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Old 11-26-2005, 10:56 AM   #1
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Christians for Darwin ?

Commentary
Intelligent Religion

Are science and faith really incompatible?
by Ted Peters


In the dust storm kicked up by proponents of “Intelligent Design” over what should be taught in the public schools, the science of evolutionary biology—the Darwinian model of evolution—is dubbed as materialistic, reductionistic, and atheistic. The Intelligent Design advocates suggest that to be a Christian one must take a stand against Darwinism. According to them, to pursue scientific research under the principles of random variation and natural selection is un-Christian. So-called “theistic evolutionists” (a phrase actually coined by the creationists as a term of derision) are accused of selling out to the enemy.

In turn the scientific establishment tries to assert that to be religious is like having a disease that quarantines a person against participation in science. To accuse someone of holding a religious view about evolution helps to defend the hegemony of the Darwinian model in the public schools. Why? Because science is not subject to First Amendment proscriptions, while religion is. So, if you label your opponents “religious,” you get the courts on your side.

The implication is that those who continue to believe in religious things are simply not smart enough to advance. When they become smart, they’ll drop their religion and join the scientific community.

Intelligent Design proponents and creationists insist that the Darwinists are blinded by their atheism so they cannot see the limitations and gaps in their theory. These advocates argue that the very existence of complexity contradicts the standard theory of evolution, which assumes that change occurred gradually, slowly, step by step. They say that a qualitative leap to a higher order of complexity must be acknowledged, and that only an appeal to a transcendent intelligent designer provides an adequate explanation. Without quite using the word “stupid,” intelligent design advocates suggest that insistence by Darwinists that natural selection suffices as an explanation shows at least a lack of open-mindedness.

What all of this leaves out is my group of friends and colleagues. I hang out with those so-called theistic evolutionists. We tend to think scientists are pretty smart. In fact, many of my colleagues are research scientists, even evolutionary biologists. We are convinced that the neo-Darwinian model of random genetic variation combined with natural selection provides the most adequate explanation for the development of life forms.

But my friends and colleagues are also religious, mostly Christian but with some other faiths mixed in. We think religious people can be pretty smart too. What is so important and what gets missed too often when the media covers the evolution wars is this: To be a Christian does not require that one be anti-Darwinian.

It’s very possible that one could embrace the science of the Darwinian tradition and also embrace a Christian understanding of God at work in the natural world. I believe that God has used the evolution of life over deep time to serve a divine purpose for creation. This requires distinguishing between the strictly scientific Darwinian model and the atheism and related ideologies that have frequently been associated with evolution. The science is solid.

Christian faith seeks understanding, as St. Anselm put it. Historically, Christians have fallen in love with science. Faith loves science. Today, the Christian faith demands that our schools teach the best science, and only the best science. To teach inferior science would be stupid and, yes, irreligious.

Ted Peters teaches systematic theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Along with Martinez Hewlett, he co-authored the book Evolution from Creation to New Creation (Abingdon 2003).
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Old 11-26-2005, 11:09 AM   #2
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Amen!
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Old 11-26-2005, 01:33 PM   #3
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I have a very devout Christian friend with a PHD in physics. This dude knows his physics, theories, etc....

Having spent much time in the community, his main thing that he holds onto about God, is the respect that he gives him about the creation, and the complexities of life and the universe.

He laughs especially at the non-scientists, who think that since they assume they understand evolution, or the big bang theory, or whatever, that they somehow can declare God non-existent. He is alarmed at how haughty these people are, in the face of God.
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Old 11-26-2005, 02:42 PM   #4
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The idea that science and God are incompatible is something that has been completely foreign to me from the beginning. Science cannot disprove God no matter what it does. You can always follow it up with "God created it," and there's no need for "Intelligent Design" or other pseudoscience to say that. By denying science, all religion does is discredit itself, most unfortunately.

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Old 11-26-2005, 03:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
By denying science, all religion does is discredit itself, most unfortunately.

Absolutely.
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Old 11-26-2005, 04:53 PM   #6
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Is it also possible, by denying the existance of a god, science does itself a disservice? I believe that faith and science can absolutely coexist, but to discredit one hurts the other.
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Old 11-26-2005, 04:59 PM   #7
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As a scientist, I've never been in any lecture nor have I been instructed in any science class that God does not exist. This is something that fundamentalists like to tell themselves so they can build up a straw man argument.
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Old 11-26-2005, 05:08 PM   #8
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Thats a pretty Broad generalization, don't you think Anitram? I mean painting fundamentalists with such a Big brush. So if I was to tell you that I have heard science profs dismiss the existance of god, would I be a liar? Just curious.
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Old 11-26-2005, 06:09 PM   #9
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My impression is she was responding as a scientist to your own broad generalization:
Quote:
Originally posted by Abomb-baby
by denying the existance of a god, science does itself a disservice
which to me sounds like a categorical assertion on your part that scientists deny the existence of God. But anitram is a believer and a scientist; so are thousands of others. I'm not a scientist, but I never heard a science teacher or professor "dismiss" religious belief in the context of teaching science, either. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens, but that doesn't make it representative of anything.

Contempt and scorn for religious people is one thing, but I don't see how a given scientist's disbelief in God "hurts" science one iota, any more than an atheist economist or neurosurgeon "hurt" their fields by their disbelief. Science is, by definition, premised on a mode of inquiry that does not require the existence of a God to explain things. So what? That doesn't mean one can't believe in God and also be a scientist, or regard science as one more way to explore the wonder of God's work through the gift of rational thought. Nothing in the nature of science rules out such an understanding, and there is no need to create a "separate-but-equal" alternative model, wherein belief is required, to accommodate it.
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Old 11-26-2005, 07:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Abomb-baby
Is it also possible, by denying the existance of a god, science does itself a disservice? I believe that faith and science can absolutely coexist, but to discredit one hurts the other.
It is not the job of science to make such claims. Science deals with the observable and concrete. God is neither, so it is not up to science to proclaim the existence of God. Likewise, science also does not proclaim the non-existence of God.

They're two different subjects that have nothing to do with each other. And that's perfectly fine, which is why we have this thread.

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Old 11-26-2005, 07:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Abomb-baby
Thats a pretty Broad generalization, don't you think Anitram? I mean painting fundamentalists with such a Big brush. So if I was to tell you that I have heard science profs dismiss the existance of god, would I be a liar? Just curious.
I'm sure you have heard scientists make such claims, but it would be like having a racist politician: politics is not inherently racist, but there are racists in politics. Likewise, science has no stance on religion, but some scientists are anti-religion. But they would be speaking from their personal point-of-view, not the official scientific point-of-view. Make any sense?

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Old 11-26-2005, 08:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Abomb-baby
So if I was to tell you that I have heard science profs dismiss the existance of god, would I be a liar? Just curious.
If you'd read my post you'd see that I said that I've never come across such a person, so your evidence to the contrary would not in any way change that observation.
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Old 11-26-2005, 08:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by MadelynIris

Having spent much time in the community, his main thing that he holds onto about God, is the respect that he gives him about the creation, and the complexities of life and the universe.

He laughs especially at the non-scientists, who think that since they assume they understand evolution, or the big bang theory, or whatever, that they somehow can declare God non-existent. He is alarmed at how haughty these people are, in the face of God.
I like this.

I went to Christian schools all my life. We were never taught that the existence of God means evolution can't exist. We learned about God/theology/religion in religion class and science in science class - God created everything; of course evolution exists. Breaking it into Christians vs evolutionists is WAY too simple. There's about 100 different Christian theories on creation without even bringing the more scientifist aspects into the debate. Personally, I don't buy into the Big Bang theory since it seems way too simple.
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Old 11-26-2005, 08:48 PM   #14
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I would say that the problems with BB theory are not a result of simplicity rather the changes and additions that have been used to incorporate the more problematic observations.
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Old 11-27-2005, 03:11 AM   #15
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anyway the big bang theory has nothing to do with Charles Darwin; a little after his time.

I just can't get over the insanity around this whole subject. I've said it before in other places - the arrogance of this or that individual scientist notwithstanding, science is no more than a method. a method of understanding and predicting physical events.

I see no conflict. science pretending to be religion is as obnoxious and, more importantly, UNTRUE, as religion playing at science. Like melon said.

I'm melon's fucking cheerleader, donchaknow.
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