Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Evolution, intelligent design and creationism

Both my kids are home sick with fevers and I don't have a ton of time or energy to come up with a post for today, so I thought I'd ask y'all a question.

I mentioned earlier this week how I felt that the Earth would survive whatever humans end up doing to it. Since one of my degrees is in human biological evolution, I am always curious about people's opinions on evolution.

Generally, I usually am surprised at the number of folks who still believe in creation or intelligent design, so I thought I'd devote today's Science Friday post to getting an idea of what you all thought. It still, 83 years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, is a controversial subject and a taboo topic of conversation.

Ultimately, I'm curious whether or not people who are interested in environmental issues tend to believe more in evolution, ID or creationism? Or does it really matter?

So, what do you believe in? Does your belief affect your environmentalism? Finally, do you think that America's wishy-washy approach to teaching evolutionary science in schools has made us lose our edge in the biological sciences?


Reepicheep said...

Good topic! First of all, let me give you my 5 second world view:
I believe in creation (at least at some point in the chain) and though I wouldn't call myself religious because of how big the margin for human meddling is in any institution, I would say I am spiritual in a sense. I believe in God because I have experienced him in ways both and subtle.

And I am a environmentalist of sorts. My thing is recycling, specifically- so much so that I have turned a hobby into a recycling company I run right now in addition to my normal job. I adamant about it for a few reasons:
1. Stewardship- God gave us 1 earth and we should do our best to maintain that gift.
2. Efficiency- I have a geek background, and this is what first drew me to recycling. It just makes sense to me that you would recycle. We have x amount of raw materials, how can we use them most efficiently? Its best practice.
3. I fear that if people don't do it on their own, for the right reasons, a legislative force will make them do it for the wrong reasons.

As for evolutionary science in schools, I'll have to excuse myself from the debate on grounds that I have enrolled full time in such an institution. I was homeschooled/unschooled my whole life.

Michelle said...

Crunchy - Interesting topic! (BTW, hope the kids are better soon.)

I have a hard time understanding why it has to be one or the other. I believe in God, I do think He created everything. I think the science of evolution is how we get to learn about this amazing process that He set into motion.

I think a lot of fundamentalists sell their cause short by insisting that in seven days - BAM - there was everything. God has plenty of time, so what's the rush? Why not set about the environment in which life can form and watch it develop? The fact that so many tiny details have to coordinate in such a specific way for life to form and thrive is amazing and awesome.

Maybe if the two aspects of science and religion came together for more people, we would not be faced with having ruined so much. Religious believers have the advantage of seeing life as a tremendous gift and scientists have the advantage of understanding how it all works and the steps we need to take to do our best to correct things. Maybe if we put those two things together, we would be further along right now.

Robj98168 said...

I think folks were short sighted in the Scopes trial, and I feel they still are today. I am not religous and give no pretense to be except to say that I agrree with Reepicheep in that God gave us 1 earth and we should do our best to maintain that gift.And boy is he pissed about how we have done our job so far.

Robj98168 said...

PS I hope emily and henry feel better real soon!

Anonymous said...

I'm a total atheist. I was reared Catholic though and was always taught that the bible creation story was myth.
My own take on things is that the planet itself will survive pretty much no matter what we do*, but our actions may determine whether it continues to be a place where humans can survive and thrive. We've already turned large swathes of it into places where we can't, and even more of it into places where animals and plants can't.

*until the sun explodes, it's hit by a massive comet or somesuch cosmic event

Anonymous said...

So, what do you believe in? Does your belief affect your environmentalism? Finally, do you think that America's wishy-washy approach to teaching evolutionary science in schools has made us lose our edge in the biological sciences?

I accept the facts of evolutionary biology (because I'm not an uneducated god-soaked Christian hick). Since I know the human ape species is part of nature (not magically created by an imaginary god fairy), I have much a greater appreciation for nature than Christian morons have. For example I think it would be a disaster if our closest non-human cousins, the chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans, went extinct.

In America about one out of eight biology teachers are creationists. These incompetent biology teachers need to be fired immediately and they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a school ever again. It's not fair to students to be stuck with an idiot Christian biology teacher who doesn't even know what science is.

Why do so many Americans prefer a childish belief in magical creation instead of the science of evolutionary biology? It's because of their Christian death cult. Christianity makes people stupid. This idiotic religion has made America a laughing stock and it must be eradicated.

Tara said...

Bobxxxx: I'm an atheist, but I feel it's unfair to call Christians idiotic and a laughing stock. I don't begrudge anyone their beliefs. I believe one's spiritual (or non) beliefs are deeply personal and I don't feel I have the right to tell others what theirs should be. Also, Europeans have been largely Christian for many, many centuries, and I don't hear you bagging on them for being idiots. I agree that there are a lot of misplaced beliefs floating around out there, and ill will as a result, but I don't think it can be blamed squarely on the Christian religion. There are good and bad apples in every bunch.

Now then, since this discussion really isn't about THAT...for the record I believe in evolution, don't believe in creation. If you ask me how everything got here in the first place, I simply have to admit that I don't know, and that's fine with me. I can't believe that "God did it" just because someone else says so. Whether or not my religious choice has bearing on my environmental leanings, I really couldn't say, since I've never been on the other side of this debate. I think it's safe to assume that our entire philosophy and worldview has an impact on the way we act, whether subtle or overt.

Carmen said...

I totally believe that there is a God that is the ultimate creator - who put all things in motion. I believe in evolution as well. I agree with the commentors who stated the two are not mutually exclusive.

Evolution should be taught in the schools in science class. The religious aspect has NO PLACE in the science class in my opinion.

I'd love to see schools have some kind of introduction to world religions as an optional class - because I think it's good to learn about all these world views and beliefs.

But, don't mix science in religion in the schools. Its really destructive to science and it is confusing to the kids.

Bucky said...

I'm with Carmen -- creationism has no place in our public schools. There is nothing scientific about it. Parents are free to teach their kids anything at home. But not free to teach their religion at public schools.

Unfortunately, I think that the anti-science jihad of the religious right has been a huge detriment to our country and our world. The continuing crusade against global climate change is but one example. People who prefer fantasy to fact can do great harm.

Anonymous said...

I am Catholic, but I too was taught that creation was a story. We were always taught science as evolutionary. So I am able to believe in God, and yet believe in evolution..go figure.

Lisa Zahn said...

I don't BELIEVE in evolution, but I think it's a great and well proven theory about the origins of life on earth. I do BELIEVE in a Creator who bought this about and has given us this great place to take care of, and that informs my environmentalism more than anything. I can see the Creator as God/Goddess/Higher Power, even as a Lutheran Christian (read: moderate), but I do know without a doubt in my mind/heart there is some guiding power out there.

I think you can believe in Creation but still see evolution as a valid scientific theory. I feel strongly that the "short earth" Creationists, of which there are many in my area of Central MN, are just practicing bad science and looking at the Bible from a strange lens.

Joyce said...

I believe God created it all. I think it's possible that the word "day" in the Bible could be interpreted as "era" as in "back in my day...", so it may have taken longer than 6 literal days, but I don't see much point in arguing about that. I just stick with the idea that if He created it, we should take good care of it. We should study it, and all the systems that operate in the universe and do our best to understand them. We should keep an open mind, and recognize that, while eveolution appears to make lots of sense, we may need to think outside the box and remember that there may be something we're missing, just as we would with any scientific theory.
In the end, how He did it really doesn't matter much to me. I think the main reason we're behind in scientific education is that American families don't require a studious approach to school from their children, for the most part. It's more about parenting, and whether we challenge our children to excell at academics as much as they excell at sports, etc.

Malva said...

*Raises hand for evolution*

I'm Canadian tho and aside from a small pocket of extreme right religious people in the western part of the country, no one will argue for creationism around these parts.

Anonymous said...

crunchy, could you remove bobxxxx's comment? It is extremely rude, filled with childish name-calling, and does the opposite of fostering dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Like Malvo, I come from Canada. Creationism was never discussed in the classroom.

