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A recent blog post by Tom Bartlett on the site of the Chronicle of Higher Education mentions the possibility that “evolution is a lousy story” and that “the biblical story of creation . . . couldn’t be richer.” According to Dan McAdams, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, this is one reason why more Americans don’t believe in evolution (fewer than half do, according to the Pew Research Center). Others (e.g., Jerry Coyne) say Americans’ opposition to evolution has nothing to do with whether or not evolution is a story. Instead, as Bartlett points out, most who reject evolution say that it’s because of “God or Jesus or religion in general.” According to Coyne, “belief in evolution will only rise when belief in God declines.”

I think that McAdams is on to something important. Stories are what we tell ourselves to make meaning out of the stuff of life and the world around us. Bartlett quotes McAdams: “People create stories to make sense of their lives.” And then heĀ  paraphrases him: “When you think about it, we tell stories to make sense of pretty much everything.” To make sense of = to make meaning out of. Without stories (and I would include music as a type of story), I’m not sure that there would be much of a way to do this. Science gives us data, but, as soon as it starts using words such as “wonderful” and “elegant,” it’s no longer science but story. What Coyne really wants, without realizing it I suppose, Read More

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