Matt Grocott

In a recent column, Sue Lempert wrote about the math curriculum being proposed for our schools. I would like to commend Sue for tackling the issue. As she admitted, her expressed view was not going to sit very well with some of her friends and associates. Good for you Sue for sticking to what you believe to be right. And by the way, I agree with you. Math should not be reduced to the lowest common denominator. We should continue to offer higher level math to those who aspire to it and who are capable of tackling it.

Similar to Sue, I too am going to address an issue regarding school curriculum, but not only at the middle and high school level. Darwin’s theory of evolution is woven through teaching from preschool to the highest level of our colleges and universities.

In 1859, Charles Darwin established his theory of evolution in a book titled, “On the Origin of Species.” By the time our children graduate high school, they have been directly taught at least the basics of Darwin’s theory. It is likely they’ve been told of his five-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. It was then that he formulated his evolution hypothesis.

One of the famed stops of the HMS Beagle was the Galápagos Islands. In honor of Darwin’s research there, one of the islands was named Darwin Island. About a half mile off the coast of Darwin Island was a rock arch towering 144 feet above sea level. That structure also carried his namesake: Darwin’s Arch.

I write “was” referring to the arch because recently, the top portion of the arch collapsed into the ocean. No longer an arch but now two towers, it begs the question: Will the remaining structure retain his name? The circumstance of the arch’s collapse may be prescient to the collapse of Darwin’s theory. Fissures are certainly showing.

Even before publishing his book, scientists and professors of Darwin’s day were beginning to accept his new ideas. A fellow scientist, botanist John Stevens Henslow, put out a pamphlet containing Darwin’s geological letters for consideration by a select group. By the time of Darwin’s death in 1882, his theory was showing up in science textbooks. From that point on, it was off to the races. Soon his theory was elevated to fact.

“Darwin’s theory is … no longer a theory, but a fact … Darwinism has come of age so to speak. We are no longer having to bother about establishing the fact of evolution.” — Sir Julian Sorell Huxley; English biologist and eugenicist; (June 22, 1887 – Feb. 14, 1975).

“Today, although many educators play it safe by calling evolutionary ideas ‘theory’ instead of ‘fact,’ there is no reputable biologist who doubts that species, including Homo sapiens, have developed with time, and that they are continually, though slowly, changing.” — Isaac Asimov; professor of biochemistry, Boston University; (Jan. 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992).

“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” — Richard Dawkins, Oxford scientist and author.

Isn’t it interesting that such a hard line of opinion would be developed when Darwin himself left the door open to a ray of doubt? In a letter to a fellow scientist, he wrote: “I remember well the time when the thought of the eye made me cold all over, but I have got over this stage of the complaint, and now small trifling particulars of structure often make me very uncomfortable. The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick.” (Letter to Asa Gray, American botanist, April 3, 1860).

Precisely what concerned Darwin has evolved in the field of science. The deeper we have been able to see into the inner workings of the most basic cell, the more complexity we have found there. It confounds the idea of life evolving out of a primordial soup. To witness the most basic operation inside the simplest of cells would amaze anyone viewing it. Just as one would expect a wristwatch found at the beach to have a designer … a creator, so one would expect the cell to have a designer and creator as well.

So why do we continue with curriculum in our schools which denies the obvious? Why does modern science and academia continue in their blindness? I have a theory: The denial is tied to morality. If there is no creator, then there is no God and if God does not exist, then no arbiter of morality exists other than humankind. Tied to denial, of course, are consequences and I believe we are living in the midst of those consequences.

A former member of the San Carlos City Council and mayor, Matt Grocott has been involved in political policy on the Peninsula for 17 years. He can be reached by email at

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(11) comments


Matt describes the observation of a cell like finding a wristwatch on a beach, concluding that the complexity of both hints at a designer. A wristwatch on the beach however, would never be found in the absence of any of its components arising before. The watch emerged over time after many smaller step-wise developments: the emergence of gears and springs and screws and centuries of refining different materials. The idea that a designer landed on the perfect watch design without the invention of any of its components is preposterous, as preposterous as human beings arising without evolution.