I always felt that Genesis was allegorical and that the 6 days didn't necessarily mean 6 x 24hour periods. But even if it did...

I don't think that Creationism and evolution are mutually exclusive. Who is to say that God didn't create evolution. If he managed to create the world with all its complexities... why couldn't he have created a world in which evolution was possible.

People who believe in creationism are doing God a disservice by thinking that evolution couldn't possibly have been a part of his plan.

Anonymous said...

I'm a polytheistic neopagan. I say that the laws of physics (which cover chemistry, biology, and evolution) were put in place by a committee. And THAT explains things like the platypus - could that come from anything EXCEPT a committee?

Fern, only partially silly.

Sue said...

wow. I have to say I'm surprised. I always think I'm in the majority, and then I'm not.

Evolution here.

Amanda said...

Evolution here too. I was raised Christian/creationist, but College changes so many things ;) I am now athist, although I consider myself somewhat spiritual, it's more in an "everything is connected, we're all made of the same stuff (carbon) everything we do affectes everthing else" type of spirituality. I too believe that no mater what we do to the earth, there will probably be some species that adapt to survive in it, but I'm skeptical of wether humans will be one of those species.

Anonymous said...

It is always remarkable tosee peoples responses to a question like this. First I would have to say that I adhere whole-heartedly to evolutionary theory. It has a scientifically valid stance that cannot be denied without calling into question most everything that is considered science (valid science). Second, although I consider myself a non-believer (a la Quine) in that I do not think it is possible to truly know something as god. I would therefore ascribe to something along the lines of Stephen Jay Goulds Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA). This basically states that religion and science are two different domains that do not have any relevance to each other at all. (Very brief statement of NOMA, see "Rocks of Ages" for more details.)

Anonymous said...

I believe in energy, as in we are all made of it. I believe that everything is unified and part of the Great Spirit, and I think that quantum physics has bee proving that fact. Evolution is the shifting of energy, the manifestation of dynamic creation. Were we consciously created? Yes, I think so, just as I believe we all consciously choose to incarnate from Spirit. Do I believe in creation as put forth in the bible? No, no, and no. It is a distillation by hebrews in the 1000BCs of eqyptian legend from the 2000s, which came from the Sumerians in the 3-5000s. So of course, its not right. And even the Sumerians, I am sure, had it from somewhere else. I wouldn't trust a chick to tell me how its egg was created, either.

Anonymous said...

Great topic. Yesterday on my local public radio, I heard an interview with Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution. I have not read his book since I just learned of it yesterday.
From the interview, and looking at his website, he addresses this exact topic. He seems to meld evolution into something Christians can accept and embrace. Now, this is my surface impression, and I am going to read the book to learn more.

I think people can accept the reality of evolution and still believe in God, in whatever name or faith they chose to follow.

Adrienne said...

I'm agnostic- if there's a god(s) he/she/it certainly didn't do things exactly like the bible says and the earth is much older than creationists think. I don't even know why they keep calling it the "theory" of evolution. It's not a theory, it's the way things happened and are still happening.

Nerd Extraordinaire said...

I must contest the use of the word "belief" preceding evolution. Evolution is not a belief system. Intelligent Design and Creationism are indeed systems of belief. Why are we separating them, anyway? They are the exact same thing. There is no empirical evidence for creationism, there is plenty of scientific evidence for evolution. People say "Evoltuionary Theory," and it is true, evolution is a theory. But let's look at what a theory actually is:

"Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena"
--National Academy of Sciences

"A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact."

So, yes, evolution is a theory. But so is gravity. And the "theory" that germs cause disease. People don't question them because they are very familiar with both gravity and germs in every day life. For those who indeed think that evolution is "just a theory," maybe its time they take the time to become as familiar with the evidence for evolution. It won't make you sick, but it may knock you on your @$$.

Katie @ said...

This topic is the one thing we just don't talk about at our house. My husband is huge on science, we're huge on the environment... and I was raised Catholic. I know my answer feels lame, but I guess I concluded that having an agreed upon answer doesn't drastically change the way we live. The issue brings up too much emotion at our house because I can't commit to one way or another, and I don't understand my husband's scientific lingo or theories.
Hope the health improves at your house.

Shandy said...

I find the facts of the Theory of Evolution to be compelling, logical and well-researched, and typically think of myself as an atheist. As far as the conflict between evolution and ID/creationism affecting education, there is no doubt in my mind that it is having an effect, and it's an effect that goes far beyond the teaching of biology.

The discounting of Scientific Theory (something heavily supported by evidence that can be used successfully to predict natural phenomema) as "theory" (personal beliefs and guesses based on absolutely nothing but vague conjecture) is creating generations of people who cannot distinguish the difference between fact and fiction. This means people cannot think critically for themselves and are more apt to rely on this or that person's opinion. Such people are easily swayed, easily confused and easily misled.

Personally, I find that devastating for a world awash in problems that need critical thinking to be solved. For instance, is it better to stick with incandescent bulbs or use fluorescents with mercury? If you can't consider the facts of short-term and long-term consequences or even understand how to find and assess data for yourself, you can only resort to opinions. I don't think I need to say that our opinions are very often wrong. ID/creationism, based as it is on nothing but opinions and faith, does nothing but soothe the masses and tell them that they don't need to worry their pretty heads about all that hard science stuff. Everything is taken care of! There's a plan! Who cares what we do? We all suffer for that attitude.

I'll also say that in my field of museum design, proponents of ID/creationism have created endless headaches for people trying to mount exhibitions about biology, paleontology and geology. Twice now we've been forbidden by our clients from using the word "evolution" in exhibitions that actually dealt with evolution in some exhibits because of fear that funders will withdraw support or visitors and local fundamentalists will protest. Some of our colleagues have reported that creationists come to their museums and harass volunteers and staff with questions or conduct their own loud tours through the museums, discounting the information that's there. People are being intimidated, institutions are hurt and the public isn't getting complete information because of fear. The situation is far more insidious than many people know.

I don't care what you believe in church, but ideas with no proof have no place in the teaching of science. None. And we are all hurt as long as this continues, because we are failing to raise competent, critical thinkers.

Shandy said...

I'd also like to protest the use of the terms "intelligent design" and "creationism" as if they were separate approaches. They absolutely are not, and the attempt to gloss creationism with the veneer of science by calling it ID is disingenuous at best and a word I won't type here at worst.

Little Miss Moneybags said...

I was raised in a fundamental religious environment and taught literal Biblical creationism. I had a teacher tell me in third grade (private school) that "Satan put dinosaur bones in the earth to lead us from the truth". At my public high school in the conservative south, the biology teacher mentioned the key points of both evolution and creationism and then refused to take questions on either, on the grounds that she was only doing what her job required and would not talk about blasphemous theories that she didn't believe.

Yes, really.

I'm now a staunch atheist who believes in evolution, and my interest in environmentalism comes from my realization that no one is going to save the human race from our mistakes. In the religion in which I was raised, many people did not recycle or otherwise act in environmentally conscious ways, because they believed that Jesus would return within their lifetimes and the earth would be destroyed and made new--that was really their excuse for ignoring the issues.

I don't find all Christians to be so small-minded. But my experiences growing up definitely affected my spiritual beliefs and also my attitude towards taking care of the earth now.

jewishfarmer said...

I'm a Jew, and "Creationism" is not a Jewish thing. Believing in G-d and believing in science are not contradictory in any way. The Jewish view tends toward's Einstein's - the elegance of biology and physics themselves suggest the beauty of G-d - no need to revise them to make G-d fit.

Bob, could you be more offensive? I mean if you really, really tried to be a jerk?


Anonymous said...

I consider myself a Christian, but was taught and believe in evolution. My science classes taught evolution and my Sunday school taught creationism. I think of God as a mother nature figure and that we should take great care of this wonderful planet. It's the only one we have. Debbie C

Carmen said...

@Katie "I was raised Catholic."

I went to Catholic school for 13 years. We were always taught evolution. I don't believe the Catholic church has any dispute with evolution, or the big bang, etc. Something to look into....

Theresa said...

