Evolution and Religion: The Conflict between Science and Theology in Modern America

By Gail Kennedy | Go to book overview

only this, but interest in the scientific theory of evolution has been greatly increased. Forbidden theories, like forbidden fruit, arouse curiosity, curiosity leads to investigation, investigation to learning. Even though this may result in the specter of skepticism, and in the weakening of faith, the process of mental development cannot be reversed. The stifling of freedom of thought or education often has this effect. Repression always feeds the enemy. . . .

Walter Lippmann:


FOUR DIALOGUES

I
DIALOGUE ON OLYMPUS

JEFFERSON, like other enlightened men of his time, believed in the separation of church and state. He wished to disestablish the church, which was then supported out of public funds, and so be declared that taxation for the propagation of opinions in which a man disbelieved was tyranny. But while he said "opinions," he really meant theological opinions. For ardently as he desired to disestablish the church, he no less ardently desired to establish a system of public education. He thought it quite proper to tax the people to support the public schools. For he believed that "by advancing the minds of our youth with the growing science of the times" the public schools would be elevating them "to the practice of the social duties and functions of self-government."

One hundred and forty years later the political leader who in his generation professed to be Jefferson's most loyal disciple, asked whether, if it is wrong to compel people to support a creed they disbelieved, it is not also wrong to compel them to support teaching which impugns the creed in which they do believe. Jefferson had insisted that the people should not have to pay for the teaching of Anglicanism. Mr. Bryan asked why they should be made to pay for the teaching of agnosticism.


Dialogue on Olympus

This was, I believe, a momentous question which we have been too busy to debate. But perhaps by this time, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Bryan have met on Olympus where there is plenty of time. If they have, let us hope that Socrates is present.

SOCRATES: I have been reading your tombstone, Mr. Jefferson, and I see that you are the author of the Declaration of Independence, the Statute for Religious Freedom, and that you are the Father of the University of Virginia. You do not mention more worldly honors. It is evident that your passion was for liberty and for learning.

JEFFERSON: It was. I had, as I once said to Dr. Rush, sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

SOCRATES: And this I believe is Mr. Bryan, three times the chosen leader of the party which you founded.

Reprinted by permission from Walter Lippmann, American Inquisitors, A Commentary on Dayton land Chicago, New York, 1928, pp. 13-21, 37-66, 96-110.

-52-

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Evolution and Religion: The Conflict between Science and Theology in Modern America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents xiii
  • The Clash of Issues xiv
  • The Christian Epic 1
  • The Coming of Darwinism 3
  • The Two Revelations 14
  • A Diary of Evolution 21
  • A Reply to Mr. Bryan in The Name of Religion 30
  • The Scopes Trial 35
  • Four Dialogues 52
  • The New Orthodoxy 70
  • The Truth in Myths 82
  • The New Failure of Nerve 88
  • Suggestions for Additional Reading 97
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