Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Great Evolutionary Debate

"Intelligent Design" has been in the news as of late. Yes, I'm late on the bandwagon for this one, but there is a good reason. First, I've never claimed to be cutting edge. Secondly, and more importantly, the subject bores me.

I have read a book called "Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds" by Phillip E. Johnson. Before reading the book I was skeptical evolutionist; I am still a skeptical evolutionist. Johnson pointed out a lot of holes in the fossil record. Alleged holes aside, evolution remains our best theory as to the origin of the species to date. Some day I'll actually get around to reading Darwin's earth-shattering book of the same name, but for now, I'd prefer to concentrate my attention on more important matters.

Still, there is something that needs to be said surrounding all the nonsense over ID. Intelligent Design is not a theory at all, and teaching it is a dangerous measure. The Religious Right is making a big mistake when it pushes for ID to be taught over evolution in school for two reasons.

First, evolution in no way contradicts Christian teaching. As Thomas Aquinas points out, a first cause and a first mover is still needed to set the whole affair in motion. That role falls to the Most High. God can, presumably, do what he wishes when it comes to enacting his plan for salvation. If he wishes to allow humans to evolve from ape, it does not undermine his supremacy.

The other reason ID is problematic is that it sends very mixed signals to young Christians. Science is not actually at war with religion. It is not an "either-or" choice. In fact, it is through science that we understand God's creation--err, evolutionary masterpiece. Christian students should be encouraged to enter into scientific fields to add further to the incomplete picture we have of God.

An irrational fear of science has turned this discipline into an almost secular field. With issues such as human cloning, stem cell research and now facial transplants becoming important issues, it would do society well to have a handful of Christians among their ranks. That is, of course, largely a personal preference as I am not enthusiastic about plunging over the slippery slope of amoral scientific discovery.

There is one more reason that Christians should not make war on science. It helps prove us right from time to time. Just one example has been the development of 4D ultrasound to demonstrate--albeit thus far unsuccessfully--that the fetus is a child. If a belief has truth in it, that truth will be confirmed by the world. Though God does break the natural law from time to time--in the form of miracles--he plays by the rules most of the time. An understanding of these rules can lead to an understanding of him.

I was watching a documentary concerning this very thing this morning. The History channel had a two-hour special on Marian Apparitions, that is, times where the Virgin Mary has appeared on earth to simple humans. Although I missed the first hour, the show was fascinating. There were lengthy bits on Fatima, Lourdes and Medjegorie.

The show would have clips of experts on apparitions and the like. While most of the people confirmed the appearances, there was a skeptic who was wonderfully funny. He would come up with the most far-fetched and asinine explanations to cover up for these miraculous occurrences. I am biased to be sure, but I think that it would be more difficult to believe his explanation than simply taking at face value what millions profess to be true. Sometime atheists can have very stalwart faith.

One of the experts was an elderly Catholic priest. He said that, "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible." To a large extent, this is very much true. The so-called intellectual conversion is a rare thing. Yet the world is the portrait for a master painter. The study of his painting tells about him, and miracles do this in a very profound way.

Atheists will continue denying that the miraculous takes place. That is an integral part of their creed. Yet it behooves Christians to be a bit more open-minded. If Christianity is outright contradicted by science, Christianity is not real. The pathetic depth of faith of the modern Christian is readily evident when he fails to put his dogma up to scrutiny, even if it is only the docile and non-contradictory scrutiny of a fellow named Darwin and his disciples.


troutsky said...

Buchanan is an interesting observer and a fairly unique voice in the mainstream punditocracy.I freely associate with many of the ideas of Trotsky but would loathe the idea of being lumped in with these neo-cons.Trotsky viewed revolution as a profoundly democratic, bottom -up process where the working class, that is the 'masses", initiate ,direct and control all aspects of social development whereas these neo-cons want to spread their ideology and institutions through a top-down process,(more like Lenin,which morphed into the horrors of Stalinism) through the intervention of a benign Big Brother (US power)coordinated by an elite cadre of intellectuals,politicos and corporatists.Even if their purported goal is democracy,it is better described as imperialism.

The promoters of ID want us to believe their is a "controversy" between ID and evolution, insinuating to an under-educated lay public that a theory has to be air tight perfect to be acceptable. They use this "irreducible complexity" as a psuedo-scientific challenge (which itself is unsupportable) knowing the sound of it is intimidating.

You are right that it in no way challenges a deistic notion of the beginning of all life.Scientists don't spend time on apparitions because there are so many important questions to be answered, important to our continued existence.

Loyal Achates said...

I wouldn't mind teaching Christian doctrine in schools, if, (as they now do at the University of Kansas) it was under the ehading of 'mythology'.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Is that the reason scientists do not spend time on apparitions, Troutsky? Or is it because giving confirmation to miracles would diminish their credibility in a secular field? Something to consider...

You make an interesting suggestion, Loyal.

Still, do students need to take a "mythology" course to read C.S. Lewis for instance. Christian schools still read Nietzke, if not always Sartes. Aguinas referenced the Greek philosophers often. Shouldn't great thinkers be appreciated for being great thinkers?

troutsky said...

Why not comparative religion, Loyal?or philosophy?

Upon further reflection, I suppose scientists have historically spent time on apparitions,in a larger sense, such as explaining the celestial bodies but the personal, one time events,such as Joseph Smith recieving tablets from angels are difficult to research.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Good point Troutsky. Apparitions are fascinating things, partially because the world may never know...