Questions, Intuitions, Revisions:
Telling and Re-Telling Stories About Ourselves in the World
A College Seminar Course at Bryn Mawr College

Forum 7 - Papers on changing (or not changing) stories ...

Name:  orah minder
Subject:  seeing yourself in the universe
Date:  2002-10-17 11:20:55
Message Id:  3277
Paint a picture of yourself sitting in the universe. What would it look like? This is mine: A swirling mesh of colors and darkness covers a canvass the size of an entire wall in Thomas Great Hall. Colors leap across the canvass and roll around swallowing everything within. The observer is sucked into the painting and tumbled through it and is spat out again on the other side of the great hall. Maybe it's a Jackson Pollack, just darker. Approach the painting. Look closely at the colors and the paint, brush strokes, light source. Now, look at the bottom corner. You don't see me, yet, you will- if you have good eye sight. Look closer, bend down low, squint your eyes, and get on your knees. Do you see that small white splotch? That's me. That's me in the universe. And even that is an exaggeration.
The image of myself in the universe is impossible to comprehend. If I understood how small I was in relation to the rest of the universe I would cease to exist. I don't think anyone can live knowing how small she is in the universe. An overwhelming sense of worthlessness would take over. People would begin to ask, "What is the point of living if I have no consequence in the world?" I don't think anyone can continue living, continue going through the toils of life believing that she is worthless.
How can humanity deal with the aching pain of being inconsequential? God. God is the organizer of the universe. The first two verses of Genesis read as follows: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was chaotic and darkness covered the face of the abyss and the spirit of the Lord fluttered over the face of the waters." We are set in the ultimate chaos. We are in the painting, swirling and spinning and choking and gasping in a world that has no conscience, a world that does not understand that: I AM SPECIAL! But there is a governing force that flutters over this void, that sees me, outside of the millions, the billions, the uncountable.
Why do people keep telling and re-telling the story of creation, the story of God? Because without a God, without this story, we are dead, drowned. For some science is enough. For evolutionists, and other scientists, the order that science gives is enough. The swirls are put into frames and the light cages the darkness. And the boarders of human anatomy protect the cowering figure is a neat corner. Scientists are able to accept that there is no conscious being. There is an order to the random happenings in nature, that order is scientific fact.
For others there needs to be a conscious being. "Creationism is the theory that man, the earth, and the rest of the universe were originally created rather than randomly exploding from nothingness into chance existence" []. For some it is too painful to think that humans are here by chance. Humans need to be special. We NEED the bible to tell us that we are special because we were created special, intended to be special.
We tell stories to address deep seeded fears. To soothe ever-present nightmares. For some saying that science is God, that science is the organizer of the universe, is enough. Individuals do not need to be special because there is a reason for everything. There is a pattern in the universe that humans can decode and therefore have control over the universe. For these scientists there is no thought behind existence. For the creationists individuality is important- they cannot believe that the beauty of humanity and this world is random, there needs to be thought behind beauty.
Name:  Kristen Coveleskie
Subject:  evolution vs. creationism
Date:  2002-10-19 11:57:03
Message Id:  3278
The battle for the truth has been raging for centuries. This battle is not just for any truth but for the truth of our very existence on Earth. On one side stand the creationists who believe that "our universe and the natural things in it were created by God." (1) Their main weapon is the Bible and they are quick to find the flaws in the intermittent armor of their opponents. They defend themselves with their great faith that often stems from religious beliefs. Charging against the creationists are the evolutionists. Evolution can be described as "change over time." (2) Evolutionists are backed by an army of scientists who use experiments and evidence to gain scientific proof. This proof is their greatest weapon.

For quite some time the creationists seemed to have the battle won. Since people had no real way of explaining the world around them, they put great faith in their religion. The theories expounded in the Bible were equivalent to scientific fact. People who might have thought otherwise were considered heretics and severely punished unless they renounced their different views. This is seen in the play "Galileo" by Bertolt Brecht. In this play, Galileo comes up with scientific evidence to suggest that the Earth revolves around the sun. His ideas are seen as preposterous because they went against the word of the Bible. For fear of his own persecution, Galileo publicly renounces his ideas and lives the rest of his life in shame. (3)

Evolutionists began to gain the upper hand when science took charge over religion. A major proponent of the theory of evolution was Charles Darwin. Darwin had a theory about descent with modification. Determined scientists fervently strove to prove this theory. Proof came about in the form of fossils, common structures, developmental similarities, and molecular biology. It is said that "Science [is] used to explain new phenomena (new truths)." (2) This new truth in the form of the theory of evolution was accepted by many because it appealed to the senses as opposed to the creationist's theory which depended on blind faith.

It might appear that the evolutionists have a near victory today. Due to various court cases, creationism is no longer taught in schools. Without children learning this theory at this impressionable age, they are very unlikely to accept it later in life. Evolution, on the other hand, is now an accepted scientific theory that is part of every public school biology curriculum. Creationism is also associated with certain religions. Religion is not the center of peoples' lives as it once was. More and more people are putting their faith in science as opposed to religion.

Still, there are many gaps in the evolution theory. There are things that are just too complex to be explained by science. The creationists seize these evident gaps to demonstrate how their beliefs make more sense. They concentrate on the Bible story of the great flood. They use this story to explain what science can't. This massive flood could account for the layers of coal and oil found deep within the Earth. It could also explain sedimentary deposits that don't fit into the mold of the evolution theory.

Since these theories have coexisted for many years, they have begun to assimilate. There are many degrees of belief in both theories. There are still strict evolutionists who believe God plays no role in the development of the Earth and strict creationists who believe everything we have today was created by God. Most people, however, seem to agree with a combination of the two theories. "Opinion polls show that many people believe that divine intervention actively guided the evolution of human beings (2)." Many take the theory of evolution and fill in the gaps with the creation theory. Religion has been used since the beginning of time to give meaning to what cannot be explained. It seems as if this purpose still remains.

One example of the mergence of these opposing theories is the Intelligent Design Theory. This theory accepts ideas of evolution such as the old age of the Earth. This theory also supports the idea that behind the concepts of evolution and the complexities of life is some master designer. Some claim this superior artist to be God, but this theory is not viewed as synonymous with religious beliefs. This theory is accepted by scientists as well as the devout. There has most recently been a push supported by President Bush to have this theory or some other combination of evolution and creationism taught in the public schools (4).

Although it may appear as if the battlefield is being cleared, by no means is everyone willing to call a truce. Conviction of some people in their beliefs is so strong that they are not willing to compromise. Many evolutionists believe the Intelligent Design Theory is just a more sophisticated spin on the Creation Theory (5). They believe that the creationists are just trying to get their ideas taught in public schools. Strict creationists also refute this new theory because it accepts some ideas of evolution. So the battle continues between these two conflicting theories.

Name:  Ro. Finn
Subject:  What methods and motives have caused people to hold different 'stories' on evolution?
Date:  2002-10-19 23:10:09
Message Id:  3279
Playwright Marc Connelly said that he felt the luxury of intellect was that it freed you to hold opinions rather than convictions. Opinions you are free to change; convictions you're stuck with.

Darwin's Story

The ORIGIN OF SPECIES concludes with these words: "Thus, from the war of nature, from the famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animal, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one, and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."1

All but the first edition end with the version of this passage that contains the words 'by the Creator'. Perhaps, Darwin was being pragmatic, placating his public in order to gain broader acceptance or opportunistically manipulating readers' impressions. Perhaps he was reminding us that he was a believer in the Christian god of his critics. For forty years, he was an avid supporter of his village church, active as its parson and so well respected that many members of parliament pressed for him to be buried in Westminster Abby. His contemporaries accepted him as a man of God. Why then, do we rage in controversy on this topic?

Part of the answer may lie in understanding the chicken-and-egg effects of scientific research on culture and culture's effects on its scientists. Darwin and his work appear to be the ultimate example of this imperfect symbiosis. In ORIGIN OF SPECIES, Darwin relied heavily on the use of metaphor in order to give familiar form to radically new ideas. Knowing that his target audience was familiar with breeding dogs and pigeons, he drew upon analogies between these activities (artificial selection) and processes of natural selection. He also used contemporary activities and vocabulary from economics and capitalism in order to bridge the gab between concrete and abstract.

At some point along the path, the tail began to wag the dog. Darwin was led to the idea of natural selection by AN ESSAY ON THE PRINCIPAL OF POPULATION,2 written by political economist, Thomas Malthus. He extrapolated his theory of natural selection from Malthus' notion that population, and ultimately its drain on natural resources, is managed through war, famine, disease, etc. In fact, the phrase "survival of the fittest3" came from sociologist Herbert Spencer, but gained a sort of scientific credibility as Darwin used it.

It seems inevitable that a scientist-member of a culture would inevitably apply the values and frameworks of that culture to help explain what is not yet understood. It seems equally inevitable that that culture would be affected by which questions are asked and which are not in pursuit and articulation of new knowledge. Darwin lived in a competitive time of imperialistic ideas and actions, which could explain why his books –his story– do not include the notion of cooperation or co-opetition in nature. The prevailing social vocabulary and mores may have led to an interpretation of natural processes that is distorted and incomplete, leaving the door open for attack. Equally interesting, having described new scientific theories in social terms, the door was opened for that new knowledge to be used by others for social change. So, we have the implicit threat to society's value system posed by the 'science' of evolution as couched imperfectly in the politically laden vocabulary and metaphors of our daily lives. The stage was well set. How did it unfold as sides formed?

The Evolutionists and Their Stories

There are two main camps of evolutionists with varying stories in sub-groups of each: those who are disaffected by the concept of God when considering the efficacy of evolution, and those who think that we can believe in God and evolution. Theistic evolutionists believe that the universe is over 10 billion years old, and earth's crust developed about four or five billion years ago. God used evolution as a tool to guide the development of each new species, culminating in homo sapiens. Several mainstream and progressive Christian religions espouse theistic evolution. Naturalistic evolutionists hold these same beliefs except that God is assumed to have played no part in a process driven exclusively by natural forces.

The Roman Catholic church embraces theistic evolution. However, they believe that God initially created the universe and has been responsible for the creation of each human soul. Evolution has been taught by the church's schools throughout North America for decades. The Union Tribune (October 25, 1996) said, "In his most comprehensive statement yet on evolution, Pope John Paul II insisted that faith and science can co-exist. Charles Darwin's theories are sound as long as they take into account that creation was the work of God." Is the issue, then, how science and faith are defined, or is it whether the evidence supports evolution or not, irrespective of God lending credibility? If the theories are not sound, God doesn't appear to remedy the situation; if they are sound, God is, likely, superfluous. What was His Eminence's motive for crafting this particular two-sentence story?

Are the evolutionists' self-serving stories serving society well by keeping all options in play, even those that are not yet proven or do they pose a risk to rigorous science process, to religion, and to the underpinning values of our society? Perhaps, they are fighting personal battles that have more to do with strongly held beliefs, rights, risks, and values.

The Creationists and their Stories

Old earth creationists combine belief in God with an interpretation of Genesis as metaphor. God took 7 billion years to create the universe; the notion of a day as a billion years works just fine, if not literally. However, they reject biological evolution.

New earth creationists believe God created the universe during 6 consecutive 24 hour days less than 10,000 years ago, precisely as a literal interpretation of the Biblical book of Genesis would indicate. All of the various species of animals that have ever existed on earth are descendants of the animals that God created during the single week of creation.

New earth creationists notwithstanding, just as Darwin used metaphor to think about and communicate his origin theories, so have theologians used metaphor to think about and explain the concepts surrounding their god. If we cannot directly sense (taste, smell, feel, hear, see) a god, then it is not possible to create literal descriptions of its actions. Likewise, I'm going to make a leap of faith and assume that a god would use metaphor to communicate with humans. For example, the 'Lamb of God' is not a four-legged wooly animal, divine and earthly days are not necessarily the same length, Adam was made full grown, newly formed trees had fruit, light from stars could be seen the moment it was created, etc. one set of metaphors is dueling with another, and there are several fronts on which creationists wage war against the theory of evolution. Their stories range from interpretations of history to scientific propositions.

One such article, published by the Creation-Science Research Center, titled "Charles Darwin's Hidden Agenda for Science,"4 illustrates re-telling of the story casting Darwin in very different light from that of the evolutionists. The author describes Darwin's time "in a university community which was in a continual ferment of radicalism of all sorts advanced by dissenters of the Anglican church, freethinkers, anti-Christians and atheists, materialists and evolutionists. Evolution was in the air." From them, Darwin got a degree in theology to "purchase a living in an Anglican country church." The author claims that Darwin was duplicitous and opportunistic, maintaining a façade as biblical literalist in order to please the "opinionated, conservative Anglican" captain of the Beagle, Robert FitzRoy. The article states that "he waited for decades for the right intellectual and religious atmosphere and political climate to develop which would assure his victory when his infamous book, THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES, was published." It peaks with a description of the illnesses that plagued Darwin at that time, speculating, "Could it be that God was trying to tell Darwin something? He would not listen. A lost soul ruled by satanic power."

Other stories offer a sort of scientific deduction to refute Darwin's theories, such as this stream of logic: For evolution to be a fact, you must have life coming from non-life (abiogenesis) and a change in that life from simple to complex forms over time. How did life come from non-life? There are competing models, there are possibilities, but no one knows how it happened, or even how it could have happened in enough detail to be compelling. If you don't know how it happened by naturalistic, evolutionary processes, how do you know that it happened by those processes? Evolution is claimed to be fact, but you can't have the fact of evolution unless you have the fact of abiogenesis.

The stakes appear to be an ironic pseudo-integrity, people with convictions trying to stay true to themselves as the sands shift and the risks mount. They have all used the same chink in the armor for their creationist arguments: they want a level playing field, and evolution has not passed the rigorous tests and proofs necessary to claim that it is a science. Therefore, it does not deserve to be taught as a science, unless, of course, creationism is included in the curricula as such. Through their self-serving stories, are they obfuscating and suppressing knowledge about scientific findings or doing us a service by demanding due process before we hinge all manner of change to a new order of things? Perhaps, they, too, are fighting personal battles that have more to do with strongly held beliefs, rights, risks, and values.


The theory of evolution may be more philosophy than science. That said, it still enjoys firm footing within our social structure and value system. It seems ironic that the social metaphors Darwin used to explain his scientific theories also shaped them and then invited the risk that liberals would use them to affect social change. It also seems ironic that Christian theology, with its persistent premise that people are ends and not means, makes liberal values possible.
It seems most ironic that evolutionists and creationists appear to both use the same circular reasoning embedded in adroit storytelling to support their respective, opposing points of view: Because we're here. It must have happened (with or without God, depending upon which side you're on).

Decisions about public education are political. We often make political decisions based upon popular opinion, and that can be manipulated. In this sense, we believe that whoever controls the language will win the brass ring –the influence of one ideology over the other. That is why the spinning of stories is so fierce. It may also be why attention to the seemingly obvious is not interesting: Teach evolution, but not yet as a science; teach creationism within religious education.

On the one hand, if language about God is necessarily metaphorical and language that created evolution is also metaphorical, then maybe we do have to draw stories at twenty paces and see who's left standing. On the other hand, science just might eventually press past metaphor and come to the rescue.

