Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Evolutionism vs Creationism Kerfuffles Onward

There are many blogs dedicated, at least in part, to addressing issues related to the ongoing debate with respect to presenting Intelligent Design alongside evolution theory in our classrooms. Opinions can often become as heated as any discussion on abortion, slavery, or women's rights.

The root of the problem, and certainly much of the discussion on evolutionism vs. creationism, lays in the perception that science and religion must, by definition, be mutually exclusive.

I find it deeply disturbing (dare I say, offensive?) to suggest that my religion is a bunch of hooey, unsupportable by science, and therefore little more than a ephemeral philosophical construct, mere mysticism and sophistry with no basis in cold, hard reality.

On the contrary. In my view, if your faith is NOT supportable by the findings of science, history, and empirical observation, then you best keep shopping. Therein lies a fundamental misunderstanding about the root and nature of spiritual faith, at least from the Christian perspective (the only faith about which I am qualified to speak). For a religion or philosophical viewpoint to have no basis in our four dimensional reality is simply (in my mind) unsupportable. True, some sects may seem that way, thus supporting the rampant accusations of “blind faith” and hocus-pocus mumbo-jumbo. My experience with Christianity, however, has not been anything like that.

I find so many ways in which scientific research both validates and deepens my understanding of my religious faith. Intelligent, learned, scientific minds have plumbed the depths of the Bible, and dared to examine it most stringently against the world of science. And rather than disproving Biblical beliefs, evidence continues to come to the fore which confirms the historical record in much of the Scriptures, actually enhancing the serious student’s understanding of previously head-scratching passages.

Credible, dedicated scientists and researchers like Chuck Missler, Mark Eastman, Lambert Dolphin, Kent Hovind, and a host of others strive daily to show that science and religion not only CAN coexist, but in many cases, MUST.

In my 39 years, I have been witness time and again as scientific principles and theories which had long been presented as definitive, nearly unassailable, were turned completely inside out by the findings resulting from some new technology or research method, some new discovery or hypothesis which came from outside of established norms…and yet withstood the demands of the scientific method.

Therefore I view with a certain wry amusement the vehement assertions, the fervor, if you will, of this or that scholar, academic, researcher or scientist who maintains that they have the Final Answer, that this or that is “The Way It Is.” For now, maybe.

I DO understand the need for an objective baseline in scientific evaluations, one uncluttered by spiritualistic whimsy or arbitrary mysticism. “Because God Said SO” is by no means a scientific approach. However, contrary to what the scornful naysayers might suggest, few (if any) mainstream adherents of intelligent design are content with such an “explanation.” Characterizing these scientists and intellectuals as such is at best dismissing them out of hand, at worst open hostility to a viewpoint that doesn’t properly adhere to the officially sanctioned secular dogma.

A commenter on this site (yes, YOU Joe) has stated that ID and Creationism (yes, I do distinguish the two) cannot be considered science because, “…it lacks consistency, violates the principle of parsimony, is not falsifiable, is not empirically testable, and is not correctable, dynamic, tentative or progressive.

The theory of intelligent design is not being presented as some finished product, a package deal which brooks no dissent. It can be and is as dynamic and malleable as any other theory; one subject to change, modification, or radical revision based on evaluation of empirical evidence and the results of experimentation.

I am not suggesting the ID be taught instead of evolution. And I am certainly not proposing that ID be taught with the same dogmatic certainty as evolution. I merely propose that it be available as an option. That it be presented as one of the prevailing schools of thought on the question of origins. Present evolution as the primary and prevailing THEORY, but don’t be so fundamentalist about it. Don’t present it as a natural law against which, when measured, all others are childish quackeries.

There are worse things in life than to suggest to children that they should approach the world around them with a mind open to the possibilities of many things…rather than conditioning them from an early age to evaluate all evidence only within the context of strict evolutionism. Is it really such a danger to suggest that their existence on this Earth is the result of more than merely a random bit of cosmic flatulence? Or to present to them the possibility that science might even support such a notion if given half a chance?

I don’t really expect to win any converts from the devout followers of evolutionism. It just seems to me to be the worst kind of intellectual gatekeeping to summarily dismiss a potential area of study merely because it doesn’t conform to the strictest demands of atheistic, naturalistic absolutism.