Why has The History Channel "gone ape" over evolution? American TV viewers have been recently bombarded with ads promoting a new "documentary" called "Ape to Man." We have already viewed the program and prepared our response. (See History it Ain’t)
In the wake of USA President George Bush's controversial remarks last week (August 1) that challenged the evolution-only teaching in America's public schools (which became topic #1 for bloggers that week and an easy target for editorial cartoonists-see USA President Bush on Origins), the American media continues its fascination with the creation/ID/evolution issue. This week's coverage includes a Time magazine cover story, "The Evolution Wars," and an evolution documentary on "ape-men" that appeared Sunday evening (August 7) on The History Channel (see sidebar).
The Time cover story includes four parts: the major feature story titled, "The Evolution Wars"; short articles from four guest columnists who offer differing views on whether or not one can combine God and evolution; a USA map that shows which states are challenging the way evolution is taught in public schools; and a short article that addresses how Darwinians and Anti-Darwinians explain how the first eye came to be.
Evolution wars in public schools
The article "The Evolution Wars" covers a lot of territory, especially in the area of intelligent design. The writer, Claudia Wallis, paints the scene of what will happen at ninth-grade classes in Dover, Pennsylvania this fall (unless a federal court intervenes) when a cautionary statement about evolution and information about intelligent design is given. "That kind of scene … strikes horror into the hearts of scientists and science teachers across the US, not to mention plenty of civil libertarians," she writes.
Wallis claims the president's position seems "fair-minded," but to biologists it "smacks of faith-based science." And that is troublesome according to the author who says, "not only because it rekindles a turf battle that goes all the way to the Middle Ages but also because it comes at a time when US science is perceived as being under fresh assault politically and competitively."
Time isn't the only publication which is linking a doubt in Darwin with the undermining of science. The current August 2005 issue of Discover, in its alarmist article "23 Years Ago in Discover: Creationism," sweepingly claims that "to undermine science, especially when the United States is beginning to lose its leadership in technology and even in some areas of research, is to undermine America."
A belief in molecules-to-man evolution contributes nothing to our understanding of empirical science and plays no essential role in biomedical research or education.
The fact is that a belief in molecules-to-man evolution contributes nothing to our understanding of empirical science and plays no essential role in biomedical research or education, as stated (for examples, see A Philly Story) by Ph.D. cell biologist and AiG speaker Dr. David Menton. Nor has technology arisen due to a belief in evolution. Technology has shown us that sophisticated machines like computers and space shuttles require intelligent designers-not random chance processes (see Can Creationists Be Scientists?).
The article brings up the recent Harris poll which showed that 55% of 1,000 adults surveyed in America said children should be taught creation and intelligent design along with evolution in public schools. The prevalence of such beliefs, coupled with the growing presence of the intelligent design movement, is beginning to alter the way that most fundamental tenets of biology are presented in public schools, the author contends.
One example of this is in Kansas where the state board of education is expected to accept a draft of new science standards that calls for modifying its current definition of science and for students to study evolution from a more critical point of view. While the media has spun this issue in a negative light, the reality is that Kansas is the only state that does not have a traditional definition of science, according to the Discovery Institute, an intelligent design "think tank." The new science standards in Kansas actually proposes a traditional definition of science, one which is nearly identical to the definition of science adhered to in 40 states across America.
Evolving laws and the First Amendment
Of course, no major article on evolution would be complete without mentioning the famous "monkey trial" of 1925, the Scopes trial. The article discusses the shift that took place in the court system when US Supreme Court rulings in 1982 and 1987 put an end to some states requiring that creation science be taught alongside evolution. "Offering creationism in public schools, even as a side dish to evolution, the high court held, violated the First Amendment's separation of church and state," the Time article states.
The media needs to realize that even the field of law has "evolved," as seen in how the courts teach that the First Amendment is supposedly in the Constitution to keep religion out of government (see "Evolution in American education and the demise of its public school system," under the subheading Our evolving laws (and lawyers)). Not many reporters are apparently aware that the phrase "separation of church and state" came from the pen of Thomas Jefferson in a letter written several years after the First Amendment. It is not well known that he was actually concerned that the government be kept out of religion, not vice versa. That is how he viewed the First Amendment.
The Time article discusses a number of other topics that have been addressed on this AiG website. Here are some highlights of the cover article and its accompanying stories:
- The president's remarks supporting intelligent design are making some Darwin doubters in the ID movement uncomfortable because many of them believe intelligent design is not yet ready for prime time. The emphasis now for many in the ID movement is on "dissing Darwinism [states Time], which opens the door to other explanations of life's origins without specifically invoking an intelligent creator." Quoting a pro-ID scientist: "The science is there," says an oceanographer and senior researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, "but the science textbooks are not." (To know where Answers in Genesis stands on the Intelligent Design Movement, see our article on this subject.)