1 "Origin of Species,"Charles Darwin (1859)
2 "An Essay on the Principal of Population," (1798), Thomas Malthus
3 Herbert Spencer, British philosopher and sociologist, wrote "A System of Synthetic Philosophy"(1862), from which the phrase "survival of the fittest" came
4 "Charles Darwin's Hidden Agenda for Science," Creation-Science Research Center (1996), The Parent Company
5 "Darwin's Theory of Evolution -- A Notion Rooted Deep in Racism, but not in Science," Good Schools, Darwin and Evolution, (1997)

Name:  Kristina Copplin
Date:  2002-10-20 10:30:38
Message Id:  3280
Re-telling a story is an act that most often does not come easily. Many times, the person re-telling the story must be both audacious and completely confident that the new and different version of the story will be accepted. As history has demonstrated, society is often reluctant to embrace new ideas and therefore those with such revolutionary thoughts are left vulnerable- they will either become brilliant enlighteners or isolated lunatics. Thus, we are encouraged to question what makes us re-tell stories originally if such an act has significant consequences, what are the costs associated with presenting new stories to society, and what does one hope to accomplish by questioning what society already knows.
Charles Darwin, and many scientists before him, chose to re-tell a fundamental story- the story of creation. Darwin proposed the idea of survival of the fittest and natural selection that shocked the social order and directly questioned the basis of society's faith. He debated the creation story told in Genesis. By asserting his theory of evolution he counteracted the story that society already knew, " In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1, The Old Testament). However, Darwin faced many obstacles in his attempt to educate humanity, as people did not immediately embrace his theory. He, as most enlighteners do, experienced isolation and seclusion. Upon sharing his belief chaos erupted and he, along with his revolutionary idea, was rejected by society. The public was not willing to embrace any alteration to the story that they had become comfortable with. Thus it is clear that one would be reluctant to re-tell stories because of a fear of isolation as well as apprehension that his or her idea would be mocked rather than accepted. Moreover, by disrupting the beliefs of many others, Darwin changed society for generations to come. Due to his re-telling of a story, he opened up a new realm that was not available before. His choice to introduce evolution impacted science education and religion centuries later.
Today, the debate about evolutionism and creationism has caused strife among communities and has caused people to question the coexistence of science and religion. While evolutionists contend that there is scientific evidence for the theory, creationists argue, " becomes evident that not only does the exclusive teaching of evolution encourage our children's rejection of Judeo-Christian morality, but it also prepares young minds for the reception of religious views which [are] unacceptable" ( htm). Many feel it necessary to see God in creation as it gives them hope and a larger sense of understanding. They believe that without God in the creation story life is void of meaning. Moreover, many creationists think that, "evolutionary training leads to an atheistic way of thinking" ( While evolutionists present their theory as to origin of man, religion and comfort prevents society from accepting such an idea without reservations. As the contemporary debate over science education continues, one is forced to see that the consequences of one's choice to alter the original story can have long-term effects. However, obviously people are compelled to risk such costs and re-tell their stories anyway. Today, evolution is taught in many schools and various people find validity in Darwin's teachings. Still, we are unsure as to who is completely accurate- whether the true origin of life lies in the ideas of evolutionists or creationists. Nevertheless society is able to explore both beliefs.
Upon examining the case of Darwin, his theory, and the complications that arose after his re-telling of a story one would wonder why anyone would be motivated to do so. Why risk isolation and deprivation of societal connections? Why risk having an idea you believe to be revolutionary dismissed as the ramblings of a lunatic? Clearly, something compelled Darwin (and still compels others) to share ideas with the public, even though the costs were great. One of the most convincing arguments for re-telling a story is simple- if Darwin had knowledge that would change humankind, change the history of the world, and would alter the beliefs of future generations sharing it with others would be the most logical step. Why keep such profound information to himself to let it die when he died, to let it go unheard to civilization? Thus, he re-told the story of creation, acknowledging that he would face substantial consequences. Moreover, though Darwin most likely realized the weight of his findings, he hoped to find at least one person who would share in his belief .He wanted to witness others question what society deemed as the truth; he needed to see that he was not alone in his desire to break with conformity and instill innovation and inventiveness into the normalcy of mankind.
Along with the consequences that accompany the re-telling of a story, there are benefits. In the case of Darwin's re-telling, society was enlightened. Though originally many rejected his hypothesis, a select few found truth in the evolutionary theory. Soon, more people subscribed to the tenet and eventually it became almost as accepted as the theory that God created the universe. Also, by presenting his new theory in a time period when questioning religion was extremely unpopular, Darwin has become a symbol for breaking with conformity and testing the invisible boundaries that prevent society from accepting new ideas.
Throughout history, people have risked isolation and public defamation in order to alter an original story. Their motivation to retell a story is based on a desire to present a fundamental theory to society with the hope of either enlightening the public or connecting with at least one person who shares the belief. While the contemporary debate regarding science education continues, we are reminded what it cost Darwin to challenge the creationists theory of the origin of life. He risked his place in society to educate humanity and the effects of such an act are still felt today. Clearly, the benefits of retelling a story outweigh the consequences, as people continue to question the fundamentals that placate society. Without such retellings, civilization would never evolve and humankind would never know what other possibilities exist.
Name:  Alexandria Frizell
Subject:  Should evolution Be Taught In Schools?
Date:  2002-10-20 13:51:10
Message Id:  3282
Alexandria Frizell
College Seminar
Professor Grobstein
October 22, 2002

Should Evolution be Taught in Schools?

Evolution and creationism have been much disputed since Darwin created his theory of evolution. The creationists think that evolution should not be taught in schools, and the evolutionists do. Many very religious people also think that evolution should not be taught in schools. This ties in with the discussions on telling and retelling stories. To tell and revise stories is of great importance, as we learned through reading Galileo and Flatland. Both evolution and creationism should be taught in schools today.
Creationism is the theory that God created the earth and everything on it as it is. Many religious persons believe that this is the truth and this is what should be taught in schools. To teach evolution would be sac religious to many people.
Evolutionism is the theory that animals evolved over time from another form. For example, humans evolved from primates. Some evolutionists believe that God created the earth, but that everything else evolved from forms that God created. Others have different theories about Earth's creation.
Evolution should be taught in schools because it is a scientific theory that has much evidence in its favor. There is more evidence that humans evolved from primates then there is that God created the Earth. Evolution is a popular theory that children should be educated about.
On the other hand, creationism should also be taught in schools. Creationism is another popular theory. There is a possibility that the creationists are right. There is also a possibility that both the creationists and the evolutionists are right.
Both creationism and evolutionism should be taught in schools, because they are two very popular theories. The child should be able to be taught both theories and then decide in which he or she believes. Perhaps the child will create a theory of their own combining the two. However, as both theories are common, they should both be taught.
If only one of the theories is taught in schools, it is probable that that is the theory in which the child will believe. Since the child had no other training, no other option, why wouldn't he or she believe what he or she is taught? When the other theory is presented to the child, the child may instantly reject it, only believing what they were taught in the first place. It is necessary to keep an open mind with scientific theories, as they are constantly gaining new evidence and constantly changing.
Telling and retelling stories is extremely important. As we learned with the square in Flatland, only having one side of the story and having a closed mind can be dangerous. The square couldn't believe that there was a third dimension when it was first presented to him by the sphere (Abbott 56). He also had much trouble trying to convince the line that there is a second dimension. The King of Lineland would not listen (Abbott 49). When the square saw the third dimension for himself, he believed in it. However, he could not convince anyone else that there was a third dimension, and therefore was thrown in jail for treason (Abbott 81). Yet, there really was a third dimension. The circles in flatland were closed minded. The story of their world and universe needed to be revised. As it wasn't revised, the people of Flatland suffered in ignorance. There were whole other worlds outside of their own that they could explore and learn from, yet they did not. They stayed in their own world, completely ignorant of anyone else in the universe besides their own people.
Other proof that the revision of stories is a necessity is demonstrated in Galileo. Galileo is placed under house arrest because he disputed a theory that was written in the Bible (Brecht 107). Galileo said that the earth revolved around the sun, and that the universe was heliocentric (Brecht 49). The earth was therefore not the center of the universe. Galileo and his supporters knew that this was true, but the Pope and the religious community did not want to believe it. They only believed what the Bible said, and that was that the sun revolved around the earth (Brecht 108). They showed Galileo the "instruments" to get him to recant (Brecht 110). If Galileo hadn't recanted, he would have been put to death. However, he did recant (Brecht 114). He therefore had the opportunity to finish his discoursi at night and hide it in his globe while he was under house arrest (Brecht 120). When Andrea came to see him, he carried the discoursi over the border so it could be read and accepted (Brecht 128). If Galileo hadn't written his discoursi, it would have been many more years before his theory would have been discovered by someone else. Perhaps schools today would even be teaching that the sun revolved around the earth. Theories and stories need to be revised because often they are not true. Revision can better the story.
In conclusion, evolution and creationism should be taught in schools. They are two theories that have been revised and retold over time. They are both popular theories, and therefore children have a right to learn both of them. Either theory or even both theories could be true. Science is always being revised, and revision is necessary to gain a better truth.

Works Cited
Abbott, Edwin A. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. New York: Dover Publications Inc, 1992.
Brecht, Bertolt. Galileo. New York: Grover Press, 1966.

Works Consulted
"Defending the Teaching of Evolution in Public Schools." National Center for Science Education. 11 Oct. 2002. 20 Oct. 2002. .
"The Origin of the Universe, Earth, and Life." Science and Creationism: A View from the Academy of Natural Sciences. The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1999. 20 Oct. 2002. .

Name:  Rachel Steinberg
Subject:  Flatland, Galileo, evolution
Date:  2002-10-20 18:03:11
Message Id:  3283
Rachel Steinberg
Questions, Intuitions, and Revisions

A story has validity when proof is provided to support it. Frequently, a story without proof, mostly those that are factual, is scorned in the eyes of the majority. There are many examples of this situation. In Flatland, the square is labeled as a criminal for telling what he knows is the truth, but cannot prove to others. Galileo had the same problem when he tried to convince the world without technology that the Earth circles the sun. More recently, the teaching of evolution is having similar issues. The concept is new, and the proof is questionable. The people are fixated on one idea, and need convincing before they can be taught and then retell a new one. There is so much doubt in the world, and if only people had faith in the validity of a story would these problems go away.
Flatland by Bertolt Brecht is the recounting of a square who knows too much. The square is perfectly happy with his life in Flatland. He is satisfied that there is nothing more he must know, especially about further dimensions. Yet one day, he has an odd dream that there is a land made up only of lines. He thinks nothing of it until he is accosted by a sphere from Spaceland. He is doubtful of the sphere, and in fact thinks it is not real. He has seen no other world, and is therefore dubious that any other would exist. In fact, the square is so enraged at these supposed lies that he resorts to violence and harsh words: "'Monster,' I shrieked, 'be thou juggler, enchanter, dream, or devil, no more will I endure thy mockeries. Either thou or I must perish.' And saying these words I precipitated myself upon him." (page 62) However, when the sphere pulls the square into his land, he has proof. He has seen another land with his own eyes.
This proof is all that the square needed to find validity in the story. But how was he to convince others? Interestingly, the square knew that he at one point did not believe what the sphere was saying, yet he wanted to spread this story anyway. The square knew that he was not a believer until he saw that another land existed for his own eyes, so it is odd that he would try the tactic of simply retelling the story when he knew it would not work. Wouldn't the square learn from what had happened to him? He placed false hope in the fact that since he saw it, it must be true and valid to everyone else. This kind of storytelling does not work. Why else are there illustrations in fictional books and why do people always need to go to the source of the story when they hear something that is supposedly true? Humans work on having proof and sight of that in question.
Galileo learned this lesson of human nature. A revolutionary scientist leads a difficult life. Galileo was a well known scientist in Italy, and very popular for his astronomical ideas and calculations. However, his popularity changed instantly when he began to use a telescope, one that he claimed he had created. He looked into space and observed what went on, that which was visible to him. He proposed a theory that was unheard of at the time. Galileo dared to suggest that the Earth circled the sun, as did the other planets, rather than vice-versa. In a time when the Church ruled Europe, Galileo dared to voice his opinion. It was hard for him to find support, even among his friends and family. Yet despite the proof and calculations he offered, no one wanted to believe him, or even listen. Although the people of Italy knew Galileo and trusted his expertise, they were opposed to listening to new ideas, particularly due to t he influence of the church.
Galileo did not want to give up. He did not want to show weakness. However, the Church had it in for him. They did not want to be disproved as badly as Galileo wanted to show his proof. If only people could have seen what he saw then. They would have known that there were other possibilities in space. Yet Galileo allowed himself to be intimidated. He was threatened with torture, and he caved. He was forced to recant his statements about the movement of planets, much to the disappointment of his friends and colleagues.
In Galileo's time, even with proof he probably would have been ignored. The Church refused to allow such an embarrassment to happen. As Galileo's friend Sagredo said in Galileo,
"Galileo, you are traveling the road to disaster. You are suspicious and skeptical in science, but in politics you are as naive as your daughter! How can people in power leave a man at large who tells the truth, even if it be the truth about distant stars? Can you see the Pope scribbling a note in his diary: 'Tenth of January, 1610, Heaven abolished'? A moment ago, when you were at the telescope, I saw you tied to the stake, and when you said you believed in proof, I smelt burning flesh!"
Galileo's case was different from the square in Flatland. Galileo had proof that he tried to show, but no one wanted to see it, nor were they allowed. The square could not provide proof. The citizens of Flatland would have had to go by his word. In either case, a new story frightened people, whether or not they wanted to see proof of its truth. Despite the promise of proof in Galileo's instance, the people refused to give in to learning. New stories that would change the world are highly feared.
This example can be seen in the idea of evolution. Since the mid 1900s, there has been a struggle to teach the theory of evolution in school biology. A new idea was pursued by scientists, and there was finally evidence to back up their theories. It became known and accepted in the science world that evolution was a possibility for the development of man. Yet the world was working on the creation theory. There were teachers who wanted to teach evolution, yet there were students and parents who had not yet accepted that evolution was a valid possibility.
In the case of the teaching of evolution, there was proof, as with Galileo's situation, yet no one was willing to drastically change their views yet. People were afraid of the newness. The theory of evolution would alter the world. The idea of creation was the popular theory, that a higher being had created the world and man. This idea was widely known even among the secular population. However, the evidence for evolution was shoved in people's faces again and again until they came around to accepting it, if not believing it. Unpopular yet correct ideas need to be forced over and over despite the reaction. Even if it is hard to find a believer at first, people will get used to having the idea around.
Now, in most schools evolution is taught. The idea has been spinning in people's heads for years now, so it is not unfamiliar and new anymore. Also, the Scopes trial brought the concept of evolution into perspective for a large part of the population. Evolution is accepted. Not only have people gotten used to the idea, but people are willing to investigate the proof that has been provided to support the theory.
In Flatland, a world of multiple dimensions was implausible to most people except for those who had been in more than one dimension. In Galileo's time, only those willing to look into a telescope up at heaven found proof that the Earth and the other planets circled the sun. Currently, evolution is still slowly finding its way into the curriculum of biology after much force. It is not easy to sell a new story, especially to the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that the square and Galileo ultimately suffered for their suggestions, and that the Scopes trial arose in relation to evolution. However, eventually all new ideas won out. It was a long, eventual process. In the end, the ideas that made sense were pursued. The interesting stories, those that sparked interest and controversy, thrived.

Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Why We Cannot Help Telling Two Sides of the Same Story
Date:  2002-10-20 19:29:58
Message Id:  3284
Elena Weygandt
Paper #2
Professor Hayley Thomas
October 21, 2002

Why We Cannot Help Telling Two Sides of the Same Story:
The Contemporary Debate about Evolution and Creationism

I see dinosaur traits in my chickens. Clyde, the black and white speckled rooster, flys with the help of his powerful wings and runs with the support of his incredibly strong three-digit feet just as the pterodactyls did billions of years ago. This story of evolution derives from scientists' observation of chickens like Clyde, from tangible evidence of dinosaur bones and from deductive theory. Unlike evolutionists, however, creationists draw upon the Bible as the source for the story that God created each life form separately from others. (Hence only God knows which came first, the chicken or the egg, because he chose one.) Creationism cannot be justified by scientific method because its validity lies in the imagination and hearts of its believers. Therefore many insist that this notion belongs properly in a religious context, separate from the school of evolution. Yet a debate over these two realms exits because adherents of each story denounce the other in their attempt to further their own cause. Neither theory provides complete explanation for the earth's present appearance, though. What they do contribute, rather, are two sides to the same story which are equally important to the purpose of human life on this planet.
As a society, humans carry over the accomplishments of science two succeeding generations. Over a span of thousands of years, human science has moved from stone tools to computers. It is our ability to draw from the examples of those who have come before us which contributes to the mental differences between modern man and our ancestors who millions of years back, swung from tree to tree in the canopies of Africa. When we use logic to deduce the theory that we evolved from apes, we utilize the reasoning part of our brains. According to scientific theory the evolution of humans occurs towards the end of the line of events culminating in the present-day composition of the universe. One thing that is certain is that the formulation of this chronology has been made possible by the use of human logic and proven by science. It states that billions of years ago a small piece of space heated to the point that it exploded and caused a "big bang," out of which dust collided to form galaxies, and in which solar systems and stars were born. In one particular solar system a huge chunk of debris formed which we call Earth, and which was just the right distance from its sun to provide water and warmth for life. The use of telescopes and aerospace equipment provides evidence to support this theory. Fossils and bones prove that a few billion years back, but after plant life had already been thriving, dinosaurs roamed the land. Rock sediments have lead scientists to understand that an ice age devastated the earth and probably wiped out the dinosaurs. Most recently, scientists have used the study of DNA to discover that we evolved from animals that preceded the ice age. Though this story is complex, it is ordered in a way that makes people believe it. It provides an explanation for our existence, and a map with a trail from where we came, and more importantly, points to areas where we can explore further.
Not only logic, however, but also imagination separates us from other animals. Creativity has given the motivation for some to explore the puzzle of our evolution without the use of science. These people do not call the place of humans in a long list of events evolutionism, but instead creationism. Rather than use fossils or telescopes, they refer to the Bible, which states that God created first the heaven and earth, then light, then water and plants, then animals, and finally man. To many, this moving excerpt from Genesis describing these miracles is more meaningful than any newly discovered Australopithecus skeleton. This faith in an outside force, God, exists because human beings believe in it, just as humans believe in the science they have invented. Since many who choose to believe in creationism do not also believe in evolutionism, the theories have grown away from each other and do not contain elements of the other.
Yet, recently, some schools have made an effort to teach creationism in science class. Arguably, this notion is wrong because science and religion are two different beliefs that must not be confused with one another. In the big picture, though, this feud over the story of our introduction to the earth exists because the motivation to further the cause of each theory persists. One can only conclude that this stand-off is relentless because one theory cannot outweigh the other as long as they both remain pertinent to people's explanation of the beginnings of mankind.
Therefore, this story of our place in the universe, like many tales, has two sides. Science alone does not fully account for our evolution-- there are discrepancies in Darwin's theory and to this day no one can fully prove the origins of the Big Bang. At the same time, fossils reveal that dinosaur bones resemble skeletons of birds (especially chickens) so that the theory of evolution can not be ignored. It is disconcerting then, that human resources, such as science, logic, imagination and faith work to form two different answers to the same question, when instead can also work in harmony to form one answer. It is absurd and unsatisfying to many, however, to mix science and religion by suggesting, for instance, that God snapped his fingers and created the Big Bang. Ultimately, though, humans will continue to want a world where science can have permission (unlike in the days of Galileo when the Church stunted scientific exploration) and progress and, at the same time, where faith can provoke us to believe in the unexplainable. Therefore it is logical to accept that in this world, there is room for both creationism and evolutionism, and that the loss of one side of the story makes this planet a smaller place to us.

