Science vs.? Intelligent Design?

elder999

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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.-Last week, Pat Robertson basically told the town of Dover, PA. that they were going to hell for voting out a pro-intelligent design school board.

In turn much of 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 some-called theistic evolutionists. Being scientists, we tend to think that most scientists are pretty smart. In fact, many of my colleagues are 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/Creationist 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 the Creator 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, (and, yes, even if one examines the whole Galileo/Roman Catholic Church thing closely) Christians have fallen in love with science. Faith loves science. Today, the Christian faith should demand that our schools teach the best science, and only the best science. To teach inferior science-which "Intelligent Design" pretty much is- would be stupid and, yes, irreligious.
 

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I applaud your skill at melding what I thought to be irreducible dipoles into a constructed entity :tup:.

My view does not match with your own but I can see the logic inherent within your thinking.
 

Empty Hands

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I hang out with some-called theistic evolutionists....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....To be a Christian/Creationist does not require that one be anti-Darwinian.

Certainly. However, I would submit to you that your theistic evolutionist friends are not applying the same scientific rigor to the theistic part as they are to the evolutionist part. You already know what evidence justifies the theory of evolution. What evidence justifies theistic evolution? Applying Occam's Razor, why should we add an unnecessary explanation of theism on top of the perfectly adequate evolutionary explanation?

To teach inferior science-which "Intelligent Design" pretty much is- would be stupid and, yes, irreligious.

Indeed, although you are going to have a lot of trouble with the "irreligious" part. Despite how you personally feel about how religion and science should relate, much of religion requires an adherence to anti-scientific principles. This conflict has only grown more pronounced with time as more and more evidence has come to light showing that the details of revealed religion are wrong.

Now, there are and have been many responses to this. One historical one, of which the intelligent design brouhaha is part of the tradition, is simply to deny the evidence. Evilutionists worship Satan. Fossils are a trick planted by Satan and/or God to fool us/test our faith. And so on.

Another more sane response is to attempt to harmonize the two, as your friends have done. However, this is also getting harder and harder with time. The knowledge gaps where God can live are getting smaller. Also, at the end of the day, you are attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable. Science is an ever changing, self-correcting process based on empiricism. Religion is a fundamentally subjective process based heavily on faith without evidence and a body of revealed dogma. These processes haven't and never will mesh well, and as science advances, that split will only become more obvious.
 

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I've often wondered why people on both sides of the fence would think that Creationism and Darwinism were mutually exclusive :idunno:
 

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I have to say that my friends and i have been discussing similar issues recently - that is to say the science vs religion issue.

Only a couple of hundred years ago we all believed the earth was flat - even the scientists.
A couple of thousand years ago the majority of the world believed that thunder and lightening was the god being angery.

So on both fronts - science and religion have evolved as our understanding of the world\universe have expanded. This needs to continue now. Both extremes will continue to be at each others throats - and more than likely both extremes will one day learn that the answer was somewhere in the middle.

I encourage everyone, no matter what your religous views are, to educate yourself - understand the others point of view (not nessisarily agree with it) and then use the information to come to a personal belief - not nessisarily that pushed on you by science or religion.

Question everything - even the established "rules - learn - absorb - evolve as a independent thinker......

Just my opinion though.........
 

Empty Hands

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I've often wondered why people on both sides of the fence would think that Creationism and Darwinism were mutually exclusive :idunno:

Because the explanation usually put forth by Creationists (the inerrant Biblical creation story) directly contradicts the scientific explanation. Other softer versions of Creationism may be more compatible.

BTW, a minor but telling nitpick: it isn't "Darwinism." No one is studying, theorizing, or worshipping Darwin. We aren't following his writings or words. The modern synthesis, the Theory of Evolution, was started by Darwin but surpassed him long ago. "Darwinism" makes as much sense as calling quantum mechanics "Einsteinism".
 

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Both extremes will continue to be at each others throats - and more than likely both extremes will one day learn that the answer was somewhere in the middle.

Science with time has become more and more materialist, it hasn't drifted at all towards mysticism. Religion on the other hand has given up quite a bit of ground. Treating the two like two equivalent poles who will one day meet in the middle is a fantasy. As it is, how do you construct a middle ground between empiricism and mysticism? They have entirely different systems of epistemology, entirely different premises, and entirely different conclusions.
 

