Guided Tour Of Early Christian And Byzantine Art Sample Essay

Introduction

Byzantine art refers to the art that originated from Byzantine Empire. This empire resulted from the division that occurred in the Roman Empire, splitting the empire into two halves; the Eastern and the Western empire. This splitting also affected Italy since some parts of Italy fell under Byzantine rule. During this period, also referred to as Byzantine iconoclasm (730-843), many notable activities happened. Among such activities was the destruction of many sacred images. Due to this destruction, only a few of these sacred icons exist and are mostly found in Italy, Egypt, or Mount Sinai. However, these images have now been spread to many other parts of the world. These images are used by Christians to have various cultural, religious and conservative meanings. The purpose of this paper is to focus on Early Christian and Byzantine art, artifacts, and architecture. This will be done by identifying specific pieces by establishing their titles, artists, date of creation, original location and the media.

History of byzantine art

The byzantine art served many purposes including religious, cultural and conservative purposes although they still retained the Greek originality. Icon production returned in 1473 and by that time the byzantine art tradition adopted many changes which were attributed to the fall of the Empire. Runciman, (47) supports this saying, “there was a notable revival of the classical style in works of 10th-century court art like the Paris Psalter, and throughout the period manuscript illumination shows parallel styles, often used by the same artist, for iconic figures in framed miniatures and more informal small scenes or figures added unframed in the margins of the text in a much more realist style”. The changes continued until byzantine art started to be influenced by western European art. These changes persisted until the end of the Byzantine Empire whereby byzantine art provide models of European rulers. Cormack (117) provides an example of such changes saying, “for example Byzantine silk textiles, often woven or embroidered with designs of both animal and human figures, the former often reflecting traditions originating much further east, were unexcelled in the Christian world until almost the end of the Empire”.

However, byzantine heritage was not completely lost to western culture after the collapse of the Byzantine Empire. This heritage continued to be a source of inspiration to Christians. During this time, Christians modified the classic idiom so as to express the continued faith for the Orthodox faith. According to Lowdon (23), “early Christian art of the 3rd and 4th centuries had simply taken over the style and forms of classical paganism”. The free-standing statue was the most common art and it stressed the possibility of the physical presence of a tangible god. Due to the influence of Christianity, artists were inspired to make spiritual characters that had sacred figures. Mosaicists and painters tried as much as they could to avoid modeling figures that would suggest a tangible human creature. By the end of the 5th century, the sculpture was restricted to the use of ivory plaques. The interior adornment of the Byzantine churches preferred the use of mosaic models. Cormack (56) notes that “the small cubes, or tesserae, that composed mosaics were made of colored glass or enamels or were overlaid with gold leaf”. The luminous effects of mosaic could be felt on the walls and were well adapted in a way that it could express the specific Orthodox Christianity character.

Pieces of byzantine arts

The majority of people in the Roman Empire rejected the belief of many gods (polytheism) during the fourth and the third century. The then Roman empire had influenced many people to believe in many gods (Kleiner, 32). This change in belief system resulted in the people believing in one God or the all-powerful God. Christianity dominated this region as the most prominent religion since it had many followers. This was a move that did not impress Emperor Diocletian. As a result, the emperor got annoyed with the increasing number of Christians including in the army and he, therefore, ordered more persecutions. There existed a conflict between the Romans and the Christians. The reason for this conflict was because the Romans hated the Christians for their belief in one God who existed as a human being and that the death and resurrection of Christ guaranteed life after death for them. Another major reason for the conflict was that the Christians refused to pay homage to the official god of the Romans. This conflict continued to persist until the emperor believed that the God of Christians had power and that this power protected the Christians against evils. The Christians who lived in those days, therefore, used some artworks that had Christian values and attributes (Kleiner, 21).

Christ Pantocrator mosaic

The “Christ Pantocrator mosaic” mosaic was created between 1080 and 1100. Originally located in Greece, it is one of the names that were used to refer to God. The meaning of this art to Christians was that God was almighty or powerful meaning that he had the power to do anything. The mosaic is made up of a semi-dome icon that looked the figure of Jesus, with his right hand raised as if he was blessing or teaching. The gessoed panel of the art was painted finely by the use of wax median placed on a wooden panel. However, some changes were introduced to this mosaic later. One such change was the cleaning of the wax that was over-painted on the faces and hands; this cleaning revealed that that the mosaic was a high-quality icon. The mosaic was originally intended to represent the figure of God the creator but was later transformed to represent Jesus. This transformation came as a result of the Christological shift in the fourth century. The new meaning of the mosaic was to refer to Jesus as a powerful judge of human life (Lowdon, 24).

