|Calvary Episcopal Church, Rockdale
2 Pentecost - Proper 5
June 10, 2007
The Rev. Robert C. Granfeldt
It’s warm and humid, this morning – as I’m certain you’ve all noticed; and I’m fairly certain you’ve also
noticed our air conditioner is still out.
Knowing what this morning would be like, I decided last evening not to preach the sermon I had planned
on, but will try to keep this as short as I can. With luck, by next Sunday we’ll be back to normal (though I
make no promises!).
So this morning I just want to share with you something that I simply do not understand.
One of my favorite films of all time was made in 1960, starring Spencer Tracy and Frederick March, and is
called Inherit the Wind. It’s a great film, and the play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee is even
better! And both are a thinly disguised dramatization of the famous Scopes Trial of 1925, when teacher
John T. Scopes was tried, down in Tennessee, for teaching evolution to his high school science class.
Scopes – and his attorney, Clarence Darrow – lost, and Scopes was fined $100.00! But the case was
much, much bigger than that teacher and that fine!
And the controversy it represented, between the believers in the evolutionary process and the
believers in creationism, or – the more up-to-the-minute version – intelligent design, still rages – in fact
more, perhaps, today, than it did eighty-two years ago!
Intelligent design advocates argue that just by looking at the world in its complexity, one can tell that
there must have been an intelligence behind it, in order to produce the phenomena we see all around
us, while the creationists believe the whole of creation – the whole world as we know it – was created by
the direct action of God, less about six thousand years ago, as described, they believe, in the opening
pages of the Old Testament.
On the other hand, evolutionists insist all life in this world is explainable by natural occurrences, with the
processes of evolution – of natural selection - working over the millions and even the billions of years of
the history of the universe.
What causes me to bring this up, this morning is a poll published in Friday’s USA Today newspaper. In it,
53 percent of Americans claimed to believe that the theory of evolution is either definitely or probably
true, while 44 percent believe it’s either probably or definitely false! That’s a frighteningly narrow margin
but it is, at least, somewhat encouraging – until we get to “the other hand!”
On the other hand, 66 percent of Americans believe creationism is either probably of definitely true,
while 31 percent believe creationism to be probably or definitely false.
Think about it. By their own responses to the pollsters, a significant percentage of all Americans believe
BOTH creationism and evolution!
They believe that the universe is billions of years old – as modern science illustrates – AND that it’s
barely 6,000 years old, as Genesis supposedly says!
They believe that life as it exists in the world, today, is the product of eons of natural selection, AND they
believe that all life was created by God, just as it is, on the 6th day of creation – which occurred in the
year 4004, BCE!
One of my favorite fiction writers of all time is a man named Robert Heinlein. Among other things, he was
a very quotable writer, and one of the things he said that most impressed me – even as a preteen, when I
first read him – is that religious people are those who manage to believe 6 impossible things before
Sounds to me as if he was prescient – and had read the results of this poll half-a century or so before it
And if that sounds silly, it’s no more silly, certainly, than believing both in creationism and in evolution –
two mutually exclusive ideas – at the same time.
If you look at our parish website, you’ll find a feature called the “Top Ten Reasons for Being an
Episcopalian.” (The list has been attributed, originally, to Robin Williams, and since I’ve never heard of
him denying it, it may well be!) And in that feature, you’ll find reason number seven says: “you don’t have
to check your brains at the door.”
It occurs to me we ought to consider adding an eleventh reason: that our Church doesn’t ask you to
believe two mutually exclusive propositions at the same time, either.
In truth, all of today’s life sciences and an enormous amount of today’s medical science speak to,
support and in many ways depend on the modern theory of evolution, while there is nothing at all in the
world of scientific observation to support creationism.
I am so, so glad to be an Episcopalian – a member, not of the ONLY church, certainly, but of ONE of the
Churches that does not support Mr. Heinlein’s aphorism; and one of the VERY few churches that really
INSISTS its members bring their brains with them on Sunday morning.
In the Name of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.