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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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A Separation of Church and…Science?

By Cris Brockway

For those who missed it, The Salt Lake Tribune ran a gem of an article last month titled “Evolution With a Biblical Twist.” Presently, a global ministry called “Answers in Genesis” has a plan to create a one-of-a-kind museum. What’s inside? A science of a different breed: biblical science. Whereas some are earnestly trying to block its construction, I say build it.

The Creation Museum & Family Discovery Center will house the usual museum fodder: mammoth models of ancient beasts, fossilized dinosaur eggs and DNA replicas to dazzle the imagination. Only there’s one glaring twist to this otherwise innocuous scientific scene: Each exhibit is there expressly to advance the truth of the Bible and undermine the intoxicating supposed truths of “classical” evolutionary theory.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Proponents of creation education have been slinking their way toward the evolutionary strongholds for some time; now they are ready to storm the gates of at least two: museums and biology classrooms. “This is a cultural war” decries the head of the institute, Kenneth Ham. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) retorts that their “tactics, clearly, represent the last gasp of the dying theory of Intelligent Design.” Sounds like fightin’ words.

Analogous standoffs are being played out against a variety of backdrops of the American landscape, leaving this writer to wonder if our next national endeavor will be not the separation of church and state, but the separation of church and science.

Outside the fervid Olympic cocoon that has enveloped Salt Lake, President Bush got a late Christmas present early in January. It came in the form of a 1,000-page education reform bill, a bill that promises “no child will be left behind.” Missing from that tome, though, were a few choice lines, washed away in a wave of letters from 80 scientific and educational organizations. In short: “Where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.”

Evolutionists, taking exception to the phrase “so much continuing controversy,” rallied to bring about a reworded amendment. A relieved NCSE responded that “the good news for teachers is that they will not have to teach evolution any differently as a result of this legislation.” The new wording of the bill seeks to separate science from “claims made in the name of science.” In other words, biblical science and its kin.

Science is based on reason, so why doesn’t it just mentally outmaneuver the opposition in these cases? Why this palpable tendency of evolutionists to skirt biblical scientists rather than engage them? For one thing, they may have noticed that the religious community is trying to beat them at their own game. Where fables and sunday schools have fallen short, religion is noting that new heights may be attainable in museums and biology class. For another thing, science teachers like to teach science, uncompromised, disparate and pure; nothing slows down a lecture on Darwin faster than a roadblock named Genesis 1:1.

Scientists are seemingly taking their stand: a stand against discord. But is it the right stand for them to take?

Scientists are treading on thin ice in these cases, for they are abandoning that which gives science life, namely, reason and the art of argument. It is abandoning these tenets in favor of two more notorious tenets: censorship and selective omission. Censorship is a virtue of book-burners, while selective omission is the reason that high school history never lets on the full stories of our American heroes (Do you know what Hellen Keller did after she learned to communicate?). If science wants to make a case for evolution it had better prepare itself for a debate, not a cover-up.

What happens to a child who has been denied a measure of knowledge in his or her formative years? That child more often than not grows up with an inherent distrust of the withholding party. I trust that most all of you know of at least one person who has met this fate. Science has it within its power to openly address creationist contentions, yet evolutionists exhibit an increasing tendency to sweep these contentions under the rug.

If scientists wish to win over the hearts and minds of the people, they cannot let their guard down; They must not pretend that the opposition is not even there. Pretending such could produce an unexpected recoil, not to mention cries of suppression.

Science and religion, despite their past of discord, are intricately intertwined. They have been since science started probing regions deemed off-limits by the theologians of the past. To treat them as mutually exclusive is to deny marriage to the oddest and oldest of couples. Indeed, in this case opposites can and must attract, if only so both can be lent a single ear in the public forum.

Even the greatest scientists of the world have waxed philosophical upon facing the weight of their discoveries. Charles Darwin, in Life and Letters, quips, “the mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us, and for one I must be content to remain an agnostic.” There is something to be said for compromise, and for the admission that sometimes we don’t yet have all the answers.

So let them speak. Let the museums be built, let the lessons be taught. And to the ones who truly value their survival, let them convince us that their theory is the fittest.

Cris welcomes feedback at: [email protected] or send letters to the editor to: [email protected].

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