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On Being a Scientist: The Year 2000

On Being a Scientist: The Year 2000

by: Francisco J. Ayala
University of California at Irvine

Science and Science Education in the United States
The United States invests, annually, more than $200 billion in scientific research and technological development (R&D). Between 1995 and 1999, the outlays for R&D grew at a rate greater than 9 percent per year, in constant dollars, and the rate of the yearly increase itself has been increasing. This expenditure is widely perceived as a sound and high-return investment. President Clintonís Council of Economic Advisors has estimated that 50 percent of all economic growth in the United States over the past 50 years can be directly credited to scientific discoveries and technological developments performed over the same period.

The returns on this investment are indeed splendid. The country invests 3 percent of its yearly gross domestic product (GDP), currently valued at more than $7 trillion, on R&D and gets in return for this investment 50 percent of the GDP annual growth. Astonishingly, the favorable impact of R&D on the U.S. economy seems to be accelerating over time. The large expansion of the U.S. economy over the past decade (and its unanticipated association with virtually full employment without inflation) has been attributed by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to the investment on R&D. He said in the summer of 1999, "The evidence Ö for a technology-driven rise in the prospective rate of return on new capital, and an associated acceleration in labor productivity, is compelling." (Presidentís Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, Wellspring of Prosperity, Office of the President, 2000, p. 29.)

Scientific discoveries and technological achievements pervade the gamut of human activities and concerns, including health care, agriculture, industrial development, transportation, information technologies and more.

Moreover, the United States enjoys a formidable assortment of universities and research institutes, where millions of scientists and engineers receive superb training, as college, graduate, and postdoctoral students and researchers, and where wonderful scientific discoveries and engineering feats are accomplished on a daily basis. Students come from all over the world to benefit from the superb training provided by these institutions of higher learning.

Anybody aware of these accomplishments might conclude that, underlying the great research institutions and the endless scientific discoveries, and subjacent to the countryís enormous investment on R&D, there must be in the U.S. an excellent school system, engaged in the education of the young and preparing them for productive careers in scientific research and technological development. Alas, the observers would be wrong. Surely, there are in the U.S. many excellent elementary and secondary schools, where superior science education is imparted as part of the curriculum. But there are many others, perhaps a majority, where science courses are degraded or, in extreme cases, virtually absent from the curriculum.

One reason for the deficiency of science education in many of our schools is the decentralization of educationóthere is no nationally prescribed program of studies, course requirements, or assessment standards for either elementary or secondary education. There are 16,000 school districts in the United States, and each school district largely independently is entitled to set up much of the school curriculum, the subjects to be studied and assessed and the textbooks to be used. These matters are, to some extent, determined at the state level, and each of the 50 states of the Union zealously protects its right to self-determination in educational goals, as in many other matters. The dispersion of responsibilities accounts to a large extent for the great heterogeneity in performances and standards of quality in education, particularly with regard to science.

Science and Religious Fundamentalism
You are well aware that just a little more than a year ago, in August of 1999, the Kansas Board of Education decided to eliminate any reference to evolution or cosmology from all examination requirements, or as subject matter required to be covered in the public schools in Kansas. The schools are not forbidden to teach cosmology and evolution, but these would not be subjects for assessing scholastic achievement. Subject matters not subject to examination are unlikely to be taught in the schools, at least at any length and depth, which is precisely the objective sought by the Board.

The Governor of Kansas, the moderate Republican Bill Graves, called the school boardís decision "a terrible, tragic, embarrassing solution to a problem that did not have to exist," and announced that he would seek to erase the decision through legislation or otherwise. This may now be unnecessary, since the new Kansas Board of Education elected on November 7, 2000, consists of a majority of members, Republicans as well as Democrats, who have announced they will restore the teaching of cosmology and evolution to the curriculum.

