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Evolution or Creation? South Cheshire & North Staffordshire Humanists,firstname.lastname@example.org
1859: Darwin’s “Origin” challenged religious orthodoxy “But with regard to the material world, we can at least go so far as this – we can perceive that events are brought about not by insulated interpositions of divine power but by the establishment of general laws.” W. WHEWHELL “Let no man think or maintain that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress of proficience in both.” BACON
Creationism The Genesis Story (King James Version) • In the beginning God created heaven and earth. • Day 1: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. • Day 2: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. • Day 3: And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass and the fruit tree yield fruit. • Day 4: And God created great whales, and every living creature. • Day 5: And God said, Go forth and multiply each living creature after his kind: and it was so. • Day 6: And God said, Let us make man in our image and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air…
The Genesis story implies… • The creation events took place over six 24-hour days, after which all creating ceased • Life was created 6,000-8,000 years ago (not enough time for evolution to occur). • How realistic is this? • How does scientific theory compare?
Scientific story: Big Bang + Evolution = Man • UNIVERSE: The Big Bang is the scientific theory that the Universe emerged from an enormously dense and hot state about 13.7 billion years ago. • SOLAR SYSTEM AND PLANETS: formed 4.5 billion years ago • LIFE ON EARTH: 3.7 billion yrs basic organic molecules of self-reproducing RNA emerged2 billion years bacteria1.5 billion yrs first multi-cellular algae and plants 1.2 billion yrs marked the start of sexual reproduction – which accelerated evolution 300 millions years – reptiles 220 million yr – first mammals 25 million yrs – monkeys and apes 5 million years – humans?
Darwin’s “Laws of Evolution”… • Reproduction leads to the inheritance of characteristics • Variability in inherited traits (genetic mutation..) • Populations tend to outstrip the means of subsistence causing a struggle for life (after Thomas Malthus) • Natural selection of varieties and species better fitted to the environment, and the extinction of others. “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death…the production of higher animals directly follows.”“p. 408 Conclusion of “The Origin”)
Tree of life Darwin: “There is grandeur in this view of life having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms (7 to 10) or into one; from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”
Progress of evolution… • From simple to more complex organisms • Increasing diversity • Able to adapt and survive in a greater range of environmental settings • Through natural selection – the strongest or most adaptable species to its environment survives
World-view Implications… • Creationism:man is special, different from animals; put here for a purpose; God is in control • Evolution: man is an advanced animal; man has control and it is survival of the fittest
Objections to Darwinism The very notion that man descended from the apes was challenged. “On Aug. 11, 1999 the Kansas State Board of Education fired another salvo in the long battle between religion and science by removing evolution from the high school curriculum.” This decision was subsequently overturned.
Is teaching religion banned? • First Amendment of the US Constitution states, "Congress shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion, or inhibiting the free exercise thereof.” • public institutions must be religiously-neutral: schools can neither promote nor exclude religious expression.
So what can teachers teach? • It is legal for a teacher to teach about religion, as long as one is not taking a side. • One can describe a religion, or religious views, and can discuss controversies involving religion, but it would not be proper to take sides -Originally published on PBS Online, May, 2000
More investigation • http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/evolution.htm • http://ncse.com/evolution/education/cans-cants-teaching-evolution