Originally created 09/12/99

Compares evolution, geocentric flaps

Some regard the theory of evolution as being against the Bible, and give arguments, claiming scientific basis, to show that the theory is wrong. This controversy about evolution versus creationism resembles the conflict that took place 400 years ago about the structure of the universe.

Today it would be hard to find an adult who does not accept the idea that the Earth is a planet going around the sun. Yet when the Pilgrims were coming to America this was a new and highly controversial idea. In ancient times, most people took for granted that the Earth was at the center of the universe, with the sun, planets and stars going around the Earth. Many people felt this showed the special place of humans in God's creation, and thought it was a matter of divine revelation.

About 500 years ago, scientists (called natural philosophers in those days) began to make astronomical observations that implied the Earth is one of several planets that go around the sun. For a while, there was fairly open discussion of this idea. Then, in 1633, the Catholic Church tried for heresy an Italian named Galileo Galilei for teaching the "new idea" of the universe too strongly and as a proven fact rather than a mere idea. The trial had several results. Galileo was forbidden to teach and more far-reaching, the strong evidence in support of the "new idea" brought discredit on the church, and caused the center of the scientific advance to move away from Italy to northern Europe, England, France and Germany.

Galileo said, "The Bible tells how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go." That is wise advice. The Catholic Church later admitted its error in the trial. For quite some time, the church has taken an attitude toward science that might be described somewhat like Jesus' words about paying taxes to the Caesar: "Render unto science the things of science, and to religion the things of religion." Christians would do well to take this approach, so as not to seem uninformed or closed-minded.

God has revealed Himself in many ways: in His creation, in the Scriptures and in the traditions of His people on Earth. We can and should use our senses and our minds to learn through science how the universe works. We should use our religious beliefs to guide our use of knowledge and the conduct of our lives.

William G. Collins, Aiken, SC


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