The August 1999 decision of the Kansas Board of Education does not represent an uncommon attitude in the United States. It rather reflects a conviction, common among biblical literalists and other Christian fundamentalists, that the teachings of science concerning the origin of the universe, the living world and, most importantly, humans are contrary to the Biblical texts and the Christian faith. This conviction was not, however, the reason alleged by the Kansas Board members who endorsed the majorityís decision. The United States Constitutionís separation of church and state, as forcefully set in its First Amendment and numerous decisions by federal courts, would have made the religious grounds obviously unconstitutional and subject to judicial challenge. Rather, members of the Kansas school board ostensibly constituted themselves into fly-by-night scientists and epistemologists who rejected the recommendations of their own panel of experts and declared that the theory of evolution is nothing but theory, rather than fact; and that science relies on observation, replication and experimentation, but nobody has seen the origin of the universe or the evolution of species, nor have these events been replicated in the laboratory or by experiment

Opposition to the teaching of evolution and other scientific theories in U.S. schools has a long history that can be traced to the middle of the 19th century and, starting with the 20th century, has mainly involved two Christian groups, the Pentecostal Church, on the one hand, derived from Methodism, and the Seventh-Day Adventists, derived from Southern Baptists.

The Pentecostal (originally known as Holiness) movement emerged in the U.S. in the late 19th century among Methodist followers of John Wesley. On the first day of the 20th century, Charles Fox Parham, an itinerant Holiness healer, and a small group of followers began speaking in tongues in Topeka, Kansas, a practice that motivated the name of "Pentecostalism," by reference to the gifts of the spirit received by the early Christians during the Day of Pentecost that allowed them to speak in unknown languages. In the second half of the 20th century, the flamboyant televangelists Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart and others propagated the movement, converting masses throughout the world, promoting "charismatic practices" among Christians. "By the mid-1990s roughly one-fourth of the 2 billion Christians in the world had embraced the Pentecostal-Charismatic faith" (Ronald L. Numbers, Darwinism Comes to America, Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 112).

In the past several decades, many Pentecostals have largely adopted and endorsed the tenets of so-called "creation science," including the recent origin of the earth and Noahís flood geology. But the Pentecostals differ from Seventh-Day Adventists and other creationists in their tolerance of diverse views and the limited import they attribute to the evolution-creation controversy.

Seventh-Day Adventism arose out of the ashes of the Millerite disaster. The New York State Baptist William Miller acquired an enormous following with his prediction that Christ would return to earth in 1843 or 1844. When the date pinned down by many Millerites, October 22, 1843 went by, the ensuing disappointment led to the disintegration of the movement. The teenage visionary Ellen G. White regrouped some of the followers into a movement that in the early 1860s became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, holding to the belief of an imminent Second Coming of Christ. Because of the belief in the seventh-day Sabbath as a memorial of the creation, the Adventists insist on the recent creation of life and the universality of the Noachian flood, which deposited the fossil-bearing rocks.

The opposition of Christian fundamentalists and others to the teaching of evolution in the schools has led to a number of court cases, perhaps the most famous being the Scopes trial of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. It was lionized in the movie "Inherit the Wind" and involved a young high-school teacher by the name of John Thomas Scopes who was convicted and fined for having violated a recently passed bill that made it unlawful for state-supported schools "to teach any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."

The case was championed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which persuaded Scopes to declare publicly that he had violated the statute. The ACLU wanted the State of Tennessee to initiate a lawsuit against Scopes for the purpose of having a decision that eventually could lead to the Supreme Court of the United States, with the expectation that the prohibition against teaching evolution in schools would be declared unconstitutional.

Scopes was fined $100. Unfortunately, at least from a certain point of view, owing to a technical error, the conviction was abrogated and the fine removed, so that the case could not be appealed. Eventually, however, many years later, a similar prohibition in the State of Arkansas was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which led in 1968 to a decision (Epperson v. Arkansas) that achieved what the ACLU had hoped to accomplish with the Scopes case. The court declared it unconstitutional to prohibit the teaching of evolution in the public schools.

In 1981, the State of Arkansas passed a law that sought to circumvent this ruling. It was a so-called "balanced treatment" statute that required equal time be given to the teaching of evolution and of "creation science" in school curriculums. The statute held that there were two theories of origins, one is "creation science," which held six tenets made up of statements taken literally from the book of Genesis. Nobody had heard of creation science before this. There is another theory of origins, the statute said, called evolution. The statute required that any teacher teaching one of the theories had to dedicate equal time to teaching the other theory.