I was taught about evolution in my public school and my protestant church taught the creation story but I never saw the two as opposed - they're just two ways of looking at the same thing.

I've always wondered what the hullabaloo about the whole thing is anyway: the fact remains we have one planet to live on and take care of and we all have that in common.

Maeve said...

I too think Earth will survive just about anything short of planetary explosion. Our hubris is thinking our species matters a whit in the epochal scale of time.

I believe in things that some would frankly find goofy, but those beliefs do not negate my understanding and belief in evolutionary processes as witnessed in the natural world.

There is a huge difference between "origin of the Earth" evolution, and species adaptation or environmental change.

"Origin of the Earth" belongs in cultural mythology courses, not a science class. Bangs, Gods, whatever, it is not relevant to serious scientific study.

Those things don't change our observations of migratory patterns of butterflies, they don't change our understanding of viruses mutating and adapting, etc.

I can believe in the worth of immunizations and still believe in the gods.

I really dislike, intensely, so many people's assumptions that science and faith are mutually exclusive. They're not.

Bucky said...

Interesting that we don't have anyone standing up to support strict creationism.

Speaks well of your readers, Crunchy.

logic11 said...

I'm an atheist who comes from a pagan/wiccan family background (for the longest time I referred to myself as a lapsed wiccan before finally giving up on the family faith...) and I am convinced by the logic behind evolution. In fact, I have found over the years that those who dispute evolution will, when pressed, reveal a profound ignorance over what evolutionary theory is. The biggest one is the statement that "Evolution doesn't explain how life began". Of course it doesn't, it isn't supposed to. The working theory is abiogenesis, which recently got a major boost in that a primitive form of proto-life was actually spawned in a lab exactly the way the theory predicted, but that still isn't evolution.
The other big one is simply time scale. Yes, if you believe the earth is 6000 years old evolution doesn't work... but neither does most of modern physics and biology. If you accept the time scale,then you have to totally revise all of your assumptions because we as humans have trouble with really big numbers...

M said...

IMO - God intelligently designed evolution so as not to have to micromanage all the work. ;-)

Alison Kerr said...

I was raised Christian. I never thought that precluded acceptance of evolution as a very well evidenced scientific theory.

Nowadays I'd say my beliefs are closer to Buddhist, which seems to be supported more and more by our research and understanding of quantum physics.

I just don't personally see any need for something called Intelligent Design. Many people, including a lot who have commented here, seem to be quite comfortable with science and religion co-existing. I'd just like to ask, "What is the point (and agenda) of Intelligent Design?"

Jamie D. said...

Well said, Maeve. I agree that there's room for both.

I do consider myself a protestant christian (in a non-organized sort of way), and a creationist, and have read very detailed interpretations of the fossil evidence for/against both views. I see it kind of like statistics - everyone is going to see it a little differently, and the same information will always have many different interpretations based on that. It can also be twisted depending on what exactly people are looking for in it. And that will never change as long as people think differently (which hopefully they will for a long time).

In the long run though, it really doesn't matter either way. I look at environmentalism much like cleaning my house. If I didn't take care of things at home, my house wouldn't fall down tomorrow. It probably would be years and years before it actually completely fell apart, and probably not in my lifetime. But it would become more unhealthy every day, and more dangerous to live in, affecting not only my physical existence, but my mental state of mind as well.

As for teaching in schools, I think kids should be taught to *think* for themselves. I don't think they should just be taught one thing to accept blindly, and I don't think science is the only answer to anything. I think they should be taught how to research and read about all sides of any issue, and then decide for themselves which argument(s) makes the most sense to them - even if they don't make that choice for many years (it takes time to formulate opinions, or it should).

I don't think adults give kids enough credit for being able to do this, but I do think they're perfectly capable, and that the time to learn is when they're young.

Kiran said...

It's because I believe that God put so much beauty into the world that I want to protect it. How could we spoil something so awesome that he made? Okay, so obviously, I believe in creation, but I'm not literal about that whole seven days thing. Evolution obviously happens, at least on a small scale; and really, I don't really care how it comes into the past. That's over with, we're here, and I'm much more concerned about loving God and this planet now than arguing over how he may or may not have gone about making it.
Now, as far as education goes, creation "ism" is not science. I don't expect it to be taught in a science class, or intelligent design either, because you know it's just the same thing trying to sound all scientific. It's a controversial issue, and that should be acknowledged in the classroom, I think, maybe spark a good discussion about the role of science or something, but as far as teaching evolution, go right ahead. It only makes logical sense. And, you know, kids have other influences in their lives outside of school and I say they're smart enough to make up their own minds and reconcile the different viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

I really don't see the conflict between religious belief and scientific theory - all of the most science-minded people I know are devout Christians or Jews or Pagans (or some combination of the three - people are just as capable of reconciling two sets of religious beliefs as they are of reconciling religious & scientific beliefs.)

That said, as a heathen with my own belief of the divinity of all life (my religious path was protestant - atheist - wiccan - nonaligned heathen who attends a mixed Christian/pagan church) I feel like minimizing negative human impact on other species is a moral duty, and part of that is learning natural history & science.

Nerd Extraordinaire said...

Science isn't the answer for everything; rather, science is the process of seeking the answer for everything in a clear, organized, well constructed manner. There are some questions that science has yet to answer, some things that are as of now untestable, but using that as a "weakness" undermines the process.

e4 said...

Crunchy, you should have a talk radio show. You're stirring the pot on every hot button issue lately...

EJ said...

Raises hand for evolution.

Its hard to understand why environmental issues are important to people who believe in rapture (christians taken from earth to go somewhere else).

Anna Marie said...

I like what Sharon said. I was raised Christian, but I guess in a rather unorthodox way- we were home schooled and my mom always complained about how the religious people were putting religion in to textbooks (she was very annoyed).

One thing I think should be pointed out more often: The creation myth was given to the Jews right after they came out of Egypt, where they had been slaves. Creation, and their history, had to be explained in a way that would make since to a fairly uneducated people, so of course it's allegorical and massively simplified and condensed.

The way I see it: Yeah, God did the creating, and evolution was how he did it. It's the tool, the method. I personally don't see any conflict. I got my degree in Biology, too, and had no problem with any of my classes conflicting my belief (including genetics).

I'd say my belief does shape my actions. I was taught that "we were to be stewards of the earth", we should take care of it, and make it as healthy as possible. It is not ours to treat as we will; and it's morally wrong to destroy it for future generations. I frankly think that everyone should be an environmentalist, because, really, life on earth will continue. But we won't.

And yes, I think the failure to teach evolution in schools is both supremely detrimental, and foolish. After all, no one is contesting Gravity, and obviously that's how God is keeping us all on the ground. :P

Oh, and one last thing: Laymen misunderstanding the meaning of "theory"!

Katy said...

Since I think most people in the US are religious in some way, I think MOST of us believe in Intellagent Design. There was a "big bang" that "bang" was God and we have evloved from there.

I don't think that that in anyway negativelly effects our study of biology. Even if you are a religious fundamentalist that doesn't believe that we evolve, I would hope that wouldn't stop you from studing the science at all.

As far as how that personally effects my enviromentalism, I would have to admit that I didn't really think about how I was treating the Earth until I started to explore a more spiritual path. I think that made me more aware of life outside my own ego in general. Thus making me aware of how negatively our actions are harming the world.

Oh, and as far as our schools go, I think God should be left out of it until collage. Like someone else said, I think it would only confuss young kids. Once you are in college you should be able to have mature and rational descussions about such things.

kimberly said...

I don't hold any 'beliefs' in this regard, because regardless of what one chooses to believe, the facts will remain the same. This planet is the result of millions of years of changes and shifts. It's not over yet, and it will continue to do so as long as this planet exists. To believe otherwise is to dismiss the incredible beauty of evolution.
I've grown up in Canada and this question of teaching creationism has never been an issue here. In fact, I had no idea that it was even an issue until I was a teenager and heard about it being discussed south of the border. I think it's absurd. Religious fundamentalism does not belong in the government, in the legal system, in the schools, etc...

