Defending Darwin in Kentucky

EvolutionSource: James Krupa in Orion Magazine, orionmagazine.org. Painting by Alexis Rockman.

I’m often asked what I do for a living. My answer, that I am a professor at the University of Kentucky, inevitably prompts a second question: “What do you teach?” Responding to such a question should be easy and invite polite conversation, but I usually brace for a negative reaction. At least half the time the person flinches with disapproval when I answer “evolution,” and often the conversation simply terminates once the “e-word” has been spoken. Occasionally, someone will retort: “But there is no evidence for evolution.” Or insist: “It’s just a theory, so why teach it?”…

We live in a nation where public acceptance of evolution is the second lowest of 34 developed countries, just ahead of Turkey. Roughly half of Americans reject some aspect of evolution, believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old, and that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. Where I live, many believe evolution to be synonymous with atheism, and there are those who strongly feel I am teaching heresy to thousands of students. A local pastor, whom I’ve never met, wrote an article in The University Christian complaining that, not only was I teaching evolution and ignoring creationism, I was teaching it as a non-Christian, alternative religion….

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5 responses to “Defending Darwin in Kentucky

  1. If the teaching of evolution is permitted in university who knows where it might lead. What next: gay marriage? Equal pay for women? An NDP government in Alberta?

  2. Fred Blair

    Oh dear, oh dear…some days it just seems hopeless…

    Then again, consider Alberta this morning.

  3. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the state is the home of the Derby and mint juleps.

  4. Michael Gundy

    As a practising Christian, I see no conflict with believing in evolution, chaos theory, the scientific method, etc and the great mystery of God.

  5. The bright aspect of this article is that the University of Kentucky allows James Krupa to teach evolution to the students.