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Vol. XV • 1993

Why All the Fuss About Creation and Evolution?
Charles Thaxton & Jon Buell

The teaching of moral relativism in our public schools obviously upsets many Christian parents. Its fruits are all too evident: these days, any lifestyle is considered legitimate, but moral absolutes are not.

Many of the same Christian parents, however, are not concerned about the teaching of evolution in public schools. Failing SAT scores and increasing drug abuse, violence, abortion and homosexual activity among teens are the concerns of these parents. "Why all the fuss about creation being taught in public schools, anyway?" they ask. As we shall show, there is a line of reasoning which usually lies hidden when either the subject of origins or morality is discussed, but which actually ties the two concerns together Once this reasoning is understood, it becomes evident that not only does the exclusive teaching of evolution encourage our children's rejection of Judeo-Christian morality, but it also prepares young minds for the reception of religious views which these same parents would find unacceptable.

To understand how this can happen, we must recognize that there are two basic views of the world and man: theism and naturalism. These are philosophical categories, not religious. They can also he called "metaphysical positions", "world views", or "idea systems". Philosopher or not, we afl have such a view. Theism and naturalism are mutually exclusive systems of thought as can be seen from a single distinction: theism affirms a fundamental Creator/creature distinction whereas naturalism denies this distinction and defines total reality in terms of this world.

Furthermore, we can easily see that each view has an implicit, inherent view of origins. Naturalism excludes an absolute Creator and asserts that life somehow emerged out of matter and energy by itself and evolved into its present forms. In contrast to theism, which holds that the universe is the product of intelligence, naturalism holds that intelligence is a "late arrival" in the universe-an eventual result of blind, evolutionary processes. In order to be persuasive and credible, each view needs a consistent explanation of how things got here. Evolution is therefore essential to naturalism in the same way creation is to theism. For thousands of educators then, evolution provides a thorough-going explanation of reality.

But how does this relate to the spread of moral relativism? The connection is that this naturalistic explanation of reality has certain companion ideas about morality. These are logical deductions: with naturalism's rejection of an absolute Creator goes the traditional source of moral absolutes. Theism postulates that reality includes a moral order, but naturalism excludes a lawgiver. Naturalistic evolution and moral relativism are like two rooms in the same house. Hence young minds influenced with modern naturalism conclude that moral values are whatever we happen to declare them to be at any given time. Consider this from a public television program called "Hard Choices" as offered in its companion study guide:

The vast majority of people believe there is a design or force in the universe; that it works outside the ordinary mechanics of cause and effect; that it is somehow responsible for both the visible and the moral order of the world. Modern biology has undermined this assumption. Even though it is often asserted that science is fully compatible with our Judeo-Christian ethical tradition, in fact it is not beginning with Darwin, biology has undermined that tradition ... the extreme mechanistic view of life, which every new discovery in biology tends to confirm, has certain implications. First, God has no role in the physical world ... second, except for the laws of probability and cause and effect, there is no organizing principle in the world, and no purpose. Thus, there are no moral or ethical laws that belong to the nature of things, no absolute guiding principles for human society ... (William B. Provine, "The End of Ethics?" in Hard Choices [a magazine companion to the television series Hard Choices], Seattle, WA: KCTS-TV channel 9, University of Washington, 1980).
How does all of this relate to the teaching of biology in the public schools today? Evolution has served as the vanguard of this larger system of ideas-naturalism-and has been the critical way that it has been promoted in the schools. It is doubtful that naturalism could have gotten anywhere in the school systems had it been introduced through its position on morality. But it found a back-door acceptance by its association with evolution, especially since evolution is taught almost exclusively. Creation is theism's counterpart to evolution, and if taught alongside evolution, it would be an effective antidote to the indoctrination of a particular world view.

Many educators indulge in the rhetoric of science but do not tell their students that a fundamental issue and hidden persuader is metaphysics. Thus the philosophical dimension in the origins controversy is usually hidden beneath the surface. Yet there it may in fact exert a more powerful influence on the scientific picture produced than either reason or observation. The practical consequence is that people unconsciously fill in the gaps in knowledge according to philosophic choice and are never the wiser

That's why Christians - in fact all theists - must insist that whenever origins are discussed, public schools allow the teaching of the evidence for creation alongside instruction in the naturalistic concept of evolution. If the scientific rationale for both creation and evolution were taught, there would be an equality demanded by the symmetry of the two metaphysical views, theism and naturalism. If both are not taught, it is not just the subject of origins that is affected. The whole of naturalistic thought is given privileged status by the state, with the de facto result that young minds are prepared to reject theistic approaches to morality and religion. At the same time, they are prepared to receive both moral relativism and the various naturalistic religions, such as Unity, Buddhism, Scientology and Religious Humanism.

In summary, we discern the primary conflict in the public schools to be in the realm of metaphysics, between theism and naturalism. The concern about origins and moral values should not lose sight of this. The exclusive teaching of evolution is a major force of modern naturalism which, if not checked, will remove every trace of theistic thought from the public sector. Therefore, we should recognize that even if we are not individually interested in the origins question, the creation issue touches us all. The exclusive teaching of evolution ushers in moral relativism and inclines young minds toward naturalistic religions. But a call for censorship is not appropriate. Instead, the emphasis in our efforts to counter the naturalistic indoctrination in the public schools and public sector should be to restore balance in the free expression of ideas. Let us remember that Jesus also told us to be "wise as serpents but innocent as doves."

Excerpted from The Foundation Rationale, Vol.1, No.1, 1983, published by the
Foundation for Thought and Ethics, P O Box 721, Richardson, TX 75080.
Reprinted with permission.

"Why All the Fuss About Creation and Evolution?"
CSSHS • Creation Social Science & Humanities Society • Quarterly Journal

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