Anonymous said...

Yes, both. Huh? How can I accept creationism *and* evolution? Because I am fortunate to live in a time when great discoveries in physics (quantum, cosmic, brane, etc.) are being made. Some of us mock Biblical statements such as, "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years", but Albert Einstein demonstrated in his Theory of Relativity that (adapted to this example), on a vehicle traveling close to the speed of light, a day will pass in the same 'time' as a thousand years on a vehicle moving far slower than the speed of light. Thus, Einstein proved that time is not a constant; it is relative. So, I have no problem with the Bible saying the universe was made in six days - because it doesn't say "relative to what".

Furthermore, my monsignor recently said that the Catholic church has no disagreement with scientists on evolution as long as it is acknowledged that soul was inserted at some point into the process. It works for me. :-)

In response to our dear hostess's question(s), my belief does affect my environmentalism. I accept that God gave humanity a job. What job is that? Straight from the horse's mouth: "The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it." That is exactly what we environmentalists are trying to do: we're still cultivating and caring for our world. So, I don't see any conflict. Granted, there are boneheads on both sides of the fence, but there really is no need for a fence at all. So now the next time you're at a cocktail party and someone asks what the World's First Profession was, you can authoritatively declare "gardening"! ;-)

Additionally, allow me to amend Mrs Crunchy's final question into an answer: America's wishy-washy approach to teaching everything in schools has made us lose our edge in all of the sciences. Between idealogic obsessions and petty personal agendas, it's a wonder our children learn anything at all! Educationally, I'm of the opinion that our children should learn to read and learn to calculate, and be free to make up their own minds ....

Debbie said...

Definitely evolution. And that does make me more environmentally conscious – the effects are more visible as we accelerate our impact on the planet with over-population and consumerism.

As for schools, I think the Bible should be taught – with all the world's sacred religious writings – in literature class. It certainly helped my perspective (years ago) in the seventh grade.

Kristijoy said...

Hye Crunchy, I was a biological anthropology major, emphasis on evolutionary genetics.
I'm also a soft atheist/agnosticish.
I just can't understand not understanding science and the scientific process.
Hoodoo is not my thing.
So, firmly in the camp of evolution sans fairy god daemon mythos.
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive i think there is room of faith in science for those who need it. It's just not for me. I tried. hard. But after a life time of not fitting in to the mainstream I have come to peace with it all.
I'm religion-free and happy with it.

That said, i think creation 'science' and ID can be taught in school... in classes on world religion and philosophy, where it belongs.
We were having an awesome discussion about this in the Ravelry forums not too long ago.
Science and theology are really are mutually exclusive.
Religion of any sort does not belong in the science classroom.
It's not somthing you can test.

How does that affect my view of environmentalism and all? I think it puts the onus on US, there is no one else to blame. This is Not OUR world. It does not belong to HUMANS. It is a planet and life exists, it's up to all of us to figure out how to exists and share. I am real tired of anthropocentrism behind how we view things.

I think that life and the earth would be fine, if not better without us. I see humans as kind of parasitic, and I have said that before. Akin to invasive species. NO natural predators outside ourselves and bacteria and viri. We'll suffer for it, but at some point I think nature will balance itself out. I think there will be less humans at some point, but I don;t see us putting ourselves into extinction.

We're, fortunately or unfortunately, far to adaptable to let ourselves just die off. I really cant get around gloom and doom theories.

May said...

I am a firm believer in evolution, but I was once a creationist. Either way, I felt nature and the Earth was important and was interested in environmentalism my whole life. I think it all comes down to a fundamental respect for life that makes me an environmentalist.

Mama Kautz said...

I homeschool my kids so they will learn Creation....not evolution....

Mama Kautz said...

and to add to that sadly Bobxxxx is one of the reasons I do....I will pray for him

Signed "Christian Idiot"

cheflovesbeer said...

It seems to me you should not get your science from a book written 2-5 thousand years ago. A book I might add that says the sun moves around the earth. Who is willing to argue that these days? It was written by a nomadic people who were ignorant of modern science. It was also written in several languages and translated differently by different religions.

Is this the document you point to to say creationism is real?

What angers me most about the creationists and right wing christians is they have a world view and pick parts out of the bible to suit that world view.

Shandy said...

One of the issues I have with this topic is the idea that there is a "controversy" in the first place, as if evolution as a scientific theory had yet to prove itself and so is automatically on par with creationism. That is a false construct put forward by creationism proponents to attempt to give "scientific" validity to their views and, consequently, a reason creationism should be included in the curriculum. If there exists such a controversy, why is it that it only appears here in the US or, now, in fundamentalist Islam?

The only controversy exists in whether or not you choose to view facts unearthed by the scientific process (and built upon every day by other scientists) as valid because they conflict with another view that you hold, albeit with no evidence whatsoever. That's what gets to me the most. If I present you with evidence, and can back that evidence up with more evidence, and show the workings of that evidence in real time, right now, and you still choose not to accept it . . . well, I just don't know where to go with that. You may be the nicest person on the planet and I might like having lunch with you, but there is no way I can respect you. If your gods are really responsible for your intelligence, then why would you refuse to use it? Why would you hide your children in your home to make sure that they don't learn anything you don't like, whether or not there's proof for it? And given that evolution seems to be a fundamental means by which change occurs in the natural world, including, say, the mutation of diseases or the creation of new foods that might take some of our burden off of the Earth, how can one say it doesn't matter whether or not it's true? Sorry, but I just don't get that.

Sadraki said...

Evolution. Yes it should be taught in schools. If you believe in creationism or that the original big bang was God's work or some other variation than teach that to your children at home or in church. But please ensure that in our science classrooms evolution is taught and well taught as it is key to understanding many other aspects of biology and sciences.

Anonymous said...

I believe in evolution. I don't completely rule out the idea that there may be bigger, spiritual forces at work. However, I would say that if there are, they are operating in ways that are consistent with science, not in contradiction to it.

I am Canadian, but I come from a small town with a strong religious community. In school we learned about evolution, but also creationism. I don't feel that this type of religious education belongs in a public school. But I also don't believe that it has affected my approach to environmentalism or science in general.

Anonymous said...

Without reading the entire conversation so far, I have a pre-conversation question:

What do you mean, "believe"?


Joyce said...

This is so interesting, and I'm enjoying reading through all these comments.

I wonder how important it is for us all to agree on this? If you don't believe in God, I can totally see where you are coming from, questioning creationism. Then again, there is some disagreement, even among Christians, as to whether evolution can be meshed with God being the Creator, etc. The reality is, we may never know how it all really started, and it seems more appropriate to look at how things work right now. We need good hard science and observation as we operate in the present and plan for the future. To write off science because many scientists disagree with creationism seems just as short-sighted as scientists writing off all Jews and Christians for believing in a Creator.

I really like Sharon's comment describing Einstein's appreciation of the creation through his scientific discoveries. That feels right to me.

Anonymous said...

@bobxxxx: "This idiotic religion has made America a laughing stock"

you don't even know, what you are mad about. what about the rest of Christian world? i can tell you, those problems of biology lessons material is specific to America. it has nothing to do with being a Christian. it roots deeply and widely somewhere in your culture, your everyday lives, and actually it is a very positive thing. i am amazed how (typically) American people are outspoken about their beliefs, and i consider this biology lesson problem only a tiny side effect of a good medicine.

Anonymous said...

I believe in creation. I feel that the people in the "churches" seem to be almost anti-green, which doesn't make sense. When I am being green, I feel that I am pleasing God for treating his world with respect. I relate more to the tree huggers, hippies, and Dead Heads, though, instead of the "religious". My mom's group is through a church, and I always feel different than those gals. Great post.

Anonymous said...

@bobxxx: who would you pray too, if you were me, and your 3 1/2 year old started to have a seizure in your arms, then had to have emergency brain surgery, several seizures later? "Oh dear my nothing, please be with my boy."No, you'd better believe I was praying to God, and I believe He heard my prayers.
bob, you are coming off as the ann coulter of greenies, that's not cool, you shouldn't bash other people's religion (unless it's tom cruise's, j/k).