Trinity life

The sculptor was developed in the early 15th century. The sculptor was made of a combination of some hard materials such as marble, metal, or glass and some soft ones like clay and polymers. The materials used were hardened through firing, joined through welding, and modified through carving (Runciman, 23). The sculptor was decorated by painting the surface. The sculptor represented dying Christ held by an angel preventing him from falling. The hands of Christ were crowned with thorns, his mouth and eyes were slightly open. The chest and hands of Christ had a network of veins that indicated that he was body did not appear as that of a normal human being. The sculptor enhanced this by coloring the skin with various tones while the wounds were painted with red color. However, the faces and hands of God and the angel were painted with a color indicating naturalistic coloring. According to Kleiner (45), this “relief is stylistically indebted to Late Gothic Netherlandish realism”. The sculptor represented the dying Christ which was interpreted by Christians as the sacrifice that Jesus. Kleiner (45) argued that “theologically, this shows the acceptance of the sacrifice through which the divine plan of salvation can be fulfilled”.

The holy trinity
The holy trinity 28,5 x 16,3 cm. Liebighaus, Frankfurt.

Lamentation by Giotto

The first painting of this byzantine art was created by an anonymous artist in 1164. This art was located in the city of Nerezi in Macedon. The other byzantine was developed by Giotto between 1304 and 1306 in Padua Italy. According to Lowdon (112), the art represented “the Virgin Mary embracing the deposed Christ, the curved body of the disciple holding the hand of Christ, within a very briefly indicated location and schematic spatial setting”. The art was designed using a two-dimensional concept of painting which made it differ from Hellenistic art. For instance, tonal and color modulation was employed. Giotto’s figure was solidly unified using the spatial setting.

Cubicula

Cubicula were small rooms that were meant to act as mortuary chapels in the catacombs. An example of such a cubiculum was the one that was designed at the Saints Peter and Marcellinus catacombs in Rome (Kleiner, 45). This cubiculum had a ceiling that was painted at the center and it had a big cross that symbolized the Christian faith. There are four semi-circular frames at the end of the arms which contained various episodes about the story of Jonah in the Old Testament. Runciman (123) describes that episode of Jonah as “on the left, the sailor threw him out of his ship, he emerges on the right from the whale that swallowed him, at the bottom, safe on land, and Jonah contemplates the miracle of his salvation and the mercy of God”.

An interpretation of this art was that; there was an important role that was played by the Old Testament. This was because Jesus was a Jew and therefore most of his followers were people who were converted to follow the Jewish customs. Therefore the Christian arts reflected how messages of the Old Testament played a prophetic role by predicting what would happen in the New Testament. An example of this message in the art was the use of Jonah to prophesy a certain message (Kleiner, 66). Jesus himself used this same story of Jonah in the New Testament when he said that Jonah spent three days in the belly of a sea monster and finally he was saved. By using this message, Jesus wanted to imply that he would die and resurrect on the third day. Therefore, cubicula were designed with a brown color that symbolized the agony that Jonah underwent in the process of completing the mission he was sent to do. Every step in the first three edges of the cross symbolized that Jonah really suffered in the course of his mission. However, the final edge of the cross had the picture of Jonah proclaiming the miracles and praising the works of God. The message that Christians got from this art was that; every follower of Christ would be subjected to suffering for a short period but will later be saved by God and be rewarded an everlasting life.

Cubicula

Jonah lunettes

Jonah’s lunette was used to design this byzantine art which was found in Rome. There was at least one child, a man and a woman in every compartment. In every compartment, there were praying figures (orants), with their arms raised in a traditional way of worship. The art was designed in a way that the praying figures raised their hands together and in a united manner. This was interpreted by Christians to mean that Christian families from different sections of life should worship together in order to seek the kingdom of God. Lowdon (143) describes early Christian art as “Christ often appears as the youthful and loyal protector of the Christian flock”. Christians used this phrase in the art to understand how they were supposed to worship together as a member of the same family.

