Dear Judd Rumley,
I generally don’t write letters to the editor, but your last column (March 20) had enough internal inconsistencies and contradictions I feel compelled to respond.
“‘(Teaching creation to children) is outright child abuse.’ Did I read this right?”
After reading your letter, I went back to the previous column you are referencing (Richard Carnes, March 18). I don’t believe you are reading this correctly. If you pay attention to the top part of the column, the author is referencing schools districts that allow students to be exempt from science education in the name of religion. As you yourself admit, to teach a student critical thinking implies you provide them with enough information to make an informed decision based on provided evidence. If you are not allowing a student to learn about the theory of evolution because it conflicts with religious beliefs, then yes — not allowing a student to learn about scientific theory is going to negatively affect their ability to reason.
If you want to teach your children creationism is your home, it is clearly your right to do so. But to not allow your child to learn about alternative theories would definitely be suppressing the ability to think critically.
Moving on — “Wait a second, someone may say, my view of evolution is fact, and yours is faith, Mr. Pastor.”
Again, not accurate. My view of evolution is based off empirical evidence, and my understanding of evolution is that it is a scientific theory. This means a hypothesis was developed, and then evidence was gathered and applied to said hypothesis. The end result is a theory about how life on Earth came to be. While we may be very certain about the validity of evolution, it is still very clearly treated as “the theory of evolution.” Scientific understand grows over time, and science also accepts this — scientific knowledge in 2014 is not the same as it was in 1980, and not the same as it was in 1950 — it expands and changes based off of new information. Again, this represents the concept of critical thinking, as science allows for new information to be weighed against established beliefs.
Your options for the creation of the universe all contain logical fallacies. As you seem aware that Option 1 is “unreasonable,” which implies unlikely but still possible, we can gloss over that one.
“Option 2: The universe created itself (again, no need for God — it brought itself into existence). This view is defeated by logic. Everything that exists has a cause.”
A cause is not a creator. Saying that everything has a cause is very different that saying that everything is created by another sentient being, and is in no way contradictory to evolutionary theory — in fact, it can easily be applied logically to evolution. Species exists for a reason and evolution explains the causal factors.
“Option 3: The universe was created by someone or something outside of itself, i.e., God. This seems to be the most reasonable. ... But the cosmological order of the universe demands a designer. ... Do you know how many muscles it takes to walk? Google it. And walking serves a purpose.”
Yup. Lots of muscles are involved in walking. You can even argue that human musculature and posture evolved to allow walking. However, what you have said is that the universe demands a designer because it demands a designer. Rather than actually prove anything, this demonstrates to me that the ability to prove a divine creator is as impossible as you say it is to scientifically prove the origination of the universe.
Are multiple theories of creation incompatible? I don’t think so. I think it is totally reasonable for you to believe in evolutionary theory and the idea that a force beyond human also exists and plays a role. I think that people of other religions also feel their creation stories have as much validity as yours, but there is no school in the U.S. that will teach the creation mythology of Hinduism is lieu of a science course — because public schools are designed to not provide government funding to teach religious education.
So by all means, teach your children your religious beliefs. But teach them at home or in your place of worship, and let them be exposed to scientific theory and critical thinking as well, so they learn to make informed judgements as adults.
And FYI — remember your own claim — none of us were there at the beginning. If you think faith in atheism is unreasonable because it can’t be proven, your faith in a religious creator is equally unreasonable.