The evolution of a scientific-religious controversy

The Express-Times, June 20, 2003
By JOHN A. ZUKOWSKI, The Express-Times


— Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland studies the Bible and calculates the first day of creation was Sunday, Oct. 23, 4004 B.C. This figure is used for more than 200 years in editions of the Bible. Some so-called “young-Earth creationists” today also believe the Earth is about 6,000 years old.


— French naturalist Georges Curvier uncovers a cache of bizarre-looking skeletons that are later known as dinosaurs. The fossils lead some people to believe the Earth is much older than Ussher’s calculation.


— A discovery in Germany’s Neander Valley of the “Neanderthal” man rocks the world. The skull looks like a primitive-looking human. Some people are so concerned they feel it could be the result of a second act of creation, not anyone related to Adam and Eve.


— Charles Darwin publishes “On the Origin of Species,” which states that species evolve through natural selection, a trial-and-error process where the fittest survive.


— The discovery of radioactivity makes it possible to calculate the Earth’s age. Physicist Henri Becquerel says the world is billions of years old, not 6,000 years old. Many scientists believe it helps support Darwin’s idea evolution took place over a long period of time.


— A Scofield Reference Bible says the six days God created the Earth can be interpreted to mean the six ages of God’s creation, meaning life on Earth wasn’t created in six literal days. Many Christians start to accept this theory.


— Laws are passed in many Southern states banning the teaching of evolution in schools.


— Tennessee school teacher John Scopes is arrested for teaching evolution. His so-called “monkey trial” becomes a heated battle between defense attorney Clarence Darrow and prosecutor William James Bryan.


— The U.S. Supreme Court rules schools cannot ban teaching evolution in classrooms.


— Creationist Henry Morris starts the Creation Science movement, which advocates the Bible’s account of creation is literally true. The movement pushes for “equal time” in science classrooms with evolution.


— The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down “equal time” laws passed in some states. The court says creationism is a religious theory, not a scientific one.


— Pope John Paul II declares there is no conflict between evolution and Catholicism.

— Lehigh University Biochemistry Professor Mike Behe publishes “Darwin’s Black Box,” which states a cell is too complex to evolve as species have evolved. His book becomes a rallying cry for the “intelligent design” movement, which believes life was created by a plan.


— The Kansas State Board of Education votes to eliminate questions about evolution from standardized tests. Two years later, the newly elected board votes to reinstate the material.

— U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, (now majority leader of the House of Representatives) stirs up controversy after the Columbine shootings by attributing the killings to what he called a lack of morality, including the teaching of evolution in schools.


— The mapping of the human genome shows 98 percent of the genes of humans and chimpanzees are the same.

— A Gallup poll shows nearly half of Americans don’t believe in evolution. Forty-five percent say humans were created as is, 37 percent say humans evolved with God’s help, 12 percent say humans evolved without God’s help.

Source: WGBH.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday June 23, 2003.
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