The Religion of Evolutionary Humanism and the Public Schools
by Henry Morris, Ph.D.
The modern creationist movement and the resistance of secular educators to this movement have brought into clear focus one very important fact. Our American public schools and secular universities are controlled by the religious philosophy of evolutionary humanism. Furthermore, through its pervasive influence on the graduate schools and the textbook publishers this powerful concept has had significant impact even on most Christian schools.
Resistance to the proposed teaching of theistic creationism as an alternative to evolutionism commonly masquerades under the supposed authority of "science." The recent anti-creationist manifesto of the American Humanist Association proclaims the following:
There are no alternatives to the principle of evolution, with its "tree of life" pattern, that any competent biologist of today takes seriously....Evolution is therefore the only view that should be expounded in public-school courses on science.1
That evolution is not science, however, has not only been clearly demonstrated by the many modern publications of creationist scientists2 but also is frequently recognized even by evolutionist scientists. For example, Loren Eisely says:
With the failure of these many efforts, science was left in the somewhat embarrassing position of having to postulate theories of living origins which it could not demonstrate. After having chided the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create a mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what after long effort could not be proved to take place today had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past.3
In fact there are now many evolutionists who recognize that the "theory of evolution" is really a tautology, with no predictive value.
I argue that the "theory of evolution" does not make predictions, so far as ecology is concerned, but is instead a logical formula which can be used only to classify empiricisms and to show the relationships which such a classification implies....these theories are actually tautologies and, as such, cannot make empirically testable predictions. They are not scientific theories at all.4
Even the writer of the Foreword of the 1971 edition of Darwin's Origin of the Species, himself a distinguished evolutionary biologist, has frankly recognized that evolution is simply a belief.
[The theory of evolution] forms a satisfactory faith on which to base our interpretation of nature.5
Evolution is thus admittedly not scientifically testable, even though it is taught very dogmatically in most public schools. However, educators insist that creationism and theism must be excluded from education on the ground that they are not scientific!
This rejection is often emphatic and even slanderous. Dr. Preston Cloud of the University of California at Santa Barbara, for example, becomes quite melodramatic.
Religious bigotry is abroad again in the land....Although the creationists may be irrational,...they have proven themselves to be skillful tacticians, good organizers and uncompromising adversaries....And anyone who has studied their benign manner in public debate, their tortured logic and their often scurrilous expression in books and tracts for the faithful, has little difficulty in visualizing creationist polemicists, given the opportunity, in the role of Pius V himself.6
This is not the language of objective science, of course, but of religious emotion. Dr. Cloud failed to mention that he had himself participated in such a debate on his own campus, before an audience composed mainly of university students, the large majority of whom had voted after the debate that the creationists had a better scientific case than the evolutionists. As a matter of fact, a common complaint at the debate was that the evolutionists had not presented a consistent scientific case at all, while the creationists had dealt only with science.
If creationists are, as Cloud declares, "bigots," he should recognize that there are other bigots also. One of the nation's top scientists has charged:
One of the most astonishing characteristics of scientists is that some of them are plain, old-fashioned bigots. Their zeal has a fanatical, egocentric quality characterized by disdain and intolerance for anyone or any value not associated with a special area of intellectual activity.7
The fact is, however, that creationists are not attempting to oust evolutionary humanism from the public schools, but only to obtain a fair hearing for theistic creationism as an alternative. Both concepts involve faith and neither is scientifically testable in the ultimate sense.
A hypothesis is empirical or scientific only if it can be tested by experience....A hypothesis or theory which cannot be, at least in principle, falsified by empirical observations and experiments does not belong to the realm of science.8
Although the author of the above statement is a leading evolutionary biologist, it is obvious that his definition would exclude evolution, no less than creation, from the realm of science. In fact, a creationist might legitimately argue that evolution actually has been tested, and disproved, since it has never been observed in action and since it contradicts the scientific law of increasing entropy or disorder. One must, therefore, not only believe in evolution without evidence, but in spite of the evidence. Evolutionists walk by faith, not by sight!