There are many theories of origins, not only these two. But there is only one that professional scientists, experts on the subject, consider scientifically well corroborated. Be that as it may, there was a trial in federal court in Little Rock, for which I was one of the expert witnesses. The decision (McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 1982) was forcefully argued and worded by the district court judge, who stated that the balance-treatment statute violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court declared that creation science is not in fact science. Underlying the balanced treatment law was its proponentsí expectation that many teachers would not teach evolution because they would have to dedicate an equal amount of time teaching creation science, which is, of course, not science, and, therefore, to avoid teaching the second, they would avoid teaching the first. The judgeís tightly argued decision extended for some 10,000 words. It was published in Science because it was a wonderful essay on the scientific method and how to distinguish science from non-science. The State of Arkansas decided not to appeal. In the meantime, the State of Louisiana had passed a similar balance-treatment law. The Louisiana law was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987), which held that Louisianaís "Creationism Act" was unconstitutional because by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind, which is embraced by the phrase "creation science," the act impermissibly endorses religion.

Those are the most recent court cases at the national level. At the local level there have been many, and continue to be, in various school districts and in various states, developments like the one I referred to in Kansas (see Voices for Evolution, edited by Molleen Matsumura, National Center for Science Education, Berkeley, CA, 2nd ed., 1995).

Evolution and Christianity
Why has this opposition against the teaching of evolution arisen in the United States? And, mind you, itís very often opposition to the teaching of science; itís not only against evolution. This opposition is a distinctly American problem that can largely be traced, as I said, to two movements, the Seventh-Day Adventists, deriving from Southern Baptists, and the Pentecostal movement, deriving from the Methodists. However, other Christian denominations, even though they may not take an official position against the teaching of evolution or cosmology, believe that evolution and theories about the origin of the universe, the Big Bang theory, for example, are contrary to Christian beliefs. It seems to many religious people that evolution runs contrary to the notion that the universe and everything in it, humans in particular, was created by God, and that evolution, the Big Bang and many other theories of science, are in literal contradiction with the Bible.

Let me start by pointing out that it is curious that the Judeo-Christian tradition should be the major source of opposition among the world religions against the theory of evolution. It is curious, I say, because, at least among cultural western traditions, the Bible is the one that is implicitly evolutionistic. What I mean is that if we look at classical Greece and Rome, the other roots of Western culture, they had a concept of time that was circular, so to speak. It has been labeled "the myth of the eternal return" by the philosopher Mircea Eliade. Greek philosophers held that everything repeats itself; nothing significantly happens in history; there is no progression. On the contrary, the Biblical notion of time is clearly directional and progressive. Things happen. First, the world is created, then there is sin, the prophets come, later redemption is accomplished by the Messiah, and finally, the Kingdom of God will arrive.

There are, nevertheless, Christian believers who see scientific cosmology and the theory of evolution as contrary to the creation narrative of the book of Genesis.1 These believers depart from a powerful Christian tradition that starts in the second century AD with the first commentators of the Bible, who say that Biblical descriptions of the physical world and many historical details should not be taken literally. I will use, in referring to early Christianity, the authority of perhaps the greatest Christian theologian of all time, St. Augustine. He wrote a "literal" commentary about the book of Genesis. This is about the year 400. Augustine is aware of discussions going on at the time about the configuration of the universe and whether the earth is placed at the center of it. He writes, "It is also frequently asked what our belief must be about the form and shape of heaven, according to Sacred Scripture. Many scribes engage in lengthy discussions on these matters, but such subjects are of no profit for those who seek beatitude. And what is worse, they take up very precious time that ought to be given to what is spiritually beneficial. What concern is it of mine whether heaven is like a sphere and Earth is enclosed by it and suspended in the middle of the universe, or whether heaven is like a disk and the Earth is above it and hovering to one side" (The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book 2, ch. 9). St. Augustine adds a little later in the same chapter: "In the matter of the shape of heaven, the sacred writers did not wish to teach men facts that could be of no avail for their salvation." What St. Augustine is saying is that the book of Genesis is not an elementary book of astronomy. Itís something else. Itís a book about religion, and it is not the purpose of the religious authors to settle questions about the shape of the universe that are of no relevance whatsoever to how to seek salvation.

