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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: Round 12

As you may have noticed I have been blogging for a while on the Evolution vs. ID debate. My counterpart in this exercise has been David over at A Physicist's Perspective. We also carry on some back channel communication on this and other topics and one of his emails got me to thinking about the relationship between religion and science. First, here's what I had written to him:

The thing I keep coming back to, though, is that both divine creation and evolution can logically make things from basic and common building blocks. The reason I come down on the side of evolution is not that God could not have made organisms as they currently exist, but to say that He did in a direct sense is to destroy the very foundation of science (in my humble opinion =)). But I won't belabor the point here since I've blogged on this already.
To which he (in part) replied:

I think you should be careful about what you mean by "the foundation of science". I know you think that science must by definition admit no supernatural --
i.e., good science cannot appeal to laws other than purely physical/chemical/natural laws.

But this is by no means the historic view of science; it's one that's come about only recently. I think it's really a result of the enlightenment and modernism, I suppose. Anyway, I like to point out that many of the great scientists of several centuries ago were good scientists precisely BECAUSE they believed that God designed the universe. Newton, Pascal, Kepler, Boyle, Linneaus, Faraday, Dalton, Joule, Mendel, Pasteur, Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, and others are notable examples. From what I understand, some of them believed the study of science would be producctive -- and found it to be so -- because they believed the universe was designed by a rational being, therefore we can learn about how it works by applying our minds.

Anyway, the point is simply that these men did science because they believed in a supernatural God; they did not see science as entirely separate and something that could admit no mention of the supernatural.
To the contrary, I think that the very foundation of Science is most certainly to admit nothing outside of "purely physical/chemical/natural laws." You see, these men pursued their studies because they believed the effort was worth their time since God made the Universe understandable. However, this most certainly does not imply that they resorted to "laws other than purely physical/chemical/natural laws." As a matter of fact, none of them did. To a man they relied only on what could be proven/explained using only physical/chemical/natural laws. Anyone who did otherwise didn't make David's list because we don't remember him...because he was wrong.

So to say that these men were religious and believed that God created the Universe is not to imply that they believed that God took a direct, and unpredictable, hand in what we see as reality. To the contrary they ascribed to God a much more remote and universal role. While this may not be satisfying to Bible literalists, it is the only view consistent with the study and acceptance of Science (bearing in mind the caveat that Science has nothing to say about miracles).

The parallel to the current topic is that we, like our predecessors, should continue to look for natural explanations for the diversity of life we see all around us. To resort to a direct supernatural cause for the genesis and development of Life is to misunderstand the purpose and method of both Science and Religion. Science is the rational study of Nature. Religion is a belief system that, independent of its ultimate truth or falsehood, is meant to be a moral guidepost. There is no fundamental reason that the two need find conflict. With respect to Evolution specifically there is certainly no need for conflict. Evolution is concerned only with the development of Life on Earth and it has nothing to say concerning the origin of the Universe or anything else, for that matter. I think that most of the issues each side has with the other are due to a need to have their own ideas (whether scientific or religious) account for everything. If we could all keep our ideas in their proper realm I think we could avoid an awful lot of argument.

As I have at least implied before, Religion should help us make moral decisions and our belief in God can certainly drive us to do Science. Mixing Religion and Science, however, only leads to the detriment of both.


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