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EVOLUTION: Faith and science aren't mutually exclu

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  • EVOLUTION: Faith and science aren't mutually exclu

    Evolution: Faith and science aren't mutually exclusive

    EVOLUTION: Faith and science aren't mutually exclusive
    By Eric Mink
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/31/2005


    I believe in intelligent design.

    I believe that the infinite universe and everything in it - from quarks, pulsars and cytosine to Heirloom tomatoes, cats and James Brown's backup band - somehow originated with an intelligent creator. I think about the inconceivably vast and tiny material universe, about the electrifying connections among its parts, about 14 billion years of continuous change and about the creative impulse burning within every human being and I say to myself, "All this wasn't an accident."

    I don't know how the creator accomplished this, but "how" doesn't strike me as particularly important. I'm intensely curious about why it happened, but my sense is that "why" is destined to remain, appropriately, beyond human understanding. Nor is there is any way I can prove the existence of this creator.

    But then, I don't have to: It's a belief. It is a matter of faith, not a matter of science. Reasoning is different from believing. Investigating the natural world is different from contemplating the spiritual one. Understanding the processes of life is different from pondering the meaning of life. Science demands evidence; faith needs none.

    My faith in intelligent design is in no way threatened by my rational understanding of the dazzling natural processes of evolution, which the National Academy of Sciences calls "one of the most important ideas ever generated by the application of scientific methods to the natural world." The Academy was chartered by Congress in 1863 and is arguably the most prestigious scientific organization in the world. Its characterization of evolution says nothing about my faith, which is a good thing, because my faith falls outside the Academy's expertise.

    My beliefs share absolutely nothing with current efforts to use the "intelligent design" label to sneak religious instruction into public school science classes. Proponents make the spurious argument that intelligent design is a scientific idea and lard their published materials with obtuse scientific jargon. I think Mr. McKinney, my 10th-grade science teacher at University City High School, would've tossed this non-science nonsense out of class in a heartbeat.

    Intelligent design is a matter of faith precisely because it is impervious to scientific experimentation and testing. This forces supporters of the science-class scam to reach, instead, for complex natural structures and biochemical processes and claim that evolutionary principles cannot explain their development; an intelligent designer becomes their default scientific explanation.

    But evolution can and does offer persuasive explanations for the evolution - over millions of years - of such extraordinarily complex things as the human eye, the clotting of blood and much much more. Physical evidence supporting such explanations appears in the accumulated fossil record, which becomes more abundant and detailed every year, and in new research about the structure and functions of genes and DNA.

    Nevertheless, hustlers hawking intelligent design as science are hard at work all across the country. A bill to require its teaching in Missouri died in committee in the last legislative session, but sponsor Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, has promised to bring it back. The Kansas state Board of Education is on its second go-round with the issue, and a federal lawsuit accusing the Dover, Pa., school board of instituting "coerced religious instruction" in connection with intelligent design is scheduled to begin next month. President Bush got into the act four weeks ago, endorsing the notion that "both sides" ought to be taught in public schools, falsely implying scientific equivalence between evolution and intelligent design.

    Intelligent-design-as-science is a dodge or, more precisely, a wedge, as documented in a compelling piece by Jerry Coyne in the Aug. 22 issue of The New Republic. Using quotes from some of the movement's most prominent backers, Coyne, a University of Chicago professor of ecology and evolution, leaves no doubt as to their mission: Intelligent design is the wedge that will crack open public schools for fundamentalist Christian religious teaching.

    Yet most religions - including most of the mainline Christian faiths - distance themselves from these efforts. They find no incompatibility between religion and science or between evolution and God as creator of the universe, recognizing the different spheres in which faith and science hold sway.

    One of the more thoughtful expressions of these ideas appears in "A Catechism of Creation," approved in Louisville. Ky., on June 16 by the executive council of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. (Thanks to the Rev. Charles H. Morris for telling me about it.)

    The document, presented in question-and-answer form, rejects the notion that science and Christian theology are inevitably in conflict about evolution. "Episcopalians," it notes, quoting various texts, "believe that the Bible 'contains all things necessary to salvation'." However, the Bible "is not a divinely dictated scientific textbook. We discover scientific knowledge about God's universe in nature not Scripture."

    In presenting the development of living things through evolution as settled sound science, the paper points out that "theology does not depend upon science to verify its doctrines, just as science does not depend upon theology to verify its theories."

    The Catechism does not dismiss, however, deep and important connections between science and faith. Indeed, it is at its most eloquent when describing them:

    "The God of evolution is the biblical God, subtle and gracious, who interacts with and rejoices in the enormous variety, diversity, and beauty of this evolving creation. When we contemplate the tremendous gift of freedom God has bestowed upon the creation, and how the Holy Spirit preserves in covenantal faithfulness the physical laws, powers and processes that enable such variety and beauty, those thoughts may move our hearts to a deeper admiration, awe and gratitude for God's works. They may inspire a curiosity to know God's creation more deeply, celebrate it with thanksgiving, and devote ourselves to caring for it."

    I keep the universe taped to a file cabinet a couple of feet from my desk. It's a calendar with a collection of images from deep space captured by the orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Chandra was carried aloft by the space shuttle Columbia and released into position on July 25, 1999.

    When stars blow up, get born, crash into each other or collapse into black holes, they generate lots of X-rays, making X-rays the wavelength of choice if you're looking for serious action in space.

    The cataclysms caught in Chandra's pictures occurred tens, even hundreds, of thousands of years ago. As the Catechism above puts it, they "move my heart to a deeper admiration, awe and gratitude for God's works."

