judeo-Christian bible with the findings of modern science. Decades after the famous "Monkey trial" which debated the pros and cons of evolutionary discovery, we are still repeating this argument in the nation's public schools.
This is our "take" on the evolution-creation debate which now rages in the United States, and elsewhere. It is tied to other issues, including prayer in schools, indeed the role of religious instruction in the classroom and other civic institutions.
It is also a highly charged, emotion-laden debate. Creationists see evolution as part of a larger agenda aimed at religious belief itself. In a peculiar way, they may well be correct. But as with any debate, we should weigh the empirical evidence and examine the raw facts as dispassionately as we can. Does the creationist view of the universe make sense? Is it a scientific claim, or a religious creed? And do the "facts" of modern science require the existence of a deity (specifically, a Judeo-Christian god)? Read on.