The most compelling religious- scientific- ethical controversy of '99 was whether the theory of evolution should be taught to impressionable schoolchildren in place of the Biblical story of creation. I'm speaking of 1899, of course.
By now, a hundred years later, we should have pretty much settled the issue, don't you think?
I guess not. Recent polls indicate that if we had a vote on Creationism vs evolution right now, on the cusp of the 21st century, Creationism would 'win' (This, along with the success of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"...are the best evidence we have that evolution works both ways).
The efforts of Creationists to discredit the teaching of evolution have grown increasingly subtle and sophisticated over the years, and increasingly well-financed. Their attacks on Darwin's theory can even sound plausible, if you don't listen too closely. But they never apply the same rigorous intellectual analysis to their own "theory," "'scientific' Creationism". I'd like to do that now.
The theory of evolution may not be perfect, nor does it explain everything, but a literal interpretation of the Bible produces nonsense. It fails to answer one of the quintessential questions it raises, to wit: If God is an omnipotent, all-powerful being who created man and woman and the earth and all the heavens in a single burst, why did He do such a poor job of it? Here are just a few of the mistakes he made:
Adam (made form clay) and Eve (made from Adam's rib) have two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel and is banished to the outer world, where he begets himself a son, Enoch; Enoch begets Irod, who begets Mehujael, who begets Methusael, wo begets Lamech and so on.
I have a question. Where are they getting their wives? Where did Cain's wife com from, for that matter? She just appears, nameless and without explanation. Was she his sister? His rib? We are never told. Imagine what the Creationists would do with a missing link like that in evolution. Taken literally the story is, at best, absurd; at worst, it's a tale filled with serial incest, and a bad example for young people.
Let's face it, folks, if God did indeed create the heavens and the earth in the literal manner of the Bible, he is a pretty poor excuse for a Supreme Being.
I refuse to believe that. Let Creationists think that God is a bumbler if they wish, but I think they're selling him short. Actually, what they're doing is making God in their image, rather than the other way around. God, if any, is better than that. He or She has to be.