Sarcophagus

This art was preferred by the Christians who were wealthy at that time. These Christians behaved like pagans. It was designed by Junius Bassus in the city of Rome (Kleiner, 46). The art was designed to have two registers, each having five compartments that were framed with columns. The frame was ten inches and was filled with stories of the old and New Testament. Jesus was designed to take a place in each register at the central compartment. Jesus was also enthroned as a teacher with two of his disciples Paul and Peter entering Jerusalem on a donkey. The upper zone of the art was designed to have Jesus sitting above the sky as a roman emperor holding a mantle. The sarcophagus was designed to convince Christians that Jesus was really the king of the universe. However, the two compartments on the upper right showed that Jesus was later arrested and led to Pontius Pilate for judgment. The Romans judged Jesus for blasphemy and condemned him to death and which he later rose.

Old Saint Peter church plan

The early Christians used private houses which were modeled in order to accommodate a small group of worshippers. The sponsorship that was introduced by Constantine led to the urgency for constructing churches. The emperor believed that it was the god of the Christians who provided him victory and therefore, there was a need to appreciate and protect the Christians within the empire.

The new buildings which were built to act as churches were required to meet the liturgy of Christianity.

The old saint peter was the largest church built during the Constantine era. It is this same site that the modern saint peter church in Rome is built. Peter was the first founder of this church and was buried beneath it (Kleiner, 56). Christians excavated the floor and built a monument in honor of the first Christian martyr. The old saint Peter was built in a different way from other temples in the empire. This was because Christians did not have their ways of worship to be considered similar to those of the pagans. Lowden (45) notes that “it had a wide central nave (300 feet long) with flanking aisles and apse at the end”. It also had a courtyard that preceded the central nave. The reason for this was; when the Christians got out of the nave, they would see the alter without any obstruction. According to Cormack (134), “unlike the Roman temples, Old Saint Peter’s did not have a sculptor-filled pediment to impress those approaching the church. Their early Christians interpreted this design by the architects as a way to break the similarity between their church and the pagan’s temples.

The interior design of Saint Peter’s church in Rome
The interior design of Saint Peter’s church in Rome.

Conclusion

This paper has identified some of the byzantine arts that were used by the early Christians. According to the analysis of the design of the arts, it was identified that those arts had unique designs and were meant to deliver specific messages to Christians. Most of the arts were about the journey that Christians would undergo in their quest for the everlasting life promised to them by their leader Jesus. Therefore Jesus was used in most of the journeys to show the Christians what was expected of them.

Works Cited

Cormack, Robin. Painting the Soul; Icons, Death Masks and Shrouds, London: Reaktion Books, 1997.

Kleiner, Fred. Gardner’s Art: A Concise Western History. (Second Edition). New York: Cengage Learning Inc, 2009.

Lowdon, John. Early Christian & Byzantine. 2008. Web.

Runciman, Steven. Byzantine Style and Civilization. 2006. Web.

Teaching Intelligent Design At Schools

Intelligent Design or ID has emerged as a controversial issue in recent years in the United States of America. The question of whether Intelligent Design can be introduced in schools has invited numerous reactions, some very vitriolic, from diverse quarters like the church, school boards, parents of school-going children, the media, national health agencies, university professors and other educationists, authors, the print media, politicians, and other individuals. The reaction of each is only influenced by his or her personal agenda, and many expositions on the issue can be perceived to be biased, neither objective nor reasonable, and generally not in the interests of educational or scientific advancement. One can safely assume as relevant that the larger issue involved behind the controversy should be to consider whether or not Intelligent Design should be introduced in schools and whether this can be allowed to be a part of the regular school curriculum. This again implies that several larger issues need be considered for arriving at a rational, objective, legal, and proper position in this regard which would safeguard, among other things, the rights of the individual for free thought and expression and to practice religion, the rights of the growing child to acquire knowledge free from dogma, bias, or irrational considerations, the best interests of the nation, its educational system, constitution and people, and the right of the individual also to exercise free personal choice. However, the basic issue boils down to the question of whether Intelligent Design is a science or not, as compared to evolution, which has proven resilient, in most studies conducted to study its tenets across decades of research and analysis. This is because educationists cannot be seen to include a subject which is unscientific, and seen as a form of religious fundamentalism and hence non-secular, and in as much as related pedagogical considerations must essentially be seen to be rational, relevant, scientific, modern, and un-biased of approach for proper development of child education as per state policy. The issues, hence, need further amplification to understand them better, critically analyze them same and then take a rational stand.

