Thoughts of an American Centrist

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Evolution is Fact. Here is Why I'm a Creationist.

While in the comments section of The Yellow Line's post "The Evolution of Science Class," (great title, BTW), I have noticed a peculiar phenomenon: because I believe that God created the universe (and am not afraid to explain my reasons why), people automatically assume that I favor teaching Creationism in biology class. The fact of the matter is, I don't.

The question that puzzles most people is "why I would not want something taught in schools that I believe is true." The answer is really quite simple: science and religion are two separate fields. The only reason that we talk about both in the same breath is because the two have been artificially intertwined by advocates on both sides. Science and religion explain two different regions of our awareness that have little or no overlap. Call them what you like - fact and faith, reason and intuition, objectivity and philosophy - the two operate in separate realms of our consciousness that were never meant to compete.

Fact and faith are mutually exclusive when applied to the same problem, and therefore must inhabit separate spaces. In most cases, this is not an issue. Take the example of a murder trial: science and reasoning (hopefully) lead us to decide guilt of innocence, while subjective moral consideration determines our sentencing laws. The two principles peacefully coexist.

In the realm of biodiversity, however, faith has trodden in the realm of science. Science makes no claims of replacing religion as a moral guidebook. The trouble arises when people try to use the Bible as a science book. When this happens, a misguided combination of faith and assumptive reasoning overrides scientific evidence. Look, people, the Bible is not a science text. In my Bible at home, the creation story covers about a page and a half of a 1500 page tome. What is written about creation is an annotation issued to people with primitive scientific knowledge. In God's eyes, this brief primer was good enough. He wanted us to know that He created the Earth, but didn't feel it at all necessary to explain His mechanism for creation any more than He felt it necessary to explain genetics when he told Adam and Eve to "go forth an multiply."

In the millennia since the time of Moses, we have learned a smidgen more about the natural world around us. Mendel, Darwin, Watson & Crick, and countless others have since explained and proven how species evolved, reproduce, and continue to evolve. This is well established scientific fact. This should be taught in the biology classroom. My faith leads me to look at the complexity of the world around me, and the complexity of life. I ask, "How could all this beauty and intricacy have happened without a guiding hand?" That is philosophy. That question should be asked in Sunday School, or perhaps a philosophy classroom. It should not be answered, one way or the other, in a science classroom because science does not have the tools to answer it.

One subject. Two questions. Two answers based on very different parts of my understanding.

36 Comments:

  • I agree and make a similar argument on my blog, http://moderatemusings.blogspot.com, though I have concerns with the scientific community as well.

    By Blogger Clint Carrens, at 9:11 PM  

  • Hey Moderate Man,

    Nice to have you back! "Moderate Musings" was actually my first choice for a blog name, but since it was already taken, I had to choose something different!

    I read your post on the issue, and you make some pretty good points. It was very well written, even though I do disagree with you on the reliability of Evloution. Also, what are your views about Evolution and Creationism living peacefully as non-exclusionary theories? I personally don't see any reason why they cannot both be true.

    In any case, welcome back, and I hope you're back for good!

    By Blogger Jonathan C, at 10:08 AM  

  • Brilliantly put, Jonathan. I would hope that we come to hear more often from people that share your views. As with all things, the extremists get all the press, and the more reasoned voices are drowned out in the process. Yours is a perspective that needs to overcome the cacophony.

    By Blogger Cantankerous Bitch, at 10:41 AM  

  • "Science makes no claims of replacing religion as a moral guidebook."

    Science doesn't but "scientism," or philosophical materialism, does. There is a whole morality based on popular notions of evolutionary psychology, which excuses a lot of bad behavior by saying it's what our genes want (e.g. male promiscuity), and which cannot find any better explanation for self-restraint, cooperation, altruism, and self-sacrifice except that it somehow helped the genome, in the form of close kin, survive.

    By Blogger amba, at 11:24 AM  

  • Amba,

    Isn't that just philosophy using science as a premise? You do bring up a good point. It is possible to create a moral structure on just about anything, including science. That moral structure itself does not qualify as part of the scientific method, however.