Anonymous said...

I am a conservative Christian. I believe in Creation because I see beauty, order, cause and effect, and logic in the universe around me.

I believe Christians should be on the front lines fighting to protect our world. Sadly, we don't see that. But that is a sin of the church NOT a failure on God's part.

Bucky said...

Into the breech ...


I wonder how important it is for us all to agree on this?

The only thing that we need to agree on is that creationism/religion has no place in our science classes. Dress it up however you like, it is still religion and has nothing to do with the scientific method. I don't care what people believe in church, I do care what we teach our children in school.


"Who would you pray to ..." Here's some news for you: many of us don't pray. People who don't believe in a deity don't pray to "nothing." We don't pray. Prayer is a religious mindset.

@Jennifer & @hedge

You both say you beleve in creationism, but you don't mention evolution. Many others has stated that they believe in both. Just wondering about your views on evolution?

ashlee said...

I am both a scientist and a christian and as such my personal views would have to be described as intelligent design, i guess. Quite frankly, I have never cared too much about how God actually did it. I see christianity as a call to follow the examples set forth in the life of Jesus. I believe that he lived a life of perfect love that cared for the poor, the sick, the ick of society. He called for peace and justice. I see environmentalism as extremely important to the task of loving others (how can i consciously destroy this planet for all those around me and future generations just to maintain an easy, disposable lifestyle?)

One the topic of science education: I don't believe that anyone's beliefs or religious views should have any presence in a scientific forum, including K-12 biology. But as others have mentioned as well, that struggle is only a tiny part of what is tragically wrong with our educational system.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Although I do not currently teach Biology, I did teach it for my first 5 years and both my BS and MS are in Bio/Education. That said, I do not believe that American schools' teaching of evolution science is wishy-washy. Evolution (including human evolution) is in both the national standards and my state's standards. When I taught it, we spent about a month on evolution, and sandwiched it inbetween genetics and ecology, which I think is the perfect place for it.

Also, I am not religious and do not believe in a god. However, many science teachers at my school are active in their religious communities and teach evolution. They have found a balance and the two do not have to be opposed. Science is science and religion is religion.

I don't think that evolution has an effect on my environmentalism. I studied evolution for many years before becoming an environmentalist. However, it does give me hope that we will adapt and survive whatever environmental changes are to come.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Also- just wanted to clear up a misconception I noticed in some of the comments. Evolution addresses only life on Earth, not the formation/creation of the Earth.

Farmer's Daughter said...

After reading the comments:

1. As someone who teaches many different people from many different backgrounds, I know the first challenge is to respect everyone's values/beliefs if you want to have a productive conversation. I would NEVER ridicule a student or family for their beliefs. After all, this country was built on the foundation that we have freedom of religion, and that gives me the freedom not to believe as well.

2. Some people talk about evolution like it's all or none. It's a THEORY, in scientific terms, which means that as new evidence arises, it is fluid and can change. Evolutionists debate about the mechanisms of evolution and the causes. Puncutated equilibrium vs. gradualism, etc.

3. I do not try to refute the beliefs of the religious. I don't know much about creation, so therefore I feel I'm not qualified to argue against it.

4. I encourage my students to look at all the evidence and make up their own minds. Speak to their parents, teachers, religious leaders, peers, and me. If anything, evolution should foster discussions among families.

Anonymous said...

Evolution all the way!

Joyce said...

Bucky- I didn't say I disagree with evolution.

Abbie- Your approach is exactly the one I think we should take in public schools.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you yet again Bucky(:

As an atheist I do not pray to anything. Because I don't pray.

I also homeschool my children and they are learning evolution and taught that creationism and ID are not valid scientific processes.

Anonymous said...

Bucky--I personally believe that God created it all -- universe, earth, and all life.

Other than by His word, I'm not sure what mechanism He used. So I don't attempt to label myself.

Farmer's Daughter -- I think the whole tone of the post and comments included both the physical universe and human life. So discussing both under one term doesn't bother me. There is a difference, but in common parlance they go together hand in glove.

Now I'm off to enjoy the company of my husband and children with some homemade pizza (homegrown ingredients supplemented by organic cheese) and a movie!

Anonymous said...

i am a christian and was taught a literal 6-day creation growing up. I have since abandoned that.

i am like many others who have already commented, in that i don't see a conflict with believing in God and accepting evolution.

i am saddened that Christians have been in opposition to science, as if it threatened God in any way. although I see this changing thankfully.

i think christians should be on the front lines of preserving and caring for our environment.

fundamentalist Christians (with their crazy Left Behind books) have used the rapture as a tool for living however they pleased for too long.

thankfully, this too is subsiding as a new generation of Christians is being taught that we will not be taken away to some fairy tale land, but that heaven will come to us (as is taught in the Bible, unlike the rapture, which is not), and that our job is to begin creating that NOW.

i'm excited that regardless of whatever belief system you hold, we can work together to preserve what we have and to restore what has been lost! :)

Anonymous said...

Carmen: I think there should be a MANDATORY introductory to world religions in every high school curriculum! In a world increasingly fought with religious-based terrorism, it would behoove our future generations to at LEAST be familiar with most of the major players! I also think this would go a long way towards decreasing religious bias, predjudice and misunderstandings, and I know that as I high school student, I would have LOVED the opportunity to familiarze myself with a variety of things instead of only being exposed to my parents' fundamentalist Christian views.

That being said, I agree with the others who do not believe that science (evolution) and religion (creationism) are mutually exclusive.

I believe in god and I do not believe in the "big bang" theory. But, as someone who has spent a lifetime being fascinated with genetics in everything from animal husbandry to plants to heredity in my own family tree, I also believe in evolution to a reasonable degree. :)

Allie said...

I don't "believe in" evolution. I view it as a fact that requires nothing from me in one direction or another.

That being said, I also believe in God. I see no reason why these two things can't work together.

But then again, I'm not an environmentalist. While I believe people should take care of the place they live (i.e., don't shit where you eat being a good principle to live by, which also affects how I handle my dealings with "the environment"), I also am aware that the Earth can handle anything that people throw at it - it's the human species who might not be able to handle the effects of these things. Ultimately the human species will likely become extinct at some point anyway though, which makes it somewhat moot to me.

Anonymous said...

The Bible is not a peer reviewed science journal. Creationism by any other name is religion and should not be taught in public schools.

Now what we should be discussing is the germ theory of disease. How can something we can't even see make us sick? Yet so many people accept the germ theory as fact when it is merely a theory. Clearly illness is caused by miasmas and bad humors.

Shandy said...

@anarchyintheak: I totally agree about the mandatory religion class. I think it would be awesome to see young people more engaged in the idea of religion as cultural and historical phenomenon. Why this book and not that? Why Jesus and not Mithras or Apollo or Krishna or King Arthur? What do Buddhism and quantum physics have to do with each other? And, why is religion the one thing in which so many think it's perfectly okay to suspend disbelief?

Again, it goes back to my belief (!) that we need to be training critical thinkers who can grasp information, compare and contrast and make decisions that aren't just knee-jerk reactions or parroting of a narrow viewpoint in which they've been inculcated. What's so scary about a nation of thinkers?

Oh, wait . . . I think I know.

Anonymous said...

Look at all these opinions. Here's my own-

First of all, faith and belief happen everywhere, all the time, even in science. Science and Faith, God, or whatever else are not mutually exclusive.

Evolution is a guess, but it's the best guess we have, collectively. We have evidence, but the evidence requires a lot of interpretation (i.e. guessing) on which we build our ideas. Our current ideas of what it entails are probably wrong, but they're also probably somewhat accurate. If we're here in 100 years, I'm sure our concept of evolution will be much, much more accurate than now, and less accurate than evolutionary theory in 500 years.

The existence of God is also a guess. There may be less empirical evidence for it, but there's lots of other kinds of evidence for it, especially if you expand your definition of "God" to being a "sentient force greater than ourselves" rather than "an old man in the clouds." Anyone who claims the idea of God is impossible is just as backwoods and ignorant as the creationists they mock.

