Saturday, January 7, 2006

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson declared: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Has American culture of the past 230 years been based on a religious myth? During this period, America has demonstrated an unprecedented (although far from perfect) example of altruism, sacrificing its blood and treasure on a global level to defend liberty and oppose tyranny.

What if Jefferson had declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men resulted from evolution, based on survival of the fittest”? What kind of a government might have emerged based on that worldview?

Perhaps it would have more closely resembled the governments Karl Marx inspired. Marx’s atheistic vision of class struggle and the survival of the superior class is fundamentally an evolutionist’s view of man. The resulting totalitarian governments viewed people as material beings, lacking any inalienable rights. Communist dictators murdered tens of millions of innocents in the name of “progress.”

So does it really make any difference whether we believe in evolution or divine creation as our ultimate cause? Yes. The Cold War’s essence was an ideological struggle between a creationist and an atheistic-evolutionist worldview.

Now that ideological war is being fought in the U.S. courts. I have great respect for the ACLU, which has been fighting to preserve our liberties. However, I find it ironic that the ACLU is fighting to quash the academic debate in support of the very assumption from which its precious liberties are derived. In its opposition to a discussion of “intelligent design” in schools, the ACLU is undermining its own foundation.

Unfortunately, the debate between intelligent design and evolution has been hijacked by radicals on both sides. Some fundamental Christians deny the clear evidence of science, which conclusively demonstrates that the earth has been developing for billions of years, and that life has existed for hundreds of millions of years. Clearly, evolution is an accurate description of the way living organisms develop and adapt over time.

Some fundamental atheists portray intelligent design as a thinly veiled effort to displace good science with religious dogma, or they trivialize it as pseudo-science. I recently heard a prominent radio science commentator explain: “Intelligent design advocates base their assertions on what they believe are gaps in the fossil record.” This is a “straw man” argument.

One of several compelling arguments in support of intelligent design is found in the nature of DNA. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, describes DNA in his book, “The Road Ahead:” “Human DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”

Every day, genetic scientists are learning more about the incredibly complex nano-universe within each cell, which is managed by DNA. DNA is essential for all living cells. Clearly, DNA has developed in complexity as life has evolved. However, even the earliest DNA, which managed the processes of the first primordial cells, must have been highly complex — far more complex than anything occurring randomly in nature. (Try to imagine a computer program that would manage all the aspects of a cell’s metabolism, growth and multiplication.) Intelligent design proponents ask, “where did that original DNA come from that directed the first living cells?”

Did amino acids develop into more and more complex chains over millions of years in some primordial soup? Did DNA “evolve” over ages, prior to the first living cell?

That’s not logical. The theory of evolution only applies to living organisms, stating that life evolves as a result of genetic mutations, which occur during reproduction. Through natural selection, organisms that derive some advantage as a result of a genetic mutation tend to displace other organisms in their environment.

There is nothing within the theory of evolution to explain how non-reproducing amino acids could selectively progress towards greater complexity over time. So how could DNA have evolved before life began? Before evolution began?

It’s a question, and one that should be considered in schools. It’s a question that scientists should explore and not a question that judges are equipped to answer. What will the next 230 years be like if we declare it unconstitutional to even ask this question in the schools? Schools should encourage scientific questioning. Who knows — it just might turn out that Jefferson was right all along, Darwin not withstanding.


Columbia, Md.

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