What is it about evolution?
A teacher in one of our local colleges described the reaction of one of her students when evolution was introduced in a biology class. The girl was visibly upset. She said she was afraid it would cause her to lose her faith.
The teacher tried to reassure her without saying the obvious: A faith that could be damaged by learning the basic facts of nature is not worth keeping. And evolution is basic to just about everything we know about physical existence. I could argue that evolution says a good bit about spiritual existence as well, but that will have to wait.
A lot of individuals identify themselves as spiritual people but not particularly religious. I beg to differ. Spirituality is religious. Man is spiritual animal. Religion develops out of this basic nature, but unfortunately as it develops, it displays one of mankind’s less desirable characteristics: the need to dominate others. A priesthood forms. A system of dos and don’ts is put in place.
A code of behavior is necessary when people live together, and the best way to enforce such a code is for people to believe it is ordained by a higher power. Historically, kings were thought to be divine, either gods in their own right or given their powers by God.
From the beginning, religion has been part of a social system. However, as religion evolved, it was manipulated by those who strive for dominance. It still is, and for better or worse, religion is bound to influence the 2012 political campaign. Our relationship with God -- something that should bring God’s people together -- will be use to pull them apart.
Let’s return to the young woman who was afraid studying evolution would destroy her faith. Surely a woman of college age understands metaphor. She must have been exposed to it in English class. There in lies the problem. She was unable to see a connection between the intellect and religion.
Genesis as metaphor is a powerful description of mankind’s place in the universe. As history or physical science, it is reduced to a cult belief. An individual can believe wholeheartedly that God invested man with a soul (made man human) on the sixth day, but if that individual believes mankind was created in our present form less than 10,000 years ago, he is either uneducated or irrational. Either way, that person is prime fodder for political manipulation.
I’ve known families that wouldn’t let their children go to a school that taught evolution. The government can force parents to get their children inoculated against disease; it can’t prevent them from being taught false science. Government can prevent individuals from forming a legal bond with a member of the same sex. It can prevent abortion, but it can neither instill love where it doesn’t exist nor prevent love where it does.
Until recently President Barack Obama said his views on same-sex marriage were “evolving.” Then a chance remark by his vice president forced his hand. His “new view” offered support to the gay-lesbian community while offending many conservative Christians. But what difference did it actually make?
Acceptance of homosexuality is still evolving as more and more people learn their gay and lesbian neighbors are basically no different, and no more dangerous, than anyone else. No church is forced to perform a service or sacrament that violates its beliefs. No marriages are dissolved because same-sex couples seek the same rights and respect granted to heterosexuals.
Dick doesn’t stay married to Jane because he’s not allowed to marry John. Sally doesn’t leave Harry because she can now marry Susan. Yet this issue is being exploited to garner votes.
I understand the human desire for power and dominance, but I don’t understand why people are so threatened by individuals who put love and responsibility ahead of traditional values that they allow power hungry politicians to manipulate them.
Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.