The following discussion was initiated when I wrote an opinion about evolutional theory having taken over the public school system in America and tenaciously holding the educational system as a "belief" system almost the same way Creationists demonstrate their faith in their world view. I began with the following statement:
"Evolution must start on the premise that 'something' was already available (Big Bang, ocean, etc.) and from that available 'something' life forms began to evolve. In the beginning of many evolution books, especially text books, on about the second or third page tucked away in the middle of a paragraph, inside a sentence is a little phrase that usually says, 'the inorganic became organic.' The writer then moves, without fanfare, to build the theory of evolution on the foundation of that little phrase without ever stopping to explain how that event happened."
"Public education in the United States has accepted this theory almost without question. School children almost universally within that system accept the theory and internalize it as a basis for their world view. When a belief takes root that becomes so pervasive as to capture the thoughts of most students passing through the leaning system, it renders the learners to such a position of rigidity they will not even entertain a competing thought that may change their desired course of thinking. When that happens, one can finally say their belief has become a form of religion carried forward only by faith."
"So when School Boards and the local, state and federal governments push to extend the teaching of evolution exclusively, isn't that violating the principle of 'separation of Church and State'?"
Several responses came in that agreed with the premise, but one took issue.
Two responses from men who are ministers were in basic agreement. One said, "Amen. Good thinking." The other offered some further thoughts: "Yes. Humanism was and probably still is represented in the campus directory of religious organizations on many State Colleges campuses. One of the tenets of Humanism is evolution. Humanist organizations hold the same tax exempt status as do churches. The irony is that evolution in the strictest sense of the definition of faith is no different than believing in creation and a creator. Neither can be proved empirically. It makes little difference that the arguments for creation are far superior that any apology that can be given for those trusting in evolution. If education is the pursuit of knowledge one wonders why they would put up detour signs to avoid going down the street of discovery. Amazing don’t you think."
To continue the discussion, my response was, "James you mentioned humanism and the basis of its belief. I think the educational system is humanistic and has been so for at least the past 75 years. Perhaps the greatest influence on the modern thought began with the destruction of the Absolute."
"Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is studied in universities around the world. He was a German philosopher who looked at the paradigm of absolute Truth in the model of relativity. He described an idea (thesis) as being affected by the 'antithesis' of that idea or belief, that eventually evolved into a 'synthesis.' From that it became a new idea or belief. Of course this is oversimplified and understated, but the paradigm shift proposed by Hegel was significant. It represented a shift from the Absolute Truth to a relative truth that was situational at best."
"The current, post modern, educational system in America is steeped in the Hegelian thought, as is our very public domain. Everyone who has graduated from high school from the early 1960's on has been under the influence of defining truth with a little "t". It is ingrained in our political, social, economic, public and private lives. Generations have been tutored in humanistic thought and the destruction of Absolutes. It carved out the thoughts of Fletcher, who brought us "Situational Ethics" where the environment, or situation details the morality of the behavior. My grandchildren think I am ancient because I can say I lived before the internet. For them to believe when they become teenagers or young adults that there is anything that relates to an "Absolute" will only exist in what they think of as "science." For that generation we are beyond post modernism."
"Modern education, government, science and even our own posterity will eventually not see any need for discovery since they will have lived their lives like the little hamster in the small, clear ball in which he uses to roll around the room. Eventually that will be their universe."
One minister replied, "Well said Jim! Biblically two things comes to mind that addresses our insanity." At this, to lay a foundation for his point, the minister quoted Scripture. "Isaiah 55:8, 9 says;
8 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.
9 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.' He continued, "Ecclesiastes 1:9 states 'there is no new thing under the sun.'" The minister's conclusion to his point was,
"Anyway the point I am trying to make is simple. God has spoken truth and we don't like it so we make up our own truth. We give them all kinds of titles and call it something classical. The bottom line is that God has final say with what is and isn't. A professor I had at Ozark said there is no such thing as intellectual unbelief just moral rebellion. The world is getting to be a really scary place."