Later on, thereís a remarkable statement. He asks the question whether everything that now exists in the world was created by God from the beginning, including all plants and animals. Augustine says that God created some creatures and "in these existing beings God created the reason-principles of other beings to come in the future, but not the beings themselves" (The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book 7, ch. 5). And further, "God, therefore, stored away in creatures the causal reasons of the plants and trees that were to be, and, as if these plants and trees already existed" (Book 8, ch. 3.).

Do these texts imply that Augustine was a cryptic evolutionist? Well, obviously he wasnít. He was not concerned with scientific issues; these were of no interest to him. He was concerned with religious issues, including the narrative of the Noachian Flood and Noahís Ark, and whether every animal species could have been put there, and he was smart enough to know that a boat could not have been built large enough to include every animal in existence at the time of Augustine, and moreover that other problems would arise, like who eats who and the like over the several months they survived in the Ark. His opinion is that many species did not exist at the time of Noahís Ark. They have been created by God only in their seeds, in their potentiality, and they have come about later. Itís not as if he was trying to be an evolutionist. The significant point for us, however, is that he saw no problem with the notion that not everything, including all animal and plant species, may have existed from the beginning.

But let us now jump 850 years ahead, to the middle of the 13th century, to St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the other greatest theologian after St. Augustine in the Christian tradition. In his treatise on theology, Summa Theologica, a several-volume work, Aquinas explicitly raises the question of the origin of life, whether life could arise from inorganic matter by natural processes. I bring this issue up because it is one of great concern to the anti-evolutionists, who defend that life must have been created by God, that it could not come up by natural processes without Godís special intervention. Aquinas has a full chapter dedicated to the question. Why would he concern himself with that issue? In a way, for the same reason that Christians might be concerned now, because "scientists" and other people were saying that life may have come about from nonliving matter by natural processes, and this would seem contrary to Christian theology.

The evidence for the spontaneous origin of life in Thomas Aquinasí time came from the observation that in decaying matter, such as in the excrement of cattle or in rotten meat, maggots appear, apparently spontaneously. He asks, "Is that possible?" He proceeds, just as in every chapter of the Summa Theologica, by reviewing evidence from the Bible, then turning to evidence from the early commentators, the so-called Fathers of the Church, and then he looks for rational arguments derived from theology and philosophy. He concludes that there is nothing in any of these sources that would contradict the notion that life may spontaneously arise from nonliving matter. Nevertheless, he was not quite ready to accept the "evidence." He asks, does my conclusion mean that living beings come out from nonliving matter? He answers, I donít know. This is for scientists to decide, but the possibility cannot be excluded on the grounds that it would contradict the Christian faith. This seems to me a very important point, because this is one of the issues that is so problematic for those Christians who oppose evolution, namely the question of how could life possibly arise by natural processes from nonliving things.

More recently, within the Catholic tradition, the present Pope John Paul II has written, "The Bible speaks to us of the origins of the universe and its makeup, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationship of man with God and the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach these truths, it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer. The Sacred Book, likewise, wishes to tell men that the world was Ö created for the service of man and the glory of God. Any other teaching about the origin and makeup of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how heaven was made, but how one goes to heaven." (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 3, 1981.) Addressing the same Academy on October 22, 1996, the Pope again deplores interpreting the Bibleís teachings as scientific rather than religious, and says: "[N]ew knowledge has led us to realize that the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory."

The point made by the Pope is the same as St. Augustineís, namely, that it is a blunder to mistake the Bible for an elementary textbook of astronomy, geology and biology. Instead, it is possible to believe that the world has been created by God while also accepting that the planets, the mountains, the plants and the animals came about, after the initial creation, by natural processes. One can believe to be Godís creature without denying that the individual develops from a single cell in the motherís womb by natural processes.

Intelligent Design?
A surprising recent development against the theory of evolution is the argument known as "intelligent design." A number of books have been published in the past five or six years arguing that living beings give obvious evidence that they have been intelligently designed, and therefore there has to be an intelligent designer, which, of course, implies that all living beings have been originally created by God. I say that it is surprising because it is an old argument, well-developed in the 19th century, and answered by Darwin in The Origin of Species. For example, William Paley in his book Natural Theology (1802), read by Darwin as part of the canonical curriculum when he was a student at the University of Cambridge, had developed the argument-from-design as a demonstration of the existence of the Creator. It would be absurd to suppose, he wrote, that the exquisite functional complexity of the human eye would have come about by mere chance. It was Darwinís genius that he discovered natural selection, the process that accounts for the adaptive organization, or design, of organisms and their parts. Evolutionists down to the present invest much time, resources and imagination designing observations and experiments to investigate how natural selection contributes to the evolution of particular adaptations. It seems, therefore, unbecoming that several authors would have recently revived Paleyís argument claiming that organisms and living processes give evidence of "intelligent design" unaccountable by natural selection.