A most common view of Intelligent Design is that it is an extension of the theory of creationism. It is against Darwin’s theory of evolution (1859), and authors like Forest and Gross (2004, pp. 191-214) even consider the ID as a covert form of creationism. In as much as the study of evolution is a part of the standard course in biological science, ID directly confronts evolution and, by extension, the teaching of science and its established principles. It is no wonder that scientists and educationists are up in arms against the introduction of ID in schools. To compound matters, it is also seen as a veiled attempt to introduce religion in the school curriculum. Old-earth creationists had maintained that God had individually created plants & animals as a sequential process over extended ages, and also that it was God who, through biological processes, created the species and their diversities (Scott, 1999, pp. 361-372). The creationists do not believe in common descent as propounded by Darwin, which theorizes that present-day animals and plants have evolved from earlier simpler organisms. However, creationism has been found to clearly violate the Establishment Clause and hence, cannot be taught in a social science course {e.g.: Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987)}. Intelligent Design stands on two pillars, one – that of “irreducible complexity” as propounded by Behe (1996) and which only reasserts Paley’s theory (1802) which stated that evolution by itself could not explain the complex nature of organisms and that the Creator or God was the intelligent producer of such complex life forms, and another due to Dembski (1999: pp. 14 -15; 2001: p. 224) who outlined an odds-based approach which consisted in first searching for complex patterns in nature and then establishing that the mathematical odds of such patterns coming into existence randomly and without the direct intervention of an intelligent creator were extremely low. Both these pillars thus give the theory of Intelligent Design a scientific flavor, although, unlike evolution, its concepts have not been tested to establish the concepts as true fact.

Another aspect of the controversy is the involvement of religion. Christians believe in “divine creation”, that God has created the earth, nature, and all things in this world. To the religious orthodox believer, the theory of natural selection, which was what Darwin’s evolutionary theory was all about, as because the same discounted divine involvement in the process of creation of life and its forms, was contrary to what constituted true theism. While this controversy has been in existence since the time of Darwin’s postulation of evolutionary theory, recent and open support for Intelligent Design, which expounds on the direct role of a Creator or God in nature’s evolution, has only served to ignite a fire always ready to ignite, that of religious fundamentalism. The District Court in the now famous Dover Trial (Kitzmiller v/s Dover Area Sch. Dist., 400 F. Supp. 2d 707, 709 (M.D. Pa, 2005) had observed that Intelligent Design as explained by its chief proponents could not be termed as a valid scientific theory as it had neither been published in peer-reviewed journals, nor tried to prove its theory through research and testing, or even found acceptance among the scientific fraternity. The learned court viewed the ID as theology, and not science. Further, Judge Jones stated that ID espoused supernatural causation, was similar to creationism in that, its concept of irreducible complexity was an illogical dualism, and hence, also that, it could not be included in the school curriculum as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution. He struck down the Dover School Board’s decision to introduce ID as a part of its course as unconstitutional.

An alternative to evolution and ID is theistic evolution, as often cited by many Christian educators. This theory attempts to bring together evolution and creation concepts by stating that evolution was one method adopted by God in order to create and sustain the world and its life forms. In fact, one of the most well-known scientific organizations, The American Association for the Advancement of Science also maintains that ID is irrelevant and that there are no scientific means of testing ID concepts, for it to be treated as a science. Interestingly, the National Council of Churches Committee on Public Education and Literacy, after the Dover ruling, brought out various materials that espoused the cause of religion, extolled the intimate relationship between science and religion, and also saw the embrace of science as a way of appreciation of God’s creative beauty and complexity. Scott (2009, p. 19) goes further when she says that, “the question whether God created the world, cannot be assessed by science”. To the influential American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Foundation, Inc or ACLU of Utah (2006, pp. 1-3), theories like the ID are nothing but “semantic glosses on the underlying creationist concept of a supernatural designer unknowable by science, the creation of all living species by non-natural processes, and opposition to the scientific theory of evolution” The learned court in course of the Dover Trail also repeated the views of Pennock (p. 41) by stating that ID was based upon a false dichotomy, since, it only tried to confirm itself through discrediting evolution. Additionally, the prestigious National Association for Science or NAS was also quoted as stating that, “creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species were not science since they were not testable by scientific methods”.