In between these two extremes there are millions of people with their own versions of belief, from Christian Environmentalists to Atheists with Strong Moral Codes. And all of us, in the end, even the atheists, have to believe in SOMEthing in order to function every day. So the bottom line is that faith is as essential to us as breathing, no matter who you are.

Whatever your Spiritual belief happens to be, it is equally ignorant to dismiss possibilities and theories based on your feelings. All Christians are environmentalists if they truly follow the words of their scripture- that's pretty clear in the Bible and in basic Christian belief. Most people that call themselves Christians don't really deserve that title, but that's their problem. Caring for all living things is certainly not the exclusive terrain of lefty, progressive, god-hating liberals. We all have a lot more in common than we care to admit.

In the meantime, you might enjoy the book "The World Without Us" which examines what life would be like on Earth without humans (and what it was before we got here.)


Anonymous said...

My problem with evolution as it stands now is that it has become a religion that is vehemently defended as if it were unrefutable fact. Sure, there are facts of evolution. I believe that science contains facts and ideas both. But I see a problem when someone who is an atheist (and thereby also believes in evolution as it stands) tells me I can't prove God exists, but then tells me that I'm stupid because I don't believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs.
You can only prove something 100% that has been witnessed. I'm not saying it's guesswork, but my doubt comes in when I know that there are two explanations.
I have the faith that God exists and created the world (whether he used evolution or not is not something I'm really all that certain about). But I have a lot more doubts about evolution. I do believe that micro-evolution is likely, but I don't believe that humans evolved from another species, any more than I believe that we are an accident or chance happening. Even Einstein wasn't an atheist. He saw evidence of God's hand in creation.
A lot of people do make a bigger deal about macro-evolution vs. young earth theory, but I think it's probably somewhere in between. I'm not a scientist, but I also know that science is ever changing, and that even in the last 30 years we've gone from a theory of "global cooling" to "global warming," so just how accurate are our scientists research studies, anyway? Next year, they'll be telling us something completely different, so I don't put a lot of faith in the sciences.

But, to answer the original question, I think that it's important to care for the earth because God commanded us to be good stewards of all we've been given. That means that I take better care of my corner of the earth, because it was a gift, and it's not mine forever.

On another note, not to sound hopeless, but whether you believe you're going to go to heaven or you'll just be plant fertilizer when you die, the earth will die eventually, with or without our help. Do your best to be a good steward, but don't get too wrapped up in it all and forget to live.

Peggy said...

Without getting into the mess of debating: I'm a creationist.

Bucky said...

I'm glad to see so many Christians and creationists finally coming around to an understanding that we need to take care of the world around us. For too long, environmentalism has been an ugly word in conservative religious circles.


Without getting into the mess of debating: I'm a creationist.

That is one of the most succinctly revealing comments I've seen in an internet discussion in some time.

Lisa Zahn said...

There's so many comments it's hard to get through them all! It's been a good and respectful discussion, for the most part.

I just have to bring this one up as a second comment because it's one of my "pet" topics: Does anyone see that there are two Creation stories in the Bible/Pentateuch? If you read Genesis 1 carefully, and then read Genesis 2 carefully, you will see that each has a completely different order and explanation for how things went at the beginning. Even the Hebrews didn't give us one view of the origins of the Universe, though of course both stories point to a Creator who SPOKE things into being. Those are stories, which contain truths (the true defn. of Myth) and give us a point of view of early peoples. We moderns have our own points of view, and that's a good thing!

Farmer's Daughter said...

I don't think anyone has yet pointed out that the former Pope formally accepted evolution.

Also, there seems to be little discussion of Darwinian natural selection. We can see that taking place in our own lifetimes. The mutations of the HIV virus, antibiotic resistant staph, and other various "super bugs" are examples. When we look at natural selection as the mechanism for evolution, it's much easier to understand the theory as a whole.

Abby- Many scientists don't see parts of evolution as unrefutable fact. You're right, scientific paradigms can change. For example, plate tectonics is commonly accepted now. Currently, DNA evidence is used to both support evolutionary links and to help reshape our misunderstandings. I guess to me, that's the beauty of science, that new evidence can help you to understand things better.

Hey Crunch- Maybe next week's Science Friday should be about Big Bang. I guess from the creation viewpoint, the term "creation" covers Big Bang as well, but in terms of the science, evolution doesn't include how the earth was formed.

Chervil said...


Shandy said...

"I guess to me, that's the beauty of science, that new evidence can help you to understand things better."


Two Flights Down said...

I believe that everything is ever-changing, but I don't necessarily label how it is changing or what is changing it. At one point during college, I began to classify science as another myth, but in "myth," I don't mean that it is not true, as that seems to be the connotation that goes with the word. Rather, science is just another way of explaining things. People like to think science is concrete, but really it's not. Some of the basic fundamentals that other complex theories are based upon aren't fact, and if they turned out to be untrue, then other science theories would just unravel. Gravity, for instance, isn't a proven fact. Nobody knows what gravity really is or why it does what it does.

Perhaps it's comforting to think one is in control when breaking things down and trying to examine them at their root levels, but the more we do, the more it just complicates things and we realize we were wrong about something else. In the end, our observation doesn't really give us the control we think it has.

So how does this affect my views on environmentalism? We don't know when the earth will end, how it will end, or even how small we really are in this universe. Whether it was a gift, some cosmic coincidence, or fate, there are billions of living things sharing the same planet. If we're going to keep any sort of harmony we all need to respect each other on so many levels--from respecting each others beliefs to respecting the earth we're living on.

I find science interesting, but I also find Taoism, Christianity, and Hinduism interesting. I don't know how to full explain this view, and I know many who strongly believe in "science" may ridicule me in labeling it as a myth; but then, if I say, "science all the way," I'm offending someone else, right?

Anonymous said...

I cringe every time I hear someone say "a theory (especially evolution) is just a guess" the shining beacon of ignorance of the scientific process beams though this statement.

Evolution is a theory. Like gravity is a theory.

A hypothesis is a guess.

And to Abby, and scientist worth their salt does not take evolution as it stands. It's always evolving as our understanding of the world does. Same with all the other theories, as we are able to prove things false.

The whole point of the scientific theory is to PROVE THINGS WRONG! Not right!

Check out the hadron collider some time, the point it to prove the existence of the (aptly named for this topic) god partial. If they can't find the hicks boson, their math and their theory is wrong and back to the drawing board. A lot of new physics is hinged on this stuff.

The harder it is to prove a thing wrong the more likely it is to be fact. It's a consequently changing equation. And part of the beauty of science, it is self correcting, egos can get in the way though.

OH, and bird are dinosaurs, this isn't really breaking news anymore. SO enough research and it's laughable to think otherwise actually. There is DNA proof these days too.

Science tries to prove the provable. You cannot prove the existence of deities or the designer creators the shomakign elves... Science ask questions that can be answered and disproved.

Religion is believing in the impossable and unprovable. You aren't supposed to ask questions! The point is to take it on faith.
never the twain shall mix.

Anonymous said...

Evolution, although I would also have to note some beings seem to be undergoing devolution. As for Creationism, yes, it is very creative.

Maureen said...

I am very surprised with this topic, as you stated about how many people still believe in creationism and intelligent design. I for one accept the theory of evolution based on the observations of the physical world. I will say that I do not believe in evolution, as I have learned that you do not believe in theories, (ie most people won't say they believe in gravity), but you accept them as the facts.

Anonymous said...

"Religion is believing in the impossable (sic) and unprovable. You aren't supposed to ask questions! The point is to take it on faith.
never the twain shall mix."

I actually don't think this statement is accurate. I ask questions all the time. I think there is proof that justifies my faith in God, and although I can't be absolutely assured there is a God and he will do what he promised, I will take it on faith because of the evidence that I have. I don't think that religion is believing things that are impossible, but unprovable, probably. How can anyone say that the existence of God is impossible?