Cindy Cornell

If morality can only come from a belief in a creator, then why do believers and their institutions rationalize and promote so many immoral things - racism, sexism, colonialism, war and subjugation? I think god gave up on the idea of forgiveness a long time ago.


Mr. Grocott,

I agree that we are living with the consequences of denial, although I am sure my thoughts on that are no doubt completely opposite of yours. I do have a question for you about the teaching of evolution vs creationism. It appears to me that you favor the divine creation rather than the evolutionary based on the idea that the more we know about things the more unlikely they evolved from one big bowl of soup. Where does the age of the earth fit in to the equation being that there is about a 4.5 billion year difference between the two?

Wilfred Fernandez Jr


Please clarify for me, the age difference question you pose for Mr. Grocott.


Good evening Wilfred,

I may have taken Mr. Grocott wrong but I got the impression that he was leaning on the creation side of things with a bit more religion than science. Many folks go with the creation, or religious view if you will, that the age of the earth is in the 10,000 year or less category. I happen to go along with the God created earth and all the things on it part of that, but maybe I would have to be an "old creationist" because I also go along with the science end of things being 4 billion years old. I have a hard time accepting that God made the earth ready to go and stuck Adam and Eve on it and said go to it, the mountains are ready for skiing and the oceans are ready for sailing.

I am not sure if that helps with what you are asking of if I just muddied the water a bit more.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr


It's only 8:25pm here in Hawaii, so good evening wishes for you as well. Once again we share common thoughts. Because I am not a theologian, I take no public position and respect the beliefs of others. I am quick to remember my youthful thoughts about God and religions. They were diametrically opposed to my current understanding. Mr. Grocott and I speak the same language so I take no issue with the spirit of his message.


When you mention Darwin brings me to my family history My father Howard Morgan testified as a Scopes student in the SCopes trial in Dayton Tennessee his picture with three other students is in the National archives in Washington he is the one with a crooked tie in the line up. The M organ family rented their home to William Jennings Bryan as the town hosted the triial in the 1920's The trial of the century then. whenever i encounter Americah History students i always ask have you studied the SCopes tral yet? one teacher was so glad to find our history she was so excited to meet us. I have this big painting of the courthoue with all the kids one being my aunt Jane I n Knoxvill airport there ia a train picture of the train that carried the body in William Jennings Bryan a pilgramage age when he died. My cousin took us on a tour when we visited years bury my aunt. Impressive courthouse tour thanks for mentioning this history for years I google dscopes trying to lokk for Howard MorganThe lightbulb moment I googled Howard morgan and there he was. claim to fame monkey backround student definitely Inherit the ?Wind fame movie. thanks for sharing this history . one of my favorite pics is a youg Howard sitting in the courtroom with tha humongous microphine testifying. Bowditch invited me to speak to the kids I took all the print outs of the newspaper archives i printed he looks so small in that courtnouse chair My aunt got form the janitor years ago..Darwins theory of evolution taught in the bible belt Turns out scopes was a sub NAACP told him to go downtown to get arrested. they wanted to test this theory of evolution.


iACLU wanted to test DArwin's theory of evoplution. l.

Terence Y

Mr. Grocott – a nice segue on broaching the subject of religion. To be educationally “equitable” both creationism and evolution should be taught in schools. BTW, you must be a hoot at Thanksgiving dinners. Meanwhile, more columns on other traditionally taboo topics such as abortion, gun control, lifestyle, money, etc.

Ray Fowler

Well, Matt, I wonder if you whacked the hornet's nest with today's column?

Hopefully, it will encourage some spirited debate and not devolve into references to the Scopes trial and Aimee Semple McPherson. I will out the rest of the day and unable to participate in the conversation. But I have one question for the evolutionists out there... how does the Cambrian Explosion factor into our understanding of evolution?


The Cambrian period had much warmer surface temperatures than the periods that came before and after (avg global temperature in the Neoproterozoic era was around 12 deg C, the Cambrian period was around 22 deg C and today's global average temp is around 14 deg C). Warmer temperatures mean faster growth / development in most organisms, and that means faster life cycles. Faster life cycles means faster population growth, faster generation times, and more rapid evolution. Evolution is a process that happens over generations so with faster generation times it's easy to imagine the rate at which selection and diversification happens speeding up as well.

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