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Your entire discourse is very well-put. You make several good points and I agree with not only some of your details but also some of your conclusions. Your post is refreshing, thank you.

I take issue with one:

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.

I do not believe that Darwinists are blinded by their atheism. I believe that many modern scientiests are blinded by the same thing that blinds many Americans when it comes to politics and also effects many religious people...the ability to release preconceived ideas and to think independently.

The theory of macro evolution, that one species transformed into a completely different species, is unsupported by ANY scientific evidence. Creationists explain it with a biblical God. Intelligent Design proponents explain it with an unknown, intelligent, powerful being. Darwinists exaggerate changes within a species to suggest that an actual change of species is possible.

No amount of scientific study will result in any conclusive proof. The fossil record is used by both sides to support their theory.

Anyway, I did not wanted to be grouped in with that generalization. I would be interested in seeing someone to take a new look at the scientific evidence without referencing any established theories...maybe they would come up with a new alternative.

Who knows?
 

tsdclaflin

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What evidence justifies theistic evolution? Applying Occam's Razor, why should we add an unnecessary explanation of theism on top of the perfectly adequate evolutionary explanation?

... much of religion requires an adherence to anti-scientific principles. This conflict has only grown more pronounced with time as more and more evidence has come to light showing that the details of revealed religion are wrong.

What evidence? The only way that evolution is possible is for it to have been caused/directed by a creator. Statistically, macro evolution is impossible. The "odds" against even the simplest amount of evolution defies mathematical possibilities. So it is not "theistic evolution" that needs evidence, it is non-theistic evolution that lacks evidence.

What 'anti-scientific principles' are required by religion? Quite the opposite... scientific research continues to validate the Bible as an accurate, historical document.

and the debate continues...
 

Empty Hands

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The theory of macro evolution, that one species transformed into a completely different species, is unsupported by ANY scientific evidence.

What evidence? The only way that evolution is possible is for it to have been caused/directed by a creator. Statistically, macro evolution is impossible.

Alright, the points you brought up above and the way you phrase them are commonly used in a highly dishonest way by creationist proponents. However, I am going to give you a chance and answer this seriously. Hopefully I won't regret it.

For the statistics: you don't have the slightest clue, and neither does anyone else, what the probability of life evolving de novo is. Thus, your argument is bankrupt from the start. Nonetheless, several proof of concept experiments have demonstrated that some of the early steps could take place.

As for your lack of evidence charge: nothing could be further from the truth. Cladistics, molecular genetics, paleontology, they all support the explanation proferred by the theory of evolution. We have transitional animals, we have clear genetic evidence of species evolving from common ancestors, and we have actually observed evolution in action. Yes, humankind has been around long enough to see species evolve. Some of it we have caused ourselves.

Only someone irrationally convinced could throw out all that evidence and say that a collection of stories written thousands of years ago with no evidentiary backing holds more weight.

What 'anti-scientific principles' are required by religion?

Assertion of facts without evidence. The most anti-scientific thing someone can do.

Quite the opposite... scientific research continues to validate the Bible as an accurate, historical document.

:eek: Tell me you're kidding...?
 
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Ninjamom

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......theistic evolutionists. Being scientists, we tend to think that most scientists are pretty smart.
>
>
....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/Creationist 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 the Creator 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.
Thank you!!

.....What evidence justifies theistic evolution? Applying Occam's Razor, why should we add an unnecessary explanation of theism on top of the perfectly adequate evolutionary explanation?
I was thinking about this exact topic in-depth several months ago. My thought was that using the scientific method requires some tacit assumptions, including the reliability of our physical senses for observing data, the existence of matter, the existence of energy, and the material nature of both (i.e., devoid of a 'will' or subjective nature). However, if one posits the existence of a Creator-God, then the existence of the physical universe would be a deducible consequence. Therefore, Occam's razor would demand we retain the belief in a Creator-God and remove the postulate of (or the 'belief' in) the existence of matter and energy and their material nature as an unnecessary additional assumption .

Theists that recognize a Creator-God as possessing the attributes of morality and the right to govern through moral law could naturally deduce that the created physical world would also be governed by law. Only in such a universe governed by law would the scientific method (finding laws through observation of repeatable experiments) make sense. Historically, this is the course the development of science took, as the scientific method was first set forth by a 12th C. Bishop teaching in a Christian university.

But in fairness to Elder, I think his whole point was just that the views of theists and scientists are NOT mutually exclusive.
I've often wondered why people on both sides of the fence would think that Creationism and Darwinism were mutually exclusive :idunno:
Thank you again!

For those interested, there is a group called the American Scientific Affiliation that serves as a social and professional society for scientists of faith. They have some excellent articles on their website. They have also produced a monograph called , "Teaching Origins in a Climate of Conrtoversy", which offers suggestions towards balancing the needs and views of atheists and theists without compromising on teaching science. I recommend it for science teachers in the primary grades through high school.
 

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Therefore, Occam's razor would demand we retain the belief in a Creator-God and remove the postulate of (or the 'belief' in) the existence of matter and energy and their material nature as an unnecessary additional assumption .

We perceive matter and energy and a material universe. We do not perceive a Creator-God. Why would it be more rational to postulate something we cannot perceive for something we can? At least without very convincing evidence.
 

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Just sitting here reading and thinking......and yes i was amazed as well that i could do two things at once!!

I've often thought of science and religion as not being mutually exclusive - i've always thought of God as being a scientist.......

If a greater being did create the universe then they also created all the laws of physics that allow it to exist. If he is all knowing and all powerful - then he could have designed the "big bang" so that evolution would eventually occur on this tiny rock that we call home.

Science is the art of observing the universe and then generating theories to explain what has occured - then updating the theory on new observations - a continous loop of learning and expanding our understanding.
So if we keep doing this we start to see the finer details in the design of the universe (by universe i refer to both the very large and the very small - from the construction of a snow flake to the construction of a galaxy). And as such we come closer to understanding God.

This is my belief - my view on the subject, and yes i could go on but i don't want to bore you all........

The thing i love about all of this stuff - is that at the end of the day no one is right and no one is wrong. We all are entitled to our own thoughts and beliefs - no one has to agree with them but no one else has right to tell us we are wrong.........their is something empowering about that.
 

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Applying Occam's Razor, why should we add an unnecessary explanation of theism on top of the perfectly adequate evolutionary explanation?
If I hear one more Occam's Razor plea against religion, I think I'm going to be sick.
 

Andrew Green

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I have to say that my friends and i have been discussing similar issues recently - that is to say the science vs religion issue.

Only a couple of hundred years ago we all believed the earth was flat - even the scientists.
A couple of thousand years ago the majority of the world believed that thunder and lightening was the god being angery.

That is a urban myth, no one ever thought the earth was flat. Misjudged the size of it perhaps, but even the ancient Greeks knew the earth was round. Aristotles model of the universe had it round, as did Ptolmeny's which was used from ancient Greece right up until Coppernicus.

They did believe the earth was the center of the universe, and up until the invention of the telescope there was some really good evidence for that. There has however, never been any good evidence that the earth was flat.

Science follows evidence, it always has. It is about observation and prediction, bad science can't make accurate predictions, but good science can. Even with a model of the universe where the earth is in the middle the math and the predictions work.

Intelligent Design can't do that, there are no predictions, just a idea that tries to match observation with a pre-established conclusion.

Science is very accurate, and is very good at what it does. It is very rare for existing science to be flat out wrong. Take a simple concept like gravity, going right back to Aristotle you can use his theories to make predictions and those predictions will match observations. As our observations got more and more accurate, and our understanding of other things grew the explanation of what we think is causing it has changed, but the predictions and the outcomes haven't changed much.

Evolution is in the same boat, we know it is happening. We can record the changes that happen, and we can make predictions about what will happen and verify them. The reasons behind those changes have "evolved" since Darwin, but the core of the theory has remained the same and is proven, just like the "theory" of gravity.
 

