Religion vs. Science?

Howard Hughes Medical Institute hosts an annual Holiday Lecture Series on Science. The topic for 2005 focused on evolution, and several Washington, D.C.-area high school students gathered after the lectures for a panel discussion with the speakers.

I am a believing Christian who totally accepts evolutionary theory,” Father James A. Wiseman, the Benedictine monk and theology professor at the Catholic University of America told the group.
Sounds like an interesting field trip. The “absolutely overwhelming” evidence in favor of evolution is so strong that we must take our high school students to listen to some speakers tell us that “it is possible to be an evolutionist and a Christian.” There is no real conflict, is there?

That isn’t enough, however. When an idea is failing on its own merits, we must do more than try to assimilate with the opposition. We must campaign for it, appealing to the opposition wherever possible. From the BBC article Spunky commented on a few days ago:

Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, which campaigns to keep the teaching of evolution in public schools, said those in mainstream religious communities needed to “step up to the plate” in order to prevent the issue being viewed as a battle between science and religion.

Hmm…pitting science against religion came up in the article from HHMI, as well. Methinks that is called a false dichotomy. While Christianity and evolution may stand at odds with one another, religion and science do not. And are we talking about good science here? Science is essentially a method of reasoning. The scientific method is a very valid means of testing the physical world. It is not a valid means of deciphering the beginnings of life on earth.

But to point out the flaws of evolution would be heresy to the religion of science in some circles. So much so that it must be outlawed. Declared unconstitutional, even. What is it about this sticker, placed in textbooks in science textbooks in a suburb of Atlanta, that deserved to be ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge?

Critical Analysis” of evolution is being removed from Ohio’s curriculum, out of fear of a lawsuit.

The “critical analysis” of evolution was part of the curriculum for 10th-grade biology classes that the board adopted when it set new academic standards in 2002, making Ohio the first state to officially adopt such language. But according to the New York Times, the board’s vote to remove the language came in part out of fear of a lawsuit in light of a December ruling by a Pennsylvania judge that teaching intelligent design in public schools was unconstitutional.

Rodney LeVake dared point out some flaws in textbooks concerning evolution. He did not even mention creationism, ID or anything else. Only that there were flaws and that evolution is a theory, not a fact. Even evolution-believing scientists will tell you our textbooks are flawed…but in Minnesota you get reassigned for such things.

Is this in keeping with scientific inquiry? Or does it look more like dogmatism and indoctrination?

Why is this debate even important? American Association for the Advancement of Science president, Gilbert Omenn warns:

“At a time when fewer US students are heading into science, baby boomer scientists are retiring in growing numbers and international students are returning home to work, America can ill afford the time and taxpayer dollars debating the facts of evolution.”

Yes, without a firm foundation in evolution, we lose our footing in the international realm, ultimately hurting our own economy. There is quite a leap in logic there somewhere I cannot quite take. There is one HERE, too. It is the leap that got me thinking about this more today.

And if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)

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0 thoughts on “Religion vs. Science?

  1. There is no inherent conflict between Christianity and evolution. There is an inherent conflict between biblical literalism and evolution but the majority of Christians are in fact not biblical literalists. This is an important thing to keep in mind as it explains why the rest of the world thinks the U.S. is a little kooky for having this “debate”.

    It is a waste of time to keep debating evolution. Most reputable scientists accept it. There is an enormous body of experimental evidence supporting it. The arguments against it are just that – arguments – words – they are not experiment based. I respect the beliefs of those who cannot reconcile evolution with their religious faith, fundamentalists have no right to highjack the curriculum for the sake of promulgating their own philosophy in science classrooms.

  2. A theory is not proven based on an opinion poll…regardless of what most “reputable scientists” believe or don’t believe, or what “the rest of the world” thinks. No one is hijacking curriculum. Abiogenesis, by its very nature, is not experiment based. You cannot test any theory about the beginnings of life on earth…you either accept that there is no God therefore chance must have caused it or you accept that there is a God and he caused it. Neither is a result of the scientific method. Both are accepted by faith in what cannot be seen, measured or tested.

    And I’m not particularly advocating the teaching of creation or even ID…I haven’t come to a firm conclusion as to how I believe such things should be taught in the public school environment. I just find it amusing that we cannot even question or challenge the theory, or point out its flaws without being accused of driving our schools back to the dark ages.

    Science is about testing and questioning everything…except evolution, I guess.

  3. Ah! I should totally know better than to even get into this, but I just can’t get myself to let the idea that evolution is “just” a theory go unchallenged. I wish there was another word used by science to clear up this really, really persistant point of confusion. I’m just going to quote from this page:
    because I know I’ll use too many words to try and explain this:
    “Lay people often misinterpret the language used by scientists. And for that reason, they sometimes draw the wrong conclusions as to what the scientific terms mean.
    Three such terms that are often used interchangeably are “scientific law,” “hypothesis,” and “theory.”
    In layman’s terms, if something is said to be “just a theory,” it usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even lack credibility. But in scientific terms, a theory implies that something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true.
    Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact meant to explain, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and univseral, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates. They don’t really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true.
    Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation.
    Theory: A theory is more like a scientific law than a hypothesis. A theory is an expla

  4. Yes, I’m aware of the definition of “theory” and “law” and “hypothesis.” It actually has no bearing on this posting, however. I merely am suggesting that to criticize the theory of evolution is part of the normal scientific reasoning process and should be encouraged.

    The origins of life on earth cannot be tested like other areas of science and we are thus left with philosophy. A realm of discussion we should all be allowed to engage in.

  5. I can understand where your going with criticising evolution… but i want to point out that it is not alright to totaly exclude it because of the overwhelming evidence that backs it up.

  6. It dependson what you are talking about. If you are referring to the fact that species change over time, yes, that;s true. But the theory that these incremental changes over millions of years is yet to be demonstrated or proven. The fossil record is not so clear as many textbooks try to make it.

    And really, this aspect of evolution can no more be tested and experimented with than can the theory that God created life on Earth.

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