The San Francisco Chronicle Monday, March 11, 1996 · Page A19
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Darwin Down the Drain


HATS OFF to the Tennessee legislature. It's high time our lawmakers put a stop to all this claptrap about evolution. Teaching evolution as fact offends many a good Christian like Pat Buchanan. ``You may believe you're descended from monkeys,'' Mr. Buchanan told Sam Donaldson with Christian charity, ``(but) I don't.''

If Mr. Buchanan isn't descended from monkeys, he certainly doesn't want his children being taught that he is. The Tennessee senators are to be saluted for honoring the deeply held religious beliefs of devout Christians like Mr. Buchanan. But what about astronomy? Do the Tennessee solons realize that the little minds of our little children are being filled with so-called ``facts'' to the effect that our God-created Earth, the center of his universe, is naught but a mote of dust?

Yes, they're being told that we live on a tiny 5-billion-year-old planet circling a third-rate sun in a mediocre-sized galaxy of a 100 billion suns among 200 billion other galaxies that stretch 15 billion light years into the past.

Think how this affects Mr. Buchanan and other true believers who accept Genesis as history: ``And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the Earth.''

Surely one's faith in this simpler and far more poetic version shouldn't be challenged by a bunch of bureaucratic educators.

Another problem that needs rectifying is medicine. It may be permissible to teach in private schools that human ailments can respond to drugs and surgery. But to use taxpayers' funds to pro mulgate these theories is a direct insult to every practicing Christian Scientist.

Human anatomy also has to go. When I was training to be a hospital corpsman in WWII, our pig-headed instructor insisted that men, as well as women, had 24 ribs. This rightly appalled two Southern Baptist boys who pointed out in no uncertain terms that God had removed one of Adam's ribs to make Eve, and therefore the score was 23 to 24.

I'm not sure about biology, but those teachers who believe there are 4 million different species on our planet should keep their thoughts to them selves. At the very least, it questions Noah's ability to stuff 8 million spirochetes, ants, mackerel, pythons, rhinoceri and other assorted creatures, two by two, on his ark, a mere 300 cubits long.

Of course, the Tennessee politicians have a hard row to hoe in not offending anyone's religious beliefs. Mr. Buchanan says he has faith that the Bible is ``literally the word of God'' and should be taught in the schools. Unfortunately, the New Testament is bound to offend my Jewish friends, and the Old Testament is anathema to my pal, Mr. Singh, who holds that the world rests on the back of a turtle.

Well, science and religion have been in contention since the Renaissance. Logic is the only justification of logic, while faith is the only justification of faith. Evolution is the most logical theory our puny minds can produce. Creationism is the loveliest product of our faith.

Who is to say which method is superior in reaching cosmic conclusions? Faith and logic; church and state. The problem isn't separating them; the problem is that there's no reasonable way to bring them together.

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Monday, March 11, 1996 · Page A19 © 1995 San Francisco Chronicle