There is hardly any need to refute, once again, the argument, but I would like to say that, in my view, attributing the "design" of organisms to Godís special action amounts to blasphemy. Consider the human jaw. We have too many teeth for the jawís size, so that wisdom teeth need to be removed and orthodontists make a decent living straightening the others. Would we want to blame God for such defective design? A human engineer could have done better. Evolution gives a good account of this imperfection. Brain size increased over time in our ancestors, and the remodeling of the skull to fit the larger brain entailed a reduction of the jaw. Evolution responds to the organismís needs through natural selection, not by optimal design but by "tinkering," as it were, by slowly modifying existing structures. Consider now the birth canal of women, much too narrow for easy passage of the infantís head, so that thousands upon thousands of babies die during delivery. Surely we donít want to blame God for this defective design or for the childrenís deaths. Science makes it understandable, a consequence of the evolutionary enlargement of our brain. Females of other animals do not experience this difficulty.

One more example: Why are our arms and our legs, which are used for such different functions, made of the same materials, the same bones, muscles and nerves, all arranged in the same overall pattern? Evolution makes sense of the anomaly. Our remote ancestorsí forelimbs were legs. After our ancestors became bipedal and started using their forelimbs for functions other than walking, these became gradually modified, but retaining their original composition and arrangement. Engineers start with raw materials and a design suited for a particular purpose; evolution can only modify what is already there. An engineer who would design cars and airplanes, or wings and wheels, using the same materials arranged in a similar pattern, would surely be fired.

Recently, some authors have used biochemical examples to argue for intelligent design, partly because some biochemical processes are quite complicated. One example used is the blood-clotting mechanism in humans and other mammals. The claim is that this is a very complex process, which does not work unless all the components are present. But this argument is fundamentally no different from the one used by Paley and others nearly two centuries ago. And the blood clotting mechanism is a worse example than the eye because itís so unnecessarily complicated that only Rube Goldberg could have designed it. If we see it as a result of evolution, the blood-clotting mechanism is understandable; evolution makes sense of its convoluted complexity, why it takes so many steps to eventually coagulate the blood. But seeing it as the result of a special design, I will say again: A human engineer would have done better.

The defective design of organisms could be attributed to the gods of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, who fought with one another, made blunders and were clumsy in their endeavors. But, in my view, it is not compatible with special action by the omniscient and omnipotent God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

So what about the religious notion that we have been created by God, and, therefore, we cannot accept that we are products of evolution? One possible answer that many Christians hold is to accept that the world has been created by God, without necessarily believing that God is intervening at every point in the workings of the universe. One can accept the creation of the world, and that the laws of the universe come from God, and then accept that natural processes account for the origin of species, including our own. A believer can accept the notion that he or she has been created by God, and that every human being has been created by God, without denying the natural process, namely that there was an egg in the motherís womb that was fertilized by sperm, and that the resulting cell divided into two cells, then four cells, and eventually a baby was born. For many Christians and other people of faith, the notion of "created by God" doesnít necessarily mean special creation, everything created especially by God. It can imply that everything was originally created by God, and also that everything falls under Godís providence.

Teaching Evolution in the Schools
The opposition to the teaching of evolution in the schools is often buttressed, as I noted earlier, with the argument that the theory of evolution is just that, a "theory," not a fact. This argument ignores that when scientists talk about the "theory of evolution," they use the word "theory" differently than in ordinary language. In everyday English, a theory is an imperfect fact, as in "I have a theory as to what caused the explosion of TWA flight 800." In science, however, a theory is based on and incorporates a body of knowledge. According to the theory of evolution, organisms are related by common descent. There is a multiplicity of species because organisms change from generation to generation, and different lineages change in different ways. Species that share a recent ancestor are therefore more similar than those with more remote ancestors. Thus, humans and chimpanzees are, in configuration and genetic make-up, more similar to each other than they are to baboons or to elephants.