I think that many people have the wrong idea about religion, or at least about what "faith" is. An atheist has faith that there is no god, and a theist has faith that there is a god or many gods. Everyone has faith, it's where you place your faith. To say that Christians (or whatever religion) are foolish because they have faith is to be a hypocrite.

I also wanted to note that most people I have talked to who are atheists but NOT scientists are the ones who are most arrogant about evolution being unrefutable fact. A friend of mine hounded me for months on this fact, but I didn't know enough to really argue with her. My point is that we all have our own ideas on how the world came to be and how humans got here, but frankly, no one can have absolute certainty on any of it (no matter how much scientific evidence we pile on) because we weren't THERE.

A creationist would argue that just because birds and dinosaurs (or man and apes) have some dna in common, that doesn't mean the one evolved from the other. Another logical conclusion is that the Same God created us all, and the similarities are because of him.

If it is so easy to believe that God would use evolution, then it is not a difficult leap to say that a God, who could create an entire universe, could do whatever he damn well pleases. If he wanted us to have arms growing out of our heads, that's how he would have created us. Some people seem to have no trouble believing in the god of evolution but think that believing God could create the world in 6 days is the most ridiculous thing they've ever heard. It doesn't stand, logically. Science is another matter, but logic. An all powerful God couldn't create a world in 6 days, make everything with similar dna, etc... but he can create a single-celled organism that evolves into all of the animal and plant kingdom.

This is Occam's Razor: "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" Or more commonly "The simplest explanation is often correct." I don't know which seems simpler to you, and I certainly don't know the correct answer, but it's something to think about. By the way, I still don't say that I lean one way or the other, I'm playing a bit of devil's advocate for the sake of argument.
Um, sorry for going off the deep end.

Unknown said...

I believe in God, and I believe that every person has the capacity to lead a moral life for the betterment of everyone, whether or not they agree with me. Because of that, I do not think that it matters what you believe in.

I believe that we have spent too long trying to distinguish ourselves from the beasts and have missed a primary lesson that we should have learned from them: animals do not eliminate in their nests/dens/etc. How have we so utterly abused our nest of a planet?

Bucky said...


Off of the main topic, but your attempt at reasoning to justify your belief in a deity leaves me confused. You say "I don't think that religion is believing things that are impossible, but unprovable, probably." So you agree that your religious belief is unprovable. Yet you also say that "I think there is proof that justifies my faith in God."

You can't say you have proof of something and then say it is unprovable.

Later, you state that "an atheist has faith that there is no god." Wrong. Faith is a word of the religious mind-set. My "faith" that there is no god is the same as my "faith" that there is no pot-o-gold at the end of the rainbow.

I don't need to have faith that there is no pot-o-gold, because knowledge and reason tell me that it doesn't exist. The only people that need faith are the ones that want to believe the silly notion in the first place.

Another logical conclusion is that the Same God created us all, and the similarities are because of him.

Actually, this is not in any way a logical conclusion. Just the opposite, as it presupposes the existence of a god -- and there is absolutely no evidence to support this notion.

Despite all the "controversy" surrounding evolution, the actual scientific evidence supporting evolution is overwhelming and irrefutable. No intelligent and informed person thinks otherwise.

Two Flights Down said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mira said...

I might not understand all the why's and how's, but I believe what the Bible says about creation. period. Believing that God made the earth and made me is one of the main reasons I believe it is important to take the best possible care of both that I can manage.

ren-new said...

Evolution all the way!

Bucky said...


You say that science is "just another way of explaining things." I appreciate your thoughts on some level. Certainly, I know that many people find much in religion to help guide them in their lives. I have no problem with that. I have drawn inspiration from many cultures and myths and religions.

Two problems with this notion, however, is that those people who put forth creationism believe that it is the only truth, and then pretend that it addresses science in any way.

Some of your comments are disingenuous. You say that "nothing is concrete--and scientists are well-aware of this fact." Wrong. Many things in science are concrete. We know more scientific truth and fact with each passing moment.

Yes, there are things we have yet to know fully. There are areas where we have competing theories that try to explain the observable facts. This is how science has always worked. As our understanding and technology progress, one theory will be found to fit all the facts and will become accepted scientific truth.

You argue at one point "I actually find it ignorant to think that we are, without a doubt, right--no matter how you explain the world. When I jump into the air, I'm glad to say, I don't worry about floating off into space; but, the possibility is still there.

No, TFD, there is no possibility that you will jump up and float off into space. None. Nada. Zippo. You may find the thought amusing, but from a reality-based perspective, it is ridiculous on its face.

cathy said...

I have an advanced science degree, and yet I fully believe that God set the wheels in motion with the big bang and was responsible for creating humans through evolution. I also think that evolution should be taught at every school and that creationism has no business being taught in school except perhaps as a cultural or history sideline.

Does it affect my view as an environmentalist? Well, I think that we are stewards of the earth and that we've done a pretty poor job of taking care of it thus far. I think that we have a duty - on a spiritual plane and also just as people who have to pass this earth along to the next generation - to not screw this place up for future generations.

On to read the other responses. What an interesting question and discussion!

gpc said...

I have been many religions, raised fundamentalist, father joined a Presbyterian church, married into a Lutheran family, divorced and became Catholic, and can't really see the point or the difference any more. If there is a God, s/he is far from worrying about what I believe, otherwise s/he would be as petty as our tabloid preachers. I definitely think that religion has ruined our reputation in biological (and other) scientific circles. I would love to see our local schools teach a class where kids learned to apply scientific method to their religious questions. Perhaps that would convince religious people that religion is a matter for family, not school. And maybe then we could move on and scientifically address the serious problems that threaten us all.

Anonymous said...

@bucky. I was writing at 1 in the morning, so my words weren't exactly as eloquent as usual, which isn't that eloquent to start with. I did want to say that when I said there is proof, I meant evidence. Which is obviously different than proof. I guess I shouldn't try to write responses at 1 in the morning.

I probably shouldn't say more, but to a person who believes in God, the conclusions I mentioned actually are logical, as in, if God could do (A) because he is all powerful, then it's likely that he could just as easily have done (B).

The "logical" conclusions I mentioned obviously only work when you presuppose the existence of God. Obviously, we're coming at it from two different angles, and this wasn't meant to be a religion debate, persay, but I'm just trying to share what a creationist might conclude based on the evidence.

It's not that I believe in creation or don't "believe" in evolution, I just don't think either sufficiently answers all the questions of how we got here. Besides, I'm more concerned with the why than the how.

Bucky said...


Thanks for the response. I'm afraid that I know all too well from personal experience the middle of the night blog comments. FWIW, I thought you were very coherent.

We just disagree on some of the basics. Which is fine.

I'm generally happy to let everyone go about living their own lives. My problems with the strict creationist crowd arise when they want to teach their religious myths in schools as scientific truth and when their rejection of science sets public scientific policy (climate change, for example).

Our environmental efforts in the US have been hampered for many, many years by the fundamentalist religious right who too often see science as the enemy.

I'm glad to see so many Christians here at CC's bloggy. There seems to be a new and growing awareness in the Christian community that we need to begin to take care of the world in which we live.

knutty knitter said...

I don't need to believe in evolution - the facts speak for themselves.

Religion has never been in public schools here except on on a very peripheral basis and even that has gone now because of the multicultural thing.

Even the church schools don't teach religion much except in religious classes which are usually pretty optional.

Science all the way!

viv in nz

Bucky said...

You raise a very interesting point, Kutty Knitter!

One of the bid differences between religion and science is that science is true whether people "believe" in it or not. Photosynthesis was occurring for many millions of years before people knew about it or understood it. Our knowledge of scientific processes is entirely irrelevant to the process itself.

Religions and gods only exist to the extent that people believe in them and give them power over their lives. History is filled with dead religions and dead gods -- dead because no one believes and practices them anymore. The Aztec gods didn't continue to "exist" after ancient Aztec civilization was extinguished.

Everyone thinking the earth was flat didn't make it so. Believing in creationism doesn't make it true either.

sowbug said...

