A more appropriate title to this blog post would be “Why I hate that the public schools teach ‘creation’ by evolution and do not teach the Biblical account of creation,” but aside from being too wordy, I thought the inappropriate title might persuade more people to read this entry. After all, the second title might lead one to think that I’m in favor of creationism and who wants to hear another argument for creationism? Well, you’ll be happy to hear that I frankly don’t care for creationism (and for that matter, I don’t care much for intelligent design…or Ben Stein). But in spite of my apathy toward creationism, I am still greatly miffed by this country’s ridiculous replacement of one creation story (evolution) with another (the Biblical account).
The short of the story is this: the creation story told by evolutionary scientists is a myth. It’s just a story made up by some people who claim to have some sort of authority regarding biology, paleontology, a little organic chemistry, and the so-called scientific method (other disciplines may apply). It comes with no guarantee of factual validity and it begs just as many questions as it supposes to answer.
Now, many might claim that the creation story in the Bible fits under a similar description (with a few minor alterations). In fact, that is my point: we have been forced to chose between two creation myths – the Big Bang and the Bible – competing for academic space in the public schools, and in my estimation, the worst of the two myths won out.
Do not try to tell me that evolution won out because it’s based on “facts.” It is likely true that this was one of the questions behind the decision to teach the Big Bang: which one is based in “fact.” But the fact of the matter is no one, no matter how sophisticated, can make a claim as to the factual accuracy of either myth. so whether or not factual accuracy was the question, it shouldn’t have been and it shouldn’t be now. Factual accuracy just cannot be a question in the case of “creation,’ even for evolutionary scientists, else we ask questions that will never be answered.
The question we ought to have asked (at least for the public schools’ sake) – and the question that we ought to ask now – is “which myth better serves the educative purposes of our students?” The answer to that question is without a doubt the Biblical myth.
400 years of culture – particularly the arts and literature – finds its foundation in the myths of the Bible. By excluding the Bible from our scholastic repertoire, we have violently separated ourselves and our children from that which defines us culturally and instead (as a consequence of several court decisions ostensibly fighting for the division of church and state) we have adopted a culture that is untested – the scientific culture. We can argue whether this new culture is better or worse for us (my case lies with the almost-too-true-to-life account of Aldous Huxley), but the point is, we are sacrificing the security of 400 years (and more) for what-we-know-not.
That’s not to say that we couldn’t teach both myths in school. But if we make that decision, we ought to award the Big Bang the status it deserves: mythical. Otherwise, we are doing our children a violent disservice.
I guess if I were to make some sort of conclusion to this post, that conclusion would be a call to arms. The Bible doesn’t have near the defenders it should have, especially in our own faith (I believe that is partly due to our willingness to make our religion fit with anything called science), and if it did, we might see arguments for teaching the Bible in our public more sophisticated than creationism and intelligent design. So if I were to make a conclusion, I would say “Let’s fight for the Bible in public schools!” But I’m not going to make a conclusion. Instead, I’d just like to invite your comments on some of the thoughts I’ve expressed here. Maybe I’ll make the call to arms when I actually have something to say.
[Administrator's note: I'm adding an important corrective (published as a comment) to this post, from the author, below:]
My lack of sophistication in writing this post seemed to do the ideas an immense disservice. So I’ll start by giving a blanket clarifying response:
I’m not talking about teaching Christianity, I’m talking about the Bible as the mythological, symbolic framework it has come to represent in literature and in the arts. In other words, to teach students about Petrarch, Dante, Milton, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and hundreds of others, a knowledge of the Bible and its stories are necessary.
The primary reason the Bible is not used is because it is a religious text, so it gets the axe out of respect for our Bill of Rights. But the Bible is not just a religious text – it is a work of literature that Shakespeare himself could not have done without. Yet we think we can do without it.
I’m not against teaching evolution in school. I was talking about creation stories – one told by the Bible and one told by evolutionary theorists. Let me echo Tom D: the Big Bang is not evolutionary theory. So that we all understand, I was not criticizing evolution (please re-read the first paragraph of the blog entry). I was just commenting on the fact that the myth of the Big Bang (and I challenge anyone to persuade me it is NOT a myth) is given priority over the Biblical myth. And in my estimation, this is a gross error.
Finally, I am in favor of the separation of church and state. Those who know me know I am well cultured and fair-minded (I hope) and that I have utmost respect for the several religions. In fact, many who know me well know I’d much sooner send my kids to the public schools then to a Mormon-run charter school (I’m Mormon, by the way). I’m not trying to push religion into the public schools – I just want to see our children broadening their horizons beyond just “science” and into the arts and letters. That’s all.
[Administrator's note May 23, 2008: further comments for this post are discouraged. We have reached the looney bin limit, I'm afraid.]
Filed under: Literature, Philosophy, Science Tagged: | Aldous Huxley, Arts, Ben Stein, Bible, creation, creationism, evolution, Expelled, intelligent design, literature, myth, narrative theology, public education, Science, scriptures