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TIM GIAGO Evolution debate a sign of prejudice



Published: Sat, August 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Every race and nation has its own story of creation. From the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist to the Hopi Nation, the stories or myths are as believable or as unbelievable as one interprets them.

Those who do not believe in the creation story as related in the Christian Bible far outnumber the Christian believers. If one is to make judgments based on numbers, does that make the non-Christian nonbelievers right? Or are we as students of human nature to rely on Darwin's theory of evolution?

Just as Einstein's work on relativity is called a "theory," so too is Darwin's research classified as "theory." These "theories" pit evolution against religion.

When I was a student at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission on the Pine Ridge Reservation we were not taught Darwin's theory. Instead we were offered, and I use the word "offered" euphemistically, a class called Catechism. This class, of course, was a class in Catholicism.

In the Catechism course we were taught about how God created the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh day. Did God also create dinosaurs? They are never mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps those Christians now pushing "intelligent design" as a replacement for science can answer that question.

Evolving theories

There is little doubt that science has made its mistakes and has advanced through the years with its many flaws, but so has organized religion. Millions of people have died in the name of religion and the gist of the slaughter was always an effort to prove which religion was the true one.

Most of us recall the infamous "Monkey Trial" in Tennessee that pitted religion against science. In this case science lost and teaching evolution was forbidden in the Tennessee classrooms.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Austria, recently declared that the Roman Catholic Church rejects "neo-Darwinism," which he said an "unguided evolutionary process -- one that falls outside of the bound of divine providence -- simply cannot exist."

Schonborn went on to say that "The Catholic Church will again defend human reason against scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of chance and necessity which are not scientific at all."

I have often wondered what would happen if a new life-form from another universe made an appearance on Earth. Surely somewhere out there in the limitless boundaries of space there are planets filled with life-forms, including intelligent life. You will not find them mentioned in the Bible.

The United States is falling behind many industrialized nations in the field of science. Stupid decisions by stupid politicians using their religious beliefs instead of their common sense have stifled such innovative scientific research as that on stem cells. Other nations not restricted by religion, nations such as South Korea, are moving forward with stem cell research, and the cures for horrific diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer's may be at their fingertips.

Diabetes has become particularly destructive and deadly on the Indian people of this nation. I have lost dozens of friends in the past several years to this dreadful disease. I am also a victim of this disease. It simply boggles my mind to see politicians whose religious beliefs stand in the way of scientific breakthrough that could save the lives of so many.

A house divided

I am continually amazed at the letters to the editor of our local daily newspaper from seemingly intelligent people who refuse to consider evolution and instead cling to their Bible as the sole source of creation.

These letters not only expound on their biblical beliefs, they also serve as a hammer to beat down anyone who disagrees with their beliefs. This is the frightening aspect of this entire argument.

As a journalist I have written that "I may not agree with your opinions, but I will defend with my life your freedom to have those opinions."

Whatever happened to that way of thinking? When did a certain segment of our society become so obsessed with its own personal beliefs that it would disregard the rights of others to have a different perspective?

When did America become divided into red and blue states? I was taught at the mission school that a "house divided cannot stand." Well, America's house is divided, and if it does not move in the direction of unification, it will fall.

X Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is president of the Native American Journalists Foundation Inc.




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