Sunday, June 10, 2007

Scopes Redux

Did God create Republicans or are they descended from apes? This turns out to be a major question in the 2008 Presidential race. Why? Because when you start televising the race so early you have to find lots of nonsense with which to fill airtime.

Presidential hopefuls Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, and Tom Tancredo have each come out against evolution. They are not alone. According to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans believe that the world was created by God within the past 10,000 years. This is nonsense. I have no problem with God as creator, but everything we know about geology, astrophysics, biology, plate techtonics, anthropology, and archeology (not to mention Jerrasic Park) tells us that the earth is older than 10,000 years. If two-thirds of Americans are rejecting science then we as a society are doomed.

But there is hope. The same poll reveals that 53% of Americans do believe in evolution. Of course if you bother to do the math you realize that about 25% of Americans are totally confused and believe in both evolution and the Bible, which wipes out any hope the 53% number may have generated.

If someone asks me if I believe in evolution I am not sure how to answer. I do believe that humans evolved from earlier species, but I do not believe that this was a random accident. I think that the universe by its very nature evolves; that is it is forever seeking higher and more inclusive levels of consciousness. It does so by experimenting with life possibilities.

Alan Watts used to say, “Imagine aliens flying by the planet earth some billions of years ago. They would look at it and keep going: a dead rock among millions of other dead rocks. On their return some billions of years later, however, they would marvel: We were wrong, it is a not a dead rock at all, it is peopling!”

The universe in general and the earth in particular always had the potential for life, and even self-conscious life, and, I believe, cosmically conscious life. It just takes time. And a lot more time than Creationists will allow.

Senator Brownback wrote in the New York Times that “man was not an accident,” and it this conviction that causes him to reject evolution. I agree that we are not an accident, we are an experiment, and that leads me to affirm rather than reject evolution.

Would I vote for a president who rejects evolution? If, like Senator Brownback, he or she was rejecting reason, science and the scientific method, I would have a hard time voting for this person. Someone who believes the Bible is literally true, that the earth is no older than 10,000 years, is someone who ignores reason, evidence, and science when they clearly challenge or contradict faith. I don’t want a president who simply invents a reality and seeks to impose it upon the rest of us. I didn’t vote for such a person in 2000 or 2004, and I won’t do so in 2008 either.

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