The first contemporary law mandating the teaching of creationism – now euphemistically called "Intelligent Design" – has been passed in America. And guess where? Tennessee, of course – home of the famous Scopes trial of 1925. Often called "The Monkey Trial," it is well-known in historical, religious, and legal circles – not to mention literary ones – as it is the basis for the famous play by Jerome Lawrence, entitled Inherit the Wind."
The "Fightin' Fundies," as I always call them, are Evangelical Christians whom I know well. Having been an ordained minister with the General Council of the Assemblies of God for years, I know how they believe, feel, think, and operate. Evangelicals take the Bible seriously. In fact, they believe that it is a factual account of the creation of the heavens and the Earth. For centuries nobody challenged the Biblical account of creation. Then, somewhere around the time that we refer to as the Renaissance, things began to change. A newfangled thing called science began to emerge to challenge the ancient creation story.
For centuries, the fight was about the nature and operation of the Universe. The Catholic Church suppressed science by force, arresting, torturing, and executing anybody who challenged the Biblical account that the Earth was flat and that the sun spun around it on a predictable daily trek. Those battles are long over. Now, even the Catholic Church and fundamentalist Protestants acknowledge that the Earth is not the fixed center of the Universe.
However, the current battle, begun by Charles Darwin with the publishing of The Origin of the Species in 1859, opened up a new can of worms for the literalists to feast upon. This is the battle that is still raging in places like Tennessee. It has nothing to do with the creation of the Universe – the sun, moon, stars, and asteroids – but has to do with humankind itself.
Evolution. The unanswered question is: Was humankind created in an instant on the sixth day, stark naked, in a garden, with all sorts of great plants and animals all around; or did they evolve from lower lifeforms? For the most part, science has answered that question. They evolved. However, all over the great USA and around the world, there are millions of dunderheads who genuinely disbelieve this. They are desperate to believe the Biblical account as told in the book of Genesis. Man was created out of the dust of the Earth, and woman from one of his ribs. Although the story is so galactically stupid, believers cling to it like grim death because if they admit it is just a myth, the next question arises immediately: Well, if that is just a story, what else in the Bible is untrue? ...That question is just too hard for them.
Somebody has to draw a line in the sand; and at present, this is it. We all know the story... The Earth was created 6,000-something years ago, and was populated by human beings who all lived hundreds of years each and were destroyed in a flood. Then, two of each animal species repopulated the Earth. Here comes the rub. Science. Within the last hundred-plus years, geology, paleontology, and anthropology have posed totally new befuzzling questions for Biblical literalists. What about the fossil record? What about dinosaurs and the evolution of nonhuman species? Well, that is science, and the Fundamentalists have declared war on those "tools of Satan."
Since the Scopes Monkey Trial – up until which it was illegal to teach evolution in public schools in Tennessee and around the rural parts of our great land – science has completely trumped religion in the collective mind of all but the "true Christians," who will have none of it. When I was an evangelical minister, I saw the problem. But I also saw what was coming – namely, the symbiotic relationship developing between the Republican Party and the massive Evangelical voting bloc. For the past thirty years, their mutual backscratching has won elections, and now they are joined at the hip and finish each others’ sentences. The Grand Old Party is beholden to the Fundies in many ways, including passing legislation adjudicating their religious proclivities.
The new requirement that intelligent design be taught alongside science in public schools is a perfect example. Although the hyper-rich corporate and Country Club Republicans know it is a pile of crap, they need the religious kooks to maintain power; so they go along with their insanity. The real problem is in the classroom, where young persons from kindergarten to twelfth grade, must be taught that the Biblical myths are in fact a viable substitute for pure science. I saw that this inevitability would simply lower the level of science teaching nationwide at some point, and further erode our standing in the world community at large.
But, lately I have been thinking of a novel "out of the box" idea to counter and dilute this absurdity. One thing I know – the Religious Right Christians are not the only show in town when it comes to stupidity. I have a proposal. It is kind of revolutionary. Okay, I suggest, let them teach creationism in science class. However... Oh, BTW, more than one creation story exists! And they deserve equal time, as well.
Then I had this idea – this flash in the middle of the night. I jumped up and googled "creation myths." There are thousands! There are Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Muslim, African (in their hundreds), Greek, Roman, Norse, and – of course – Native American ones. I asked myself: "Is the Biblical myth any better than any of these?" What makes the American Rightwing think that theirs is the only account of creation worthy of teaching alongside science? I think I can already hear the cacophonous scream from churches across the country. In fact, I think you don't have to strain too hard to hear the thud as the "Christians" (in their millions) shit one massive collective brick.
I know what this is called. It is called "Christian privilege." The arrogance of American Christians is unbounded. They don't just think or believe that their religion is superior – they know it. They are right and everybody else is wrong. They were always taught that theirs is the one and only true religion. Well, I hate to burst their bubble, but the Muslims – for example – also know that they are right. And if the Christians get to teach their creation myth as science, Mohammed will most surely demand equal time.
To tell you the truth, although I personally don't have a dog in this fight, I would certainly buy a ticket.