Rachel Held Evans had a choice while growing up in Dayton, Tenn., site of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. Believe the Bible or believe evolution.
"I was taught that if you don't interpret Genesis 1 and 2 literally, then you don't take the Bible seriously," said Evans, 29. "I held on tightly to that for a long time."
Evans says creationism — the belief that God created the earth around 6,000 years ago in six days — was commonplace in her town. Unable to reconcile science with her faith, Evans embraced evolution.
"I learned you don't have to choose between loving and following Jesus and believing in evolution," she said. She chronicled her personal journey in a new memoir Evolving in Monkey Town.
Evans is part of a movement of mostly Protestant writers and scientists trying to reconcile faith and science, 85 years after the trial ended. Instead of choosing sides, some prefer the middle ground of intelligent design, which claims God designed how life evolved. Tennessee gubernatorial candidates Ron Ramsey, Zach Wamp and Mike McWherter all advocate teaching intelligent design in schools.
Respectfully, so-called intelligent design does not teach that "God designed how life evolved." Rather, it holds that the broad biodiversity observed upon the earth and in the fossil records resulted from specific, separate acts of creation and not by evolution from common ancestors. It teaches that the species are "immutable"--that is, that one species cannot evolve into another.
And yet, as was recognized by a conservative, Bush-appointed, Christian judge as recently as 2007, intelligent design is not science. This is not a statement of opinion or dogma, but of demonstrable fact. As I have previously noted, science is that body of knowledge which results from application of the scientific method. Intelligent design, as an explanation for biodiversity, cannot be science because it cannot be falsified or, said another way, it does not make any testable predictions.
UPDATE:> Stephen Jay Gould explains further in his essay Evolution as Fact and Theory.