Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Creation and Evolution- does it have to be this way

The main claim to fame of the 19th century biologist Alfred Russel Wallace was the part he played in the writing of perhaps the most influential book ever published
. Wallace, a friend of Leek architect Larner Sugden, was studying the fauna of Malaysia in the 1850s when he came up with the idea of natural selection. His insight was independently arrived at. He wrote to Charles Darwin with an idea that closely matched Darwin’s own. Darwin’s friends urged him to quickly write up his own conclusions on evolution which lead to him completing his book " Origin of Species" which was published to instant success in 1859.
The debate around creation and evolution has raged ever since and even in the last few weeks the controversy has continued with Texas State Board of Education unanimously rejecting a creationist supplements to textbooks, instead voting to endorse science-based ones.
Perhaps we expect the clash between the creationists and the supporters of evolution to be at its most intense in the US although from personal experience believers of a biblical interpretation of the history of the Earth remains strong locally. Earlier this year I went to a public meeting at the Salvation Army. The meeting was well attended and lengthy: it went on for three hours. The 3 principle speakers railed against the secular conspiracy that threatened their belief in creationism imposing, in their opinion, the questionable theory of evolution. I spoke, as I believe that there is no incompatibility between science and religion on evolution. I also pointed out the great contribution that clergymen have made to scientific enquiry. I was the only person in a room of 50 who spoke this way.
In retrospect I found the view expressed in the room that Christians believe that they are being persecuted difficult to square with reality. Certainly since Tony Blair’s premiership faith groups have more participation in social care and educational provision and a higher government profile
And persecution seems a rather objectionable conclusion to arrive at when compared with the suffering of believers in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.