    I know it took science and evolved human beings to make these pictures. I believe it also took an intelligent creator, but I can't prove that. But then, I don't have to.

    Not to start this up again.....

    Do not always read Eric Mink, but this is very well done. And I always like to read my point of view read back to me.
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  • #2
    Damn here we go again. lol

    Faith and science aren't mutually exclusive
    I think they were until the people who want to preach creationism found out they had no science behind them, when they saw the science that is evolution, and then all of a sudden it was "god didn't actually create man, he created evolution that created man"
    Just like where the bible gives the age of earth and man, now they know that isn't right so years doesn't really mean years in the bible.

    I am not putting down religion or creationism, believe what you want, and I hope it works for you and your loved ones, but it seems that the teachings of religion change with time and I don't see how that can be.
    Be passionate about what you believe in, or why bother.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by madyaks@Aug 31 2005, 12:53 PM
      Damn here we go again. lol

      Faith and science aren't mutually exclusive
      I think they were until the people who want to preach creationism found out they had no science behind them, when they saw the science that is evolution, and then all of a sudden it was "god didn't actually create man, he created evolution that created man"
      Just like where the bible gives the age of earth and man, now they know that isn't right so years doesn't really mean years in the bible.

      I am not putting down religion or creationism, believe what you want, and I hope it works for you and your loved ones, but it seems that the teachings of religion change with time and I don't see how that can be.
      It doesn't change with time for everyone. Mainly those who want to
      be politically correct.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Offsides+Aug 31 2005, 01:58 PM-->
        QUOTE(Offsides @ Aug 31 2005, 01:58 PM)

      • #5
        Originally posted by madyaks+Aug 31 2005, 01:03 PM-->
        QUOTE(madyaks @ Aug 31 2005, 01:03 PM)
        Originally posted by [email protected] 31 2005, 01:58 PM

      • #6
        Flying Spaghetti Monster

        Comment


        • #7
          I am fine with those that believe in evolution. I am fine with those who believe in intelligent design.

          What amazes me though is those that some how have enough faith to believe that a higher power exists but used evolution as the process to make man.

          That is purely idiotic IMO. Have it one way or the other, but don't go mixing them into some bizarro combination. That requires super faith.

          Comment


          • #8
            Originally posted by dooz@Aug 31 2005, 03:31 PM
            I am fine with those that believe in evolution. I am fine with those who believe in intelligent design.

            What amazes me though is those that some how have enough faith to believe that a higher power exists but used evolution as the process to make man.

            That is purely idiotic IMO. Have it one way or the other, but don't go mixing them into some bizarro combination. That requires super faith.
            You have your PhD in biology, don't you?

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by dooz@Aug 31 2005, 03:31 PM
              I am fine with those that believe in evolution. I am fine with those who believe in intelligent design.

              What amazes me though is those that some how have enough faith to believe that a higher power exists but used evolution as the process to make man.

              That is purely idiotic IMO. Have it one way or the other, but don't go mixing them into some bizarro combination. That requires super faith.
              I don't think of it as super faith....I think it's people questioning their own faith.
              They come to the realization that biblical creationism doesn't fit with scientific fact, and they search for a way to make what we know fit with what they want to believe.

              In the process of doing so, they dilute their faith.
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              • #10
                Originally posted by ksbluesfan+Aug 31 2005, 02:33 PM-->
                QUOTE(ksbluesfan @ Aug 31 2005, 02:33 PM)

              • #11
                Originally posted by hansolo@Aug 31 2005, 03:06 PM
                Flying Spaghetti Monster


                Comment


                • #12
                  Originally posted by BringBackZezel+Aug 31 2005, 03:34 PM-->
                  QUOTE(BringBackZezel @ Aug 31 2005, 03:34 PM)

                • #13
                  Originally posted by dooz@Aug 31 2005, 02:31 PM
                  I am fine with those that believe in evolution. I am fine with those who believe in intelligent design.

                  What amazes me though is those that some how have enough faith to believe that a higher power exists but used evolution as the process to make man.

                  That is purely idiotic IMO. Have it one way or the other, but don't go mixing them into some bizarro combination. That requires super faith.
                  Put me in that category. I don't consider the choice as either evolution or a higher power. I see evolution another wonder of a universe that convinces me a higher power is in play.

                  Think of it this way, evolution is a well designed program that speaks well of the Programmer. I have a hard time believing this program, or any computer program, can be created without a programmer.
                  "I am for truth no matter who says it. I am for justice no matter who it is for or against."...Malcom X

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                  • #14
                    Originally posted by dooz+Aug 31 2005, 03:42 PM-->
                    QUOTE(dooz @ Aug 31 2005, 03:42 PM)
                    Originally posted by [email protected] 31 2005, 02:33 PM

                  • #15
                    This is a refreshing article. Nice to see a proponent of ID understand the disctinction between faith and reason, and which one belongs in the science classroom. And the NAS document he quotes in the same one I used in another thread on all of this.

                    You know who else thought faith and reason weren't mutually exclusive? Steven Jay Gould, reknowned evolutionary biologist. He wrote a book called Rocks of Ages on this very topic.

                    Here's the part that I don't get: those of you that believe in God but not evolution... you seem to be saying that if you can't make sense of God's plan, because evolution seems too random for you, then it must not be true... that God and the Creation should be understandable in simple, human terms. Is that colossally arrogant, or doesn't it massively diminish the nature of your God? Why can't your faith allow for a God that transcends our rational understanding? Isn't that sort of the point?
                    "At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed."
                    – Frederick Douglass, doing an amazing job since 1852

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