There are many subjects and circumstances by which one can watch culture in transition.
Today’s example that always makes the news is the annual evaluation of secondary school texts by the Texas Board of Education. Watching this process in action is somewhat irritating both to creationists and to evolutionists. Every year there is a battle between conservative Christians and fact-driven centrists. It is an unsavory mix of religious faith and scientific analysis – truly an oil and water mix that will never find satisfaction.
What makes it a news item is the fact that Texas buys a proportionately large number of schoolbooks. Publishers have no interest in publishing more than one version because it is expensive. The publishers want to sell their texts across the country but because of its purchasing power, the publishers have to accommodate the Texas Board of Education as the Board attempts to withdraw evolution or at least defame it in the textbooks while at the same time giving credence to creationism. Other states, of course, may not want this approach to history.
Texas finally had to pass a law saying that Texas School Districts did not have to accept the textbooks approved by the Texas Board of Education. That is a significant concession that moves the bar to the left. However, this year, according to the Associated Press, the issue of global warming is added to the mix.
What makes the issue a study in cultural transition is to look at the changing attitude and belief statistics across time. It bounces up and down. What interests the mariner most is the increase in creationist and God driven evolution (Intelligent Design). Is this caused by our troubled economy and the growing disparity of our economic classes? Is it caused because religious institutions are available at the neighborhood level while science is promoted only in college and postgraduate institutions? Oddly, even as American Christianity grows more conservative, the Roman Catholic Pope welcomes atheists. The mariner is fascinated. Fascinated but he has no answers. All of us are in the gristmill of day-to-day history. It’s like watching sausage being made.
The Texas battle between belief and fact is not the only conflict. It has always been this way. It began with Jesus claiming to be the Son of God, which led to his crucifixion. Galileo was sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life by the Roman Church for defending the idea that the Sun was at the center of the Solar System rather than the Earth. Charles Darwin has been condemned by the Christian religion for his thesis on evolution. An open, unfrozen Arctic Ocean, a global rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees and oceans that are three inches deeper are dismissed as unreliable facts insofar as global warming is concerned.
If Christians would stick to the New Testament and not begin by reading the Pentateuch in the Jewish Bible, things would be a lot simpler.