Name:  Abigail Bruhlmann
Subject:  Evolution/Creationism
Date:  2002-10-20 21:05:28
Message Id:  3285
"My Truth is better than Your Truth"

Perhaps the main conflict of the debate between creationism and evolution is what the "truth" is. Each side of this argument defines "truth" differently. Scientists who advocate evolution rely on scientific evidence and tests to formulate their theories that inch them closer to the truth, while creationists, whose truths come from God, know that creationism is unequivocally the only explanation of the natural world. These opposing views mix about as well as oil and water, so this debate isn't going to come to a close anytime soon. In the scientific community, faith and belief in God and the Bible isn't accepted as proof to a theory, just as scientific evidence isn't enough to shake a creationist's beliefs. As neither side of the argument can ever furnish enough "proof" to convince themselves and their opposition of their view of the natural world, it is unlikely that the debate over creationism and evolution will ever be resolved.

The theory of evolution, which is based on scientific principles, does not have all of the answers regarding evolution and hasn't yet been fully proven. For these reasons, evolution remains a theory, which by definition is, "a well substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." ( The mere fact that there are unexplained portions in the theory of evolution is proof to a creationist that evolutionary theory can't possibly be true. As long as there are questions that can't yet be answered, a creationist will argue against the validity of evolution. Creationism is rooted in religion, so faith in God and the Bible are the proofs that support this viewpoint. Comparing a scientific explanation to a religious explanation of the set up of the natural world will not lead to a productive argument because such different methods are used to furnish proof. An anthropologist could endlessly talk about the merits of evolution, only to be interrupted by a creationist who will demand that the holes of evolutionary theory be explained. A creationist would also argue, "Can we equate 'what is true' only with 'what can be seen and measured'? Is the physical dimension 'all there is'?" ( Since anthropologists don't deal with metaphysical matters, any explanation that they can provide using only scientific tests won't be accepted by creationists who have faith in things that can't be measured. A creationist could try to convince an anthropologist that creationism is responsible for the natural world as we know it, but the anthropologist, who relies on scientific evidence alone, would never be satisfied with belief in God's word as proof of a creationist view of the world.

If evolutionists don't believe what creationists know to be true and creationists don't accept the theory of evolution as true, what should we teach our children in school? As "'Truth is the daughter of Time, not Authority,'" (Brecht 68) only time will tell whether the evolutionists or the creationists are correct as no one has the capacity at the present to convince those holding opposing viewpoints of their version of the truth. For now, we should remember that creationism is a religious belief. In the United States, there is separation of church and state, so religious principles don't belong in a science class of a school. Though evolutionary theory may not be complete, it is a scientific theory about human origins, and therefore has a place in science classrooms. Evolution is still called a theory and isn't presented as a "proven fact" ( as some creationists claim. Imagine how tiresome it would be to start every sentence with, "If the theory of evolution is indeed true, then..." when talking about topics related to evolution. New discoveries are made all the time in the field of Anthropology, and revisions are made to evolutionary theory as scientists get an increasingly clearer view of the natural world with every new piece of evidence. As the details of evolution have to be shifted every time a new discovery is made, the story of evolution is being retold a little differently with each telling, while the creationism story always remains the same.

Why do proponents of evolution want so badly to convince creationists that they are right, and why do creationists feel the need to challenge the scientific evidence that evolutionists present? Can't each side be content that they know the truth and be smug that the other continues to believe a foolish idea? Galileo knew that the earth revolves around the sun. He didn't keep this idea to himself because it is frustrating to know that you are right when everyone around you believes something different. Perhaps he wanted to challenge society not to take for granted what they have been told. Creationists provide a similar argument against the evolution, "since scientists know that other scientists believe in evolution, they believe it also, even though they may not know much about the details themselves." ( Scientists, meanwhile, know that their scientific evidence proves evolution and want creationists to accept this type of evidence as truth. Since both sides are convinced they are right and want to prove this to their opponents, the stories of evolution and creationism will be told and retold forever.
Contending scientific theories with religious beliefs and debunking religious beliefs with scientific theories clearly doesn't work because one will only accept evidence that is similar to ones beliefs. If people are only willing to accept ideas that mirror their own, the spread of new and radically different ideas becomes quite difficult. Since what one side of the argument calls indisputable evidence is deemed superfluous by the other, the truth that one side holds dear will never be accepted by the other. As this is the case, perhaps evolutionists and creationists should suppress their human urge to prove the other side wrong, and agree to disagree for a change.

Works Cited:

Brecht, Bertolt. "Galileo". Grove Press, New York. 1966. pg 68

"How Can All Those Scientists Be Wrong?"

"Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science". The National Academy of Sciences. Washington, DC.: National Academy Press, 1998.

Name:  Whitney Ricketts
Subject:  how do we know what is right?
Date:  2002-10-20 22:30:22
Message Id:  3286
The first website, "Science and Creationism", states: "how then can two views be so different?" In referring to "the system of science", science is presented as an order, a means of viewing the world. We often confuse quantitative with correct, assuming that if we conjure up enough evidence we might as well be able to prove something. The major quandary, in examining our own history, lies in how we tell it- how our evolution is presented to us, and how we interpret that presentation.
The theory of evolution exemplifies not only our reliance on science for "truth", but it also shows the dichotomy of the debate itself. On one hand, we have religion, on the mystical side of fact, and then there's the biological theory of evolution. In dividing into two camps, the issue itself is ignored, and this debate turns from a discussion of history into one of "values", "life perspectives", "morals". Both science and religion are stories, comprised of events that culminate and lead the believer to draw conclusions. Why is it then that we believe science to be "less wrong"? There are holes in each story, pieces missing. Yet we call one true, and the other- legend.
In the first website, it is stated: "science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each." The operative word in that statement is "glory"- is that truly the objective? When telling stories, what are we attempting to do? We live in a world we do not fully understand, and thus we attempt to explain what we cannot prove. Creationism and evolution supply two means to that end, but they do so in different ways. Is it glorification of history? Of myth? Why do we compare religion and science if they occupy two different arenas of thinking? These two stories are considered to be interchangeable yet they are not mutually exclusive. We are forced to decide between the two stories, to create a "right" and a "wrong" before the stories themselves are proven.
The creationism website proclaims: "evolution stands against scientific principles", adding that it is "mathematically impossible". We're talking about religion versus science here- is this truly a battle we intend to see won? The debate of evolution, of which argument is the most true, leads us to our next question: how do we know what true is? How can we ever prove that anything is fact? Our concepts evolve with our technology, and thus we learn new things about the world and ourselves with every day. How can we be forced to ordain truth when we do not have the tools to make that decision?
The Scientific Creationism website asks a pertinent question about evolution: "is it really proven beyond reasonable doubt?" Can anything really be proven beyond reasonable doubt? If our tools to prove change with the second, how can we fully prove anything? Is it our job to prove at all? What purpose do we serve in telling the story? Are we merely the vehicle, or translator, or both?
The debate of our origin and its interpretation rests on the shoulders of each generation. We are faced with the dilemma of what we should teach our children. The story is recycled again, and converted to textbooks or other forms of curricula, so that it can be reinterpreted by another army of minds. Who has the authority on truth? Are facts the only way to prove that something is credible? Why do we feel the need to "prove" everything, to justify our beliefs to others?
Name:  Diane Gibfried
Subject:  "Who Made You?"
Date:  2002-10-20 23:28:30
Message Id:  3289
Who Made You
"Who made you? God made me. Who is God? God is the Supreme Being who created all things." 1950s Baltimore Catechism
There is a lot at stake in regard to our creation stories. "In the beginning God created the World," The word create is actually "bara" in Hebrew and always has God as it's subject. In the revised Catholic Catechism, a model is given of the world "in a state of journeying". The statement is made "The revelation of creation is inseparable from the revelation and forging of the covenant of God with His people. Creation is the first step towards covenant."
Whether the perception is that "everything is God" (Pantheism) or "the physical world is evil" (Gnosticism) or "The world is merely an interplay of matter that always existed"
(Materialism)... the question of where we come from has a lot to do with who we think we are.
Not exclusive to religion, Science also has it's hands on the question and handles it in it's own way. Evolutionists argue that a biological evolution occurred through natural variations and natural selection. Genetic mutations arose by chance and if the mutation was good and helpful, it was passed onto the next surviving fitter generation. Geography caused species to split. The fossil record shows that an order of increasingly more complex life forms seems to have appeared. Similarities in comparative anatomy, common ancestry, embryology, and even molecular biology provide evidence of similarities and consistencies in species and their development. Bacteria resistant antibiotics are evolving in our own time and before our own eyes.
This evidence of Darwin's theory of evolution has found strong backing in the scientific community and it is taught in school science classes as well as forming a basis for other disciplines like anthropology, psychology. These evolutionist educators argue that the religious story, the creation story, has no place in the secular classroom because it has no basis in science.
A Jesuit paleontologist and mystic Teilhard de Chardin sought to combine the sacred and science in his philosophy. He was one of the Jesuits who worked at unearthing Peking Man. Teilhard equated evolution with a "rise of consciousness". He saw this rise of consciousness as a state of journeying toward union with God. He saw matter as holy and infused with divine presence. For this reason he was often accused of Pantheism. But the point he attempted to make is missed, that an encounter with matter as beings in the physical realm can reveal the spiritual realm to us.
Teilhard saw a world increasing in complexity and progressing toward unity. He imagined a "stage of evolution characterized by a complex membrane of information enveloping the globe and fueled by human consciousness". Some claim that he foresaw the Internet. Teilhard has not been given much credence by either the church or science.
He is only mentioned here because he attempted to use science and spirituality together to tell the story. Certainly a different kind of evolution is taking place which although not biological or anatomical in nature, is instead informational and also world altering.

Stephen Jay Gould, in an interview with Anne Devlin online, completely refutes the idea of evolution as progress. In his argument he names two aspects of a great scientific revelation:
1. physical reconstruction of the universe
2. getting humans to accept it. Dethroning human arrogance.
He cites Galileo and Copernicus as having accomplished both. He states however, that Darwin has only accomplished the first. To Gould, Darwin's natural selection is about adaptation to environment and has nothing whatever to say about progress. He states,
"We only spin-doctor it to say we are making progress." One example Gould gives is that we are always talking about horses as a triumphant successful species because they have survived for so long. But, in fact, they are extremely unsuccessful. Out of 30 separate genres of horse, only one remains. Gould states that it is the "Age of Bacteria".
And that it "has always been the Age of Bacteria". Bacteria are most successful, there has been a constancy of bacterial domination and they exist in broader environments and if there is bacteria found on Mars, interplanetary environments as well. The interviewer repeatedly tried to push Gould into answering questions about the meaning of life. His response was that Nature has no point. He claims that "Variation is Nature's only irreducible essence." Religion, the study of ethics and values is necessary for attempting to find meaning, but not illuminated by the factual state of nature. Science should stay out of morals and meaning and religion should stay out of science.
Behe wrote a book entitled "Darwin's Black Box". This book proposes that Darwin's theory is "impotent in accounting for the molecular basis of life" Behe cites examples of cilium, vision and blood clotting, which are not explained as yet by evolutionists. Evolutionists do not address the complexity of molecular biological systems, which modern scientists have observed and do not answer the questions as to how they have evolved. Behe proposes another model of "intelligent design" stating that the observable organization of the systems themselves speak to a designer. "The function of a system is determined from the systems of internal logic." His argument doesn't require a candidate for the designer. The fact that we are nearing a time when we ourselves can actually design complex biochemical systems also speaks to an intelligent designer of pre-existing systems. Behe argues that just because a theory or model may have similarities or re-enforce a religious belief does not alone discount it's validity. The "Big Bang" seemed to re-enforce Judeo-Christian stories about the creation of the universe and so, many scientists were prejudiced against it.
Richard Dickerson, a prominent biochemist, proposed a rule "Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes without invoking the supernatural." Behe argues that given the nature of the search for an explanation of our origins cannot involve testing or experimentation or concrete proof, it is theoretical in nature. If it leads to a possibility of an intelligent designer, this possibility should not be discounted merely because it may have some supernatural undercurrents. He gives an example of the Big Bang theory and that it seemed to back up Judeo Christian belief systems.
Evolutionists argue that the religious spin on creation has no place in the classroom. Certainly, if science insisted on being taught in a class on religion there would be cries of outrage. What if the question were posed, "Who made you?" and answered "God made me... or maybe not."
The argument is for the argument. Considering our origins, our heritage of belief systems, the evidence for evolution, the opposing argument of intelligent design and other arguments, it would appear that so far no one has the last word. A "forum" for presenting and discussing all theories, historical and presently held, would seem to be the best venue for studying the question of origins in the classroom. In this "forum" no theory would be presented as "absolute truth" but certainly all the evidence for evolution would be presented. Even Behe recognizes the value of evolutionary theory and makes no attempt to say that evolution has not occurred. But all of the questions have, of course, not been answered and so the story must continue to be told and retold.

The Baltimore Catechism, 1955
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Librere Editrice Vaticana 1994
Behe, Michael, Darwin's Black Box 1996 Touchstone Books
Interview with Steven Jay Gould,
Chardin, P. Tielhard de, The Phenomenon of Man, 1955
Evidence supporting Biological Evolution,

Name:  Risa
Subject:  Gender Binaries Suck
Date:  2002-10-20 23:34:30
Message Id:  3290
If I think about the one public story I would think it would be important to tell it would be that your biology does not dictate your gender. This idea that there are two distinct genders instead of one continuous one with enormous or subtle nuances of variation is the only thing I can think of that would be worth wanting my kids to believe.

I think of all of the gods that were represented as possessing both genders and Tiresias who could swap genders, and I just think how much easier it made things to see it as a fluid continuum. This is not my original thought, so I take no credit for this, but I do feel it can be a liberatory kind of thing if you can imagine that what you considered to be WOMAN could be whatever you thought it was, and not what was prescribed by any biology or character traits that often end up becoming personality cliches.

Like what about the word masculinity? Think of all that conjures up. Now what if all of those things that masculinity conjured up are traits that also belonged to women? I can't think of ONE masculine trait that women do not also possess. Oh, wait, there is that ONE trait. Biological difference. But how is that if one removes biology as a factor there isn't any difference, just variations of the same theme? Without biology clearly delineating where woman ends and man begins, there is no way to tell men and women apart. We would share some qualities and some women would have more or less of, and vice versa. It would simply be that all of these qualities existed in difference measure in different people.

