Apparently 6 out of every 10 people in America do not believe in the literal translation of the Genesis creation in the Old Testament, the biblical story of the origin of man, the story of Adam and Eve, or perhaps are not sure.
The scientific evidence for evolution by natural selection over billions of years is after all overwhelming, and now genetic science and molecular biology strengthen the case.
But alarmingly, and in spite of the now incontestable evidence otherwise, 4 out of every 10 Americans do believe in Creationism. The original 1920’s movement was simply anti-Darwin and ran out of steam with the death of William Bryan, the passionate campaigner for Creationism. But in the 1960’s a new variant was born, within the Young Earth Creationists, who teach that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that all things were made by God in six literal 24-hour days.
That is sad, because it is this movement that is so often attacked by the angry atheists, who then tar all Christians with the same brush. The atheists cannot believe the ignorance of the followers of a faith based as they see it on fairy tales and myths.
And now there is dissent and fury amongst American Christians of a Creationist bent. Professor John Schneider has been forced to retire from Calvin College in Michigan, a Christian university, because he has suggested that it is becoming ever harder to believe literally in Adam and Eve, and the concept of Original Sin and the Garden of Eden. The evangelical Christian Creationists are in uproar.
Stories such as this are pounced upon by the atheists, anxious to illustrate the continuing stupidity of so many Christians who won’t allow men such as Schneider to honestly develop their thoughts and speak their minds without sacrificing their careers.
And what is wrong with myths anyway? "Myths are the mirrors in which we can study human life", wrote Petrusca Clarkson, an eminent psychotherapist and writer of recommended textbooks who took her own life in Amsterdam in May 2006 age 58.
Martin Luther King once said that nothing in the entire world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Quite.
Science and theology are not incompatible. They are two different ways of exploring aspects of reality.
What is interesting is that Darwin himself, always thoughtful about the possible problems with his theory of evolution by natural selection, was nonetheless clear that it did not make atheism inevitable. He was never an atheist himself, going from Christianity to theism to agnosticism during his lifetime. And he was always courteous and respectful to anyone who disagreed with his views, willing always to listen openly to other ideas. Now we could do with much more of that kind of dialogue, sadly missing in many of our debates and dialogues today.
My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.
"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden