Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

Associated Baptist Press opinion writer, Marv Knox:
Talk about a pointless war. The battle between faith and science just doesn't make sense.

The whole world seems to be thinking about the relationship of science and religious faith this week, as we mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. ... Nothing this side of Galileo has inflamed so many Christians as Darwin's evolutionary tome, On the Origin of Species.

Still, I must confess: I just don't "get" the fight between religion and science or faith and reason.


Kent H said...

Well let's get the ball rolling:
Let me begin by saying, that I hope I have never entered into the realm of "mean-spiritedness" that Knox spoke about in his article. If so -- pardons.
But all due respect to him and anyone else on the evolutionist side -- but few really understand the nature of the conflict from the creationist's side.
First of all, Knox's theistic evolution model is untenable on several grounds. The view of theistic evolution was born out of an attempt to get both sides together and not from revelational or scientic evidence. Compromise and synthesis is never the best way to come to an unconfirmed conclusion. If theistic evolution were defendable, I would be the first to jump aboard that train because - believe it or not - I hate the conflict over this issue. But theistic evolution is theologically unacceptable for redemptive reasons.
Romans 5:12 states that "through one man sin entered the world, and DEATH THROUGH SIN, and thus death spread to all men."
If there were millions of years of death before there was a man to sin and bring forth spiritual and physical death, then the Bible doesn't just incompletely reflect the course of creation, it misrepresents the need for redemption and order of death after the entrance of sin.
So we're back to the atheistic evolutionary model. The atheistic evolutionist will never understand the argument coming from my side because they misunderstand the urgency we have for hard-headedness. If the atheistic model is correct - who cares. There is nothing at stake. This discussion is all about winning an argument before we're all dead and feeding worms.
If the theistic Christian model is true, there is an eternity at stake and salvation hangs in the balance. That is not an ultra-dramatic statement. That is the ultimate reality of the difference.
I cringe when I get into this discussion because the arguments are not about the science. Both sides have the same observable, scientific data to study. Each side begins from its own faith base (worldview) with which they interpret the same facts. If my view is wrong, what have I lost. I had an imaginary friend Who I believe helps make me be a better person and gives me a reason to live. But tis not true. All life is meaningless outside of the 70 or 80 years we have here on this mistake-ridden, accidental planet.
But if the atheistic model is false, eternal souls (real people) and their relationship with the God Who created them is at stake. And that is why this discussion carries so much burden with so much polarity.

There's more to say, but no time to say it.


Darren Staley said...


Through all of our debates on the issue, I think I am finally getting what you are saying.

My thoughts were that you dismissed evolution because admitting it would undermine all of religion.

My argument then was that while I believe in evolution, I do not dismiss a higher power.

What you are really saying is that if you are wrong, it makes no difference in the long run. But if you are right, billions of people are damned.

Your argument, which I still disagree with, is not out of stubborness or blindness or otherwise, it is out of compassion.

You are, in your view, arguing for the salvation of mankind. I, on the other hand, am debating a specific issue that has no real meaning for me in the grand scheme of things.

While I don't agree with you, I am beginning to understand you, and appreciate your perspective.

Drew said...

Darren, thank you for that comment. While this blog doesn't ask readers to necessarily agree with each other, the purpose and hope of the blog is, through dialogue, to help facilitate an understanding of other viewpoints. Great job.

Kent H said...

BREAK THROUGH! I would emphasize again that the creationist model does not shy away from scientific evidence. Truth never hides from facts. And there are a great many of highly trained and brilliant scientists of many ilks considering the evidence is light of a creationist/intelligent design model. So I will continue to object to the false premise of science vs. religion that normally accompanies these debates.
But you have caught the spirit of why the two groups don't (and can't) just go take their separate balls and go home. Thanks for the post.

Drew said...

And Kent, the false premise of science versus religion is how this breakthrough conversation started via some random dude's quote.

aznew said...

I'd like to wade in a bit -- actually, more dip my toe in the water as opposed to wade, since my knowledge base is somewhat limited.

But, Kent, notwithstanding your laudable motives (compassion for all of G-d's creations), part of your arguement seems a bit disingenuous to me.

