Religious Attitudes in Mexico

Antonio Lazcano is a biology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico in Mexico City. He has studied evolution and the origins of life for more than 30 years and as a student at the university he majored in prebiotic evolution and the emergence of life. He has authored several books in the Spanish language, including ‘The Origins of Life’, published in 1984, that became a bestseller in Mexico. He has also been a professor-in-residence or visiting scientist in France, Spain, Cuba, Switzerland, Russia, and the United States He was reelected president of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, in 2005, the first Latin American scientist to occupy this position.

He has an article in the journal ‘Science, which is a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, wherein he comments on the acceptance of evolutionary sciences in Mexico and it’s relationship to the dominate Roman Catholic Church.

He relates that Mexicans in general have a commitment to the idea of evolution, as the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII endorsed the evolutionary principles that Darwin had proposed, in the mid-nineteen hundreds. So, contrary to many peoples belief, the people of Mexico do not suffer under a strong anti-evolutionary theocratic peer pressure. The Church realizes that the science behind evolution is valid, and tends to not interfere with peoples secular beliefs.

He comments that opposition to his teaching of evolution is practically nonexistent, and he has only been challenged twice. “Only twice during my 30 years of teaching about evolutionary biology and research into the origins of life, have I encountered religious-based opposition to my work. In both cases, it came from evangelical zealots from the United States preaching in Mexico.” He continues. “One of the little recognized U.S. imports into Mexico is a small flow of creationists, who, through religion, are trying to impose their fundamentalist beliefs and hinder the teaching of Darwinian evolution in all levels of schooling”. My emphasis.

I would add that this is a good example of the ‘Ugly American’ in action. How much arrogance and self-conceit does it take for these fools to interfere with another countries scholastic standards? What craziness do they posses that makes them think that…they alone…have the all answers, and must climb in other peoples face to spread their insanity?

Professor Lazcano says that their history has not recorded any major controversy over the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, in 1859. The fact that the Roman Catholic Church does not advocate the literal reading of the Bible as the evangelical fundamentalists do, probably contributes to this.

Places that have a predominately Catholic background such as France, Spain, Italy and most Latin American countries are secular in their outlook and politic, and are able to maintain an extended form of secularism while also being able to support religious freedom. Catholics in Mexico do not read the Old Testament as literal truth, but as a way that creation may have happened. Thus it is possible for Catholic Bible readers to believe in a supernatural origin of life and not have to reject Darwinism in order to maintain logical consistency in their theocratic scheme.

Professor Lazcano says that he and his associates are often invited to speak about life origins and evolution in public and private schools, including those run by Catholic nuns and priests. He says that students and professors see no doctrinal conflict between their own personal faith and Darwin’s scientific ideas. “They even found hilarious the idea of teaching creationism based on biblical literalism.”

He feels that most Mexicans find it hard to understand the hold that religion has in America, and many are baffled by the lax attitude of American politicians to the religious right that manage to influence and undermine the public educational system. “In contrast, Mexico still maintains some anticlerical attitudes, and public education bears the secular trademark of the Enlightenment, whose introduction into the country was facilitated by some prominent priests and Jesuits.”

His closing sentence is particularly relevant to the creationist / evolutionist argument. “Our understanding of the origin and early stages of biological evolution still has major unsolved problems, but they are recognized by the scientific community as intellectual challenges, and not as requiring metaphysical explanations, as proponents of creationism would have it.” My emphasis Amen

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Interested in family and friends,grandchildren, photography, darkrooms, history, archaeology, scuba diving, computers, software, fast cars, journalism, writing, travel, ecology, news, science, and probably most other subjects you could think of. Did I mention family and friends?? I require iced tea or cold brewed coffee and a internet connection to be fully functional. Sometimes there are just so many words in my head they spill out.

2 Responses to Religious Attitudes in Mexico

  1. Seb says:

    I think this is pretty good. I like it!
    : P

  2. thewordofme says:

    Thanks Seb

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