Like I said there are dual-gendered and single gendered (on a vast, vast continuum)representations of gods, goddesses, humans, and animals in almost every myth cycle & religious text I have ever read. Joseph Campbell spoke about how many gods started out this way then something woul happen which divided the god into this gender binary. Brahma in many texts is dual-gendered and everything in between. Neolithic cultures had many sexually ambiguous figural representations. And i say, hey, if it has been mentioned this much, this many times, then ok, it's something to consider. But then biology and language sort of reign supreme and and i think these diminish and suppress this idea.

Not to mention that biology has its own variations which can produce a human that has a reproductive system or a chromosome difference that does not match what is considered a "standard" female or male. I think in this way biology has restricted itself and because of this idea of what is "standard" this has been handed out to people as though it were a two item menu from which you had to order your whole life.

This is a rather difficult subject that took me a long time to grasp so I am trying to make this as simple as possible. So I think that I just want my kids to know that gender is this huge spectrum and they can sit on that spectrum and hold different positions on that vast continuum without feeling obligated to totally have to claim any one of the two available options --and feel like that can change and adapt to what they feel like they are as they change and adapt. (and if they ask me gender based questions before they go to use a public restroom i can tell them what i do about the dilemas of gender and toilets- i am whichever gender has the cleaner or available restroom. Ha!)

My fascination with this story is that the language is still rooted in a binary-- I believe we have only have two genders because we cultivated only two words; & that had language allowed more to arise- we would have more genders to describe all of the in-between states of being both biologically variegated and characteristically variegated as well. But then this leaves gender and goes into language and who owns language. And there i show true Alpha form so we won't go there.

So what can you be when you are not all a "standard" woman? Or a highly feminized man? And you aren't a biological variant? And does anyone fall neatly into one gender? And if so, how would you know what you THINK your gender is, really is if nothing could say for certain what that would mean outside of the binary?

Anne also said that we were supposed to say why we think this. I am going to have to say that because the same biology that has shown there are only two genders is the same biology that has also shown there are clearly not. There was a binary classification that variations were held up to, thus making them the outliers, when it might just be that the outliers are the thing itself. And Foucault would probably tear those classifications to sh** if i could only understand him enough to know.

I don't know- it's just a lot of idea that I am trying to get my head around and I don't know where I am going with it. I do know it has been a little liberating for my sister to hear from me that being a woman is anything one can want it to be, even if that means being a man in the many forms that it is possible to be a man in.

Name:  samea
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Evolution v. Creationism
Date:  2002-10-21 00:06:55
Message Id:  3291
By telling, or re-telling a story, every individual risks the chance of rejection by the audience. Nevertheless, if one chooses to believe in an idea strongly enough, the idea of potential failure is not enough to keep them from sharing their story. Hopefully, however, one will not go proclaiming their ideas without some sort of support or substantial amount of proof.
For scientists who follow the idea, "'evolution' usually refers to the biological evolution of living things." ( Moreover, their substantial proof is found in the remains of history. What had started as a small idea of an individual by the name of Charles Darwin, evolution continues to expand and develop beyond a simple monkey to man idea.
Scientists also have gained an understanding of the processes by which new species originate. A new species is one in which the individuals cannot mate and produce viable descendants with individuals of a preexisting species. The split of one species into two often starts because a group of individuals becomes geographically separated from the rest. (

Therefore, before scientists choose to expose their theories as well as themselves to the world, they are sure to look beyond their gut instinct and dig deep for the support they will need in order to make their ideas seem possible.
Very little people in the world will take risks and jump into an idea without looking into it first. In a world where very little is definite and almost everything is controversial, individuals can rely only on their intuition and heart to guide them through. Oftentimes, however, in order for the heart to be recognized, the mind must first take charge. Therefore, followers of the idea of evolution demand evidence before they take the plunge into any new revolution found within this field of science. Nevertheless, there are those select few who are willing to blindly follow wherever their heart may lead. "If you look with the eye of faith you see God in nature, both in creation and in preservation. But if you look only with the eye of reason and of cause and effect you may not see Him." (
The idea of creationism is basically that "The magnificence of our world shows to all that there must be a creator" ( In a world of such beauty and splendor, people do not want to believe, and cannot bring themselves to believe that all of this was created by chance when worlds collided. They believe in a greater power, a Creator who took the time, six days to be exact, to create every, single, minor detail of this earth.
So the skeptics have to ask, where is the proof? Why would anyone choose to follow this belief, when it is only that, just a belief? Whether falling under the title of "romantics" or simply just those who choose to live by "faith," followers of Creationism don't need the standard set laws in which to believe. The historical evidence of the Bible, and the details found within that word is enough for supporters to devote their lives to this theory and commit themselves to it. However, for many, it is still hazy where they stand because, and understandably so, how can people commit themselves in their entirety to an idea based solely on a simple "gut instinct," or merely on just faith?
Nowadays, scientists are finding themselves straddling the fence between Creationism and Evolution. There is still an idea that intertwines the two creating Creationist Scientists. Basically, they "...believe that the Bible and true science are in full harmony with each other - there is no need to 'check your brain at the door' when entering a church." ( Creationist Science can be considered, an idea where Christians would not have to necessarily feel as though they are compromising their faith, because their faith still stands, to some extent. However, the boundary is also drawn, although not necessarily very clearly, as to where Creationism and Science are set apart.
Personally, in all honesty, Evolution doesn't appeal to me. Not only because I've been raised in a household where strong faith was emphasized, but also because it just seems difficult for me to grasp. I have no problem following my gut instinct, and a lot of times, I don't need the proof in order to believe in something. Furthermore, Creationist Science is rather challenging for me to accept as well. I think for me, it's either one or the other, trying to combine two completely opposing ideas seems almost impossible for me. Nevertheless, perhaps it is all this compromise and controversy that keeps ideas alive and circulating even today.

Name:  Jessie Posilkin
Subject:  Paper #2
Date:  2002-10-21 08:18:28
Message Id:  3292
Jessie Posilkin
QIR-Dean Haley Thomas

Paper #2-Using the websites about creationism and evolution, answer last weeks question about our motivations for telling stories.

We all tell personal stories to explain our life and our emotions to one another, in the hopes that we can connect and find a common bond. The telling of a universal story, a story that connects not just one person to another but all organisms to each other, is told to "reflect the efforts of humans to understand the natural world." Creationists and Evolutionists both struggle to understand the world. Creationists feel a need to tell their story because it gives their religion, and therefore their framework for understanding the world, justification. Evolutionists tell their story to separate the world of religion and science, a distinction which gives their science a truth. Neither seems able to believe that they can both exist in the same world, leading me to believe that humans need to believe in a supreme truth to feel their world and life has a point.
Both the creationists and the evolutionists see the other view as unfounded. A man who calls himself "Dr. Dino," and is a member of the Christian right, argues that "real evolution, teaches that dogs share a common ancestor with pine trees! intelligent person can say evolution is real science, because evolution is not observable, testable or demonstrable." Unfortunately, "Dr. Dino" never confronts the evidence that others use to connect pine trees to dogs. Dr. Dino also avoids the fact that his own religion is neither observable, testable or demonstrable to others who don't believe. T appears that if one does not believe in Jesus, then believing in creation is unnecessary. However, Dr. Dino thinks that everyone should believe in Jesus, because "At stake is the credibility of Jesus." Using strong rhetoric, Dr. Dino connects the theory of evolution with the dictatorships of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and the birth control advocate Margaret Sanger. However, he neglects to connect religion as a cause for catastrophe with the Holocaust, the Crusades, and the current conflicts in India, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
The writings on Evolution were written in a very different style, and appeals to the senses of reason over emotion. However, the evolutionists still believe in the strong division between religion and science. Perhaps it is the only thing the two parties can agree on. According to Bruce Alberts, the president of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, "Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each." Again, this school of thought wishes to deny the existence of the other. President Alberts is unclear as to why exactly combining them "detracts from the glory of each." The supremacy of science is necessary for the NAS if they want to believe in the importance and validity of their livelihood. Because a scientific base was not found in "creation science," the combining of science and religion would detract from religion and from science, because it would undermine the validity of both. This science of evolution challenges the very root of religion. The NAS describes evolution not only as a biological process but also as an astronomical process. Making it an astronomical process means that the planets are in a continual state of change. If the planets are always changing, it is possible for new worlds to be created, or old worlds to evaporate and cease to exist. This detracts from the wonder of the creation story. The land and the water, the night and the day, was not separated by G-d, but rather by the forces of gravity. Gravity is not a wondrous force to scientists, but something quite precise- 9.8 meters per second squared. Although there is no guarantee that science is correct-and often, it has been proven wrong- science still believes that it is precise and valid.

The inability of the evolutionists and the creationists to believe in the existence and importance of both religion and science is preventing children from learning about the two very different theories, or even creating theories for themselves. In addition, the creation of a new theory, Intelligent Design, will only complicate matters further. These schools of thought will continue to tell their stories in the hope that they can create an understandable framework for the world and therefore, for themselves.

Name:  Nadia Christidis
Subject:  The Struggle Behind the Conception of a New Story
Date:  2002-10-21 09:29:53
Message Id:  3294
Similar to the writings of Abbot in his novel Flatland and Foucault in "The Order of Things", that of Bertolt Brecht in his play Galileo Galilee and the writing surrounding the two major theories dealing with the creation/evolution of the earth lead the reader to understand what motivates humans to retell existing stories, in these cases ideas, in their own way and what at the same time makes them reluctant to. They allows us to understand what consequences can be faced if one's motivation is greater than his/her reluctance and yet at the same time, what the profits are. They give the reader the opportunity to understand the conflict that occurs within the story-teller when he/she is considering telling a conventional story in his/her own way.

In Galileo Galilee, these ideas are portrayed through the desires, hesitations, actions, and plight of the well known Italian astronomer. In the beginning, he is ecstatic with his new discovery; he discovers that the solar system is geo-centric rather than helio-centric, a discovery which changes the way he views the world so drastically that he can never revert to seeing it in the accepted way. This discovery, which has changed him, will he feels change the world and the way humans view the world. He can not understand or relate to those who believe in other models and he therefore hopes to teach his, enlightening his new pupils and changing their visions of the world into one that he can relate to; he is changing the way others view the world in order to enable others to understand him. He feels a need to share this knowledge because if he does not, he fears he will be alienated by it. Gelileo des, in the beginning, express some worry about the consequences of his retelling the story of the shape of the solar system. He fears he will be mocked, possibly even punished, yet his motivation, to have others understand him and the real shape the solar-system is in, is greater. He believes that it is a perfectly reasonable idea which is based on meta-physical evidence; this leads him to believe that those who believed in the more socially-accepted version of the shape of the solar system will see the reason in his ideas, in his proof, and will eventually adopt his ideas. However, Galileo, I believe is surprised by how negative the reaction to his new version is. He struggles in the beginning, hoping that this resistance is temporary and that higher-ranking officials will see the sense in his studies as they travel around the palaces and churches of Italy. Yet the punishment he must bear for attempting to falsify the accepted story and validate his won, in other words for disrupting order, is too great, excommunication from the church and house imprisonment for years makes him feel unbearably alienated. His motives now seem small in proportion to his reluctance to the idea that his version of the story will change the way others view the world. Galileo begins to realize that what the Little Monk tells him in Scene 7 is true, that this idea is so revolutionary, so detached from everything common people "know", that it will not for a long time be accepted. Its acceptance would mean the destruction of order and rule of anarchy and chaos. He therefore repents and revokes what he has so boldly declared; he retracts what he has said in order for him and his daughter to become once again a part of society. Yet he continues to conduct experiments and observations in secret, clearly evidence of the fact that has not abandoned the idea but only abandoned the cause. This also made clear when he decides to republish his work after he hears the news of a new pope taking control in Rome. He gains the courage once again to retell the story in his own way. Though his motivation dwindles and his reluctance grows, a change in circumstance leads to a change in his stand once again. This seems to signify that his desire to share this knowledge and be understood is once again triumphant over his fears of isolation, even after having experienced many years of it. This play, in the end, leaves the reader with a sense of how great the human desire to be understood is. The modern reader can not fully comprehend the gravity of Galileo's actions and how radical his ideas were for the time, making it hard for the reader to understand why Galileo struggles so much internally, why it is so hard for him to decide whether or not to tell, and he is punished for having new ideas, ideas that are to the modern reader, extremely reasonable.

In Galileo Galilee, it is quite clear which one of the two ideas/theories about the structure of the solar system, is the original story and which is the new and retold version.
As for the different currently existing web sources of information that deal with the issue of evolution and creationism, I think it is, today, difficult for one to truly say that one is the accepted version of the story and that the other is a retold and more controversial version. This may make the concepts portrayed in the play Galileo Galilee easier to relate to. The reader of these sources, like most people, believes in creationism or the theory of evolution. Therefore, the reader would find the version that he/she does not believe in, the "other version" absurd. Yet at the same time, it makes the ideas that are so clearly portrayed in Galileo's struggle to defy the accepted version and retell the story of the solar system in his own way, more hidden. While it is true, that creationism was the accepted version of the story of how the universe came to be and how humans came to be, the theory of evolution has recently gained much popularity and support. This support seems significantly close to the support that is currently given by the opponents of this theory to "creation science". Therefore, the "real" or "true" version of the story is relative, depending on which side one belongs to. Those that believe, for numerous reasons including the existence of fossils that date back to 4 billion years, in the theory of evolution believe that it is the truth and that "creation science" is simply another retold version of the story, a version which seems to them absurd and unfounded on any strong evidence; one of their arguments supporting this claim is that creationists believe that the solar system was created in merely thousands of years.# Yet the same accusation has been made by believers in creation science towards believers in the theory of evolution. Those that believe in creation science, believe strongly that the theory of evolution is void and meaningless. In response to the specific accusation mentioned above, creationists have responded by claiming that finely granulated sedimentary layer takes place rapidly and there the current method of dating fossils called radiometric dating is flawed.# Believers in the different sides tell their version of the story to those that believe in the other side/version in hopes of converting them. Their motives are similar to those of Galileo Galilee. They tell their story in hopes of having others understand their vision of the world, in this specific case, how it was formed and by who, and in hopes of being able to relate to others. Those on the other side however, if they continue to ignore the efforts being made and to label it as "implausible" and "unbelievable", ostracize the tellers, in ways which even include direct punishment for having different ideas. When this occurs, as has occurred in the debate about the how the universe began, a large gap forms in the understanding of the two sides of each other. Furthermore, divisions between different schools of though in each of the sides lead to different versions within one side, possibly not that different but still different, leading to gaps between the different believers of the same main idea, creationism or evolution. Members of both sides are therefore provoked to tell their thoughts/own version; they want others to see the world in the same way they see it; they want to feel understood and they want to find others who they can relate to. Yet they are reluctant because of the possible alienation their different version of the story may lead them to.

Both these written works allow their reader to understand the struggle that the story teller undergoes when he/she is telling a different story.

