Mr. Darwin Comes to Ohio, Again

The issue of origins is in the news once again. No matter what side you’re on, it goes to the very heart of what we are as human beings, and what we believe is ultimately real. Many Americans have a take-it-or-leave-it approach to prayer, but an overwhelming majority of Americans (around ninety percent) believe in a higher being of some kind.

If evolutionists are right, either there is no God or He has nothing to do with the world in which we live. This last option is the “practical atheism” of the fool in Psalm 53, and the Athenians atop Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-34). It is the same conclusion reached by Charles Hodge—the last of the great conservative theologians at Princeton. Writing in 1874, just three years after Darwin published his second major book on evolution, Hodge focused with laser-like intensity on the single most important point about evolution: “The conclusion of the whole matter is that the denial of design in nature is virtually the denial of God” (What is Darwinism?, 1874).

Professor Hodge saw with tremendous wisdom and insight what so many of our religious friends and neighbors fail to see today, namely, that there is no middle ground. Either Darwinian evolution is true, or there is a supremely intelligent and powerful Designer. If we dig a little deeper we’ll find that this Designer precisely matches the Creator God we encounter in the first verse of the Bible.

Died-in-the-wool evolutionists certainly see no room for compromise. Like Professor Hodge, they know what is at stake. Their ranks are populated by members of various groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and university faculties. Frankly, anyone who thinks there can be a happy marriage between evolution and design is either confused or not telling the truth.

This is why the groups I’ve just mentioned are so intent on driving back any opposition to evolution. If the camel of design pokes its nose into the tent of evolution, then surely the whole camel is not far behind. Evolutionists maintain the upper hand by posting gatekeepers in all the right places. The ACLU and countless other groups watch the social and legal fronts. The NCSE guards primary and secondary education. Newspaper editors carefully monitor op-ed pieces, news items, and letters to the editor. And tenured professors indoctrinate their students, discourage Bible believers from advancing academically, and crack the whip on fellow instructors who get out of line.

The gatekeepers have the Ohio State Board of Education in their sights once again. Back in 2004, after a long battle, the Board finally adopted new science standards that included a model lesson plan on the “Critical Analysis of Evolution.” The lesson encourages 10th grade students to “describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” Contrary to a lot of news reports, it does not teach intelligent design, and mentions nothing about God, the Bible, and divine creation.

How could this threaten evolution? Remember that camel? This is its nose. Daring to ask questions about Darwinian evolution will, inevitably, expose its scientific failings and questionable assumptions. There’s too much power, too much money, and too much pride at stake to ever admit that evolution is wrong.

Clearly, the gatekeepers don’t like what they see. But the standards don’t seem to push a particular religious doctrine. You will find no quotes from Genesis or arguments about watches and watchmakers. So you might think that this kind of plan is immune to attacks based on the establishment clause of the First Amendment, right? Wrong. Skeptics of all stripes have a handy tool known as the Lemon Test. This test, invented by the U.S. Supreme Court (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971), would allow a judge to ask the following question: Did the School Board have a secular purpose when it adopted this lesson plan? If someone can convince a judge that the Board acted with religious motives, then the plan would, indeed, be declared unconstitutional.

That’s no easy move, but thanks to Lemon it’s getting easier every day. Bible believers of many stripes have led the way in questioning evolution. This stands to reason. After all, as any hard-core evolutionist will tell you, evolution is a fact. You might as well criticize gravity. In that case, any language critical of evolution is going to sound like it’s coming from religious people. If an evolutionist can convince a judge that “design” simply equals “the Biblical doctrine of creation,” then the flimsy chain of reasoning is complete. According the ACLU, NCSE, and all the usual suspects, listening to a teacher criticize evolution is no different than being forced by the state to sing a verse of “Amazing Grace.”

None of this makes much sense, but again, keep the stakes in mind. Are we hairless apes, or are we created “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5)? Is this material world the sum of everything, or is there a heaven to gain and a hell to lose (Matthew 25:31-43)?

The legal situation may be frustrating, but it’s a reminder that we, like the young Jesus teaching in the temple, must be about our Father’s business (Luke 2:49). We must train our children thoroughly (Deuteronomy 6:7; Ephesians 6:4). We must teach them the doctrine of creation and its essential role in Christian faith (John 1:1-14). This must be done from the cradle on up; high school biology is just too late. Like Christ and the apostles, we must refute our opponents’ claims, no matter how sophisticated and technical they might sound. If we won’t do it in the home, we’ve got to do it in Bible class.

© 2006 – 2010, Trevor Major. All rights reserved.

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