Scientists agree that the evolutionary origin of animals and plants is a scientific conclusion beyond reasonable doubt. They place it beside such established concepts as the roundness of the earth, its revolution around the sun and the molecular composition of matter. That evolution has occurred is, in ordinary language, a fact.

How is this factual claim compatible with the accepted view that science relies on observation, replication and experimentation, since nobody has observed the evolution of species, much less replicated it by experiment? What scientists observe are not the concepts or general conclusions of theories, but their consequences. Copernicusís heliocentric theory affirms that the earth revolves around the sun. Nobody has observed this phenomenon, but we accept it because of numerous confirmations of its predicted consequences. We accept that matter is made of atoms, even though nobody has seen them, because of corroborating observations and experiments in physics and chemistry. The same with the theory of evolution. For example, the claim that humans and chimpanzees are more closely related to each other than they are to baboons leads to the prediction that the DNA is more similar between humans and chimps than between chimps and baboons. To test this prediction, scientists select a particular gene, examine its DNA structure in each species, and thus corroborate the inference. Experiments of this kind are replicated in a variety of ways to gain further confidence in the conclusion. And so it is for myriad predictions and inferences between all sorts of organisms.

Not everything in the theory of evolution is equally certain. Many aspects remain subject for research, discussion and discovery. But uncertainty about these aspects does not cast doubt on the fact of evolution. Similarly, we do not know all the details about the configuration of the Rocky Mountains and how they came about, but this is not reason to doubt that the Rockies exist.

The theory of evolution needs to be taught in the schools because nothing in biology makes sense without it. Modern biology has broken the genetic code, developed highly productive crops and provided knowledge for improved health care. Students need to be properly trained in biology in order to improve their education and their chances for gainful employment, and to enjoy a meaningful life in a technological world.

One final comment. Science seeks material explanations for material processes, but it has nothing definitive to say about realities beyond its scope. Science is a way of acquiring knowledge about ourselves and the world around us, but it is not the only way. We acquire knowledge in many other ways, such as literature, the arts, philosophical reflection and religious experience. Scientific knowledge may enrich aesthetic and moral perceptions, but these subjects transcend scienceís realm. Successful as science is, and universally encompassing as its subject is, a scientific view of the world is hopelessly incomplete. Once science has had its say, there remains much about reality that is of interest, matters that may well be thought by many to be of equal or greater import than scientific questions--questions of value, meaning and purpose that are forever beyond scienceís scope.2

Footnotes
1 An example of the biblical literalist position is the Statement of Belief of the Creation Research Society: "The Bible is the Written Word of God, and because we believe it to be inspired thruout (sic), all of its assertions are historically and scientifically true in all of the original autographs. To the student of nature, this means that the account of origins in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical truths." (Creation Research Society Quarterly, any issue.) I am puzzled by the insistence of the Creation Research Society and other biblical fundamentalists on the strict literalist interpretation holding that all historical and geographical narratives of the Bible are precisely correct. My puzzle emerges from my own extensive reading of the Bible and the discovery of many literal inconsistencies and outright contradictions between various Biblical texts, in addition to their contradiction with received knowledge. Already in the book of Genesis there are two different narratives of Godís creation of the universe, animals and humans. The first chapter and the first three verses of chapter two convey the familiar narrative of the successive creation of the earth, the plants, the sun and the moon and the animals over five days, culminating with the simultaneous creation of man and woman on the sixth day: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them"(Genesis, 1, 27; King James version). "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made" (Genesis, 2, 2). A different creation narrative starts in chapter two, verse four, and fills the rest of the chapter. The creation of man is given in 2, 7: "And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breadth of life; and became a living soul." It is after the creation of man that "God planted a garden" (2, 8); "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree" (2, 9). "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden" (2, 15). The creation of the animals comes later: "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them" (2, 19). Only afterwards, does God proceed to create woman: "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, Ö and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man" (Genesis 2, 21-22).

2 This lecture incorporates portions of my "Arguing for Evolution," The Science Teacher 67(2):30-32, 2000; and "An American Malaise: The Debate between Darwin and Christian Fundamentalism," History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (in press).

 

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