The issue also needs to examine the basic tenets of evolution in order to arrive at a rational view on the same. Evolution, as it stands, relies on certain assumptions. For one, evolution relies to a large extent on the age of the earth as being somewhere around 4 billion years (Dalrymple, p.474). For another, evolutionists maintain that humans evolved as many as 5.7 million years back from chimpanzees (Cavalli-Sforza L.L. & Cavalli-Sforza, F. p. 40) and the present-day human form i.e., homo- sapiens-sapiens originated in Africa around 100,000 years back (Cavalli-Sforza, L.L. & Cavalli-Sforza, F., p. 51). Such evolution of homo- sapiens-sapiens from primates has been proved by the existence of fossil evidence as supported by methods of research in molecular biology, including the human genome project. The newer strains of the virus, microbes, etc are based on natural selection of mutants randomly, and the survival of the fittest, an integral part of the process of evolution, has been well demonstrated by the increasingly resistant nature of bacteria to antibiotics, plant herbicides, and chemotherapy (NAS, 1999). The very immunity of the body to disease is due to natural selection (Schlenke and Begun, pp. 1471-1480). The success of the application of Darwinism to various biological, medical, physical, biochemical, and other branches of science, as also the utility of the theory of evolution in forming the basis of the modern biological theory itself, works substantially in favor of the concept of evolution, unlike creationism or its current version, Intelligent Design, which can in no way be regarded as a scientific theory whose tenets have been tested to be true by means of known scientific methods of research and analysis. On the other hand, evolution has convincingly explained the origin of life on earth as also the diversities of life forms. In fact, among biologists, the present-day buzzword is Evo-Devo or developmental evolutionary biology, which brings together common evolutionary issues in phylogeny and the theories of molecular and cellular processes (Carroll).

A common view in the educational fraternity argument of the US is that students should themselves be allowed to choose between evolution and ID and be able to critically analyze the options. While critical analysis would be to advantage to the student, it still needs to be considered whether, a controversial subject like ID, once introduced as part of the regular school curriculum, would not impose more such controversial decisions upon educationists, which could adversely impact student interests as also the interests of the nation. And that too, ID appears to have, as per the expert opinion, no roots in scientific reasoning or, for that matter, in even a theory that can be tested- if at all it can be-and till now appears a poor substitute for explaining creation as the theory of evolution can do. Actually, a theory, by very definition, permits being tested and, if proved true, can be converted to a law. Intelligent Design exhibits no such characteristics that define a theory. Hence, at least on the face of it, it would seem that the consideration of the introduction as part of the school curriculum of a topic like Intelligent Design, whose credentials as a theory is dubious, does in no way warrant a discussion nor its perceived merits guarantee it a valid entry in the school curriculum.

Then there remains the question of free choice, freedom to the practice of one’s religion, and the fundamental rights allowed in a free society. Regarding the religious aspects of the controversy, the US Constitution very clearly appears to protect freedom of personal religion and the right to practice one’s own religion. The founding fathers of the Constitution envisaged a secular state in a social-democratic environment. But the First Amendment to the US Constitution very clearly forbids by inference, the inclusion of any form of dogma or religious bigotry in schools. In fact, in an article in Eurozine, Pereto (2006, pp. 1-9) has even considered the controversy relating to the introduction of ID in schools as an assault on science. Even Scott and Matzke, 2007, pp. 8669-8676) aver that “due to its support from those outside the scientific community, Intelligent Design is a substantial assault on the integrity of science education“. Thus, while free choice is desirable in a democratic society, yet, the state often has to decide whether or not to allow its citizens the freedom that it wants, in the larger interests of the nation or state. Research in education and psychology has also confirmed how most college students lack an understanding of evolutionary theory but also find no link between comprehending evolutionary theory and viewing the same as truth (Brem, S.K., Ranney, M., and Schindel, J.E., 2003, pp.181-206). Various studies have also shown that “students have deep-rooted misconceptions on evolution and these misconceptions conform with consistent and alternate theories on evolution and which are markedly immune to educational instruction” (Cummins, C.L., Demastes, S.S., and Hafner, M.S., 1994, pp. 445-448). This may also perhaps explain why so many Americans feel strongly on the issue but exhibit little knowledge of evolution and its complexities which implies that they may be less equipped to judge what should and should not be included in their school curriculum. Innocent minds of children are very susceptible to things and what is taught to them during growing up years do bear upon their future attitudes and outlook towards life. In that sense, it is better that controversies are avoided by school boards so that scientific principles as also the best interests of all students are not compromised.

The considered opinion of experts in the field can be regarded as important observations that can count towards deciding on the issue in question, viz., whether to introduce Intelligent Design in schools or not. One such expert, who is against ID, at least in its present form, is Taner Edis, an Associate Professor at Truman State University. According to him, “intelligence itself appears to be a product of combinations of chance and necessity, where Darwinian processes are critically important in producing genuine novelty” (Edis, p.190) He also maintains that “biology also combines chance and necessity in its central theories” (p. 192). He continues in the same vein when he says that “In the study of complexity, the overwhelming trend is toward an invigorating synthesis of perspectives from biology, physics, computer science, and other relevant disciplines. So it is very implausible that ID should be correct. Most scientists who pay any attention to ID, therefore, ignore the substantive claims involved in ID and concentrate on countering its political influence” (pp. 192-193). He is generally of the view that Intelligent Design is a poor explanation for the complexity of nature and it is only Darwinism that can best explain such complexities through the biological study of variation and selection as expounded in Darwin’s theory of evolution (pp.195-196). Scott and Matzke opine that ID is not suited for teaching in public schools, since it promotes a sectarian form of religion, is a failure as a science, and not proved itself as worthy of being taught at schools. They also maintain that ID only presents an impoverished and pre-modern explanation of complex functional phenomena in biology, in contrast to the highly fertile and unifying principles of modern evolution theory (p. 8675). Another author, Pereto views both creationism and Intelligent Design as inadequate in satisfactorily explaining evolution since it, in his view, ‘involves the surrender of reason’. He also maintains that only Darwin’s theory of evolution needs to be perfected so as to gain a better understanding of the natural world (p.1) He also believes that rigorous research undertaken in biological experiments establish universal truths, which permit verification by all, anywhere in the world and are perfectly unrelated with any ideological leanings or bias of any kind. But the same, he says, cannot be said to be true of creationism – and by inference Intelligent Design – which is neither universal nor established by experimental research of natural phenomena (p. 2). He echoes many other authors when he says that intelligent design theory cannot be termed as a science by usual criteria that are considered in the case of other sciences (p. 5). In another observation in an article, Miller, J.D., Scott, E.C., and Okamoto, S., (2006) opined that there was a need to teach primary concepts of evolution in school and college biology classes through informal learning avenues because, as they could infer from relevant data, much of present-day science education seemed ineffective while the subject of biological science itself appeared to be merging with other sciences (p. 766).

Coyne (2005) presents a convincing argument against the very concept of Intelligent Design. He observes that “Intelligent Design or creationism was an unscientific, faith-based theory which ultimately rested on fundamentalist Christianity”. He states that ID has not been able to stand the test of scientific scrutiny. He cites examples from nature that lend support to his viewpoint. He says, quoting one example, that organisms in the world are actually not intelligently designed. He cites as a fact that some intelligent designer could not have been the cause of flaws that can be perceived in biological nature in plenty. For instance, at a time when reptiles evolved into mammals, how come, he questions, the supposedly Intelligent Creator-produced animals having both reptilian and mammalian characteristics. The same Creator could not be termed intelligent when he produced the Kiwi birds without functional wings. An Intelligent Creator could not so produce, Coyne continues, cave animals with useless eyes, the human fetus with a transitory coat of hair, or even multiple species only to let them perish, and then again to generate more species, or to continue in this way, without any obvious reason or planned design. He also questions why the process of preparation of Vitamin C in the body was previously found to exist in humans, but later on, became defunct because of a disabled enzyme if at all the same had been the design of an Intelligent Creator. He himself answers his questions by saying that there could only be two answers to this, one being that life was a result of evolution, and not by Intelligent Design, or, taking an extreme view in stating the second answer, that the Creator was a prankster who designed things just so that they seemed to have evolved, naturally, and which answer would not be liked by religious people or some others. Coyle says that ID would be acceptable, if and when, it could be rigorously tested and spawned scientific research. Additionally, ID has been found to violate the US Constitution and cannot be treated as good education. One argument that shows the intrinsic fallibility of ID, which argues against evolution through the process of natural selection as propounded by Darwin and supports the concept of creation by design, is that, some parts of the ID theory itself admits that some evolutionary change, at least, is caused through natural selection. These changes or microevolution includes among others, the variations in resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, changes in moth’s color proportions to help it fight against predation by birds, and even alterations due to artificial selection (as quoted from “Of Pandas and Peoples” by Davis, P. and Kenyon, D.H.). Coyne both cites and presents the various evidence as proof of his support for evolution and his arguments against Intelligent Design as a relevant, logical, scientific and acceptable theory of creation and reasons for diversity of species as seen in nature. His arguments, written just before the Dover Trial ended, and which he predicted would be in favor of evolution protagonists and against supporters of Intelligent Design, perhaps constitutes the last word and clinching argument that creationism or Intelligent Design, at least in the present form, has no place in the curriculum of US schools and cannot possibly replace the well-entrenched, scientifically established concept of Darwinian evolution or theory of natural selection, till such time, when a really alternate, better, authentic, and scientifically proved theory can be evolved. (pp. 21–33)

