As a student advisor, I get to see a side of some of the students that many teachers do not. One of my favorite students in the group is a girl named "Sally". Since the time Sally was a freshman, she would spend about one day a week in my office discussing politics, science, religion, etc. during her lunch hour. Sally is a very bright girl, and sometimes our discussions became a bit heated.
Sally is one of the most thoughtful, logical kids I know...until it comes to religion. Now normally I don't like to discuss subjects that are controversial and somewhat personal with my students on an individual basis. However, when it comes to the topic of evolution, religion almost always rears its head somewhere in the discussion.
Sally and I haven't seen eye to eye on the topic of evolution from day one. I don't want to go into a lot of detail here...that's not the point of this writing. Suffice it to say that Sally had a lot of reasons why evolution couldn't have taken place, all of which I was able to argue (successfully?) against.
Two weeks before our current holiday, we once again got into a discussion involving evolution. I had mentioned that I had to prepare some lessons on evolution over the break, and that I was looking forward to having the extra time to work on the lessons. Sally replied with the statement..."It doesn't make any difference how long you have to prepare, the fact is that evolution is a myth." This was the first time that Sally had use the word "fact" in one of her statements. I decided to pursue this a bit further (yes...I should know better).
I asked her where she got her "facts" regarding the "mythology" of evolution. She hesitated for a few seconds, and then said "the bible." I said, "How did you conclude that from reading the bible?" She replied that the bible allows you to calculate the approximate age of the earth (see Bishop Ussher) Based on the calculations that were done, the Earth can be no older than 6000 years. Since it would take much longer than that for evolution to occur, it's obvious that it never happened in the first place. She went on to say that these calculations also explain why radioactive dating must not be accurate. After all, how could it be accurate if the earth is only 6000 years old? The numbers that are typically published for radioactive dating are much greater than 6000 years. Hence radioactive dating must not work!
At this point, our discussion became pointless. According to Sally, the bible is the true word of God. Therefore, if the calculations of the age of the Earth added up to 6000 years, it must be accurate. Our discussion had come to an end. There was no way to successfully argue past this point. If her minister said that the bible was the true word of God, than that's the way it was. It never even occurred to Sally that her minister could have been wrong.
Now perhaps this discussion actually revealed a weakness of mine. I try to live my life based on logic and critical thinking. Sally is one of the best critical thinkers I know...except when it comes to religion. There, all of her logic and reason are put aside somehow. This is a "skill" that I don't have, and I never will. I've never been able to understand how a logical, reasonable individual can suddenly throw all logic out the window when it comes to religion. I can't do it, and I have difficulty understanding how other people can.