Specifically Christian newcomers to the study of Judaism frequently puzzle over why — as they themselves often put it — Jews “don’t believe in Jesus.” The reality is simply that the entire Jewish concept of who and what a Messiah actually is (or does) is just nothing like what Christians themselves have in mind, when […]
As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, there simply is no alternative scientific theory in legitimate, evidence-based competition with evolution. “Creation scientists” frequently attempt to present what they take to be valid empirical data in support of creationism (or at least which seems to them to contradict evolutionary theory), but all such attempts thus far have been found by the scientific community to be without merit.
“Creation science” is simply bad science at best, non-science at worst. “Creation scientists” are seldom (if ever) published in mainstream scientific literature; instead, creationist papers and articles tend to find their readership primarily through creationist publications and websites. Creationists sometimes assert that their failure to succeed in getting their work published in legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific journals is due to an unwarranted if not downright sinister a priori anti-creationist bias predominant in such circles — a kind of “global evolutionist conspiracy” which effectively suppresses and censors creationist efforts to get a fair hearing. Of course, the response from the mainstream scientific community is that there is no such global conspiracy actively and unfairly shutting out the creationist perspective; it’s just that creationist papers tend to reflect such poor scientific standards as to simply be unable to survive peer review, or otherwise be worthy of publication.
Since evolution is accepted by over 99% of scientists working in relevant scientific fields and therefore utterly non-controversial within the world of science, creationists cannot legitimately argue for teaching both creationism as well as evolution in public school science classes on the grounds either of “fair play” (evolution is genuine science, creationism is not) or of “teaching the controversy” (scientifically speaking, there simply is no controversy). However, creationists do sometimes argue that since some 46% of the total U.S. populace believes in creationism (specifically, “young earth creationism,” which maintains that God created the world and human beings only 6,000 to 10,000 years ago), it’s only fair for public schools to at least devote equal time to what nearly half of the American public accepts and supports.
Much of the public seems to think that since America is a democracy, “majority rule” should be the order of the day; consequently, if a majority of the people want creationism taught in their public schools, then by golly, it should be taught there. However, the U.S. is not a pure democracy, but a democratic republic, with safeguards built into its Constitution to prevent majority rule from trampling upon the rights of minorities of whatever sort (religious or otherwise), so that majority rule never degenerates into mob rule.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates, in effect, that the government (the state) must remain neutral with regard to religion, neither supporting nor suppressing it. Public schools, being taxpayer supported, are part of the state. This means that public schools must likewise remain neutral, neither promoting nor persecuting religion. Thanks to the First Amendment, religious “majority rule” does not apply; even though the U.S. populace might be nearly 80% Christian, U.S. public schools nevertheless may not officially endorse or promote Christianity (or any other religion).
And since U.S. courts have consistently ruled that creationism is not genuine science but an essentially religious belief, they have also consistently ruled that the teaching of creationism in taxpayer-supported public schools would constitute an unconstitutional endorsement by the state of a religious belief (in clear violation of the principle of separation of church and state). This is why repeated creationist attempts to influence local school boards or to introduce new legislation supporting the teaching of creationism in public schools continue to result in lawsuits and court cases, and why they always lose.
Creationists sometimes argue that schools are already in violation of the First Amendment on the grounds that evolution (or “Darwinism”) is itself in some sense a “religion,” and so by teaching evolution the public schools are guilty of promoting one “religion” over another. But clearly, evolution is in no sense a religion; it’s just science. Creationists sometimes argue that evolution is inherently atheistic, and so the schools are technically guilty of actively promoting atheism (which, if true, would likewise be unconstitutional).
However, evolution itself (like the rest of science generally) actually simply has nothing to say, one way or the other, about God; empirical science, like the public schools, is itself in principle religiously neutral. Moreover, many scientists who fully accept evolution also fully believe in God, so the two are by no means necessarily mutually exclusive or contradictory. (Many believe that evolutionary processes are simply the particular ways and means that God chose to utilize, or work through, in order to guide the creation of life in general, and of human beings in particular; this is, in fact, the general view of the Catholic Church on the matter.)
Public schools are indeed secular state institutions, but “secularism” is not “a religion”; rather, secularism merely refers to the practice of keeping religion and government (or “church and state”) separate and independent of one another, such that government officially neither affirms nor denies religious concepts and claims. In the case of state-operated public schools, the government can neither affirm nor deny the religious concept and claim of creationism; however, it can point out that creationism is inherently religious rather than genuinely scientific in nature, that legitimate scientific evidence for creationism is wholly lacking, and that wholly faith-based creationism therefore simply has no place in public school science classes.