Furthermore, not only is evolution taught in the schools as a scientific dogma, but as basic in all the social sciences and humanities as well. It is, in fact, a complete worldview, purporting to explain the origin, development and meaning of all things.
The place of biological evolution in human thought was, according to Dobzhansky, best expressed in a passage that he often quoted from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: [Evolution] is a general postulate to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must henceforward bow and which they must satisfy in order to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow.9
Theodosius Dobzhansky, the subject of the eulogy from which the above quotation was taken, was a church member and claimed to be a creationist, but he meant by this that the wonderful process of natural selection had "created" all things!
Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death....Dobzhansky held that, in man, biological evolution had transcended itself into the realm of self-awareness and culture. He believed that mankind would eventually evolve into higher levels of harmony and creativity. He was a metaphysical optimist.10
Until his death, Dobzhansky had been probably the world's leading spokesman for evolution.
From today's perspective, Dobzhansky appears as perhaps the most eminent evolutionist of the twentieth century.11
His influence on the nation's schools has been profound, to say the least, and he is typical of practically all leaders of evolutionary thought.
Evolution as a complete system of life and meaning has, in fact, dominated intellectual thought and the teachings in the colleges since at least the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
...after a generation of argument, educated Americans in general came to accept the fact of evolution and went on to make whatever intellectual adjustments they thought necessary.12
Once it came to be accepted by the intellectuals, the religious liberals quickly, and typically, followed along. The most influential of these was the famous Henry Ward Beecher.
Darwinian evolutionary science presented little or no challenge to Beecher's doctrinal beliefs, for Beecher's Christianity was already far removed from Biblical literalism into a vague poetic emotional realm of edifying thoughts, elevated feelings and joyful noises unto the Lord.13
Beecher published his Evolution and Religion in 1883, and its arguments are still being repeated almost verbatim by theistic evolutionists today. Very quickly after that, evolution began to dominate the public schools.
In a nation that was undergoing a tremendous urban, industrial and technological revolution, the evolutionary concept presented itself to intellectuals as the key to knowledge. And beyond that, the technical needs of industry called for a revolution in higher education away from the traditional classical and moral orientation and toward the sciences...which were reclassifying man and society in evolutionary terms. In general the concept of education from kindergarten to graduate school was reoriented from the teaching of a fixed body of knowledge to the teaching of methods of inquiry to be applied to the continually changing facts of existence.14
This trend, of course, was tremendously accelerated under the influence of John Dewey and his disciples in the first half of the twentieth century, leading finally to the complete dominance of the public schools by naturalistic evolutionism and secular humanism at the present time.15
It was not always thus in our country or in our public schools, however, and it is certainly in conformity with American constitutionalism to seek to return the schools to their intended character and purpose.
The American nation had been founded by intellectuals who had accepted a world view that was based upon Biblical authority as well as Newtonian science. They had assumed that God created the earth and all life upon it at the time of creation and had continued without change thereafter. Adam and Eve were God's final creations, and all of mankind was descended from them. When Jefferson, in his old age, was confronted with the newly developing science of geology, he rejected the evolutionary concept of the creation of the earth on the grounds that no all-wise and all-powerful Creator would have gone about the job in such a slow and inefficient way.16
Jefferson's argument, of course, is perfectly valid today. The "god" of evolution (in the rationale of de Chardin and the other leaders of theistic evolutionary thought) is certainly not the God of the Bible, the omnipotent and omniscient God of orthodox Judaism and biblical Christianity. Evolutionary humanism in our schools is not only a religion, but is a religion which opposes Judaism, Christianity and the Bible in no uncertain terms.
