• Blog Categories

  • del.icio.us links

Answers in Genesis: Part VI – Religion and Intelligent Design

<–Intelligent Design Landing Page

In spite of what you might get from some of my posts, I am not against Religion. Sure, I’ve read Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and even some Daniel Dennett (although I’m more of a Douglas Hoffstadter fan). I’ve read Camus, Marx, Ayn Rand, Arthur C. Clarke, RH, blah blah,…godless atheists all.

But I’ve also read the Bible, virtually all of it, much of it more than once. And I’ve studied it, and studied heurmeneutics. And I’ve read C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Donald Miller, Oswald Chambers, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Francis AND Frank Schaeffer, blah blah Christians all, mostly Protestants.

And I’ve studied Christian history extensively, higher criticism, historical-grammatical interpretations, Arius and Athanasius for everyone, blah blah.  OK, I’m done bragging, but I have a decent reason for it.

One of the things I’ve learned in all this is that there is nothing simple about Christianity, or any other religion. And there is nothing simple about secular humanism and skepticism. I read a lot of atheists and agnostic saying really foolish things about religion, and that irritates me. Conversely I go home at Christmas and hear a lot of foolish things about “liberals”.

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

You should not be required to give up your intellectual freedom to join a religion. Not that you get to do anything you want, every religion prohibits certain activity. But censoring or “spinning” information is a bad sign, and a religion that demands conformity in everything should make you run away. A good example of this is the Scientologist who work for the church and have their internet access strongly censored if they try to do research on Scientology. Hmmmm….

You should not be required to give up you intellectual freedom to be a scientist. This should go without saying, but there is a lot of talk out there about “Fundamentalist Darwinism”. The sad thing is that there is some truth there; many “popular science” textbooks on evolution make it seem like there is only one proper way to think about this stuff, and that it’s all figured out! The fact is, revolutions are difficult, evolution is difficult, even in science. Rigor is definitely important, but we should be more accepting of new hypothesis, even when they seem rather silly. not that the actual PRACTICE of science needs to change much; what we really need is better PR, like the religious folks have. I mean, not very many people have full time jobs to preach about science.

Religion and Science are not INHERENTLY in conflict. Morality and Science are not in conflict. Neither is Philosophy and Science, or Art and Science; they speak about different, though related, things! I like S.J. Gould’s concept of NOMA:

“the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty).”

I like this a lot, but I disagree as to how much science and religion overlap. Things are not as clear cut as they might seem, science and religion are going to have to play nice. Some scientific claims do have religious consequences, and some religious claims have scientific consequences.

Due to science, religions need to be very careful about the factually verifiable statements it makes. As covered in earlier blogs on Young Earth Creationism, a literal interpretation of Genesis (undeniably a religious belief) had significant predictive ability. For example, nothing in the universe would be older than 6,000 years, and life, the universe, stars, earth, that everything came into existence at the same time. Our very genes would be a testimony to our two common ancestors, Adam and Eve.

Crouch: What can people of faith do? What do you hope comes from this film?

Stein: Well, we hope that people who have children in schools will tell their children that if the teacher says Darwinism created everything and that there is no explanation for anything in the scientific world except Darwinism, that the student will say, well, Ms. Smith — or whatever the teacher’s name is — how did life begin? What keeps the planets in their orbits? Is there any proof of a separate species ever being seen to evolve?

Of course, if you LITERALLY read Genesis 1 and 2, you see that YHWH created plants, then animals, then man last; and at the same time created man first. then the plants, and animals last. So you have to understand it at least a little metaphorically; otherwise you believe that God created everything twice, in different ways both times (NOTE: Some people believe this very thing, that God created man once, then had to create him again after a pre-diluvian mass disaster, but I digress).

So to the question is “how much allegory should we allow while interpreting the Bible”. I say, “as much as possible”. For example, believing that Genesis is allegory could still supports the redemption theology of original sin, and it still supports the idea that we are special creations. Religions must frankly admit that they got some things wrong, in order to defend those things they got right. Not as unquestioning dogma, but as a living community.

On the side of Science, it’s important to respect the metaphorical and ethical domain of religion. While survival of the fittest genes is a demonstrable evolutionary fact, turning this into the ultimate philosophy to live by is a big leap of FAITH. If atheists like this exist, they are rare polemicists, and are at least evenly matched by religious counterparts.

But even when accepting a very fuzzy line between religion and science, Intelligent Design clearly falls on the Religion side! Science will tell us more about our origins than religion ever has. But this should not negate the value of mythic origin stories; as they have value as archetypes and moral tales if nothing else.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: