Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bad Religion or Bad Science?

If you're a homeschooler or a serious science person, you were probably aware of the big evolution debate last night between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis. I had BSF, so I couldn't watch the debate live -- I'll be watching it today with my youngest while she's home from school.

I'm anxious to see the debate, but I'm not anxious to deal with the fall-out on both sides, because I'm confident nobody came out a clear "winner" here, as in the other person left the stage saying, "Good points, Jack -- I'm convinced."  I fear that such events only rile up each side of the argument with more ammunition to attack the other side.

And I'm tired of the attacks. I know, for all my talk, I should be prepared for people to dismiss me at best and attack me at worst because of what I believe, but it still rankles me when people who claim to be the top of the evolutionary chain of mankind behave so ridiculously.

I'm willing to concede that there are those on the creationist side who don't approach this scientifically -- they believe what they believe because it's what the Bible says and no scientific findings will convince them otherwise. But I would hope my "opponents" would concede something similar on their side: many of their people refuse to listen to anything that a creation scientist or intelligent design theorist might say simply because it smacks of a supernatural god which they refuse to believe in up front. These scientists bring up some genuine problems with the evolutionary theory, and evolutionists only weaken their stance be refusing to address those points and simply ridiculing the messenger.

The ridicule is the real problem here. There is something wrong when, the moment a scientist brings up actual scientific evidence that calls into question the validity of the theory of evolution, scientific inquiry ceases. Evolutionist scientists do not take that evidence, examine it, test it themselves, and come up with a calm rebuttal of the facts (if one can be made). They ridicule the scientist daring to go against the mainstream. They deny him tenure -- even cause him to lose his position. I've heard before that, in anonymous surveys, the vast majority of people who work professionally in a scientific field find the theory of evolution an unsatisfactory answer to the question of the origin of life . . . but if you asked your average university physics professor about it, he wouldn't say that because he knows he would immediately lose all of his professional standing, if not his job.

That's not religion gone bad. That's science gone bad.

And there is most DEFINITELY a problem when my eldest's physics teacher feels emboldened enough by the arrogant stance of his professional community to publicly shame the Christian students in his class for being stupid and ignorant and small-minded -- before they've even said a word.

That's not science. That's prejudice and boorishness, and it has no place in a classroom at any level.

Can we all at least start with the agreement that NOBODY knows for sure how life began? No evolutionist or creationist, Christian or atheist, scientist or layman. None of us were there. We all are making intelligent guesses based on what was left behind. That kind of humility really must be at the basis of any scientific inquiry if it is to have any validity at all.

Because science is about finding the truth, and truth does not need to be defended by shaming its detractors. Truth is strong enough to fight its own battles -- just let it fight.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gwen,
My wife mentioned your blog post because she knew I'd be interested. To put my cards on the table, I do not consider creation science to be science, but I appreciate your thoughtful post and your call for respect. To my way of thinking, if creation science were science, it would just be geology, or cosmology, or biology. But the evidence from those disciplines points toward a history of the world that is billions of years old, not thousands, and a young earth is not a scientific idea. However, none of that can disprove God or displace one's faith. The fact that science can't measure the soul or point to its location doesn't invalidate faith, either.

I'm curious if you think this is an issue where a detente is possible. Can or even should creationist worldviews and evolutionary biology exist together in education and research, in politics and in church? When our faith stakes out a claim that either is not or cannot be backed up by evidence, to what extent should a puralistic society honor that claim? When science conflicts with long-held beliefs about the world and our place in it, the effects aren't always good, and yet science should not conform to dogma just as religion should not conform to science. In the realm of science, claims of creation have to rise or fall based solely on their merit, and that's as it should be. Yet in the realm of faith, surely all things are possible, and that too is as it should be.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Tom Parks

GJK said...

Hey, Tom! Good to "meet" you!

I'll surprise some of my friends by saying I'm not sure "creation science" is a science either. Science is simply science. Science is about making observations about the natural world and looking for patterns or systems which allow us to make predictions. "Creation scientists" and "evolutionary scientist" should make the same observations, and assuming the observations are accurate and legitimate, they can be used by all. How they are INTERPRETED depends on the worldview glasses through which they are viewed. And nobody has to agree with someone else's interpretation, especially when we're talking about events from thousands -- or millions -- of years ago.

Again, I just get irritated when somebody's legitimate observations are immediately discredited because they dare to question the accepted interpretation. When evolutionists won't listen to legitimate criticism of their theory, they are being intellectually dishonest.

I would hope that d├ętente is possible. Personally, I think evolution must be taught in schools, but it must be taught with honesty -- weaknesses of the theory included, because there are many scientists, atheists even, who see many weaknesses there. I think creationism doesn't need to be taught as scientific theory in the schools, but it also shouldn't be ridiculed. The ridicule is what's out of line. Frankly, it makes the evolutionists look bad -- like they have to attack the messenger because they don't believe their theory will stand up to the scrutiny.

There's much more to say than I can address here. But I appreciate your respectful response, Tom!

GJK said...

I should clarify -- I'm talking about public schools here. Private faith-based schools have every right to teach creationism . . . although if they don't give evolution its fair shake, they are doing their students a big disservice.

Anonymous said...

I think the case for intelligent design has been met with intellectual honesty. From before the time of Darwin, creation theory was held as science, and the physical evidence just didn't support it.

In a way, this televised debate can be seen as elevating creationism by casting it as a view worthy still of being debated scientifically. But in some ways I think it may lower faith by casting it as something that be proved or disproved.

Take care and I hope you enjoy the debate!

-- Tom