This post is the twenty-seventh in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:
Harmful Effect #27: School boards having to spend time and money and resources on the fight to have evolution taught in the schools.
This “harmful effect” presumes that it is somehow incumbent upon school boards to include evolution in the curricula of their schools. Evolution, which is a theory, is not affirmed by a significant part of the American public. A recent Pew survey found that 34% of Americans “reject evolution entirely”. Should school boards, which are intended to serve the public interest of their constituents, in communities in which evolution is largely rejected be expected to “fight” to have evolution taught in their schools? Hardly. The theory of evolution can become a point of “religious”dogma for some atheists, such as the atheist(s) who authored this list, to the point where they want to push their beliefs on others. Teaching it can become a mater of dogmatic aspiration for secularists because the theory of (naturalistic) evolution provides an explanation of human existence that doesn’t depend on divine creation. Outspoken atheist and biologist Richard Dawkins famously wrote that evolutionary theory made it possible for one to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist”. Thus, it’s not surprising that certain atheists would “fight” to have it taught in schools. That “school boards” supposedly have to do so doesn’t make the situation a “harmful effect of Christianity”.
The most famous “fight” to teach evolution in public schools was the “Scopes Monkey Trial” of the early 20th Century. The trial was, at bottom, a publicity stunt cooked up by local businessmen in Dayton, TN more than it was a sincere intellectual contention for the theory of evolutionary. In 1968 the US Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas law preventing the teaching of evolution in the state’s schools. The teaching of evolution has since gone relatively unchallenged in the United States’ legal system. Where there have been legal challenges, there is scant evidence that “school boards” were the entities “fighting” to teach evolution, expending vast resources in the process. No evidence was provided by the authors for their contention. If anything, it is the detractors of evolution who are fighting to teach alternate theories in school, as evidenced by the 2005 case, Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District, in which a school district was successfully sued by parties seeking to suppress the teaching an alternative to evolution.
The authors of this harmful effects list have demonstrated a feeble grasp of not only Christianity but history. Their grasp on science may be just as suspect. Evolutionary theory faces challenges from the religious and secular realms alike. Atheist philosophy professor Thomas Nagel recently published, in the Oxford University Press, a critique of evolutionary theory entitled, “Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False”. Two of Nagel’s statements warrant inclusion here:
“I realize that such doubts [about Darwinian naturalism] will strike many people as outrageous, but that is because almost everyone in our secular culture has been browbeaten into regarding the reductive research program as sacrosanct, on the ground that anything else would not be science.”
“For a long time I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms came to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process works. The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes. This is just the opinion of a layman who reads widely in the literature that explains contemporary science to the nonspecialist. Perhaps that literature presents the situation with a simplicity and confidence that does not reflect the most sophisticated scientific thought in these areas. But it seems to me that, as it is usually presented, the current orthodoxy about the cosmic order is the product of governing assumptions that are unsupported, and that it flies in the face of common sense.”
It should not be taken for granted that evolution is the truth and any challenge to it is harmful. If atheists want to fight for it to be taught, they can. It doesn’t make their fight just or noble. It doesn’t make their opponents “harmful”. If the theory of naturalistic evolution is false, and it is, then its advocates are in grave error. Man would do better to acknowledge the design and grace of his Creator, casting himself upon the mercy of God for salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:
Harmful Effect #28: Persecution of “heretics”/scientists, like Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake) and Galileo Galilei.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.