You write:

"I would emphasize again that the creationist model does not shy away from scientific evidence. Truth never hides from facts. And there are a great many of highly trained and brilliant scientists of many ilks considering the evidence is light of a creationist/intelligent design model."

But from what I can see, creationists and ID proponents (at least the ones that show up in the news and in court cases) -- and here I will stipulate that they may be well trained and highly intelligent -- are not "considering the evidence" in any honest sense of the word. Rather, they seem to use their training and considerable intelligence to obfuscate and cloud the evidence. To argue, for example, that natural selection does not explain the development of a something as complex as an eye (the "what good is half an eye" argument), the existance of which can only be explained by intelligent design, is simply sacientifically wrong, although it has the superficial appeal of sounding like a reasonable argument.

That is one example. The fact is that the ID movement seems to rely on such a false diiaditic throughout, and while it may be the product of training and intelligence, and sring from the noblest of motives, it is simply not consideration of evidence.

That said, it is facile to simply try to resolve the conflict by saying that science and faith occupy different spheres of our lives and to let each have its place. You neatly explain why for you, as a Christian, that is not the case. As a Jew and an OT guy, I am spared the difficulty of having to reconcile the unreconcilable, and have the luxury of treating the creation story itself as I choose. I am confident in my belief that, however we came to be here, it was through the grace of G-d (a belief I come to through my life experience, not through textual revelation, which occupys a different role for me), and I don't really feel a need to have to reconcile the details beyond that.

My avoidance of the issue at least has the virtue of avoiding the clear weakness of theistic evolution that you ably identify, namely, "The view of theistic evolution was born out of an attempt to get both sides together and not from revelational or scientic evidence. Compromise and synthesis is never the best way to come to an unconfirmed conclusion." -- one of the better pieces of prose, BTW, I have read in a long time.

As always, I am not too knowledgeable about matters Christian, so I hope I have not offended.

Kent H said...

No offense at all, welcome
I would however love to hear one reason WHY you believe the impossibility of a "half an eye" evolution is not sound -- or for that matter half a sexual reproduction system, or where self-consciousness comes from with only matter and energy to birth it. I simply must be in contact with a better brand of Creation Scientist than you've run across because the science is overwhelming. I really do appreciate the discussion.

aznew said...

Kent - I actually don't have a personal opinion about whther the theory of irreducable complexity is scientifically sound. I am not a scientist, and cannot evaluate it on that score.

But you do ask a great question about where self-consciouness comes from. In fact, I would argue it is really the crux of the issue, for the fact is that evolution does coherently explain the development of an eye or a reproductive system.

But self-consciouness -- how to explain that? An evolutionary biologist, or a cultural evolutionist, or whatever they might call themsleves, would, I suppose, argue that the quality of self-consciousness evolved.

As an intellectual matter, and on the superficial level of a non-scientist, I can appreicate and tend toward this view.

On the other hand, I have been in rooms with loved ones when they have died and when they have been born, and based on those intense personal experiences I cannot escape the conclusion that there is a G-d, and that contained within our self-consciousness is some Divine spark.

So, I think that is how I, as a religious person, am able to happily reconcile these two apparently inconsistent positions. That there is a G-d is something I can't help but believe, but that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is, when I really get down to it, really something I choose to believe.

Mike T. said...

There really shouldn't be conflict between religion and science, for two reasons: 1) science deals with what can be detected, measured, analyzed, etc., and by definition can say nothing about the Creator behind creation, and 2) if there is a God, and He did create, then observable fact should not conflict with that.

However, I'm seeing science being used by society to enforce "right thinking" in much the same way the Inquisition was used by the Catholic Church to enforce its will back in that era. I see science failing to be objective with regards to the problems and counter examples with evolution, but rather tending to take a "religious" stand on evolution; evolution "must" be true. Nothing is more telling to me about this agenda than when Stephen Jay Gould was asked what Darwin's greatest contribution was, and he responded, "He made atheism possible." How can such a man be objective about evolution? And of course, he was one of evolution's greatest "evangelists".

Society needs evolution to be true, so that it is no longer subject to judging by God and people can do whatever they want, in much the same way that Congress likes to vote itself pay raises. Of course you'll adhere to a moral viewpoint that will let you do whatever you want, and forcing people to recognize evolution as "fact" is a means toward that end.