Name:  Beth Ann Lennon
Subject:  Creationism vs. Evolutionism
Date:  2002-10-21 14:17:12
Message Id:  3298
Why are we both motivated and reluctant to retell stories? What provokes us to this activity? What prevents us from engaging in it? How does it profit us and what are its costs?
"We must distinguish between what we believe to be true, and what we know to be true...Willingness in the first place is an important factor" (
Creationism: "theory of the origin of life in accordance with the Bible" (The Oxford).
Evolutionism: "development of species from earlier forms, as an explanation of origins" (The Oxford).
In the fierce debate between creationism and evolutionism there is one constant on both sides, and that is a desire to have their voice heard. Every author seeks to reach out to others and hopefully garner support for his cause. This debate in particular sparked an overwhelming response in its participants simply because it entails subjects that are close to the hearts of those involved. In this instance both religion and the education of our youth is in question. Many are looking for something to "provide the spiritual consolation most people are after" ( and "evolutionary beliefs cannot account for the spiritual realm" ( Few topics can touch a person as these do. "The battle for the future is taking place in our distant past. At stake are the very underpinnings of civilization itself" ( It is when you find a topic in which one believes is an integral part of themselves that people are reluctantly pulled into the turmoil. This debate actually has become a perfect example of why many people are afraid to voice their opinions when the subject is vital to them; it has become a battle field. One's opinion, and thus oneself, is under attack.
This war is fought between the side "defend(ing) the teaching of evolution in the science classroom against sectarian attack" ( and those who believe that "creationism is not 'against' modern science" ( Most people are either trying to "reconcile science and religion" ( or simply keep them separate at all costs. The issue is lost, however, in the midst of battle in almost every paper I read the words that continued to appear and stand out were those such as "defend," "interrogate," "fail," "attack," "fierce row," and so on. All of these words have negative connotations leading to the feeling of war rather than debate. "I do not know if Creation & the Flood as recorded in the bible are true. But I do know that there is some very good evidence to support this scientific theory. Look at the evidence for yourself" ( This idea that all the evidence should be examined is often lost on both sides as they feel attacked and go on the defensive.
There is also the great and ever present fear of misinterpretation. What you say is not what is always heard. "More than 40 years ago, the film 'Inherit the Wind' presented the controversy over the teaching of evolution as a battle between stick-figure fundamentalists who defend a literal reading of Genesis and saintly scientists who simply want to teach the facts of biology. Ever since, journalists have tended to depict almost any battle over evolution in the schools as if it were a replay of 'Inherit the Wind'—even if it's not" ( Matters such as this make the topic of evolution a tricky one to debate intellectually and honestly. There is a stereotype which has been placed upon this issue which is almost impossible to shake. It must be noted, however, that as the debate evolves with time so do the stereotypes. With the introduction of "intelligent design theory" those working for creationism in schools began to take on a new image. "Instead of being a bunch of yahoos, they are a bunch of 'academic intellectuals' with new, 'more sophisticated' ideas" (
Also, when one retells a story in a situation such as this there is quite often a tendency to perhaps close themselves off to the other side of the argument, which makes it impossible to take their information at face value. For example, one source says that "scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence supporting the idea is so strong" ( If this were true there would be no debate in the first place. This same source says that "'creation science" is a religious view" while a previous source claimed it to be a "scientific theory" ( This inconsistency in the presentation of data is found in almost every account. It is human nature. One wants to be right and to prove that they are right. Therefore, to them, sometimes there is no other answer.
Why does the debate over creationism and evolutionism continue? Because there is always someone on both sides who finds it necessary, despite all the inherent risks, to speak. These people recognize these risks but find them out weighed by the risks found in not telling their story.
The Oxford: American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus. Second edition. Berkley Books, New York. 2001.
Name:  Adina
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Should Creationism be Taught in Schools?
Date:  2002-10-21 15:24:01
Message Id:  3299
The ongoing debate over whether or not creationism should be part of the curriculum in schools all over America has sparked fury on both sides. This is largely because the evolutionists' story has changed whilst the creationists' story has remained the same for thousands of years. Change is a natural part of human progression, so one might wonder why it is that such primitive ideas could be taught to children. The answer is largely political. Even with the 1950s' American separation of Church and State, the fact remains that many Americans are still very religious. Politicians must gain the support of these people. There is also the matter of civil rights. Progress can only occur when ideas are challenged; if we did not challenge our ideas, we would be no different to the State in Abbott's Flatland or the Pope in Brecht's Galileo. Although I personally believe that evolution has been scientifically proven beyond doubt, there is still, hypothetically, the possibility that the creationists are right. However, if this is the case, there is also the possibility of any of thousands of religious beliefs being correct. If creationism is taught is schools, so must be other theories of origin.
During and before the Renaissance, Christians, who were the bulk of European society, saw their world in relation to an all-powerful God and read the Bible literally. This was how they made sense of their world which was at the time extremely complex and confusing. They needed an explanation of why things were the way they were. With the Enlightenment came great changes. What is often known as the Age of Reason brought to light many new ideas and then-radical ways of thinking. The collective European and Western story was beginning to change with advances in science. These advances were made possible because of people who refused to believe in these conformist then-current beliefs – people who risked everything in order that their stories would be told. A notable example of these such people was Galileo Galilei, whose theory that the earth moved around the sun (as opposed to the sun moving around the earth) totally revolutionized science and caused people to alter their views of God and of science. Another was Charles Darwin, who proposed the ideas of natural selection and evolution. The story of the world was now seen in relation to science and reason, although God still played a major role in it.
Today, it is often argued that science has virtually replaced religion. The collective Western story is seen in relation to science and to humanity. With little religious interference, science and technology are progressing extremely rapidly – the story is changing by the minute. The theory of evolution has been accepted by many, not as a religion, but as a scientific truth. However, many people still firmly believe in creationism and vehemently deny the theory of evolution. Even with the separation of Church and State some forty-odd years ago, today, as during the time of Galileo, politicians play on people's religious beliefs to convince them of different political ideas. American politicians often refer to God during addresses, such as President Bush's formal address immediately after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Creationists would be very happy knowing that their children are being taught creationism in American public schools and might therefore vote for a government policy which would implement policies such as the revised "Theories of Origin" Policy in Cobb County School District, Georgia and "Intelligent Design" in Ohio. A nationwide poll of 1,202 American adults conducted in August, 2001 suggests that 71% of Americans believe in the theory of evolution but believe that some evidence against the theory should be taught in schools. The same survey shows that 78% of Americans believe that scientific evidence that points to a scientific life design (for example, creationism) should be taught in schools and that 69% believe that God or another intelligent design has or has had some influence in the world. These people are the American voting pool, and it would be quite a political advantage to please them.
Also political, though not entirely so, are basic issues of human rights. As creationists will eagerly point out, evolution is still technically a theory. As is the case with creationism, evolution can probably never be scientifically proven because we cannot witness and have not witnessed it with out own eyes. Even the evolution which we have witnessed, such as the "peppered moth" example, cannot definitely explain the world in terms of evolution. As Jason D. Browning, an ardent believer in creationism, has argued, this is an example of natural selection, but not of evolution, because no new traits have been acquired. We also need to consider freedom of speech. Creationists have just as much right to be heard as evolutionists. Silencing them can be seen as a violation of their Constitutional rights, and there would be calls of discrimination.
As an eighteen-year-old college freshman, I do not in the least claim to be an expert in either creationism or evolution. Scientists of both persuasions have been researching and studying the evidence for and against both sides for years, and I do not at all claim to possess their expertise. However, looking at the evidence that I can understand, the theory of evolution seems a much more feasible one. There is also an enormous difference between the number of scientists who believe in evolution and scientists who believe in creationism. Because so many more believe in evolution and because creationism can be so easily refuted, creationism seems to be less scientific and more religious, theological, and theoretical. Creationists such as Browning refute evolution and offer creationism as an alternative, saying, "There is no reason not to believe that God created our universe, earth, plants, animals, and people just as described in the book of Genesis." This argument can be refuted with all of the evidence in favor of evolution and with the fact that there is no reason to believe that God created all of those things. Browning has also argued that evolution could not have taken place because the fossil record is incomplete. He explains that evolution were true, we would have many fossilized forms that we do not have. This argument can be easily refuted by the fact that in order for organisms to fossilize, there must be a number of coincidental circumstances immediately following their deaths. For example, there must be a quick burial with sediments, a process that usually occurs near water, and the fossil must remain undisturbed by scavengers. Many extinct species did not live near water, so their bodies were never fossilized; this does not mean that they simply never existed. Many of Browning's other arguments are along the lines of "because it says so in the bible". Seeing as this is a scientific debate, this line of argument is extremely unfeasible and out of place because there is no evidence to back up the origins of the bible.
However, as we learned from Galileo and from Flatland, the most common opinion is not always the absolute truth. Galileo Galilei was forced to publicly withdraw his ideas and say that they were all completely false; and the Square in Flatland was imprisoned because he continued to tell his story. Nevertheless, these two brave people (one brave person and one brave geometrical shape) were completely correct. Even Charles Darwin was once ridiculed for his beliefs, and his ideas are now accepted by the majority of scientists across the globe. But suppose Darwin was wrong. Our story is constantly changing, and although I personally believe that it is highly unlikely that it could change back to the way it was before Darwin, this is still a possibility. It may seem impossible to me right now, but was also once unconceivable that the earth moved around the sun.
This ideology leads to more complications. Theories of origin which rely completely on faith are not limited to Christian and Jewish creationism. There are many other religions and cultures in the world, and many of the have their own theories of origin. For example, traditional Australian Aborigines believe that the world was created by a Rainbow Serpent who swished its tail over the earth and thus created all that exists here today. The Pueblo Indians believe that Tséitsínako, Thought Woman, created the world by thinking of her sisters and that together, she and her sisters created everything that is today on earth. If creationism is taught in schools, other theories such as these must be given equal weight. Because none of them are scientific, they should not be given as much weight as evolution.
Creationism is not a scientific theory and evolution is more a controversial fact than a theory. However, there is still a minute possibility that the creationists could in fact have been correct all along and that the collective European and Western story will progress back to the way it was hundreds and thousands of year ago. Therefore, schoolchildren should be aware of this theology, but only if they are aware of other, less culturally dominant theories.

Works Sited:
Abbott, Edwin A. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. New York: Dover Publications Inc, 1992.
Brecht, Bertolt. Galileo. New York: Grover Press, 1966.
Browning, Jason D: "Basics of Creation Versus Evolution", National Academy of Sciences, 1997.
Santorum, Sen. Rick: "Illiberal Education in Ohio Schools", Washington Times, March 14, 2002.
Wittman, Rebecca: "Zogby America Report", Zogby International, September 21, 2001.
Wright, Right: "The 'New' Creatioism", Slate, April 16, 2001.
"School Board to Revise Policy on 'Theories of Origin', National Center for Science Education, August 24, 2001.

Name:  Kate Shiner
Subject:  Religion vs. Evolution: It's Not so Simple
Date:  2002-10-21 16:20:59
Message Id:  3300
The difficulties and merits of the process of revision of collective stories are debated continuously within and across the scientific and public communities. Oftentimes, religion, which is traditionally accustomed to accepting only one unalterable story of the world and its components, comes into conflict with new scientific theories. The controversy over evolution is almost always shown by academia and the media in the light of being a battle between religion and science, one in which conservative religion stands on the side of an antiquated, fallacious creationist view, and science supports evolution in the name of solid factual inquiry and constant revision. However, it is my opinion that this common view of the issue as one between two absolutes is damaging to the pursuit of true science, because it assumes that evolution is the only plausible scientific revision of the story of the origin of life, and that no scientific inquiry will ever produce a result on the side of creationism.
Religion is unique as compared to science in that it does not customarily accept revisions, and that it relies on blind faith rather than documentable personal observation. To change the fundamental views of a particular religious sect it is often so difficult that dissenters must break away to create a whole new form of the religion. However, just because religion does not accept revisions does not necessarily mean that its version of the story of life is wrong. Is it not possible that science will ultimately come to the same conclusion that the faithful had believed in all along? It is important however, that religious teachings are recognized for what they are, and are not taught under the guise of science in public schools. Children in democratic societies should not be indoctrinated with religion; it is not an objective academic pursuit like science.
However, it is the argument of many evolutionists that creationism or any other theories alternative to evolution should not be taught in school because they are religion in that they assume certain things about the origin of life and at any cost seek to prove these assumptions, while science, which they consider synonymous with evolution on this issue, approaches the matter without any assumptions. However, any human seeking to explain the origin of life cannot help but to incorporate an element of story-telling, and evolutionary scientists approach their work seeking to prove their own assumptions as well, even if unintentionally.
There are many documented examples to illustrate this phenomenon, a number of which are included in Roger Lewin's book, Bones of Contention. Lewin describes in detail the forgery of an orangutan jaw in Piltdown, England, which for over four decades was considered the crucial evidence in naming the "Piltdown Man" as the missing link between apes and humans. Although the forgery should have been obvious to any of the experts who studied the jaw, their desire to fill in the gaps in their own theory overcame their common sense.
Lewin also describes how in the past paleoanthropologists' writings were overcome with racist assumptions and even through the past few decades the view of ancient man changed from violent to more peaceful as the climate of popular opinion shifted. (44) In his book Lewin quotes David Pilbeam, a famous anthropologist who has realized and attempted to revise his own flaws in thinking about evidence. He says of himself and his fellow scientists, 'virtually all our theories about human origins were relatively unconstrained by fossil data...our theories have often said far more about the theorists than they have about what actually happened." (43) This is a recurrent theme in any type of storytelling, and proves that science, while striving for objectivity, cannot ever completely overcome the subjective views of its scientists.
Since bias and assumption are an unavoidable part of human nature, it should not be considered contrary to the pursuit of science if individuals, religious or not, want to try to find scientific evidence supporting their own ideas about the creation of earth and life. It cannot be harmful as long as they approach their research in a scientific way that can be logically criticized by other scientists, and not in the form of propaganda. Religion in no way should be taught in school, but alternative theories which use authentic scientific methods should not be ruled out simply because of the ideas or beliefs of their proponents.
Scientific creationism and intelligent design are two examples of attempts to create alternative scientific theories to evolution. So far, however, these theories have not been taken seriously by many mainstream scientists, not only because they are usually supported by religious people but for a number of reasons including flaws in procedure and delivery. Often the materials of the supporters of these theories are a mix of religious dogma and science, and although some of their points may be accurate and justified, other points which are misinformed and not well thought out give evolutionists a reason to scoff and disregard the entire piece. Almost all of the material presented in support of the evolutionary theory at the Scopes monkey trial is now considered false, and undoubtedly there is still a good deal of information supported by evolutionists that is not accurate. But the difference is in that evolutionists almost always try to give evidence in a logical and scientific format, without relying on the bible to justify their points.
Intelligent design attempts more than other creationist theories in the past to take a scientific approach. But as Robert Wright explains in his article, "The 'New' Creationism," two of the "intellectual fathers" of intelligent design, Johnston and Behe, suffer from some misunderstanding of the actual theory of evolution, and the third, Dembski, appears to have created a mathematical test to disprove evolution that actually assumes as one of its inputs that evolution is impossible. Intelligent design is a noble attempt, but still suffers from too many flaws to be a truly organized front against evolution, at least in the eyes of the evolutionists.
If there is barely any true evidence against evolution, and most of the supporters of different theories do not approach the matter scientifically, it does not seem so wrong that only evolution should be taught in schools. I am not convinced however, that there are not a number of holes in the theory of evolution. And as a result of the fact that the issue of the origin and development of life is seen in the realm of science as a battle against religious creationists, mainstream scientists feel pressured to publicly support vocal crackpot scientists simply because they are on the "same side" in the battle. Both of these issues prove that a one-sided evolutionary style of interpretation in schools and elsewhere is damaging to the pursuit of science.
For example, it seems that scientists have historically attempted to gloss over holes in the fossil record to bolster their theory against the creationists. The detailed sketches everyone is so familiar with of Neanderthals with characteristic hunched posture and protruding brow were in fact little more than imagination on the part of Marcellin Boule. (Lewin, 65-69) Especially in the area of human evolution from apes, there is still a good deal of uncertainty and constant reorganizing of the branches of the ancestral tree. Creationists argue that brain size, which is often regarded as an accurate test of whether a fossil is ape or hominid, actually varies almost as much in modern humans as in some fossils considered to be prehuman. Another possible explanation for the appearance of differences in prehuman fossils are diseases such as rickets in prehistoric communities which could have deformed the bodies of the fossils.
There also seems to be a large lack of transitional forms in all species, for instance fish with half feet or giraffes with short necks. If the changes were the result of tiny DNA mutations, where are the gradually changing fossils? And although evolutionists claim that evolution can be observed in bacteria and salmon populations, are there any true examples of speciation, where the "new species" involved actually changed so much that they were no longer able to reproduce with one another? Can life evolve from one genus to another? Although these doubts may not be enough to do great damage to the theory of evolution, they should be investigated freely by any and all scientists, and not covered up with artists' renderings of the way evolutionists wished things had worked simply to make their theory seem more cohesive.
Robert Wright expounds in another article on the same website that as a result of the fight between radical evolutionists and creationists in every area of society, especially after the Kansas school board decision to remove macro-evolution from standardized tests and other flare ups of the issue in the country, bio-evolutionists are publicly supporting the Stephen Jay Gould, a scientist who is often considered in private scientific circles to have many misinformed ideas and a very atheistic, anti-religious slant to his writings.
Whether this is true or not, I have myself observed that supporters of evolution often see their theory as a direct alternative to religion, as in the fish with feet that many evolutionists put on their cars and windows. This seems to me an unwarranted attack on religion, since the fish that Christians display were originally simple symbols of their faith, and have nothing to do with science or evolution. I also experienced the great tension in my state between creationists and evolutionists and the ridicule of Kansas by the entire world when the school board attempted to take a stance that was more open-minded. World over it was said that our state was banning evolution, which was not the case at all. At the time I felt anger and embarrassment at what I considered the radically conservative school board members, but now I feel that there may in fact be justifiable revisions to the story of evolution, and that although it should be taught so should its possible flaws. This story was misrepresented the media because of the perceived religious takeover of schools.
Religion and science should not be placed side by side as foes. Science by definition accepts revision while religion usually does not. Evolution is only one theory and is not in itself science, but a story which attempts to use scientific methods to prove its points. It is necessary for the benefit and the integrity of the pursuit of science that revisions to the theory of evolution are pursued, in any form that is scientific, including any type of rewrite whether or not it supports the views of the religious creationists. In this way all of the flaws and holes in the theory can be exposed and not hidden to support a cause. Maybe someday the truth will be found, and perhaps it already has.
Name:  Gwenyth Cavin
Subject:  Evolution: A Search for Truth
Date:  2002-10-21 20:23:45
Message Id:  3301
During the course of history there have been many instances when scientific discovery has disrupted the norms of religion and culture. Society is sometimes so dependent on what it believes to be the norm that such changes have met violent resistance. It seems there are those who continually seek the truth and in turn, disturb the statis quo and those who cling to time-honored tradition. The development of the theory of evolution has been a search for truth. How did we get here? Evolution has offered the world some possible answers to this ancient question, which has so far gone scientifically unanswered. Enough facts, data, and discoveries have been made in order to validate this theory as reasonable and likely. Subsequently, in the spirit of truth and discovery, who would be apposed to the theory being taught in schools? Only those who are fearful enough to reject ideas which counter their own notions of the truth. Stories must and always will change. Resistance to a changing story is as foolish as it is futile.
Bertolt Brecht's Galileo is a perfect example of a society trying to resist a change which contradicts faith-based assumptions about the universe and our role in it. Of course, those changes have, in time, become common knowledge for every person in the world. In Galileo's age, people knew the Earth was the center of the universe and they knew humans themselves were the center of God's attention. Galileo's attempt to change this story, even with physical evidence, was thwarted by the highest officials. They robbed him of his freedom and livelihood and would have taken his life as well in order to guard their sense of security on this Earth. He lived in an age where this was commonplace. Facts, data, evidence, even the truth was subjective to the opinions and beliefs of the time. As long as humans needed to believe they were the center of all existence, the truth would be ignored.
The theory of evolution also challenges a more modern religious sense of security, the idea that man was created in God's image, which is clearly stated in the Bible. This directly contradicts the notion that humans today are the result of millions of years of adaptation and significant physical change. Should this theory ever be completely validated and deemed true, it would imply a great number of religious inaccuracies. The Bible itself could no longer be considered a source for religious truths. Vast numbers of clergymen and women would be compelled to change the religious history they have been preaching. Even ordinary people would have to deal with an entirely new understanding of themselves as a race and our role in the universe.
It is clear now why some would ignore the facts in order to preserve their version of the truth. The idea of creationism is indeed a fairly magical tale of how humans came to be. An all-loving entity created a beautiful planet for us to live on. It created humans (just as they are today) to live happily on this planet built just for them. What a nice idea to believe in. It is so much easier to accept the idea that humans were created on purpose, than evolved from primates that evolved from microorganisms that were on this planet which itself was created by a chance combination of matter. The latter is a much more isolated and less grandiose suggestion. It is certainly much more difficult to accept than it's comforting alternative.
If evolution were to be taught in schools, there is no doubt the theory would become more widely accepted. Pupils across America would be presented with fossils, data, hard evidence and perhaps only listen to the idea of creationism in passing once a week at their religious services. The spread of such an idea is scary to some. Stopping the teaching of evolution in schools would slow the spread of this idea, and delay the realization of a new truth.
Evolution is merely an example of a search for understanding. For many, creationism just does not cut it as a valid explanation for our existence. The fact remains that there is no sure scientific account of how the universe and all things in it came to be. There should be nothing wrong with simply exploring other possibilities and searching for truth. Evolution has done just that and is one of the leading theories dealing with "how it all began." As such, it should be taught in schools along with any other theory that has been based on evidence and data.
One attends school to gain a basic understanding of the world and become a better thinker in general. How is one to accomplish this if one is denied information simply because with it comes certain social implications? There is no room for religion or politics in school. It is unfair to shield what is or may be the truth from anyone because others may not ideologically agree with it.
The theory of evolution is based on a foundation of physical evidence such as fossils and bones which have been collected and analyzed and reanalyzed by scientists for many years. These are facts! There is no denying that a fossil or a bone exists and carries with it, significant scientific suggestions. Based on this alone, it is only natural that these things be studied in schools everywhere. Educational value is to be had in such exploration, which makes even a theory worth studying.
In Flatland, the Square was imprisoned essentially for trying to spread a truth which would greatly alter the normal way of life in Flatland. Everyone was content in their ignorance there, as some people may be here on Earth. As a result of the Scopes "Monkey Trial," the State of Tennessee made it illegal for the theory of evolution (or anything else which denied or did not uphold creationism) to be taught in "all the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of Tennessee" which were supported in part or whole by State funds in 1925. The punishment for an offence is as follows: "That any teacher found guilty of the violation of this Act, Shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be fined not less than One Hundred $ (100.00) Dollars nor more than Five Hundred ($ 500.00) Dollars for each offense." This example of anti-evolution legislation continues today in dozens of states along with the teaching of a more "watered down" version of evolution.
There are many similarities between the society of Flatland and our own. We are both two cultures faced with a changing story. It is a change that would have major impacts on social, educational, political and religious spheres. We both react by resisting this possible change by denying facts, denying the truth. Any violators of the regulations put in place to stop the truth from coming are dealt with swiftly and severely. When looking at these circumstances, all that is seen are scared, cowardly societies trying desperately to stop the inevitable. One day, Flatlanders will realize a third dimension and one day our society will definitely discover the scientific explanation for our origins, be it evolution or not. It is the truth and it will be uncovered eventually.
I believe that living in a state of ignorance is possibly one of the worst circumstances to live in. The truth always has a way of coming to light, no matter how many people are unwilling to accept or even acknowledge it. Also, there is the fact that stories can not stay the same forever. All stories change which is a good thing. A changing story means exploration, rejuvenation, and innovation. The theory of evolution illustrates all of these things. One day a fact-based theory explaining the origins of the universe (perhaps evolution or perhaps not) will be discovered and some day, widely accepted. It must because it is a changing story. In the meantime, there is no benefit in delaying the discovery of a truth.