- In a section titled, "Biologists Ask, What Holes?" the famous British atheist and evolutionist, Dr. Richard Dawkins, used the hackneyed analogy that teaching intelligent design theory is equivalent to believing in a flat earth. This old "apples-and-oranges" argument is swept away in our article Getting To Be as Flat as the “Flat Earth” Argument.
- Dawkins also brings up the question, "Who designs the designer?" Well, our answer lies in the very first verse in the Bible, "In the beginning God … ." As discussed in the AiG booklet Is There Really a God? there is no attempt in those words to prove the existence of God or imply in any way that God had a beginning. The Bible makes it clear in many places that God is outside of time. He is eternal with no beginning or end.
- In the section titled, "What Shall be Taught?" the Time cover article discusses how a number of states, including Kansas in 1999, had removed the mention of evolution in their curriculum standards. It states that Kansas received a flunking grade from one education group for how it taught evolution because it had supposedly cut Darwin from the curriculum and had deleted all references to the age of the earth and universe. But the truth is, what really happened in Kansas was an effort to de-emphasize the one-sided indoctrination of evolution teaching in schools. Evolution was never removed from Kansas' science standards, which is frustrating for us to bring up again here because we have shared this with Time magazine for many years (see It’s Time for TIME to Get it Right!).
- The side article "Can You Believe in God and Evolution?" starts off with Francis Collins, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (who says he is a Christian), saying that Genesis 1 and 2 do not specify the mechanism of evolution. "Who are we to say that it wasn't God's elegant plan to use the mechanism of evolution to create you and me" [emphasis ours], he says. But, as adjunct AiG speaker Dr. David DeWitt at Liberty University knows firsthand, theistic evolution (the idea that God used evolution) undermines the very foundation of the Christian faith and causes people to doubt the truth of Scripture (see Why I Rejected Theistic Evolution).
- In the same article, Steven Pinker, a psychology professor at Harvard University, brings up the argument that our "bodies are riddled with quirks that no competent engineer would have planned," as made evident by the retina which is installed backward. This false idea about the eye is addressed in our article, Is Our “Inverted” Retina Really “Bad Design?”
- Dr. Michael Behe with the Discovery Institute and Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, provide answers to this question about combining God with evolution. Dr. Mohler, a young-earth creationist, gets it right when he says that "you cannot coherently affirm the Christian-truth claim and the dominant model of evolutionary theory at the same time." He goes on to say that "evangelicals must absolutely affirm the special creation of humans in God's image, with no physical evolution from any nonhuman species. And "just as important," he says, "the Bible clearly teaches that God is involved in every aspect and moment in the life of His creation and the universe. That rules out the image of a kind of divine watchmaker."(While we appreciate Dr. Mohler's comments, it is a pity that Time did not choose to interview a Ph.D. scientist at AiG, ICR or CRS who believes in a literal Genesis; Mohler is a theologian, and Dr. Behe does not believe in a literal reading of Genesis.)
- The "Coast-To-Coast Challenges" section includes a USA map that highlights states and localities that have considered changing the way biological evolution is taught. This section also features two textbooks: Biology by Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine which is a popular high school text filled with evolution teaching, and Of Pandas and People, published by advocates of intelligent design. Biology is one of the books that had an evolutionary disclaimer sticker placed inside it (and then later removed by the courts) in Cobb County, Georgia because it contained inaccurate and outdated material. Of Pandas and People is being used in Dover, Pennsylvania where it is offered as a supplemental text to students.
A short section, "Face-Off: Darwinians vs. Anti-Darwinians," tackles the question of who designed the first eye. Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box, says "it's no accident that the eye resembles a camera, which everybody instantly recognizes as a product someone designed." Even Charles Darwin himself realized that it seemed incredible that evolutionary processes had to explain human vision. He expressed this in his famous book, The Origin of Species, where he wrote: "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree." (See Darwin vs. the Eye.)
Flip to the other side, where many evolutionists (like Dawkins) say "it's easy to imagine how a random mutation might have produced a path of light-sensitive cells that helped a primitive creature tell day from night."
So who is winning the "evolution wars" today? As Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis-USA, said in an AgapePress article (November 2003): "the creationist movement is having a large and dramatic effect on American culture, more than people realize." He went on to say "There is a groundswell of growing attention to this topic across the nation. Why else would some of the evolutionists be so militantly concerned about what's going on? I think it's because of the effectiveness of what's happening."
Regarding the growing number of challenges to the teaching of evolution (which Ham believes is directly proportional to the effectiveness of creation organizations in getting information out), he posed the question, "Is evolution so weak that it has to be legislated in order to protect it?"
This continuing battle is really much bigger than engaging school boards (and countering the so-called "civil rights" organizations like the ACLU who want to maintain the evolution status quo). In this battle between worldviews (evolution vs. six-day creation account), it should really be about seeing our society return back to biblical authority, starting with influencing the church. That's why we invest so much energy at Answers in Genesis, equipping the church with relevant information. We need to restore biblical authority beginning with Genesis in order to change hearts and not just laws (which are so easily overturned or changed back again). Then and only then will change be widespread and permanent, as God blesses.