Yesterday here on the blog I told you about an old evolution debate from the 1920s and earlier, one that affected my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and others.
I want to follow that up today by linking you to this engaging piece about why so many Americans, who often seen so up-to-speed on scientific innovation and technology, are nonetheless drawn to reject macro-evolution and embrace the pseudoscience called creationism.
The reasons listed seem compelling to me but in no way an exhaustive explanation. Those reasons are that creationism:
* Appeals to our American democratic impulse.
* Demands fairness so all voices can be heard.
* Appeals to the authority of some people who reject evolution.
* Promotes freedom of inquiry for students.
* Rejects the scientific establishment's dismissive views of alternative theories.
* Appeals to the sympathy of Americans who learn that creationists are not embraced by academic institutions.
All that may be true, as the piece to which I've linked you suggests, but I think another major reason has been left out.
And that is this: Creationism reflects a literalistic reading of the Bible, and it's exactly that kind of reading that many branches of Christianity in America promote. In such a reading, the world was created in six literal days and is only a few thousand years old. Of course, the brains God gave us to examine our world must necessarily reject that as poppycock, but sometimes fundamentalist thinking overrides reason and scientific evidence.
One day, perhaps, some of the literalists will grasp the reality that all language is metaphorical and that religious language is especially so. Until then, however, we're going to have lots of Americans wandering about happily claiming the creationist label as long as that label means a literalistic reading of the Bible.
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MONITORING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
The U.S. State Department's annual report on religious freedom around the world was released this week. Good. I'm glad our government keeps doing this through the State Department and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. I also found worth reading the transcript of the remarks and press conference by our ambassador at large for international religious freedomk Suzan Johnson Cook. Have a read.