p.s. okay what is with not being able to indent on the postings? I find that really annoying.

Name:  Phoebe Anderson
Subject:  Creationism vs. Evolution
Date:  2002-10-21 13:17:03
Message Id:  3297
Creationism vs. Evolution Debate

People often tell stories to explain the unknown. The unknown for many is the origin of the Earth and of humans. People are not satisfied with just existing, people want to know where they came from, why they were created the way they were, and what their purpose in life is. Creationists find the answers to these questions in the Bible. The Bible explains God's purpose for creating the earth, his methods for creating it, and how people should live to come to a good end. While many people take comfort in the Bible's explanations, others are striving still to find proof. Various theories of evolution satisfy this second group's thirst.

Paul Abramson the author of the article "A Defense of Creationism" is an individual who takes comfort in the teachings from the Bible. He strongly believes that a creator created the earth no more than 10,000 years ago. Like all people, Paul wants to know and understand what his origin is. His story that offers him a satisfactory explanation to his question of origin is a catastrophic flood that covers the entire world. He hopes to gain support by trying to back up his beliefs with "scientific" proof. He finds a need to be validated because if others disagree and challenge his point of view his foundations are challenged. Like many creationists, Paul most likely was reared with these beliefs. If others disagree with them they are not only challenging the idea of creationism, they are challenging Paul's foundations. His world will no longer seem so stable.

Science is the testing factor of his beliefs. It challenges much of what Paul believes. Paul first states that "there were 6 days of creation, less than 10,000 years ago" (Abramson 1). He is immediately challenged by the book Science and Creationism. The author provides many ways that scientists have proven that the earth is much older than 10,000 years old. One way that is mentioned is the studying of stars within globular clusters. The author explains that because there are "very low amounts of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium in these stars," "they must have formed early in the history of the Galaxy" (2). The second way scientists are able to prove that the earth is closer to 10-15 million years old is the study of radioactive elements in the solar system. "Their abundances are set by their rates of production and distribution through exploding supernovas" (Science and Creationism 2).

In response to Paul Abramson's belief that the earth was created by a giant flood, science again argues back that "there [is no] evidence that the entire geological the product of a single universal flood that occurred a few thousand years ago" (Science and Creationism 4). "On the contrary, intertidal and terrestrial deposits demonstrate that at no recorded time in the past has the entire planet been under water" (4).

Paul tries to regain himself by explaining that "radio-active dates can fluctuate within different samples of the exact same specimen" (1). While this can be the case in many situations, his next few arguments make him more vulnerable to criticism. He claims that it requires "more faith [to belief in archaeological finds] than does the Bible's historical account of what happened" (1). He believes this because he thinks there are too many gaps in the history archeologists present and that evolutionists "conjure up a myriad of exceptions when dealing with the real fossil evidence we see in the world today" (1). Although there may be gaps, there is enough information to convince the average person that the earth was not formed by a giant flood. Would he have people believe a fanciful tale in the Bible about Noah and his arc over fossil finds? He goes further "out on the limb" trying to gain support when he makes a ridiculous argument about coal. He claims that because the ground does not catch on fire when a campfire is extinguished, coal and oil must have come from a flood. It is a well-known fact that coal develops in a slow fashion, taking millions of years to form. His argument about the earth only being 10,000 years old is ruined by his coal argument because obviously the topsoil doesn't catch fire. Coal is found at much lower depths, implying that it formed millions of years ago out of decaying matter.

Paul is entitled to have his own beliefs. Perhaps it is more comforting for him to belief that a giant flood molded the earth and that the earth is fairly young. When he tries to tell others his story, however, he finds that his faith alone cannot convince people of his beliefs. His faith is stronger than the "evidence" he has to share.

I think the creationist tale is a good foundation, a satisfying explanation for an earlier people who did not have the advantages of modern science. As a child, many people conjure up tales to better understand the unknown. Parents might tell their children that God is crying when it rains or that God is bowling when the child hears loud rolls of thunder. These stories are often times better understood and comforting to a child than the truth. We, however, are no longer children who deserve stories full of mental illustrations. We desire the truth.

Name:  Bridget Dolphin
Subject:  Evolutionism
Date:  2002-10-21 22:56:59
Message Id:  3302
Since 1925 there has been an on-going debate about the curriculum in public schools and whether it should include the theory of evolutionism. The federal government has left it up to the states to decide if they wish to ignore Darwin's theory or teach it.
This debate branches off another debate as old as the U.S. Constitution, which separates the church from the state (and the state-funded learning institutions): how can you teach something historic or philosophic that might involve religion without going against the Constitution? The theory of evolution is an excellent example of this. While there are many fossils and remains of primates to support Darwin's idea, there are many questions left unanswered; it is yet unproven and will probably never be proved. The other possible explanation of human existence is the theory of creationism, or the idea that a creator formed humans and placed them on the earth. Most Americans would refer to this "creator" as God, thus breeching the gap between church and state, and making the theory of creationism inappropriate for presentation in public schools. Neither theory is 100% accurate, yet only the theory that does not involve God is allowed to be taught under the Constitution.
On the other hand, the Christian majority in the United States has protested loudly against Darwin's suggestion that humans evolved from primates. Many parents do not want their children hearing that the story from the Bible of God creating the universe and the human race could perhaps be a myth. They do not want evolution taught in their children's classrooms at all; teachers should teach creation or they should avoid the topic of how humans came into existence all together.
For the past 75 years the battle has been raging between the scientific and the religious. Nearly all of those arguing against teaching evolutionism are followers of revealed religion. They belong to an organized place of worship or hold the same beliefs as people who do belong. The majority of these people are Christians who believe God created the universe and everything on it individually, humans being his favorite and most intricate creation. It's a theory, just like Darwin's, though it requires less physical evidence and more faith to believe.
The opposite of revealed religion is atheism; the disbelief that God exists or the unambiguously held belief that God does not exist. Both types of atheists are likely to support the theory of evolution, along with the Big Bang theory and the idea that all life developed from the one-celled organisms that evolved on the earth trillions of years ago.
Although finding a person who has never encountered religion is extremely unlikely, such a person would probably hold nearly the same ideas as an atheist, without having the specific belief that God does not exist. Whether this person is actually an atheist is under debate, but since discovering someone who has never encountered the idea of God is rather unlikely, it is not a very significant debate. Finding an example in real life could be very difficult, so it is necessary to resort to fictional literature.
The triangle in Edwin Abbott's Flatland is one of the only individuals, real or fictional, that has not been exposed to any form of God. He's not human, but his mind works the same way as a humans and that's more important than physical appearance when it comes to ideas such as evolution. He is exceptionally eager to learn after he discovers the third dimension, and if he were exposed to Darwin's theory he would probably be intrigued. The physical evidence uncovered by archeologists would most likely be enough to convince him of Darwin's genius and correctness.
Between revealed religion and atheism is Deism, a religion generally associated with Americans and less popular now than in the 18th century. Several of the Founding Fathers such as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were Deists. They believe there is a God that creates a man, gives him a mind, then places him on the earth and leaves him to use it. Deists today could easily support or oppose evolutionism, but they are more likely to support it. Reason and nature are the basis of their beliefs, so there could easily be enough evidence discovered for them to believe Darwin's theory. They differ from atheists because they use their reasoning to determine that even if people did evolve from primates, somewhere in history whatever developed into those primates had to be created. Everything that exists today had to be created, and God is the explanation for human creation; whether he began with simpler creatures and gradually improved his design or made humans from scratch.
Compared to other religions, deism is relatively new. Had men like Columbus and Galileo been alive several centuries, they would likely have been Deists. In Bertolt Brecht's play Galileo, Galileo makes a statement about God giving men brains to think with. He chooses not to follow the Catholic teachings blindly as is the law, but to use his brain to discover the most truthful facts that his observations would render him to believe.
There are gray areas between revealed religion, atheism, and Deism. Numerous Americans hold beliefs that are combinations of the three, and may be either for or against children learning about evolution. At present, students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are at least introduced to the idea, which suggests a greater part of the American population is in favor of evolution being explained in classrooms. Some of these people may believe in evolution, others may want their children to be exposed to various ideas to think about for themselves and decide which seems the most likely. Both theories may go eternally unproven, but it will be interesting to see how they both progress in the future.
Name:  Kim Cadena
Subject:  Evolution does not equal change
Date:  2002-10-21 23:09:49
Message Id:  3304
In the debate over evolution, there are three different stories that are being told. One is the constantly changing scientific one, always adapting to fit in new information brought in by the curiosity of researchers. Another is the story of ‘guided design,’ which incorporates bits of science with the story that the creationists want to tell themselves. The proponents of guided design were curious enough to glance at other theories and think about them in relation to their own story, merging other stories with their own. The final story is straight creationism, where the Biblical story of creation is told without reference to any facts besides the ones twisted to fit their story. Each group tells and changes (or does not change) its story in a certain way based on what the group thinks the best story is.

The scientists admit to not being right. It’s built right into the scientific method not to claim that one is right until it has been proven six ways from Sunday (and still, there is doubt). They change the story of evolution daily to fit the new facts that are brought in. The very evolution of the current story of evolution is full of people changing or adding to their stories of evolution new information from other people’s stories of evolution. Darwin took the story that Lydell was telling (the theory of gradual geological change) and adapted to what he saw in the Galapagos Islands. This did not give him a complete theory, however, so he had to adapt his story further when he learned of Malthus’s ideas on why populations did not grow geometrically (natural selection was thought by Malthus to be a minor force). By combining the stories told by Lydell and Malthus with the knowledge he gained in the Galapagos, Darwin retold the story of the world.

The story is still being retold. ‘Social Darwinism,’ based on Darwin’s theories, has been proven incorrect, establishing that one story cannot be applied to every case. The idea of evolution does work well when applied to other scientific stories, though. The evolution of the Universe is a theory that would not have been thought of if it had not been for how well the theory of evolution worked for biology. Heavy elements forming out of lighter ones within supernovae is not very different than dark moths evolving out of lighter ones in a forest where the trees are now covered in coal ash. Darwin’s idea of change undergoes change with every new discovery, but the basic premise will go unchallenged until a better one is established.

