There’s nothing new about the struggle over gay marriage and evolution. Fortunately, there will also be nothing new about the resolution to either struggle. History has told us everything we need to know about how this will play out in the end.
Both of these issues represent a continual pattern in which religious dogma meets science head-on. In all cases, the church reacts predictably:
3. Try to legalize it out of existence.
4. Incite socio-political struggle.
5. Concede defeat in the end when the science becomes too obvious to oppose.
Everyone is (or should be) familiar with the church’s opposition to all things progressive — where progressive means “more interested in truth than tradition.” At the very least, everyone knows about Galileo. As punishment for observing the truth that the earth revolves around the sun, he was censured in perpetuity, confined to his house for the rest of his life, and his books were banned. What many people do not know is the story of Maria Celeste, Galileo’s daughter. Secret correspondences between the two suggest that she was sympathetic and supportive of his love of astronomy as well as his discoveries. It is suspected that she helped write some of his books. We will never know for sure. She was confined to a monastery and relegated to second class citizenship. Because of her gender. Because the church wanted it that way.
The church also wasn’t very kind to Galileo’s predecessor, Copernicus. Although he was not formally censured, his book on heliocentrism was held from publication for years. The unauthorized preface added by Lutheran astronomer Andreas Osiander read suspiciously like current day disclaimers about the nature of evolution. “He explained that astronomers may find different causes for observed motions, and choose whatever is easier to grasp. As long as a hypothesis allows reliable computation, it does not have to match what a philosopher might seek as the truth.” (LINK)
And then there was Bruno. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake thirty-ish years before Galileo was censured. In a political maneuver still employed by the Vatican and FOX News, the church suppressed, re-wrote, and obfuscated history to cover up the fact that Bruno’s punishment centered on his support for heliocentrism.