It is no secret that evolution is a controversial subject. There are many different viewpoints on the Theory of Evolution, and that is bound to create disagreement. Most arguments against evolution are based on religion. How do different religions view evolution and how do those viewpoints affect legislation and laws in the United States?
1. Evolution and ChristianityChristianity is by far the largest religion practiced in the United States. It is also the most outspoken when it comes to anti-evolution rhetoric. However, is Christianity, including Catholicism, and evolution really incompatible? Maybe not as much as the normal population may think. The Creation story can be interpreted (and misinterpreted) in many ways. Which interpretation of the Christian Bible is accepted determines whether or not evolution is compatible. In fact, recent Popes have agreed that evolution and Catholicism are compatible.
2. Evolution and Other Religions
Where do other world religions stand on the issue of evolution? Is a lack of religion a requirement to believe in the Theory of Evolution? Many religions seem not to have a problem with evolution. Judaism and Christianity share a Creation story, and Islam also has a similar beginning. There are a few religions, like Buddhism, that seem to be rooted in a more factual based teaching than a God or gods-centered philosophy. However, these "other" religions are often downplayed or altogether disregarded in the United States and how evolution is debated in the media.
3. Evolution and Intelligent Design
Seen by many Creationists as a compromise between Creationism and Evolution, Intelligent Design is often presented as an alternative to the Theory of Evolution. However, it is more faith based than fact based, so many scientists are vocal about its short-comings. Should this type of religious based alternative be taught in a science classroom in public schools? This is perhaps the most debated evolution controversy today.
4. How Religion Shapes Evolution Legislation
Throughout history, religious beliefs, for better or for worse, have shaped legislation and the creation of laws in the United States. While the United States Constitution declares a separation of Church and State, this is often ignored in the case of trying to push the teaching of Creationism in public schools. Many prominent court cases and laws have been enacted over the years on this very subject. Even today, there are a handful of states that push anti-evolution alternatives to be taught in science classrooms.