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Closing Statement for the Affirmative

(Saladin, 5 minutes)

Saladin: From time to time I take opinion surveys of new college students, and I'd like to read you a few ways that they've defined evolution: "The theory of evolution is basically that man resolve from the ape, I think the theory could be true in some cases." Another student wrote, "The biological theory of evolution is that man has more than one life. When someone dies they will come back as something else." Another student: "Man developed from a lower case animal." [Laughter] {1} Well, this shows you what happens when students get little or no education about evolution in high school. That's exactly what's happening now under pressure from the ICR especially, and other creationist institutions. And what it is doing is putting students, high school and college, sadly out of touch with what is going on in the biological sciences. Biology just cannot be taught or understood at all without evolution as its very core, its heart and foundation. Auburn philosopher Delos McKown is quite right in saying that the creationists have put biology professors in the position of having to give a year-long course in remedial science when they get to college, undoing the sort of education sown by people like Dr. Gish.

Now Dr. Gish claims that by definition evolution excludes God. Well for that matter so does trigonometry. Are you going to propose that we teach a theistic trigonometry in high school as well? {2} Science by its very nature does not deal with supernatural questions. It does not mean that science asserts that God does not exist. It just means that that issue is outside the domain of science.

Now if you [gesturing towards Gish] think evolution is so un-Christian, and if you think you are being so persecuted by secular humanists and atheists and what-not, I'd like to know why it is, when that law was passed in the state of Arkansas, which the ICR so vigorously defended with its finances and its legal aid, why was it that people who sued to have that creationist law overturned, were people like, or, I'm sorry, organizations [3] like the Episcopal General Convention, the Unitarian-Universalist Association, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the United Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, the Lexington Alliance of Religious Leaders, the American Jewish Congress, and so fort? Lately I've been involved in a project to collect official position statements that organizations have put out against creationism, against creationist politics, and we have had scores of religious, scientific, and educational organizations adopt official policies against Dr. Gish's type of politics.

Now the Right Reverend Bennett Sims, the [Episcopal] Bishop of Atlanta, wrote in 1981, "Evolution represents the best formulation of the knowledge that creation has disclosed to us, but it is the latest word from science, not the last. If the world is not God's then the most eloquent or belligerent arguments will not make it so. If it is God's world ... then faith has no fear of anything the world itself reveals to the searching eye of science. Insistence upon dated and partially contradictory statements of how as conditions for the true belief in the why of creation cannot qualify either as faithful religion or as intelligent science."

Pope John Paul II addressing the Pontifical Academy of Science in 1981 wrote, said, "Sacred scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expressed itself in terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer. Any other teaching about the origin and makeup of the universe is so alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven."

The Reverend Bevel Jones, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Georgia, wrote, "Regardless of what it is called, scientific creationist is faith attempting to be science. It is a mistake to try to use the Bible as a textbook of science. The creation story is neither empirical science nor recorded history. It is a religious interpretation divinely inspired in a prescientific age. Those who take the Book of Genesis literally are at liberty to do so. They have a perfect right to hold those views, and to express them as persuasively as they can. But they do not have the right to require science teachers to do so in the public schools."

So I submit to you, that it is by no means necessary to reject one's religious belief to fully accept the truth of evolution. I think that any modern and intelligent Christianity would find little or no conflict with the empirical findings of science. Thank you very much. [Applause]


1. This and other student definitions were published in my article cited in "Question-Answer Period," note 14.

2. Delos B. McKown and Clifton B. Perry. 1988. Religion, separation, and accomodation: a recipe of perfection? National Forum 68 (1):1-7

3. One of the differences is that in non-theistic trigonometry pi = 3.14159..., while in theistic trigonometry pi = 3.0 (see 1 Kings 7:23). This is taken so seriously by biblical literalists the Tennesse legislature not long ago seriously entertained legislation to force all mathematics teachers in the state's public schools to teach the theistic value of pi so the mathematics curriculum would not contradict Scripute.

4. I committed a slight gaffe here, pulling the wrong card from my file. The organizations I listed orally were not plaintiffs against the Arkansas statute but rather a few of the religious organizations that have published anticreationist position statements. The list of Arkansas plaintiffs I had meant to read was: Rev. Bill McLean, head of the Presbyterian Church in Arkansas; Bishop Ken Hicks of the United Methodist Church of Arkansas; the Most Reverend Andrew McDonals, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock; the Reverend Nathan Porter, a Southern Baptist minister; the American Jewish Congress; the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; and the American Jewish Committee. In spite of the mistake, the point remains the same.