Kirk Cameron (Mike Seaver of Growing Pains fame) is a Christian evangelist who is concerned with the growing number of admitted atheists in this country. He believes this to be a “life or death” issue. He has made a few Christian films, which I have not seen, and is now moving into literary adaptation, or perhaps more accurately, literary evolution.
He and his followers are distributing copies of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species this November at various college campuses, only, the copy they will be distributing will include a 50-page foreword written by Cameron’s evangelical partner, Ray Comfort. This foreword seeks to discredit Darwin’s theory by claiming a lack of fossil evidence, by tying it to Hitler, by smearing Darwin’s reputation and by stating that many of the most famous scientists and cosmologists of our time, such as Einstein, Bacon, Copernicus, and Newton, all believed that God created the universe. I do not want to get into the “numbers game” that the likes of Cameron play, but I will say that some of these claims are patently false. Period.
In one of the more ironic statements Cameron makes in the video embedded below, Cameron states that atheistic evolution is brainwashing our young minds. Last time I checked, there were no “Atheist Schools”, or similar schools devoted to the study of atheist texts such as Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion or The Origin of Species. And if I am not mistaken, most people are exposed to religion/God at an early age under the control and influence of their parents; children do not have a choice in what God they will worship or even if they want to worship a God at all. Obviously, that is not the case in agnostic or atheist households, but for most of us, that was not the situation we were born into. I have no doubts that the majority of people in this country are exposed to The Bible’s version of creation BEFORE The Big Bang Theory (BBT) or Darwin’s theory of evolution.
(Which reminds me, Cameron is going after the wrong text. Darwin’s theory of evolution is not about the creation of the universe; the creation of the universe in the scientific realm is covered by The Big Bang Theory. The scientists Cameron links to a God-created universe are mostly cosmologists who contributed, through their work, to what would eventually become in the 20TH century the BBT. And while we are on the subject, the BBT is a very elegant theory rooted in centuries of scientific observations that show the universe to be somewhere between 15 and 20 millions years old. I think some Creationists believe the universe is only about 6,000 years old.)
Even if the statistics Cameron gives about the rise in atheism amongst college professors is correct, what does that have to do with their ability to teach their respective subject matter? And even if they infuse their lectures with “atheist” talk (ooohhh, scary!), which is highly doubtful for anyone not teaching biology or the like, should not our young people be intelligent and open-minded enough to decipher for themselves whether they adhere to such thoughts or beliefs? I know that is what I would prefer, but it is difficult when so many are indoctrinated at such a young age. And once committed to a religion, or any system of belief for that matter, it becomes incredibly difficult to change that belief. Ideally, people would be judged by their actions and deeds, not who they pray to (or if they pray at all). And in this post I do not seek to attack those who do believe in God, but only to point out the hypocrisy inherent in chastising those who choose not to believe and attempting to convert them. I am glad to have a debate about religion or the existence of God, but I will not condemn someone to a horrible fate because they do not agree with my position; sadly, some who disagree with me have no problem condemning me in such a way.
Anyway, the movement against atheism does not seem to me to be about altruism or saving “souls”, but about attacking atheism and science and seeking to disprove them. That is fine if that is what they want to do, though I wonder how much time this leaves to work on their own spirituality and relationship with God (I think spirituality should be a personal thing and not imposed on others). But in this debate between atheists and believers, I do not think that atheists are as free to voice their opinions and they most certainly are not treated with the same respect as their counterparts. There are many atheists seeking to discredit Christianity and other religions, and the existence of God of course, but it seems that movement has only arisen because of the growth of religion in terms of its influence within law and government, and social mores. There is no doubt that, at least publicly, our elected officials are expected to be religious, especially Christian. Our last president openly admitted to seeking God’s advice in making policy. If atheists have become more vocal about the separation of church and state, it is only because of how powerful religion has become within the state, and how so many within the Christian right seek to push their agenda in our public schools. Put simply: the freedom of religion protected by our First Amendment does not seem to apply to those who choose no religion, or those who choose the wrong one.
But whatever the motives on either side, I cannot imagine an atheist writing a foreword in The Bible and not being completely vilified, or worse. This is what bothers me most about what Cameron is doing with Darwin’s book. The Bible, and all beliefs that stem from it, are deemed by all to be sacred and/or untouchable simply because it is the Bible and people believe it is the “word of God”. As is the case with anything, in my view: simply because many or most “believe” something to be true, does not make it so. It does not make it false, either, but I cannot “believe” something to be true when observable evidence concludes otherwise; to reject such factual evidence is simply irrational. I do not know for certain that Darwin’s theory of evolution or The Big Bang Theory are entirely accurate or generally true theories about our existence, but I do know both theories are heavily supported by scientific and factual evidence that require no leaps of faith to comprehend.