Tue 29 May 2012
In Monday’s Washington Post there is a report that the paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey is predicting that in another 15-3o years the evidence for evolution will be so overwhelming that creationists who believe in a literal Adam and Eve (which includes about half of the American public, according to opinion polls) will finally throw in the towel. Would that it were so, but the evidence has been overwhelming for well over a hundred years. Every aspect of scientific discovery since Darwin rests on the assumption that life, and indeed all matter, has evolved over a process that involves millions of years. There is not a shred of evidence for the old Bishop Ussher chronology that it all began in a garden called Eden with a lump of clay, a serpent, a couple of symbolic trees and a refashioned rib; not a shred. Push back that divine origin story several thousand years and there is no difference.
If I am still around in another 15-35 years I do not expect the ardent creationists to be any less active. They continue because of an ideology that refuses to accept that the Bible is myth and not the inspired science and history of a rather old and unconvincing idea of God. Creationists do not approach science with an open mind, so they will not be convinced no matter what scientific evidence there is. The theology of the creationists has not changed. Take this old “history of the world” text book I have from the early part of the 19th century (the title page is missing, but the last information is for 1815). It may very well have been one of those books that Abraham Lincoln sought as a child for his own education. I include here the first section, which takes the sacred history of Genesis as real history. This was a book used in the public schools before Darwin published his revolutionary Origin of Species, not a religious tract. Science has come a long way, notwithstanding David Hume’s contributions not long before this book came out; creationists have not and never will.
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