    Science could state that primitive tribes were able to survive by banding together and pooling resources. A moral stance based on that science could say that it is our responsibility to help our community.

    By Blogger Jonathan C, at 11:46 AM  

  • I don't believe in god, but I like the way you think.

    Good post.

    By Blogger PusBoy, at 11:52 PM  

  • The détente position you articulate is one that I’ve heard before and is fairly common. Why can’t we all get along? Let the theologians have their sphere and the scientists theirs. On the surface, it sounds good, and while I agree that there is no necessary conflict between science and faith (I myself believe that the evidence from science supports my faith), the argument you make ends up gutting both theism and naturalism. Let’s see if I can’t take a shot at explaining why.

    First, the distinction between so-called faith and reason isn’t as clear-cut as you make it out to be. When Carl Sagan says, for example,
    “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” (source: http://en.thinkexist.com/quotes/dr._carl_sagan)

    Is this, as you say, fact or faith?

    Most establishment scientists answer with a passionate “fact” and have no trouble giving Sagan a place of prominence in the science classroom. But what if we were to preface his quotation with “It is not the case that…” or perhaps to re-write it like this:
    “Who are we? No other known earth-like planets exist anywhere in the universe. Therefore, we find that we live on a unique planet of a significant star located in a particular galaxy, which appears to have been fine-tuned to allow for life on earth.”

    Now, in the mind of these same establishment scientists, when we make such a statement we have crossed over the line from “science” to “religion.” But why? Both statements are philosophical conclusions, and yet one is “science” and the other, “religion.” Why is this? The former is allowed and encouraged; the latter vilified.

    The reason statements like my revision of Sagan are rejected by much of modern science (and evolutionary biology in particular) is because of its philosophical foundation, which is philosophical naturalism, the belief that matter and energy is all that there is and when you add time this great Holy Trinity can create just about anything. Consider the following quotations:

    Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with deterministic principles or chance. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable. The frequently made assertion that modern biology and the assumptions of the Judaeo-Christian tradition are fully compatible is false.” William B. Provine, “Progress in Evolution and Meaning in Life,” in Evolutionary Progress, ed. Matthew H. Nitecki (University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 65 (source: http://www.errantskeptics.org/Quotes_Evolution.htm)

    "Darwinism is a creed not only with scientists committed to document the all-purpose role of natural selection. It is a creed with masses of people who have at best a vague notion of the mechanism of evolution as proposed by Darwin, let alone as further complicated by his successors. Clearly, the appeal cannot be that of a scientific truth but of a philosophical belief which is not difficult to identify. Darwinism is a belief in the meaninglessness of existence."—R. Kirk, "The Rediscovery of Creation," in National Review, (May 27, 1983), p. 641.(source: http://www.pathlights.com/ce_encyclopedia/01-evol2.htm)

    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A.E. Housman put it: ‘For Nature, heartless, witless Nature Will neither care nor know.’ DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. ~ Richard Dawkins (source: http://bevets.com/evolution.htm)

    These are three quotes of the 100’s that I could have dug up, had I been that motivated. Now, I don’t know about you, but the God I believe in cannot be rightly described in terms like “blind pitiless indifference,” “meaningless of existence,” “no purposive principles whatsoever,” or certainly, “no gods, and no designing forces that are rationally detectable.” And yet, this is what Darwinism teaches and, in fact, requires.

    The bottom line is this: theism says God exists and has certain characteristics; Darwin counters with the view that God absolutely does not exist any more than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
    It is possible that one or the other perspective, or perhaps neither, is right. But the view that they are both right is just not intellectually tenable. God cannot exist for me and not exist for Carl Sagan.

    Thanks for your time

    By Anonymous Steve, at 1:22 PM  

  • Discussion continued here.

    By Blogger Jonathan C, at 1:53 PM  

  • Steve said... "Darwin counters with the view that God absolutely does not exist any more than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny."

    Where does Darwin say this?

    By Blogger jules_siegel, at 1:25 PM  

  • "In God's eyes, this brief primer was good enough. He wanted us to know that He created the Earth, but didn't feel it at all necessary to explain His mechanism for creation"

    Did 'He' not foresee these future problems of interpretation or did 'He' not care?

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