At the end, it need not be re-emphasized that ID is only a poor substitute for Darwin’s evolution theory. While different authors may have different viewpoints, the presentment of various sides to the controversy, as also an impartial analysis of the issues involved, has been attempted through this paper, however insufficient or irrelevant, some may perceive the same. It still needs to be made clear at the end that education is a subject that needs to be handled with care. The question of whether evolution or Intelligent Design is to be taught in schools, or whether Intelligent Design warrants its selection as an essential part of modern biology in schools, particularly in the US, can be best decided by students, their parents, educators, scientists, policy makers and, perhaps, the general public or lay citizens of the country. An attempt is being made by the various competing groups in the controversy to pitch their side of the arguments, without thought for the welfare of the students, or even the US education system as a whole. Once a decision is made and a system introduced, its effects, whether good or bad, can only be known with time and through the repercussions of the system so introduced upon the people involved. The policy makers and politicians have a responsibility in this respect to do what is just and not introduce a system of religious parochialism which fosters on discontent with a system and gives vent to unreasonable demands. Human perception on any issue is obviously veiled by any deficiencies in perception that the person himself or herself possesses. Much is yet unknown in this universe and even science has not been able to deliver the right answers in a host of mysteries and unsolved cases on this earth spread over ages of time. Scientists, perhaps, also need to delve within and find their own shortcomings that may circumscribe their understanding of the earth and all creation. A biased attitude would not in any way further the cause of either science or education. A case in point is the fact that scientists have some prejudices themselves with regards to religion and view anything other than something in keeping with their own theories and reasoning as false and not a fact of nature. A personal opinion is that the human ego can cloud all human perceptions and prevent an otherwise rational human being from unearthing or knowing actual truth. There is then this to ponder. Do we realize that the human being itself may be perceived as a part of the nature that we so wish to study and comprehend? In Physics, we know of a reference frame. Can something within a reference frame behave similarly outside that reference frame, when not subjected to identical system of forces, etc? Do we not judge others more impartially and better, if we ourselves are not related to the issue or are not a related party? We leave it at that. Let the intelligent ponder the questions raised through this paper and, hopefully, the world would be infinitely better, and move in the right direction in time to come.

References

ACLU of Utah, 2006, “the Teaching of Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Divine Design in Public Schools”. Web.

Behe, M.J. 1996, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Simon & Schuster

Behe, M.J., 2006, “Whether intelligent design is science: a response to the opinion of the court in Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District”, 1–12.

Bowman, K.E., 2006, “Seeing government purpose through the objective observer’s eyes: The evolution-intelligent design debate”, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol 29, pp. 418-490

Brem, S.K., Ranney, M. and Schindel, J.E., 2003, “The perceived consequences of evolution: college students perceive negative personal and social impact in evolutionary theory”, Science Education, 87, pp. 181–206

Carroll, S. B., 2005, Endless forms most beautiful: The new science of evo devo and the making of the animal kingdom, New York: W. W. Norton.

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Coyne, J., 2005, “The Faith that dare not speak its name: the case against Intelligent Design”, The New Republic, pp. 21-33

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Reevaluation Of American Space Policy: Obama’s Decision

Introduction

Reevaluation of American space policy is one of the essential parts of the Obama Administration program. President’s proposal to reorganize NASA and to cancel both Space Shuttle and Constellation programs was criticized by his opponents. Obama’s speech at Kennedy Space Center in April 2010 was aimed at providing strong arguments for reevaluating the space policy and shedding light upon perspectives of development of the Orion Capsule, construction of the heavy-lift vehicle, exploration of Mars, and near-earth asteroid.

Political Issues concerning President’s decisions

Obama pointed at the devastating effects of choosing inconsistent and unachievable goals by his predecessors. Making the goals of space exploration more precise and defining more or less concrete time frames for reaching them makes the new plan sound more persuasive.

The objective of NASA is to develop technologies that will enable astronauts to travel in space faster, farther, and at a lower cost. The main purpose of these researches is to reduce the time that astronauts spent in open space while domesticating it. Developing this technology should ensure the safety of the astronauts, and the solution to this problem is of paramount importance. The president admitted that in the next 10 years, the systems required for exploration of the objects beyond the earth’s orbit would be tested and a new spacecraft will have been developed by 2025. This will make the first mission into deep space possible (Gangale 15).

