U.S. politics have flip-flopped since our revolutionary beginnings. The United States was originally famous as a haven for immigrants with any religion or none, precisely because it wasn’t founded on any one. Now the Religious Right is trying to say America was founded as a Christian country. But the fact is that while we have become the most religious of any of the predominantly Christian 1st world nations, (due to repeated surges in rural revivalism) the US in its infancy was once the most secular government in history.
The original colonies were primarily peopled by refugees fleeing religious persecution in other countries. But almost upon arrival, the Puritans only continued that practice against native Shaman, then against Quakers, and even each other –over religious differences. Catholics to the South were even worse! The founding fathers however were largely Deists, the least devout form of theism. They were brilliant men who knew better than to let religion rule over law because theocracy has in all instances almost automatically violated human rights and it inevitably always does. Consequently, the irreligious and non-Christian framers of the American Constitution produced the first government ever to grant all its citizens the right to religious freedom, and they did so by forbidding the government from sponsoring or promoting one religion over any other. Because it is not possible to have freedom of religion without having freedom from religion.
Creationists campaign continuously to overturn that, trying to undermine science education and teach their particular Bible-based religious beliefs in its place by pretending that creationism is science too. They know it isn’t, but they say it is anyway. So far they’ve been beaten in the courts on every attempt because they’re not trying to teach “better” science, nor any “alternative” science. Many of them don’t want students to learn science at all. They want to impose their religion instead. They don’t want to educate; they want to indoctrinate, and they want the government to support them in public schools because they’re intolerant of other views, and they want to condition everyone else’s children to believe as they do.
“Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, claivoyance,
spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full-trance mediums,
the Loch Ness monster, and the theory of Atlantis?
But America’s pioneer concept of separating church from state still prohibits this. In 1987, creation “science” was outlawed in public schools as being exclusively religious and not scientific in any sense; and in 2005, it happened again. Since even intelligent design creationism cannot compete with evolution as a science, creationists try instead to evoke the same constitutional prohibitions against them –and turn them against science, by asserting that evolution is a religion too. They know it isn’t, but they say it is anyway.
And so we have the fifth in our series of fundamental falsehoods of creationism; the persistent insistence that perspectives opposed to faith and religion somehow still require faith as religion.
A religion is not just any ol’ thing you happen to believe, and its not just anything you believe strongly either. Every belief-system which is commonly accepted as a religion by both its adherents and its critics -is a doctrine of ritual traditions, ceremonies, mythology, and the associated dogma of faith-based belief systems which all include the idea that some element of ‘self’ (be it a soul or portion of consciousness, or memories, etc.) may, in some sense, continue beyond the death of the physical being. This applies to every religion and only to religion, but doesn’t apply to evolution or atheists either, unless they happen to be Druids or Shaman or one of those other religions which don’t happen to include gods.
Some Buddhists believe in a god and some don’t. Some traditional Chinese beliefs are the same way. Not all religions have creative deities, but every religion must propose something paranormal, beyond tangible existence which they believe we’ll experience after we die. You can’t posit something like that without faith, and if you don’t have faith, you can’t have religion.
And when creationists complain about atheists, they’re not talking about Buddhists or Shaman. They’re referring to material empirical rationalists, people they know don’t have any faith in anything supernatural at all –which only makes their lie that much more brazen.
According to a consensus of every authoritive or definitive source available anywhere -including theologians, dictionaries, scriptures, hymns, sermons, -everything; faith can be accurately defined as a complete and unwavering conviction; a positive belief –which is not dependant on evidence, and will not change because of evidence.
“That is unreasonable, and it's unscientific.
That is the definition of blind faith;
I believe something even though there is no evidence to support it.”
Faith is often a belief in things which are impossible according to everything we know about anything at all. The belief is sacred, meaning that it is never to be questioned or critically examined, but must be believed no matter what. Skeptical inquiry is strictly forbidden, and apologetics exists only to obligately rationalize away any criticisms so that they may be dismissed without consideration.
In other words, faith assumes its own conclusions, believes impossible things without reason, and defends those beliefs against all reason to the contrary. So it can’t help but be wrong to some degree to start with, and any errors will never even be acknowledged, much less sought out or corrected. So that situation can never improve. However wrong it already is is however wrong it will forever be. So faith offers no way to discover the real truth about anything, but it’s a great way to stay wrong forever and never admit it –even to yourself.