This topic always gets me all worked up into a lather. :)

If I were to say that I don't "believe" in evolution, I may as well also say I don't "believe" in gravity. Evolution comprises a set of theories that are continually re-tested and refined when researchers do experiments that rely on assumptions of such theory. Just as when researchers run experiments that rely on assumptions of gravity, the theory of gravity is continually re-tested. (And yes, technically, gravity is a theory.)

For that reason, it's a serious setback to our advancement in science when creationism is taught as an equal alternative to evolution. We should worry alot about putting faith-based explanations on the same level as reproducible, reliable, predictive theory.

All that aside, the pragmatist in me sees value in setting aside that difference of "opinion" as long as we agree on the need to control CO2, reduce waste, and preserve habitats. If we keep on our current path, I worry we won't have the luxury of arguing over evolution/creationism anymore...

Humble wife said...

Read most recent post.

Makes all the sense in this still believe notion.

Krista said...

I know it's been said before, but I stand for God using evolution to create.

Anonymous said...

Scientism assumes that science is the controlling reality about life, so anything that can be validated scientifically ought to be done. Other things are subjective fantasy—like love, beauty, good, evil, conscience, ethics.
So science, which originally simply meant the study of the natural world, has in this view been conflated with scientific naturalism, a philosophy that the natural world is all that exists.
Humans are reduced to “objects” that can be inspected, experimented on, and ultimately controlled. In 1922, G.K. Chesterton warned that scientism had become a “creed” taking over our institutions, a “system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics.”
C.S. Lewis warned that the rise of scientific naturalism would lead to “the abolition of man,” for it denies the reality of those things central to our humanity: a sense of right and wrong, of purpose, of beauty, of God.
And if we deny the things that make us truly human, by definition we create a culture that is inhuman—a culture that, for example, embraces moral horrors like the killing of humans at the earliest stage of life on the spurious grounds that doing so might cure other people’s diseases. Or cloning. Or medical experiments on humans, as the Nazis conducted.

Lizzie @ her homeworld said...

Evolution for me. I dont think we have creationists here (any British creationists out there???). Religian is taught in schools here too. Chrisianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism etc Very interesting topics.

escarius said...


Seriously, I have been sipping my coffee bored, and then I stumbled upon it. I'm not even that green(me and my wife are trying... but its tough when your job involves as much global travel as mine)

OK, put your hands out for my two cents.

Raised, catholic(dogmatically not-aligned with any literally translation of the bible as the church knows, it can't possibly be accurate as even they had changed it(wink))
Also raised in Canada, where it just isn't a big deal on any level. Which is more to the point. I went to public school, and some years my teachers would start the day off by reading a page from the bible, or saying a prayer, others they would ask us to examine an idea that illustrated a Buddhist principle, or another faith... it just wasn't an issue. Parents didn't storm in and yank there kids out and say this was a corrupting influence or anything... the only thing that ever happend where the odd Jehova's Witness would leave the room for some of it. Which didn't bother anyone either.

Religion should be a personal choice. And this is a religious question.

-You might say it isn't but trust me... Not one Atheist believes in Creationism. So it's completely linked to a belief in a higher being.

There is more than a bit of hypocrisy on that front too, as it seems the fundamentalist christians, who I just don't find elsewhere in the world than in the US.( I grew up in Canada, lived in the states for a decade, now live in Europe.)

Use what fits them when they want from science but then throw it away when it comes to evolution. I just find it weird. How do you use it for health, and physics, and even the technology behind the computer some of you are typing on, but then throwing it out the window when it comes to the idea of Carbon dating, or ancestral DNA that show direct evolutionary throwbacks?

No biggie though, as long as you aren't building me a rocket-ship.

But here's the other thing I don't get, why preach it to others? If its such a great idea, won't it catch on instead of die out like it has everywhere else in the world as a concept?

If someone wants to believe in what they want thats great. Then do that. Believe it. But why take kids, or strangers and make them believe what you do? If its such a great system or idea, it will naturally attract others to it. When people see that something you believe leads you to rock solid advances for the human race, as science has(please don't argue, we live to 78 years old now. We died at 38 just over a century ago, thats all due to science. Not Prayer), then people will want to know.

That's what confuses me about it all.

Anyways, I don't pray, i don't believe in god. I don't hate or even dislike those who do. And I am incredibly happy since I stopped basing my morality on punishment/reward fears. Now I am a far more charitable person, who is far more humanistic and considerate of all humanity knowing that this is one life and we are all so very precious.

Anyways, I think that added up to four or five cents.

->Anonymous, that is a tragedy with your child's seizures, but having been through similar, I did not pray. I cherished the time I had instead of talking to a third party who wasn't there. Those moments mean the world to to me.

OK, wish this was a TV show as I'd tune in:)

Anonymous said...

I always find this debate interesting, because while I consider myself spiritual I have a PhD in Statistics so I look to science for nearly all explanations. That being said, while I agree with evolution, I do not believe in the hypothesis of abiogenesis, that is that life came from no life at all. I'm not saying that it didn't happen, but that it has certainly not been demonstrated. They have yet to show that life can come from no life under any circumstance, let alone that earth ever had this suitable environment. I am willing to believe in abiogenesis, because it does not conflict with any religious belief that I hold, but it has not been demonstrated to my satisfaction. As for the environment, I'm for recycling and attempting to lessen the burning of fossil fuels. As for Bobxxxx comments, resorting to namecalling and insults shows a lack of scientific integrity. His attacks being so vehement shows he does believe in God, but is angry with God for events that occurred in his life. This is similar to most angry gay-bashers actually being gay themselves. Me thinks you doth protest too much Bobxxxx.

Anonymous said...

As a scientist, I must say that creationism has always looked a nonsense to me. Yes, we don't know exactly how all happened. We have some hypothesis but we don't know. Science has limits we are always trying to extend, and yes, scientists have made mistakes. A lot. (like for example, when thay thought the Earth was flat, or when they thought taking a bath could kill someone...) But they learnt from their mistakes and pushed the limits further.
I have been raised in catholic religion, but even if I did believed in God duriong some years I never really believed in Creation, and at school in France we are taught that it is false. I did not choose to believe that because I had been told at school, no, I just realized some day that people who believe in creationism are missing something, like... well... a brain ? We have tons of clues saying that is completely impossible, and to those who say that the clues come from God to make us wonder or anything, I would say that probabilities are on the non-creationism side, and even if scientist are wrong once more on the topic, it means that God would have a damn wicked sense of humour.
But well, as a scientist I must admit that we don't own absolute proof that God didn't create everything. Absolute proofs don't exist ! ;o)

Anonymous said...

And for the record, of course, I believe in evolution. And I do believe that creationism creates (ha!) risks of lowering the science level of the U.S.A. I still can hardly believe that it could be taught at school. Maybe the non-creationism shouldn't either, btw. To me the best way to teach would be to say "hypothesis are this, this, this, and this (including creationism). We have these clues, so this may be the most probable, but who knows ?" That would be the best biology teacher, no ?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how it is that we have become so lost in science. There is absolutely no way that creationism should be taught in science class. It simply does not follow the scientific method. That being said, neither does evolution. The whole mechanism behind evolution is "Survival of the fittest." Who is the most fit to survive? The fast, the strongest, the smartest? No. Simply the species that survived. This is circular logic at its finest. Further, there is no way of testing evolution. No scientist has witnessed any species evolving into another species, No scientist can predict when a species will evolve, and no scientist can predict how a species will evolve. My old science teacher, who believed in evolution, stated that scientists put together the fossil record like a jigsaw puzzle. I've talked with a PhD level geologist who said nearly the same thing. While this would make a fine historical theory, this is not in keeping with the scientific method, and no amount of circumstantial evidence replaces testing. For Academia to simply replace Christian religious teachings with Evolutionary religious teachings is foolishness. There is absolutely no need to teach evolution or creationism in Science class, neither are central ideas to any other portion of science. Teach evolution as a historical theory in history class, teach creationism in philosophy and leave science to those willing to actually follow the scientific method. It is no less harmful to our children to teach them that you do not need to follow the scientific method in science, than it is to teach them that you can throw religion into science.