13 May 2005

Evolution or De-Volution

In a recent conversation with someone, I realized that some of those polls put out by newspapers and the like have some substance. In 2001, there was a Gallup poll that had showed that only a third of Americans believed in the Theory of Evolution as set forth by Charles Darwin. Also, 57% believed in Creationism, inasmuch that man was created by God approximately 10,000 years ago and has remained in that same state since. A whopping ten percent said they weren't sure. They must've been confused over all of the mounting evidence to the contrary of Creationism.

I don't mean to sound like one of those people who think they know all the details about the scientific facts concerning evolution, because I certainly don't. And I'm not one of those intelligentsia elites proposing ivy league theories that my liberal mass media compadres will then force down America's throats (on FOX, perhaps). I'm just a guy who thinks it makes sense.

A basic anthropology class will show that there is a chain of ancestors for the current human species (Homo Sapiens Sapiens, by the way). The earth, is four point something billion years old, too. Thus, under what circumstances was man miraculously created ten thousand years ago? Oh, God did it. Well, 'God' is many things, but I have the lingering suspicion that 'He' hasn't done anything spontaneous since the Big Bang. Even then, perhaps, under the best theological philosophy, 'God' guided the development of people. To me, evolution seems like educated common sense.

Getting back to the conversation I had mentioned, there was a young man who has recently gotten out of high school and who, by most accounts, I would expect to at least know of evolution. Alas, he needed the theory of evolution explained to him. I was not expecting to be challenged by the fact that we (people) had developed from ape-like creatures for I had assumed that would have been taught to him. For all intensive purposes, evolution is more of a science (anthrolopogical as it may be). Disallusioned is, possibly, a good word to describe my realization that it is not something worth learning. And I wonder why the United States is marginally comparative on educational structures to our European counterparts.

And then there is Kansas. Kansas - The state that is preparing their children for ignorance in higher institutions. Kansas - The state that declares an open symposium (I'm being extremely generous in using the word symposium) for scientists to discuss evolution, though the school board hosting the symposium has already banned it. Kansas - The state that has turned the clock back such that they teach Creationism instead of Evolution. Yes, the disenfranchised can always teach their children at home...but what if I don't want my child learning Creationism? What if, in all my limited wisdom, I've come to the conclusion that zealots of any color are just as bad no matter where they live, what they wear, what language they speak or which book they profess. Fundamentalism is the ignoring of nuances that define the nature of a religion and break-down the multitude of truths into core philosophies that ultimately end up contradicting the said religion. And if fundamentalism is the direction that Kansas wants to take, then I'm inclined to reverse my position on states like California being a little out there.

Thus, I am disappointed that America has maintained the same percentages on this topic for nearly the last twenty years. It makes me wonder what they teach in schools and universities. It makes me wonder about what else is lacking in the educational system. The young man I had the conversation with is a fairly bright kid, but it saddens me to also mention that he couldn't point out the Mississippi River on a map that included the Gulf of Mexico & the Caribbean. Instead, he pointed at Panama. When that didn't work, he pointed at the Orinoco River in Venezuela. I try not to get frustrated with him because I realize he doesn't know and then I feel a certain responsibility to teach him. It's hard to teach someone while trying not to seem like you're teaching someone, more like passing knowledge on in a conversation.

I have an endgame philosophy that says if I can change the way a person thinks about something and they can pass that on somehow, then maybe it's worthwhile to try. Maybe it's worthwhile to try and explain complicated things, such as evolution, the theory of relativity, or even how rainbows work. Creationism, I'll save that lecture for the man who only knows how to read one book.