“Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
The brook runs down in sending up our life.
The Sun runs down in sending up the brook.
And there is something sending up the Sun.”
Robert Frost, WEST RUNNING BROOK
[Revision] Fewer than one-half of Americans accept the concept of evolution. Almost 100 years after the landmark 1925 Scopes “monkey trial” featuring William Jennings Bryant for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense has passed. A high school biology teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach evolution. The country remains severely divided on that issue. Many state educational textbook committees, school boards, and the general public debate two sides. Evolutionist versus the Creationists—in which winning the discussion rather than seeking a productive, win-win, plan for our educational system is the unfortunate outcome.
Americans who ascribe to the Biblical view, referred to as creationism, take as their pillar of faith: “God created the heavens and the Earth”. They believe in a “young Earth” no more than six thousand years ago. The bedrock of this position proffers human beings as a unique troop made in God’s image God is a personal Spiritual Being contributing to the day-to-day lives of believers.
In Texas and most of the states of the South and Middle America, the science of evolution is challenged as an” unproven theory” with many gaps in its evidence. The creationist explanation for man’s unique standing atop God’s cast of living beings is Devine intervention and in a few days.. Accordingly, creationism has been a required component of several public school’s curriculum. These alternate views have been to the mutual exclusion of the current scientific communities’ opinion on evolution.
Francis Collins, an eminent scientist,: in The Language of God,(1) refutes that Scientists must be Atheists. Dr. Collins asserts that Charles Darwin’s “Descent with Modification”, can explain the divine method of creation. Science and Faith are not required to use The Zero-Sum Game!
Citizens who espouse evolution cite evidence of billions of years of a development of life, Beginning with a big explosive [Big Bang] yielded the fundamental components of life: This created Nucleic acids or other elements with substantial radioactivity. The products of the radioactive decay have produced many of the elements familiar to most of us. Proponents of evolution believe these most fundamental substances of life, then, have evolved through billions of years, to yield today’s life forms. This process is thought to have begun with simple molecules developing more complex biochemical organizations that have produced single-celled life forms. These single-cell organizations has developed more complex organisms as they reproduced, sometimes accompanied by mutations in their genes. Evolution holds that the great diversity of life today, including humans, is the product of countless generations, many of critical mutations. Their progeny then passes these changes along to the next generation. Support of this idea has been greatly enhanced by the discovery and mapping of the human, animal and plant genomes. These genomes contain genes composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA, a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms).
After more than a half-century of study and reflection, I find the observations and interpretation of both these contrasting viewpoints nothing short of miraculous. Each side of the argument, though, would benefit from demonstrating respect and understanding of the other. Neither team requires the victory at the expense of those who are approaching the discussion from a different premise. I propose that it is essential to the future of our children and our nation’s position in the world, that our students be allowed to learn and utilize the scientific method, by which we inspect the knowns and unknowns of our physical world. We should do so without sending out our metaphorical soldiers to vanquish the scientific quest altogether.
Every one of us uses the products of this physical world in our daily lives. Take oxygen, perhaps life’s most vital substance. Can we not all accept the necessity of oxygen and the chemistry that creates it? Scientific testing has proven that our vegetation produces our oxygen while absorbing our carbon dioxide. It is essential that we identify and protect a critical amount of vegetation or we will not be able to sustain our growing population. In another example, whether one is a vegan or not, a food supply free of toxic chemicals and pathogens is an essential made possible in part by employing scientific methods to ensure its safety. The daily lives of even our poorest citizens benefit from developments through unbiased scientific observation and testing. The discoveries of electricity and electromagnet wave energy are essential to many of life’s improvements that we simultaneously take for granted and defensively possess as a matter of life and death. Even young people who ignore “the three R’s” while mastering Gameboys and smartphones can appreciate the science that brings them their highly technological electronic world. Indeed, where would we all be without the results of scientific observations and testing?
Naturally, the tools of our national defenses are driven by scientific discoveries such as electromagnetic wave energy. The recent success in terminating Osama Bin Laden required months of electronic surveillance before and during the event. American pilots guided unmanned radio-controlled drone aircraft carrying television cameras over Pakistan from the safety of a Nevada military base! These drones provided real- time video to the commanders, including the commander-in-chief and his national security advisers in the situation room of the White House. Those who challenge the science of evolution are often the first to celebrate the dominance of our active military, suggesting they are selectively okay with science as long as it fits their divine construct.
Our lifestyle has evolved to a point that we might not survive without the scientific discoveries we exploit. The future will be governed by the nations that excel in science. Despite very strong assertions by many of our leaders that American exceptionalism is alive and well, when we compare the scholastic performance of our high school students to that of other developed nations, ours ranks well down the list. We must give our young people the tools of observation and the means of testing the validity of scientific studies. In order to protect both humane and spiritual values we hold dear, we will need more science, not less. This requires the promotion of understanding of the scientific method, beginning in the primary grades and promoted at each succeeding grade level. Such a consistent inquiry should not threaten anyone’s spiritual life or treasured belief system.
Conversely, some academic authorities in the scientific community, having conquered and visualized the elaborate and beautiful machinery of generational reproduction, smugly declare theological interpretations to be obsolete. This judgement, in my view, ignores the vast panorama of subjective human experience. I do not believe that the truths of science requires that scientists be atheists. Not only do I find this incomplete or inaccurate , it is certain to alienate our ecclesiastical neighbors. This is the negative component of the scientific community’s attempt to find a common ground for the common good for our nation’s future.
“A hundred million miracles are happening every day,
and those who say they don’t agree
Are those who do not hear or see.”
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II, THE FLOWER DRUM SONG
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
– that is all Ye know on Earth,
and all ye need to know.”
John Keats, ODE ON A GRECIAN URN
(1) Francis Collins, THE LANGUAGE OF GOD, Simon and Schuster, 2007.