Science is completely opposite in every respect. Rather than any need-to-believe, science is driven by a desire to understand. And the only way to improve your understanding of anything is to seek out errors in our current position and correct them. You can’t do that if you claim your initial assumptions are already infallible, and you can’t even begin to seek the truth if you won’t admit that you might not already know it, or that you don’t know it all perfectly already.
While scientists themselves may be religious men of many different faiths, their methodology was designed to be the antithesis of faith because it requires that all assumptions be questioned, that all proposed explanations be based on demonstrable evidence, and that all hypotheses be must be testable and potentially falsifiable. Blaming magic is never acceptable because miracles aren’t explanations of any kind, and there has never been a single instance in history when assuming the supernatural has ever improved our understanding of anything. In fact such excuses have only ever impeded our attempts at discovery. This is one of many reasons why science depends on methodological naturalism; because unlike religion, science demands some way to determine who’s explanations are the more accurate, and which changes would actually be corrections. Science is a self-correcting process which changes constantly because its always improving. Only accurate information has practical application. So it doesn’t matter what you wanna believe. All that matters is why we should believe it too, and how accurate your perception can be shown to be. So you can’t just make up stuff in science (like you can in religion) because you have to substantiate everything, and be able to defend it even against peers who may not want to believe as you do. Be prepared to convince them anyway. Its possible to do that in science because science is based on reason. That means you must be ready to reject or correct whatever you hold true should you discover evidence against it.
All this stands completely counter to faith, and religious assumptions cannot withstand any of these rigors. But evolution can, and does, and has. For 150 years so far the greatest minds of the modern age have collectively failed to controvert the essence of evolution. It is a study which neither requires nor desires faith, and doesn’t even permit it, nor is it needed, because evolution is easily indicated and evidenced, measured and tested myriad ways without it –and even against the harshest scrutiny. And remember that evidence must be objective, meaning that it can still be verified whether you want to believe in it or not. Evolution has all that in spades, and is a unifying theory which has enhanced our knowledge of many different aspects of biology enormously, and that’s why so many religious as well as non-religious scientists endorse it.
Believe what you want about the supernatural realm. But those beliefs have to rely on faith because there’s no way to know whether any of it is true or not; because science can’t look at the metaphysical. It can only help us understand the material world we can actually study. So ‘evolutionists’ may still believe in any religion they like.
Lest we forget, when creationists complain about “evolution”, they’re really complaining about science in general –both in principle and practice. Most Christians accept evolution, and some atheists do not. So evolution is NOT atheist! Creationists know its not, but they say it is anyway.
Creationists often say that secular humanism is recognized as a religion by law, and since they wrongly that think atheism and what they call “evolution-ism” are the same thing, then by extension they think even rationalism should be considered a religion; that even anti-religion is religious. But of course they’re wrong again on all counts.
In the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, Roy Torcaso was denied his commission as notary public when he refused to declare a belief in God. At that time, the state of Maryland’s “Declaration of Rights” required “a declaration of belief in the existence of God” as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in that state. The Supreme Court ruled that such requirements violated Article 6 of the United States’ Constitution, as well the 1st and 14th amendments. But the official ruling also included a series of footnotes, called "obiter dictum," or "said in passing." These are only the personal opinions of the justice, with no official or legal significance. In a dictum footnote attached to his opinion, Justice Hugo Black listed “Secular Humanism” along with “Ethical Culture” and Taoism as religions which do not teach a belief in God. The footnote is not legally binding, which is fortunate since none of those things really count as religion. Imagine attending the church of ethical culture!
So secular humanism is not a religion in any sense, legal or otherwise, and neither is atheism. Religion must include a professed conviction, and simply being un-convinced as to the real-life existence of what they see as mythical characters –hardly counts as that. So atheism alone is no more a religion than health is a disease. One may as well argue over which brand of car pedestrians drive.
Evolution is even less religious! It is the branch of biology which explains biodiversity. As such it doesn’t permit supernatural explanations, has no doctrines, nor dogma, nor fables with morals; it has no rituals, traditions or holidays, nor either leaders or defenders of the faith because it doesn’t allow faith. It holds nothing sacred, there’s no place of worship, no enchantments, no clergy, no fashion of garb, and it neither promotes nor discourages belief in gods or souls, and says nothing about how we should live or what happens after we die. Evolution is therefore NOT a religion, and creationists KNOW its not –but they say it is anyway.