I deeply loathe math.
There’s variables, imaginary numbers, linear equations, etc–things I’ll never truly understand. Even so, it would be juvenile of me to disregard the necessity of math within our modern society, let alone its expansive historical context. Math was, math is, and math will continue to be. It is forever fixed within our public sphere of knowledge.
So too, are science and religion. As separate entities, I can manage to understand basic principles and doctrines. But when combined, as a means to debate ontology and origin, I struggle. Before delving further into this discussion, it’s probably best that we review. Ah yes, I’m taking you back to history class. Fortunately for you (and especially me), there’s a YouTube channel entitled Crash Course which provides succinct, unbiased, and creative videos that illustrate complicated concepts. And so, without further ado, let’s get started.
The first lesson for today’s class will concern religion. The video below explains in detail the crucial difference between religion and the philosophy of religion.
The second lesson for today will concern science and yes there’s another video (you’re welcome). This video illustrates and discusses the evidence surrounding evolution, beginning with The Big Bang.
*Please note: There are multiple videos within each Crash Course category. If you would like to have religion and/or science explained at a greater depth, click here*
If our discussion stopped here, we would simply be left with two differing view points. This is not to say that we haven’t accomplished anything thus far, but rather, that it’s time for us to get confused, frustrated, and ultimately thought-provoked. To do so, let’s state the obvious: science prefers evolution while religion prefers creationism. Like many others, the preceding statement accurately sums up my prior knowledge of how human life came into existence. Simple, right? You decide, creationism or evolution. If only my naiveté in avoiding both concepts could live on forever, then I wouldn’t have to get confused by information, opinions, and theories. But what good would that do? Not enough. So put on your smock, apron, or oldest sweatshirt, because we’re about to get messy.
During the late nineteenth and through the early twentieth century (1875-1925 to be exact), the debate around Darwinism had an exponential growth. Why? Because the American Catholic community entered the conversation with great prominence. Contrary to belief, the American Catholic community was not unified in belief and ideology. As a result of this, two groups developed: the progressives and the conservatives. It is important to make note that these two groups “differed not over fundamental doctrine or the necessity of adaptation, but over the means and pace of accommodation.” (Appleby 174) The progressives, whose leadership included (but not limited to) John Ireland, Bishop John J. Keane and John Lancaster Spalding, sought to create space within the American Catholic culture for “a scientifically informed world view” and “greater collaboration between Catholics and non-Catholics in the workplace, the public schools and the laboratory.” (Appleby 174) Essentially, the progressives believed that new ideologies surrounding the bible and church doctrine should be introduced to the American Catholic community. On the other hand, the conservatives led by Michael A. Corrigan, Bernard J. McQuaid, and William H. O’Connell, sought to reinforce the “Romantization of the American hierarchy” through a resistance of “proposals that seemed to advance the rapid cultural and intellectual Americanization of immigrant Catholics.” (Abbleby 175) In simpler terms, the conservatives wanted to protect the power structure established within the church–which meant protecting the immigrant population.
For both the progressives and the conservatives, the preceding ideological framework was simply a starting point. As the debate intensified, so too did the arguments and subsequent justifications, eventually resulting in the framework shifting away from its foundation. For example, there no longer is just evolution. There’s absolute evolutionism, moderate evolutionism, and extreme evolutionism (just to name a few). So you see, the question of human origin is entirely complex. Just think…we’re still debating this question in modern society.
Don’t believe me? Then have a listen to Bill Nye debate Ken Ham regarding creation and evolution. (warning: it’s 2.5 hours long but entirely worth it)
In case you’re wondering where I stand on this debate, I side with confusion. This is not to say that I don’t have an opinion, but rather, I don’t feel that I can adequately and eloquently express the reasoning behind my opinion.
I’m still figuring it out–aren’t we all?
Until next time, keep calm and ramble on. Yours truly, Colleen Kenney
Appleby, R.S. (1999) ‘Exposing Darwin’s “hidden agenda”: Roman Catholic responses to evolution, 1875–1925’, in Numbers, R.L. and Stenhouse, J. (eds.) Disseminating Darwinism: The Role of Place, Race, Religion, and Gender. Cambridge University Press, pp. 173–208.