In cultures such as ours, religion is very often an alien form of life to intellectuals. Living as we do in a post-Enlightenment era, it is difficult for us to take religion seriously. The very concepts seem fantastic to us....That people in our age can believe that they have had a personal encounter with God, that they could believe that they have experienced conversion through a "mystical experience of God," so that they are born again in the Holy Spirit, is something that attests to human irrationality and lack of sense of reality.17
With this type of attitude dominating the thinking of modern leaders in education, it is not surprising that there is so much resistance to allowing creationism to be returned to the schools. Neither is it surprising that a humanistic and atheistic religious philosophy in the schools has generated an amoralistic attitude in society, increasing in influence with each emerging generation. A remarkable testimony has been published by Aldous Huxley, one of the most influential writers and philosophers of our day, grandson of evolutionist Thomas Huxley, brother of evolutionist Julian Huxley, and one of the early advocates of a "drug culture" and sexual permissiveness.
I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption....The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.18
The following conclusions are clearly justified by the facts at hand: (1) A system of evolutionary humanism dominates our public schools and this system has produced devastating results in the moral and social realms; (2) neither the philosophy of humanism nor the evolutionary philosophy on which it is based is "scientific," in any proper sense of the term, though both are materialistic and essentially atheistic; (3) the system of evolutionary humanism is, therefore, merely a religious philosophy, a "non-theistic religion," as claimed by the American Humanist Association itself; (4) all the known facts of science (as well as the facts of human experience) correlate with belief in special creation and a personal Creator much better than belief in evolution and humanism correlate with those facts; (5) consequently, the "creation model," and its implications in all fields, should be taught equally and fairly with the "evolution model" in the public schools. All serious-minded and fair-minded parents, teachers and school administrators are urged to work diligently to that end.
- American Humanist Association, "A Statement Affirming Evolution as a Principle of Science," The Humanist, January-February 1977, Vol. XXXVII, p. 4. This manifesto was prepared by a committee composed of Bette Chambers (A.H.A. president), Isaac Asimov, Hudson Hoagland, Chauncy Leake, Linus Pauling and George Gaylord Simpson, and signed by 163 others, most of whom are prominent humanistic educators--including psychologists Carl Rogers and B. F. Skinner, left-wing philosopher Corliss Lamont, anthropologist Sol Tax, and others.
- For example, see Scientific Creationism (Ed. Henry M. Morris; San Diego, Creation-Life Publishers, 1974, 277 pp.). Also note that the Creation Research Society has approximately 550 members, all with graduate degrees in science from accredited universities.
- Loren Eisely, The Immense Journey (New York: Random House, 1957), p. 199.
- R. H. Peters, "Tautology in Evolution and Ecology," American Naturalist, Vol. 110, No. 1, 1976, p. 1. Emphasis his.
- L. Harrison Matthews, "Introduction to Origin of Species" (London, J.M. Dent, 1977), p. xii.
- Preston Cloud, "Scientific Creationism--A New Inquisition," The Humanist, Vol. XXXVII, Jan-Feb., 1977, p. 67.
- Philip H. Abelson, "Bigotry in Science," Science, Vol. 144, April 24, 1964, p. 373.
- Francisco J. Ayala, "Biological Evolution: Natural Selection or Random Walk?" American Scientist, Vol. 62, Nov.-Dec., 1974, p. 700.
- Francisco Ayala, "'Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.' Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1900-1975," Journal of Heredity, Vol. 68, No. 3, 1977, p. 3.
- Ibid., p. 9.
- Ibid. p. 6.
- Gilman M. Ostrander, The Evolutionary Outlook, 1875-1900, (Clio, Michigan, Marston Press, 1971), p. 2.
- Ibid., p. 39.
- Ibid., p. 2.
- See the writer's new book, Education for the Real World (San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1977, pp. 47-105) for further documentation on the capture and current domination of the public schools by these systems.
- Gilman M. Ostrander, op cit, p. I.
- Kai Nielsen, "Religiosity and Powerlessness: Part III of 'The Resurgence of Fundamentalism,'" The Humanist, Vol XXXVII, May-June, 1977, p. 46.
- Aldous Huxley, "Confessions of a Professed Atheist," Report: Perspective on the News, Vol. 3, June 1966, p. 19.
* Dr. Morris (1918-2006) was Founder of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris, H. M. 1977. The Religion of Evolutionary Humanism and the Public Schools. Acts & Facts. 6 (9).