In the United States, only 16 percent of people believe that humans evolved by means of natural selection, while 58 percent of Canadians believe the same thing. In most Western European countries, the percentage of those who accept evolution is even higher. By far, the largest segment of American society who does not accept evolution belongs to one of the fundamentalist Christian cults or are Christians who have been swayed by fundamentalist rhetoric.
But why do Christians hate the theory of evolution so much? There are lots of scientific theories out there they could hate, but only evolution attracts the ire of the fundamentalist. Sure, there are those who also do not buy into the big bang theory either, but even some Creationist Christians accept the immense age of the earth; they just don’t accept that humans evolved on it.
For most fundamentalists who actually know something about the bible and fundamentalist dogma, the real problem comes in the form of original sin. If, they say, Adam and Eve were not real people who were created by God as the bible says then Eve could not have been tempted. Therefore, there was no one that would have taken the first bite of the forbidden fruit and, thus, no original sin. Without original sin, there would be no reason why God would have had to come to Earth as Jesus. And Jesus would not have had to die on the Cross for our sins. There would have been no Resurrection. And without the Cross and Resurrection, there is no Christianity. That is the heart and soul of Christian dogma. Therefore, evolution could not have happened, because if it did happen, then Christians have been believing in a fairy tale for millennia.
The more moderate and liberal-leaning Christians don’t have a problem with the non-existence of a real Adam and Eve, because to many, the story of the Garden of Eden is an allegory for the sinful nature of human beings. God created humans in His image, but then humans started behaving poorly, sinning. It doesn’t have to be traced back to a single individual. But fundamentalists don’t see it that way. Without the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, the snake, and original sin, Christianity is a hollow metaphor of its true self.
Many Christians also don’t like evolution because it puts them in the same league as other animals. As a science teacher I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the lamentation, “I didn’t come from no monkey.” To them, it’s all egocentrism. We are humans. We are above the animals. Only humans have a soul.
And for other Christians, it’s simply a matter of what the bible says is true and that’s the end of the story. It doesn’t matter that insects don’t have four legs or that the earth is not flat or that you can’t really see all its kingdoms of Earth from the top of a mountain in Israel. If it says it in the bible it must be so. And that’s that.
Finally, there are Christians who do not accept evolution for no other reason than because they don’t understand evolution and they have been given a de facto brainwashing via the fundamentalist fringe. Evangelical Christians are nothing if not aggressive about their dogma. They build universities designed to convert all who enter to their way of not thinking straight. They build museums to make the deluded feel better about their delusions. And they get elected to political office. The potentially more reasonable Christians, who claim to be part of the religion but in reality only go to church on Easter and Christmas Eve, if then, could be persuaded that evolution is just as valid as gravity but for the constant droning of Creationist rhetoric. I venture to say that this group probably makes up the majority of evolution deniers.
So if you are a Creationist, take your pick. You most likely belong to one of those segments of Christianity. If you believe that evolution goes up against Christian doctrine then you should take a hint from the very earliest Christians and change your doctrine to fit the facts. The Apostle Paul, according to his authentic letters, believed that the apocalypse was about to happen any day. It was imminent. According to the gospels attributed to Mark and Matthew, even Jesus believed that some of his disciples would still be alive when the end came. But by the time the Gospel of John was written decades later, the apocalypse rhetoric was toned down a bit. And by the end of the first century, when it was apparent that the apocalypse might not be so imminent, the forged epistles of Paul claim that it would come “soon” but maybe not in their lifetimes. So the doctrine had changed from “The end will be here any day now,” to “Just be ready because we don’t know when it will happen.”
Since religion is all man-made and made up anyway, it shouldn’t be too hard to change it to fit the known facts. It’s happened before, many times. It will happen again. The God of the Gaps is an ever-shrinking deity. Soon (I hope) he will be gone for good.