Reality is often stranger than fiction. When it is, I tend to wonder if I'm just part of someone's big cosmic joke (think Candid Camera on hallucinogenic steroids). One ongoing reality in particular—a war that shouldn't exist—makes me feel this way: evolution vs. creationism in public schools.
We live in the 21st century. But you wouldn't know it by all the efforts still aimed at removing the teaching of evolution in public school science classrooms or introducing creationism as a valid alternative to it. Those who advocate teaching "creation science" or "intelligent design" in America's schools are part of a decades-old movement. Yet, despite failing numerous times—even in the highest courts—they continue their bizarre quest. Why?
The theory of evolution is not based on speculation. Yet, the word "theory" confuses those who promote creationism. In the context of science, a theory is the ultimate outcome of the scientific method. A scientific theory is not a guess. In this respect, the theory of evolution is no different than the theory of gravity. They both happen. We know this because they are predictable and have been repeatedly tested and scrutinized through observation and peer review.
A person could probably spend a lifetime debunking all of the claims that creationism advocates put forward to make their arguments seem scientifically valid. And the scope of this issue is certainly too large for one blog post. Thankfully, the Internet is already loaded with reliable information on the subject.
I understand the desire for absolute answers to the deep, meaningful questions about life. We all want them. Therefore, I don't begrudge those who look to any particular religion—so long as they don't try to infringe on anyone else's rights or deny the scientific realities that public policy must be shaped from. That's why any debate over teaching creationism and evolution side by side in science classrooms should focus primarily on what is truly based on the scientific method (evolution) and what is not (creationism/intelligent design).
If you happen to be a Christian fundamentalist who takes the Bible literally, believes that the earth is only 10,000 years old, and that humans lived with dinosaurs, I can understand why you would have trouble accepting evolution. But I would encourage you to read Paradigms on Pilgrimage to understand how two evangelical Christians who once believed these same things (one a paleontologist, the other a Bible scholar) came to accept evolution as a scientific truth that is compatible with their faith.
America is already a laughingstock of other nations due to this kind of "unbelievable" controversy. Teaching creationism in science class makes about as much sense as teaching Mayan astrology in Spanish class.
If this is all just a cosmic joke, I'm still waiting for the punch line. (I think we all are.) But I'm also looking forward to watching No Dinosaurs in Heaven, a new documentary that examines this issue more closely. Here's the trailer: