Sunday, June 01, 2008

Evolution and Science & Religion Compatibility

Here is a clip from AAAS on the compatibility of science and religion - a perfect representation of Gould's non-overlapping magestaria (NOMA) (tip from Framing Science). Yes, when pushed this view gets into trouble (as Francis Collins in this clip talking about God answering personal prayers). But the question is, who is the audience? This video would work for those who are religious and science-friendly and may provide them with a justification for supporting (and doing) science. On the other hand, many would have good reasons to point out that NOMA can be a slippery slope - and that these boundaries are overstepped all the time. Thus, there may not be a single good approach to talking about science & religion. Different videos for different audiences.

Yesterday was my last day on Chincoteague Island. At breakfast at the hotel, I overheard a conversation about the movie Expelled. A guy, probably in his 70's, was talking to a younger couple (seemed like his son and his wife). He liked the movie and was now reading Michael Behe's new book. He was familiar with the fine-tuning argument (with explicit religious overtones) and also with the tenure case of Guillermo Gonzalez. However, what struck me was his interest and fascination with science. Too bad, he got suckered into ID-nonsense. But I was thinking, he would be the perfect audience for this AAAS video - well-educated, religious, and having a deep interest in science. Yes, NOMA has serious problems - but we should also not cede this demographic to ID.


ungtss said...

I agree with you -- I think framing the issue this way only convinced those who are already convinced.

The reality is, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures make explicitly historical claims that are logically incompatible with the natural history currently in vogue. They can't both be right. Things like "Adam lived 900-some odd years" and "The flood covered the whole earth, even the highest mountains" and "the serpent was the cleverest of the animals, and it spoke to Eve, saying ..."

Those sentences are either true or false.

The question then becomes one of history. What happened? Did we arise spontaneously, or were we designed?

Instead of answering this question, evolutionists like the ones in the video stick to irrelevant responses which mean a lot to them, but don't mean anything to the unconverted:

For instance, the old "ID isn't science." Science or not, it is also either history or it is not. It is a claim that is either historically true, or historically false. Whether it fits within your preferred definition of "science" is irrelevant to the validity of the historical question it raises.

Or the classic, "I believe in both evolution and Christianity!" Also irrelevant to the historical question. You can believe anything you want. Doesn't mean that both common descent and discontinuous systematics can be true. In fact, they can't.

Always a humdinger: "ID is unfalsifiable." Also irrelevant to the historical question. Many things are unfalsifiable -- like the idea "Life arose from RNA world." Can't test it! So what?

Often said in the same sentence -- "ID has been proven false!" To which the response is, "How can ID be both unfalsifiable and false?"

But the fact is, ID/evo is a historical question. Which way did it happen? And historical questions require the interpretation of historical evidence. And incomplete historical evidence can often be interpretted in several equally unfalsifiable ways. But evolutionists aren't qualified to address those issues. Scientists aren't trained to criticize their paradigms.

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