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Thursday, April 07, 2005

From the "Shock The Monkey" department...

In Biology 3, we have started covering Evolution...something that in certain Red States is extremely controversial and tends to be not even mentioned in their High Schools. Even here in California I understand that it is sort of soft-pedaled in materials geared to K-12. But in a Collegiate Bio course, it is presented in a fairly straightforward way, and is presented as factual, without equivocation. During my "Messianic Jewish" phase, I wouldn't buy any of this, and would probably have made a ruckus about "discrimination against my religion" if I took this course back then. It's not surprising that I avoided this course 20 some-odd years ago.

Interestingly enough, there is a discussion of this issue on DailyKOS, and the remainder of this post is a reprint of stuff I posted there.

The only religion that has a problem with Evolution is Fundamentalist Protestant Christianity.

Catholic Christianity, mainstream Judaism and mainstream Islam all believe that the process of Evolution could have been the process that their God used to create the Universe. Most have an idea, from one extent to another, that the human soul was a special creation of their God. However, this does not preclude the evolutionary process as applying to the creation of physical life on Earth.

Of course, there are fanatics and literalists in all three of these religions. Some ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups tend to agree with Fundamentalist Protestant Christianity about Genesis requiring a literal reading. Also, the ultra-strict anti-Vatican II neo-Catholic sects, inclusive of the one Mel Gibson and his father belong to, take a similar view. Nobody's asked Osama bin Laden about his views on Evolution, but I would think that he or people with similar ultra-Puritan views on Islam might be more likely to say that the Quran should be read literally in regards to what it says about the origins of life.

Mainstream Protestant denominations have pretty much made their peace with Evolution, in a similar process to mainstream Judaism, Catholicism and Islam. In the views of all of these mainstream religions, if their God created Life, The Universe and Everything in a single week or in a process taking billions of years, it's OK. Buddhism and Hinduism actually speaks of processes which could be interpreted as Evolutionary in their scripture, so they have no problems with it either.

The main difference between Protestantism in the United States and Protestantism everywhere else in the world is that the Fundamentalist, Evangelical wing of Protestantism is dominant, particularly in the part of the US we like to refer to as "The Red States." This is why Creationism and Evolution continue to be a big issue here, where it's largely settled everywhere else.