President Obama promised that the budget allocation to NASA would be increased to six billion for making the development of spacecraft possible. The President said that these measures are of great political importance not only because they will enable the country to explore new places, but by creating approximately 2500 jobs they will open up new career opportunities for those who may have some interest in the space beyond the earth orbit (Morgan 34). Reaching these goals and seeking new frontiers is expected to be consequential for the future of humanity both in space and on earth. Additionally, it would enable the researchers to get more information on the changes in the climate and other environmental problems. This will enable the country to develop strategies aimed at protecting the environment for the benefit of future generations. Testing capabilities in space and opening a new chapter in the space exploration policy will result in America’s leadership in space as well as strengthening its leadership on earth.

Benefits of the new space policy program

The changes in the space exploration policy would be helpful for the development of the state economy and strengthening its positions in the world’s arena (Jones 7). Its main benefits are creating new vacancies during the development of new programs strengthening the state economy and contributing to scientific knowledge as opposed to the critical remarks concerning the job losses caused by the cancellation of Constellation and Space Shuttle programs and reorganization of NASA.

Giving preference to services of private companies for space transportation, Obama Administration opens up new opportunities for minimizing the expenses and improving the safety standards. In reality, paying for the services of transportation instead of buying the means could be more effective for further space exploration.

Future missions and destinations for space exploration

The main advantage of Obama’s policy is defining the intermediary goals. For example, the Orion capsule is initially modified into an emergency escape capsule as well as exploring the near-earth asteroid before landing on Mars. In fact, choosing more achievable goals, Obama managed to provide the rationale for reevaluating the space policy. Investments in the development of a heavy-lift rocket are expected to be beneficial for further domesticating space by humans. Paying attention to the development of follow-on technologies and trying to solve the problems of energy supply and shielding the astronauts from radiation, the new program seems to be rather realistic. Like most other innovations, the new space policy program first was met at dagger points because the community was not ready for significant changes. Asserting that the canceled programs were beyond the budget and lacked innovations and perspectives, Obama is aimed at reaching the chosen goals instead of proclaiming the mythical objectives.

What happened in the aftermath of President Obama Decision?

The main components required for the development of national space programs are the evaluation of financial and technical resources, meeting the legal requirements (on both national and international levels), political and public support of the program. The focus has been shifted from NASA to the private sector (Jones 13). This decision is aimed at providing additional opportunities for solving financial problems. It was arrived at after realizing the fact that the private sector will help in developing spacecraft faster and at a lower cost compared to organizations in the public sector. However, privatization will reduce the government’s control functions. This will in turn reduce its ruling power, becoming less influential for the everyday life of common people.

Complaints concerning the President Obama decision

There has been a lot of criticism of President Obama’s decision to explore Mars. For example, there is a claim that there might be some contaminants in these parts of solar systems putting at risk the astronauts’ health. Another complaint that has been put across is related to the financial requirements for undertaking the project. There are claims that the budget may not be insufficient for developing the required spacecraft and therefore it could have been better to continue exploring Mars and asteroids as the government look for extra funds to develop new systems. In addition, there are arguments that there is a lot of information that could be collected from the moon before deciding to start exploring Mars and asteroids. This will lead to more expenses and since the government does not have enough money, it will be forced to rely on other nations and this will involve other nations in the exploration process.

Conclusion

Astronomy is important in a number of ways. Besides aiding people in the process of domesticating space, it allows researchers to get more information about the current state and historical development of this planet. For many years, America has been sending astronauts to the moon conducting researches in the frames of the NASA space program. However, in the 21st century, President Obama announced his decision to change the NASA space program from exploring Moon to Astroid and Mars exploration. This resulted in an increment in the money allocated to NASA programs aimed at developing a spacecraft allowing scientists to travel to Mars, spend more time there, and return to earth safely. Despite the benefits of the decision, some individuals are criticizing it, denying the importance of investments in the exploration of space, while the state does not lack for problems on earth.

Works Cited

Gangale, Thomas, Michael Hearsey, and Marilyn Dudley-Flores. Critiquing Rationales in Space Policy Proposals: Developing a Methodology for Evaluating Space Policy. AIAA Space 2009 Conference and Exhibition, 2009. Web.

Jones, Richard. President Obama Details Administration’s New Space Exploration Policy. American Institute of Physics. 2010. Web.

Morgan, Daniel. The Future of NASA: Space Policy Issues Facing Congress. Federation of American Scientists, 2010. Web.