The Brazen Word

Sigmund Freud once said, “The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.” Last Sunday, the New York Times reported that churches around the country seemed to contradict Freud by preaching against internal efforts to discredit the theory of evolution.

By ignoring Darwin and insisting that any new knowledge about the earth’s creation is hogwash just because it does not fit into hard-crusted presuppositions is to deny ourselves the fruits of knowledge.

Religion, one of humanities most celebrated facets, has been forced to address the theory of evolution since its birth. The religious had a choice. They could outright reject the theory, using faith in presuppositions as the foundation for their criticism.

Or, they could admit that Darwin could be right. They could hold on to their faith as firmly as Darwin’s writings and learn to incorporate one with the other.

According to the New York Times, Rev. Patricia Templeton of northern Atlanta said, “A faith that requires you to close your mind in order to believe is not much of a faith at all.” And in Evanston, Illinois, Rev. Mitchell Brown said of Charles Darwin, the founder of the theory of evolution, “He forced religion to grow up, to become, really, faith for the first time.”

The difficulty of accepting Darwin’s theory, of incorporating it into religious life, parallels the kind of thinking seen too often in politics.

While there are those that invest solely in science through a kind of overly-practical mindset, others seem to ignore fact for the sake of blind, partisan argument.

The media reports swirling around Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident is ridiculous. Yes, he accidentally shot Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old hunter. And yes, Whittington did suffer a heart attack from a bird pellet pushing against his heart. But this kind of accident could have happened to anyone.

It is the kind of thing that is worthy of a few jokes, but not any serious criticism. It’s ridiculous when headlines read “No End to Questions in Cheney Hunting Accident,” as the media repeatedly questions why it took the White House a day to report the incident. Should they have reported it earlier? Probably, but the trivial attempt to temporarily hide the incident is not worth the berating the White House has received.

If you were the vice president, would you want anyone to know that you accidentally shot someone? I’m sure the second that Cheney slipped with the trigger, he thought, “What a field day they’re gonna have.”

For the likes of Jon Stewart, David Letterman, and Jay Leno, this is fair game. But for serious news media? Come on now.

Another case of selective reasoning, much like the religious that choose to ignore Darwin, is the national conflict over the war in Iraq.

Just as the Cheney hunting accident made for ridiculous criticism, the war has had its fair share as well. Sure the reasons for the war are disputable, and no, the war is not perfect, but what war is? There are going to be lives lost, there are going to be broken families, and there are going to be bumps along the road. You can say that this war is unjust, but don’t scream when lives are lost. That, unfortunately, goes without saying in any war.

As much as it pains me to praise a man arrogant enough to write a book called The Truth, I have to give Al Franken some credit. He recently entertained some troops over in Iraq despite his disagreement with the war, and that’s commendable. Trips like that are what may keep this war from turning into Vietnam, a war that our own country would not let its own soldiers fight because of pressure and uproar from within.

That is the kind of reaction we need in the post-Darwin era. Faith needs to correlate with reason. Just because your father and your father’s father and your father’s father’s father believed that man did not develop from a primate life form doesn’t mean that they were right.

From the Reformation to today, from Desiderius Erasmus to modern atheists, there has been a pretense that the religious are fools, that only the ignorant believe in God. Let’s not help that theory out by ignoring science.

Adam and Eve already bit a piece off the apple. We have been left to finish it.