At this point in the discussion a professor of physics weighed in with his thoughts on the subject:
"I have spent most of my professional life (of over 40 years) doing scientific research and teaching in the area of physics. I have got to say that in that time I have never read or heard a credible scientist say anything resembling your portrayal of evolution. While I cannot claim that there are not people or school districts that promote your parody of evolution, it would certainly be misleading and unfair to present that as the state or content of science. Of course it is true that science does not deal in absolutes since one must always allow for the possibility of new evidence which compel new perspectives. The theory of evolutionary change is tentatively accepted (rather than believed) as the most plausible explanation thus far produced for the empirical evidence available (primarily the evolutionary fossil record and our understanding of the biochemical basis of mutation and reproduction). Moreover, a great deal of effort has gone into developing plausible scenarios where inorganic chemical environments will produce the complex organic building blocks necessary for life and evolution. Indeed many steps in this process have been repeatedly demonstrated in the laboratory. While science may be imperfect and at times even wrong, it is the only game in town when it comes to attempting to understand the universe with logical, rational interpretation of the empirical evidence rather than dogmatic assumptions taken from some allegedly divine source. Good science and education promote the critical analysis and challenging of world views, not their dogmatic or uncritical acceptance."
The minister commented on the physic's discussion of the issue. "I for one appreciate your kind and even keeled comments. Although I am not as well versed as you or Jim on this topic let me suggest that you view Ben Stein’s documentary produced under the title; 'Expelled' and you will see why I express my concerns. I do believe that it will demonstrate that dogmatism does exist."
To summarize my point I again directed my final comments to the physics professor:
"Ray I really appreciate your thoughts shared in this very unscientific venue. It may surprise you when I say I do agree with what you have written. I think you covered at least two important, significant points that are the foundation of this issue."
"I agree with your statement, 'While science may be imperfect and at times even wrong, it is the only game in town when it comes to attempting to understand the universe with logical, rational interpretation of the empirical evidence rather than dogmatic assumptions taken from some allegedly divine source.' You have stated two world views in which one is built on empirical evidence, while the other is built in large part on faith. Now, it is unlikely that these two world views will ever agree on a majority of their differences, but that is precisely the point I am making."
"'Science,' as you said, 'may be imperfect and at times even wrong' and likewise, people of faith are sometimes 'dogmatic' in their beliefs. All of that is true; but they are still world views. That being the case, there will always be a struggle between the two. However, there is a commonality between the two as well. As with any world view it is usually internalized as a belief held by the individual who holds the view. It may only be 'tentatively' accepted as you mentioned, nevertheless it is held by the individual as a guide or motivation from which to view life. Therefore, any challenge to that world view demands a response of some kind from the individual holding that view. The response could be pragmatic, relatively unbiased or visceral for that matter."
"I was making the point that our public educational system has for all practical purposes adopted the world view of science, scientific methods, variability of discovery, which includes the 'tentatively accepted' theory of evolution to teach. As such, as you said, 'science does not deal in absolutes since one must always allow for the possibility of new evidence which compel new perspectives.' Aside from your use of the absolute 'always' I believe we are in agreement. Science, of which evolution theory is a part, has taken the lead in public education and will not 'allow the possibility of new evidence which compel new perspectives' to enter into the educational mix."
"Just to prove that point, let's do a scientific experiment, albeit 'social' scientific in nature. Let's randomly choose 100 public school districts across the nation, representative of as many factors as possible in the grades across the nation. Let's propose we begin in the first grade teaching both world views equally for one randomly assigned sub-group; only the scientific world-view for a second randomly assigned sub-group; and only the faith-based world view for the third randomly assigned sub-group. Continue that pattern until each of the students graduate from high school. Test each of the students to determine if there is a difference in the student's perspectives regarding the two world views."
" Of course you and I know that would never happen. Our first objector would likely come from the individual school boards, the second objector would be the ACLU, the third objector would be the Teacher's Union, but the legal objector would be the local, state and federal governments. It is my opinion all those groups, and many others are not interested in gaining 'new evidence which compel new perspectives' if that evidence being presented has any relation to faith that relates to what you termed an 'allegedly divine source'".