The believers in guided design do not challenge Darwin’s premise; they ignore him. Accepting all know scientific fact, the intelligent designers present their own theory that fits the facts while supporting their story. Taking advantage of the gaps in current scientific knowledge, they posit that the great leaps that are found in the fossil record and the jump from inanimate matter to living tissue were caused by intervention by a higher power. They do not doubt the current age of the Universe like the pure creationists, nor do they think that there is no such thing as evolution. They merely believe that some things cannot be explained by traditional evolutionary theory and therefore are works of God. Their views also change with current scientific fact; changing their story is not a problem for them because as much as they believe in the rightness of their idea, they also recognize they do not know the whole truth.

Belief in the absolute and unchanging truth and correctness of their ideas belongs to the creationists. They expend great amounts of time and energy changing the facts (or other people’s stories) to fit their story. It’s an ironic reversal in the scientific method, actually. Scientists evolve theory to fit fact, while creation theorists take fact and mold it to fit their story. The use of the second law of thermodynamics is a perfect example of this by the creationists. Because the total entropy of a system is always increasing, they say, it is impossible to get a more complex system to form out of a less complex one. The already cited example of the heavy elements forming in the belly of the supernovae refutes this. The total entropy of the supernova may increase, but the entropy of the individual atoms within the supernova does not necessarily increase. Without the supernova’s total entropy increasing, in fact, heavy elements could not form because there would not be enough kinetic energy to cause light elements to combine.

When not retelling other’s stories to fit their own, creation theorists are also casting doubt on other theories. There is an argument that is made that radioactive dating is inaccurate because the initial conditions (such as a total purity of sample) required for an accurate date are impossible to achieve or confirm. While it is probable that ideal initial conditions never existed, this does not mean that all dates obtained through radioactive decay are inaccurate to such a great degree as to be worthless. Science admits that possible dates vary by as much as a thousand years on some samples, but a thousand years over a span of a hundred thousand is not bad. And it is certainly not so wrong as to justify the thought that the Earth is ten thousand years old.

The scientists retell their stories everyday, responding to the changing times. The guided designers reshape and add to their story, but the plot remains the same as the details change. The creationists do not change their story, but the stories of others. The reasons for these behaviors are, respectively, training to change stories, a willingness to change details, and an absolute stubborn belief. The best story to a scientist is the one that is most consistent with the real world, while the best story to a creationist is the one they believe wholeheartedly. The best story, according to the guided design folk, is one that both explains the real world yet still requires belief. Of course, in the end, the best story is the story one chooses to accept.


Name:  claire mahler
Date:  2002-10-22 00:57:06
Message Id:  3306
Evolution? Creation? What's the Big Diff?
Why Not Crealution or Evolation?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, I, for one, can answer that question easily: the egg. Dinosaurs laid eggs long before chickens even existed. I realized this fact on my own as a young child and yet millions of people still seem to struggle with the idea. Does that help in the debate of evolution versus creationism in any way? I'm sure it could somehow, but that's another essay entirely.

For hundreds of years the ideals of creationism have been closely followed, believed in, respected. The firm tenets of this faith--that a god (in Europe and the United States, generally the Christian God) created the earth alone in the span of six days, the remaining seventh day as God's day of rest--did not allow for any deviation in opinion, lest one acquire the title of a heretic. In recounting to a colleague God's place relative to new, scientific theories, in the face of the Bible and the teachings of organized religion no less, Brecht writes of Galileo, "Sagredo: Where is God in your system of the universe? Galileo: Within ourselves. Or--nowhere. Sagredo: Ten years ago a man was burned at the stake for saying that" (Galileo, 63). This extreme example illuminates the force with which the citizens believed in the teachings and with which they were ready to act against anyone who blasphemed their God. In Darwin's and in Galileo's times, the general populous remained quite skeptical of any change in their belief system and often of science in general as well. Not until relatively recently have people's attitudes towards evolutionary theory and the support thereof become strong. At the present, many have become convinced that therein lies the truth concerning the formation and existence of the earth and of all forms of life.

One group believes in sudden appearance of the earth and of life on earth at the hand of God, the other, gradual metamorphosis of life forms over time. Despite these slight differences of opinion, why can the two philosophies not mix? What rationally dictates that these thoughts cannot coincide and meld into one? As none of us actually existed at the beginning of the earth (no, not even the clergy), who may verify that the earth was indeed created in six days? This traditional belief, passed on from generation to generation surely does not posses exact data, but rather a metaphorical frame with which people can better understand their surroundings. In Genesis 1:4-5 the Bible states, "And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning the first day." No real sense of time is noted (aside from the vague "days"), therefore perhaps millions of years make up one of these biblical days. This potentially being the case, both the evolutionary and creationist ideals could be true at the same time.

Yet strangely enough, despite head-butting over the creationism versus evolution disagreement, one rarely hears an argument for the "middle ground." Why is that? Do the opposing sides feel that unless they stand completely firm and unwavering in their position that they are weak, that they have given in to the wrong side, or that they held an invalid opinion. Humans despise the feeling of being wrong or being told what the "proper" answer or belief may be and any infringement on of their values and understanding is disconcerting and most upsetting. This fear of error and distrust pushes people to resist change from their roots, from what they have been taught to understand and believe.

Due to both positions' stubborn views, there seems to exist no simple and immediate reconciliation of differences between evolutionary and creationist thought. Perhaps if increasingly more people would present their outlooks and simply listen to each other, gradual change might take place. Till then, we'll all ponder what sound is made b one hand clapping.

Name:  Lauren
Username:  lkurtz
Subject:  To Make a Long Story Short: Scriptures, Sciences and Stories
Date:  2002-10-22 01:32:08
Message Id:  3307
People have been telling stories for as long as there have been stories to tell about; it's a natural human function. Stories entertain and educate, they make the world a little more enjoyable and a little easier to understand. They serve as a therapy, allowing the teller and the listener to relate, to form a necessary human bond. Stories let us learn more about ourselves, more about our fellow humans, more about our world.

In Edward Abbot's Flatland, the main purpose of the Square's storytelling is to share with others his miraculous new discovery. He wants to teach others what he has learned, he wants to teach others about the existence of a third dimension. After his return from the third dimension, he "awoke rejoicing, and began to reflect on the glorious career before me. I would go forth, methought, at once, and evangelize the whole of Flatland."

The Square is so determined to disseminate his knowledge, to tell his story, that he is willing to put himself into danger to do so. He risks the Resolution of the Council which bans "any perversion of the minds of the people by delusions, and professing to have received revelations from another World." The Square, steadfast in his desire to disclose his story, "exhorted all hearers to divest themselves of prejudice and to become believers in the Third Dimension."

In Bertolt Brecht's play, Galileo, the title character does something similar: he tries to convince others of his heliocentric theory, his story about how the universe works. Galileo firmly believed what was then considered heresy; namely, that the "earth rolls round the sun." Against the wishes of authority and against popular thought, Galileo persisted in trying to tell his story of how 'floating bodies' worked; his story was based on scientific proof, not on religious notions.

And like the Square in Flatland, Galileo in the play was ostracized for telling a story that no one wanted to hear. The Church could not handle having the precious Holy Scriptures (seemingly) defiled; as the Infuriated Monk said, mocking Galileo, "does the Bible lie?" And nor could the middle classes (who Galileo targeted, writing his works in Italian, not Latin) stomach having the geocentric theory, which they had swallowed as pure truth for millennia, be shown as a fallacy. As the Mathematician said, "if I understand Mr. Galileo correctly, he is asking us to discard the teachings of two thousand years."

However, while the Square goes to jail in to defend his story, his ideas, Galileo eventually cracks, and renounces everything he and his supporters had worked towards. Though he is considered saved, he is still a prisoner of the Inquisition and must live out the rest of his days recanting all that he had researched. While claiming to have seen the light, the light of the sun moving around the earth, he does finish his "Discorsi," but it is not enough. His story has been shattered. As he himself says, "as a scientist, I had an almost unique opportunity...I have betrayed my profession."

While I do agree that Galileo, in a sense, betrayed his profession, I don't feel that his opportunity was quite as unique as he thought it was. The divergence between religion and science dates from before Galileo, and if the present is any indication, is liable to continue well into the future. For example, today, there is such a conflict between creation and evolution theorists.

For eons, humans have believed in the (comforting) thought that the world was created by a divine power. The Egyptians, the Greeks, the Celts all had a supernatural explanation for their own existence. Modern religions do the same; they provide creation explanations, creations stories, to illustrate the beginning of man.

Centuries after the Scientific Revolution, many still side with religion. 45% of all Americans today believe in creationalism (Glanz). The stories found in the Bible still ring true to them, despite what contradictions modern society might present. Just like those in Galileo's day, many find solace and truth within the Holy Scriptures.

However, that is not to say that science does not require a faith of its own. "Science is a particular way of knowing about the world...progress in science consists of the development of the better explanations for the causes of natural phenomenon" (Introduction: Science and Creationism). Science, as well, is a collection of stories, but instead of being supported by the human faith in the divine, it is supported by human achievements.

So, educators today are presented with a problem: which story to teach in our schools? Ever since the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, there has been widespread debate about how to present science to students...through a religious or a clinical bias? Which story is more correct?

For the past few decades, the general consensus was overwhelmingly in favor of the scientific slate, the theory (story) of evolution. But recently, a newer brand of creationalism has cropped up, a re-telling of an old story, if you will. 'Intelligent design,' a modified version of creationalism, is "just a fresh label, a marketing device" (Wright).

This theory of intelligent design" is more forgiving that the strict Biblical interpretation. It allows for the earth to be billions of years old, instead of just a few thousand. However, it does not support the Darwinian idea of natural selection. Instead, followers believe that the formation of earth and the humans that inhabit it was engineered by an 'intelligent designer,' a divine power.

This story is becoming quite popular, especially considering that rough drafts of it only began to appear a decade or so ago. Kansas, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among other states, may eventually teach divine power as equal to the standard theory of evolution. The two stories, in a sense, will be competing with each other. Students will have the opportunity to choose which story they want to take home and put up on their shelf.

However evolved we may become (and however we became evolved), humans still possess the intrinsic attachment to stories. We may label them theories, treatises or philosophies, but we still find comfort in explain how things came to be. The tale of human beginnings, whether it is summed up in Genesis or in On the Origin of the Species, will forever be of interest to us. From Dr. Seuss to scriptures, stories are a necessary part of explaining who we were and who we have become.

Name:  Joy Woffindin
Subject:  Re-telling Our History: The Debate Between Dive Creation & Darwinian Evolution Rages On
Date:  2002-10-22 01:51:45
Message Id:  3308
Joy Woffindin
CSem – Grobstein

Retelling our History:
The Debate Between Divine Creation & Darwinian Evolution Rages on

In examining the debate between the validity of creationism and evolution, a wholly different type of story from those we have studied thus far comes to our attention. The story of the origins of humankind and the world is not simply another diversionary tale, but is classified by our society as history. One of the reasons the origins of mankind is so hotly debated is that in our modern society, history must be factual. Our seemingly unquenchable thirst for uncovering the mysteries of the past permeates our lives and our educational system as we continually search for more details and the most true and correct information about the story of how we arrived at where we our today; our history.

The undeniable importance of history to us seems innate, but it is important to realize that our view of what defines history and separates it from mere stories is not necessarily a universal one. Our word history comes from the ancient Greek "historia", which, though used in much the same way as our "history", literally translates to "inquiry". The Greeks thought of history as an inquiry into the past, a questioning of past events that was open to many interpretations and reinterpretations (also, unlike us, they also thought of looking forward to the past and looking back to the future, because the past was visible since it had already happened but the future was behind you since one cannot see it). The Greeks did not always draw such a sharp line between "reality" and "imagination", as we do today, for so much was unknown about the world that seemingly fantastical accounts were considered possibly truthful.

On the contrary, our society today accepts only one version of the past as being correct, and is reluctant to question the accepted version of history once it has been well justified. We have seen with Galileo, and later with Darwinism, that society's reluctance to accept (and in some cases utter denial of) new theories can be intense and sometimes lead to grave consequences.

What struck me as the most interesting about the sites which were refuting Darwinian theory in favor of Biblical creationism was that, though Christians are expected to believe in the Bible's teachings through faith and without proof, the authors of these sites attempted (in some cases rather feebly) to use scientific proof to validate their points.

Certainly each side in such a debate feels a combination of both reluctance and motivation in putting forth and arguing their viewpoint. The reluctance is a result of the fear of rejection because of their beliefs – or in earlier times, even fear for one's own life (as evidenced by the turmoil caused by the theories of Galileo and other "heretics"). I do not mean to imply that it is only those who bring forth new beliefs who are reluctant to express them, for those who stand by the older beliefs also feel reservation because they fear being labeled as backwards, old-fashioned, or ignorant. On the other hand we are also motivated to put forth our beliefs for a variety of reasons: to continue the search for the truth and what is "correct", to sway others to our point of view, justify our beliefs, explain ourselves to others through our beliefs.

Though the intellectual debate about our history often fuels new discoveries and helps us to (as the description for this course puts it) get things "less wrong", both sides play a dangerous game which can result in far-reaching repercussions throughout society. In Brecht's "Galileo", Galileo posited that his ideas would help society to become more progressive, but the Little Monk expressed concern that people, especially the lower classes, would languish in despair about their meaningless lives if their faith in the Creator was shaken. Likewise, sensitive Evolutionists must be aware of students different and often very strongly held religious beliefs, and be careful not to offend anyone, and sensible Christian fundamentalists must caution themselves from stifling the expression and teaching of ideas that differ from their own.

To think that the two sides of the argument over our origins have not yet been synthesized into a peaceful and healthy coexistence yet, at this point in time, in a society we consider so advanced, is both frustrating, and somewhat embarrassing. Both Evolutionists and Creationists need to absorb parts of each others ideas in order to help the ongoing debate reach a point where it is comprehensive and useful. As many of the Creationist sites point out, scientists have not yet come up with an explanation for the original existence and creation of matter in the first place, and it certainly makes sense that a "Creator" of some sorts, beyond our explanation, could account for this. But statements such as "Nothing in archaeology or science has ever contradicted anything in the Bible" put forth by the author of are simply untrue. As a student of archaeology I can immediately think of many examples to refute this overly general and (in my opinion) closed-minded statement. Just one example would be: what about the fact that the Bible says that the earth is thousands of years old when geologic science has confirmed that it is millions of years old? As evidenced by the fact the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church is listed on the National Center for Science Education's website ( as supportive of teaching of evolution in schools, different ideas can be successfully integrated, and one does not have to "choose religion over science" for one can be religious and agree with scientific explanations at the same time.

The Bible is one of our greatest and most important sources of history, and is an invaluable resource to historians and archaeologists, as well as people seeking a guideline for living a moral life, but at this point in time it is almost impossible to maintain the argument that everything in the Bible is meant to be taken literally. By the same token, Darwinians need to remember that their theory is just that, a theory, and could be proven incorrect, or at least revised, by later generations.

An important part of retelling the story of our history should be to take into account many different ideas, for simply arguing without attempting to understand the other point of view is futile. The most useful way to retell such stories is to not limit the teaching of new ideas, but at the same time not simply cast aside the old as totally invalid.

Works Cited:
Brecht, Bertold: Galileo

Works Consulted:
Romm, James S.: The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought
Lawrence, Jerome and Lee, Robert: Inherit the Wind

Name:  Margaret Ketchersid
Subject:  Creationism and Theistic Evolution: Understanding the Nature of God
Date:  2002-10-22 02:16:13
Message Id:  3309
The current debate about whether to teach creationism or evolution – or some combination of both—in public schools today is an interesting one, but not because of the science involved.

I would identify myself as a "theistic evolutionist": that is, I believe God created the Universe and all the ways in which it works, including evolution. While it is interesting (though sometimes dry) to read all the different theories and hypotheses about the origin and development of our world and all that lives in it, it really has no bearing on the existence of God.

I found following the scientific arguments on the various websites somewhat difficult. There appeared to be two different debates going on: origin of the universe and origin of species. Each side seemed able to produce what appeared to be valid reasons why their interpretation is the correct one and their opponents' view is flawed. It seems you must trust one interpretation or the other (or one of many!) or do some research yourself. I admit to not having much more than an eighth grade science education—and that education is more than twenty years old—definitely a hindrance to being able to judge the merits of each argument. That will have to be beyond the scope of this assignment—I couldn't make up for such a knowledge deficit in a few weeks, or even a few months. I should confess that I discounted the Biblical literalists from the get-go: I believe the creation story is a metaphor, even if other parts of the book of Genesis are factual. At any rate, I am not going to comment on which scientific explanations are correct; I haven't done enough research.

