History is, if nothing else, repetitive. In many ways, history mirrors the path humans take in growing up. It makes many obvious mistakes, learns from these mistakes and then betters itself. However, unlike a person who, in the span of a lifetime generally hammers out the proper way to act, history seems to never fully learn from its mistakes. How else to explain the myriad problems that continue to pop up throughout history, from racial intolerance to war resulting from interlocking treaties, if history is any indicator, we have a long way to go before humanity “grows up”.
Take the debate regarding the “theory” of evolution. Despite the fact that evolution has become as scientifically accepted as global warming, there remains a religious minority in America that remains staunchly opposed to accepting evolution. Many of these fundamentalists believe that the Bible, a 2,000-year-old book written when humans believed the Earth was flat and the sun revolved around us, is to be interpreted to the T. That means the earth was created a little over 6,000 years ago and that everything you have ever learned in biology class is bunk. While this stance may seem absurd to many, and indeed has led to ridicule of American intelligence on the world stage, these fundamentalists have shown a remarkable tenacity to stick by their guns. In the early 20th century, Fundamentalists used the momentum fueled by their great orator, William Jennings Bryan, to push for the removal of the teaching of evolution. While some wanted their own biblical narrative of creation taught in public schools and others did not, the consensus was that evolution was wrong. While they gained a technical victory in the Scopes Monkey Trial, the resulting ballyhoo from the trial ensured that the anti-revolution statutes would not be enforced. The resulting lack in anti-revolution drama and continued advances in biology, coupled with a public perception that Scopes was a victor for evolutionists, led to evolution becoming gradually accepted by the general populace. While commentators foretold the end of Christian fundamentalism, the movement experienced a surprise resurgence in the battles that ensued from the Supreme Court taking on a more active role in establishing the separation of Church and State from 1948 on. By the 1960’s the anti-revolution movement had essentially stagnated. Barring a few conservative holdouts, the general populace was accepting evolution. However, in 1961, The Genesis Flood gave anti-evolutionists a new cause to champion in favor of evolution, “Creation Science”. A theory not rooted in fact but rather thought up as a scientific sounding response to the scientific current of the day. Rather then push for wholesale acceptance, the Christian minority now pushed for equal time in the classroom for their theory using the same style argument used against them by evolutionists in the 1920’s! However, much as the anti-revolution bonanza of the 1920’s faded away, so too did the creation science fad fade into obscurity as observers began to realize that it was nothing more than an attempt by fundamental Christians to subvert the governments rulings against religion in the classroom. The debate on evolution was far from over though.
If Irving Stone’s 1941 statement that the Darrow-Bryan clash “dealt a death blow to fundamentalism” had any validity, the last 20 years would certainly attest otherwise. The new trend seems to be the concept of Intelligent Design. Espoused as relying on scientific tenets, Intelligent Design has yet to appear in any peer-reviewed journals, a must for any accepted scientific theory in the modern world. Consequently, its proponents appear more intent on proving Intelligent Design by discrediting Natural Evolution. The concept of Intelligent Design already appears to be cracking though. When Judge John Jones heard a case to determine whether Intelligent Design was an acceptable alternative to Evolution in classrooms, chief witness Michael Behe, a vehement ID proponent admitted that under his guidelines for science, even astrology would be accepted as science.
Much as it is predecessors before it, intelligent design will inevitable fade away into obscurity once it has been sufficiently disproved. In its place will come an equally unfounded, creationist-based argument. The next argument will have many scientific sounding technicalities and it will even succeed in converting a few evolutionist believers. However, the next theory will be nothing but a retread of a long line of “science base creationist theories”. The fact is that through all the years since Charles Darwin first promulgated the idea of evolution, it has stood up to scientific scrutiny and remains the accepted mode of our development into the human species. Fundamentalists of any denomination will inevitably attempt to subjugate others under their way of thinking. As we slowly move from the majority being more Christian leaning to a more liberal scientific thinking majority, the increasingly isolated Christian minority will only become more vociferous in espousing their beliefs. I have no problem with people wanting to believe what they want, however I simply cannot fathom why a group of people continues to insist on an idea when 144 years of scientific evidence continues to point to only one logical conclusion, that evolution is a fact. That right there sums up the great divide between religion and science. Science relies on facts, while religion relies on faith, logical or not. Whether religion or science is right remains to be seen but one thing is for sure, the dogmatic battle of faith vs. fact is far from over.