It is the interpretation of information that interests me, whether the content is from the Bible or a scientific study. When we take in information, ruminate on it and finally come to a certain conclusion, we have retold the "story" in a way that makes sense to us. It is fascinating to consider what motivates people to interpret-- re-tell-- the same information in such radically different ways.

In "Galileo," the Church's reaction to Galileo's discoveries says more about man's hubris in believing he is the center of God's universe than about the nature or existence of God. One of the risks of accepting Galileo's theories was having to possibly give up the idea that God considers man his ultimate achievement. To allow Galileo's re-telling to stand could be seen as a blow to human importance. For some the current debate about what to teach in our schools has less to do with scientific truths than it does with certain groups' concerns about our place in the universe and what they see as their responsibility to their God. They see the ToE as a challenge to the sovereignty of God. On the website "" the author has this to say about the theory of evolution: "These beliefs mislead modern peoples (when not outright murdering them) and at the least make it harder for them to view the Gospel as a logical alternative." The "Here's the Good News" page of the "Answers in Genesis" website attempts to link a literal interpretation of the Bible, which obviously contradicts the ToE, with salvation.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus gives "The Great Commission" (I am going to paraphrase): "Go and make disciples of all nations. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. Surely I am with you to the very end of the age." I believe this statement is what drives the biblical literalists. They believe they are helping to fulfill Jesus' Great Commission by trying to debunk what they see as anathema, and putting what they see as God's true word in its place. They are re-telling both the creation story and the theory of evolution in a way that suits their world view. I admire the strength of their convictions but I think their theology is wrong.

There are many deeply religious Christians who believe in evolution and disagree with the literalist re-telling of the creation story. How is it that these various groups, who read the same religious texts, come up with such opposing views? I believe it has something to do with the way different people understand the nature of God. After reading the various creationist websites, I came away with the impression that they see God as being very wrathful; ready to condemn anyone who makes an error in understanding Him. The pressure to conform to what is already in place is tremendous. Re-interpret or just mis-interpret God's desires for humanity and you are faced with eternal damnation.

I did not find many theistic evolution websites that weren't set up by creationists to warn of the dangers of what they see as a blasphemous belief. On the few sites that I did find there was an absence of warnings about sin, damnation and evil. Just as on the creationist websites, God is held up as the Creator of the world and he is believed to still be at work here. It is the method of creation that is different. However, the nature of God is presented as being more mysterious and beyond our limited understanding. There is room for interpretation of Genesis because God does not require a literal understanding of the Bible in order to love humanity.

As I stated earlier, I don't feel qualified to judge the scientific validity of evolution or the more scientific branches of creationism: young earth creationism and old earth creationism. I do feel strongly, however, that creationism should not be taught in public schools because it is theologically based. I do not want the government instructing my child in religious matters! Add to the mix that I do not agree with the creationists' theology and they do not agree with mine, multiply by the number of different interpretations of various creation stories—including numerous "secular" views on evolution-- and you have a recipe for disaster. Theological instruction should be given by families and religious groups, not government employees. Imagine the re-tellings that could come from that scenario—New Math, anyone?

Name:  Natalie
Subject:  Question Evolution
Date:  2002-10-22 09:54:57
Message Id:  3310
Our culture does not question evolution; Darwin's theory of evolution is more often than not accepted as truth. There is value in looking at different perspectives on the origin of man. Of course students should also be exposed to different perspectives. These theories range from Darwinism, creationism, to Intelligent Design Theory. It is with these differences our world thrives. It is thus a challenge to understand, question and explore the truth we have uncovered and have yet to discover on our journey ahead.
First it is necessary to distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is proven and supported by indisputable evidence. Schools have no problem teaching change over time, it's a fact of life. The question lies beyond the "survival of the fittest", where "the "irreducibly complex" world of biochemistry, the digital code inherent in the organic genome, and the fossil record itself have knocked Darwin's basic theory on its heels." The fossil record shows an explosion of highly complex life forms without any evidence of a transitional, evolutionary process required for Darwin's theory. The fossils archived to this day only date back so far. It still remains that no common ancestor has been found. The question faced is God versus Nature. Is the human species designed or is it by pure accident we are living on this earth? This controversy questions two extremes: the examinable, penetrable nature of this world; and the intangible, unseen God not of this world. Why must it be that Evolution blasts the existence of God? How can it surely do so when the theory is not proven?
In comparison, the creation story found the Genesis chapter of the Bible evidence of God. The bible is not scientific; however, it is a historical record. It is not logical, mathematical equations, calculations, and observations. Moreover, it is accounts, accounts of peoples, places, and happenings. Scientists were not the leaders of that time. It was the church, which ruled the land, not only spiritually, but governed all its affairs. The time in which the Bible was written certainly took a toll on what was recorded or discovered. To compare, Galileo will be sure to remind that his inventions were born in a time where the field of astronomy was needed for trade. His business of science benefited from people, as people benefited from science. Also the language places a huge role upon what is recorded or discovered. Galileo rather than invent and present his ideas in Latin, the language of the elites, he chose to use everyday jargon, so as to open the world of science all people. And yet it isn't until centuries later that the Bible could be read by all peoples, only clergymen or laymen could understand the 'language of God'. This is not to say old scriptures do not hold truth. It uncovers a culture, a society, a people, and a time. The Bible describes a beginning, yet to the logical, gradual changes that took place over time in accordance with how we originated, it is not so specific. This does not invalidate the Bible, yet in modern world, we demand more detailed processes as to what caused our evolution.
Darwin's theory of evolution should be taught in schools. Darwin's theory deserves fair representation and so should other theories concerning this matter. In the Supreme Court case Edwards vs. Aguillard, the court finds that the Louisiana Creationism Act; in stating that it would be necessary along side the teaching of evolution for creation science also to be taught invalid. Because the Creationism Act's purpose was to merely discredit evolution. Instead the Court decided that in hopes of educating students in the most authentic manner, the instruction of all scientific theories about human origins would be most appropriate.
Other theories include the Intelligent Design Theory or the Big Bang Theory. In comparison, Darwin's shocking ideas were not that humans ascended from a common ancestor, but other theories present a guiding intelligence, whereas Darwin proposed humans developed by chance. The reason behind the Intelligent Design theory is not to tear down the tenets of Darwinism, but rather "Intelligent design was devised by molecular biologists and other scientists who could not explain complex biological systems as the product of random selection...The more deeply these scientists looked, the more they saw evidence that biological systems were designed." From this perspective how could it be possible we evolved from inanimate matter?
Furthermore, one way of thinking whether it be Darwinian thought or another theory, it always runs into inconsistencies. In a statement made to the press by John Thomas Scopes at the Scopes Trial in 1925, "Education, you know means broadening, advancing; and, if you limit size to only one side of anything, the whole country will eventually have only one thought, be one individual. I believe in teaching every aspect of every problem or theory." Education deserves no less that this. It's knowledge should be given to the youth of our nation. As the future leaders of this nation and the world, it is indispensable that students explore truth, reason, doubt and theory in order to face the real world. They have a right to decide on their own what they believe about the evolution of man. It is not the job of education to indoctrinate them, but rather facilitate a higher understanding of themselves and the world and all things beyond. Flatland's narrator demonstrates that after his eyes are widened to Spaceland, he has a vast hunger for, "... some higher, purer region whither thou dost surely purpose to lead me... some yet more spacious Space, some more dimensionable Dimensionality..." This search for things unseen and unproven should not go unexplored, the journey is endless, so the journey for knowledge shall continue onward and upward.
The origin of life has baffled the human mind since the dawn of time. Many purposed theories of human origin have still not been proven. And for this reason the search shall continue. For it was Galileo who claimed the earth revolves around the sun and he only had a few supporters in his day. He was forced to recant his discoveries to save his life. And yet he continued vigorously to challenge the world secretly. As for the narrator in Flatland, once brought to greater levels of understanding, he too set out to share the wealth of knowledge bestowed upon him. To no avail, he also was imprisoned as a heretic and lunatic. It is not without hardship that one may venture to challenge the old with new thought.
Evolution is not set in stone. The teaching and exploring of the nature of Evolution will allow for young minds to continually apply their unsullied intelligence contributing to a better understanding of it. The purpose of this issue is not to drive one another into the ground; this conflict is very much alive. On this earth, we are living an extreme: divergent cultures, societies, beliefs, climates, and governments. The order maintained out of the chaotic natural world we live in is not a generic code, rather as one travels the globe the definitions of order even change. This is the beauty of our world. If there was no change, if people lived stagnant lives, where everyone believed the same thing, and there was nothing of which to argue about, why! Life wouldn't be worth living! It is the controversies pulling at our hearts, which make us thirst for more, that make us want to share what we know with others.
Name:  Bonnie Balun
Subject:  Stories and the Origins of Life
Date:  2002-10-22 10:20:04
Message Id:  3311
The reasons we are motivated to re-tell stories are as varied and complex as the people who tell them. For me, some of the reasons I re-tell stories are to help people, to soothe, to commiserate, to inspire, to motivate, to validate, to learn, to impress, to strengthen, to prepare, to organize, to lighten, and to share human experience. Stories create culture. They lead us to community and to fellowship with one another. We seek a shared reality. We may seek out others based on their motivations for re-telling stories...identifying with people by the stories they tell.
We are sometimes hesitant to re-tell a story because we sense the importance of this activity to relationship with others. We sense the responsibility of choosing the appropriate words. I am reluctant to re-tell a story when I fear being misinterpreted or misunderstood. Could it be possible that no two people "hear" the same story in exactly the same way? Is every story interpreted individually? If so, it is almost certain that if you re-tell a story to enough people, it will be misinterpreted at some point by some of them. In this way the storyteller takes a risk, but in my opinion, if you tell an important story to a hundred people and one of them "gets it," then that is enough to have made it all worth it. It takes courage to tell stories.
In regard to science education in schools, why must biology class attempt to explain the origins of the universe and human life? Isn't that presumptuous?...overly ambitious? This is the subject material of religion. Is it possible to teach biology without dwelling on a beginning?
I respect that a body of research exists by scientists who have attempted to prove the origins of the universe and human life. I even believe that it is important to attempt such research with the idea of laying the ground work for future discoveries. But science teachers must be sensitive to the different religious beliefs of their students in the classroom. They should not present evolution as "the way" but as scientific theory, subject to the possibility of rejection or modification in the light of new knowledge; in addition, if possible, they should present evolution in a way that does not compete with the spiritual and religious beliefs taught in the homes of their students.
Name:  Lim Xuan-Shi
Subject:  Are we coming closer to the truth?
Date:  2002-10-22 14:18:08
Message Id:  3314
Are We Coming Closer to Truth?

Both creationism and evolutionism seek to find answers to the origins of human life, but the debate about science education shows a strong inclination towards evolutionism. It appears as if attempts to establish a victor between the two would force us to confront the issue of spiritual faith: Does God exists? If we believe in the existence of God, do we have to believe that man was created by God? The arguments made by creationists are motivated by their faith in Christianity. Much of their evidence is taken from the Bible, and they tried to give their claims a universal appeal. As a non-Christian, I feel that they are propagating that Christianity is the origin of all religions. To be unbiased, should the sciences have an unrivalled authority on the issue of evolution? Which proposed ideology is closer to the truth?

Pro-creationists have made claims that certain characters in the Chinese language support the creation account stated in the Bible1. For example, some scholars interpret the Chinese word for God, which translates into "Shang Ti", to imply that the ancient Chinese worshipped only one God, a "single heavenly emperor"2. Coincidentally, the word "Shang Ti" is the term used by the Chinese today to refer to the Christian God, while they refer to their God as "Yu Huang Da Di", who is thought to be the ruler over many other smaller deities. Is this sufficient evidence to proof that the ancient Chinese did worship only one God, and it was the same God mentioned in the Bible? I doubt so. Can we not argue too that the 'Christian God' actually originated from beliefs of the Chinese and was misinterpreted to mean a single God, when the Chinese was worshipping the God of all Gods? Is there not an implication then that Christianity is superior to other religions, because our early forebears recognize the presence of the God whose work of creation is recorded in the Bible? Also, Chinese do not believe that it was not a sexless God that created man from "the dust of the ground" as mentioned in the Bible. In Chinese myths, it was a woman figure named Nuwa who first tried to mold man from clay, but finding it too time-consuming, she dipped a rope in mud and sling it hard. Drops of mud flew from the rope, and the drops became men and women as they hit the ground. Therefore, the pro-creationist's suggestion that the individual components which formed the Chinese character "create" actually supports the creation account is unconvincing as well.

If we examine the modern religions of the world, we would find that some have similar creation myths. Both Islam and Christianity, for example, believed that a single god formed and governed the universe. In fact, the similarity is much more apparent between these two religions than the rest. Both endorsed the idea that after God created the universe, he started to create man. The followers of Hinduism supported the idea that there is one supreme God that governs many other smaller gods, which is also the belief of many Chinese today. Why then did the pro-creationists not include evidence from the Koran to support the validity of their creation account? If they thought that the Koran were an unreliable source, is the Bible any more credible than the Koran? Clearly, creationism is selective of the evidence it uses to supports its claims, in as much that it should avoid dealing with sensitive religious issues. How is this possible if their most convincing arguments are supported by Biblical text, while their weaker arguments made about the age of the universe and the man's evolution3 are refuted by modern scientific findings? It is also interesting to note that although some cults of major religions do reject the scientific evidence on man's origins, the Christian voice is the loudest in the movement of protest.

Although the claims made by the pro-creationists are weak in many areas, we cannot discount creationism from the debate on man's origins. The significance of its emergence is greater than its contributions to the discoveries on human ancestry. Creationism has failed to present a unified front; supporters have been making different claims that sometimes lack logical sense in view of scientific discoveries. What creationism attempts to do is to keep the beautiful and magical myth of creation alive. They do not wish for the role of the divine to be negated in the work of creation, for it is in the divine (one God, or many smaller gods) that man look to find his meaning and purpose in life. Even if someone has a strong faith in science and express skepticism in all things religious and philosophical, it would not be wrong to suggest that they worship the God of Science. The force that drives a person's faith and give them a sense of duty or the motivation to carry on with life could be taken to be their religion. To silence the voice of creationism on man's evolution would be as unnatural act, for it is defending the
larger idea of faith essential to human life.

To be fair, let us question whether the sciences should be accepted as the authority on the subject of the origin of life. I feel that scientific discovery is an important source of information and reference on any subject, but it should not be accepted as the ultimate Truth. Statistics and theories add credibility to any argument because they serve as evidence. However, we should keep in mind that one characteristic of science is its ever-mutating nature. Scientific findings have been known to be erratic sometimes, with its share of fanatical scientists trying desperately to make breakthroughs in the field. It has not been unusual for earlier findings to be disproved by current research, and no where is this more apparent than in the field of health.

Science education, which is concerned about presenting the objective truths, is also limiting the imagination of children. By establishing the scientific theories as facts, children are guided to build up a structure of the world as constructed by science. As adults, they would resist new ideas that challenged their reality and world order, as illustrated in the play Galileo by Bertolt Brecht. Galileo proposes that the earth revolves around the sun, which contradicts the common belief that appears to be established for as long as life existed, that the sun goes around the earth4. He was forced to recant and eventually imprisoned for his theory. 'Spiritual faith' and 'science' do not always oppose one another. If Galileo did not have faith in himself and in Science, he would not have completed his controversial book despite his failing eyesight. Clearly, having faith motivates a person to be dedicated to his beliefs, and in this case, drove Galileo to introduce a new scientific idea to the hostile public.

Are we coming closer to the truth owing to the progress of science? No one knows for certain what the Truth is, and only speculations can be made. If God did create man, he also gave him the free will to act as he wish. Perhaps it was not meant for man to know the entire truth about the universe, for what good would the truth do for him except to satisfy his curiosity? What if knowing the truth only brings about disillusionment? If so, it is enough that man have faith in himself and the workings of the universe.

1-2 CSE Ministry. Article from Bruce Malone's book Search for the Truth, "Chinese Language Supports Creation Account"
19 Oct 2002

3 The National Academy of Science. Science and Creationism, 2nd Ed. "The Origin of the Universe, Earth and Life" 1999.
19 Oct 2002

4 Brecht, Bertolt. Galileo New York: Grove Press, 1966

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