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Certainly. However, I would submit to you that your theistic evolutionist friends are not applying the same scientific rigor to the theistic part as they are to the evolutionist part. You already know what evidence justifies the theory of evolution. What evidence justifies theistic evolution? Applying Occam's Razor, why should we add an unnecessary explanation of theism on top of the perfectly adequate evolutionary explanation?

My thoughts exactly! Perhaps those theists are just brains in vats who think they're in bodies and working at a laboratory. Conceivable, but hardly scientific. I have heard these types of comments before--"I believe God works by precisely the methods science currently believes are at work in the world"--and it seems to me that these people are on the fence with respect to both their religion and their scientific vocation. Superstition and science are simply not compatible points of view. Stephen Jay Gould's notions of separate magisteria is defensible, but as you say the areas of knowledge that science cannot penetrate are shrinking constantly.
 

arnisador

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I've often wondered why people on both sides of the fence would think that Creationism and Darwinism were mutually exclusive

One issue is that evolution (there is no "Darwinism") is compatible with most religions if you're willing to stretch the interpretation of their creation myths that far. The Christian Bible, for example, states that on the sixth day of creation, God created "the beasts of the earth according to their kinds" after he had previously created birds and aquatic creatures, and this version of creation is quite hard to reconcile with evolution, which doesn't generally work on a single day scale and places land-based dinosaurs prior to birds. But if you take "day" to mean "an arbitrary period of time" and assume that he created not the beasts as said but the means to create the beasts, you can torture the text until it tells you what you want to hear. (Or, you can ignore the first creation account and skip to the second.) It's similar for most religions. Either Thor the Thunder God makes it rain with his magic hammer, or it's an atmospheric process. It's a stretch to say that the hammer causes the water cycle to happen.
 

arnisador

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I believe that many modern scientiests are blinded by the same thing that blinds many Americans when it comes to politics and also effects many religious people...the ability to release preconceived ideas and to think independently.

Well...those scientists went to school for 13 years, college for 4 years, and graduate or medical school for 4-8 years, followed by a postdoc/residency of 3+ years. To call such intense and prolonged study of the most up-to-date research in their field "preconceived ideas" is to deny the very possibility of research and education. As to the ability "to think independently"...if scientists lacked that, we'd still have Lamarckian and Newtonion theories rather than Darwinian and Einsteinian. That's exactly wrong: Scientists become famous by proving other scientists wrong. If you can name a scientist, it's almost surely because he upended a paradigm by independent thinking.

The theory of macro evolution, that one species transformed into a completely different species, is unsupported by ANY scientific evidence.

Unless by "scientific evidence" you mean "evidence accepted by scientists as scientific" in which case there's an overwhelming amount of such evidence: Fossils, DNA, and so on.

Statistically, macro evolution is impossible. The "odds" against even the simplest amount of evolution defies mathematical possibilities.

What are those odds?

What 'anti-scientific principles' are required by religion? Quite the opposite... scientific research continues to validate the Bible as an accurate, historical document.

This is news to me.

and the debate continues...

There is no debate among scientists as to whether or not the theory of evolution is fundamentally correct. That doesn't mean it can't be wrong, but that it was developed according to the same principles that were used to develop the theories behind the design of antibiotics, surgical lasers, and blood pressure medicines (let alone airplanes, indoor plumbing, and the Internet). Why are no theists rejecting those scientific developments? Gravity is, after all, just a theory.
 

arnisador

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For those interested, there is a group called the American Scientific Affiliation that serves as a social and professional society for scientists of faith. They have some excellent articles on their website. They have also produced a monograph called , "Teaching Origins in a Climate of Conrtoversy", which offers suggestions towards balancing the needs and views of atheists and theists without compromising on teaching science. I recommend it for science teachers in the primary grades through high school.

What are your qualifications for making a recommendation for the teaching of science in high schools? In Florida, they relied on science teachers. After all, "balancing the needs and views of atheists and theists" isn't the goal--it's educating students. People who wouldn't give an atheist equal time in a church want equal time for the superstitious in biology classes. Why not teach religion in church and biology in science class and let people choose which approach they prefer?

Perhaps you are a qualified scientist...but people who wouldn't dispute their physician on what antibiotic to prescribe seem quite happy to dispute the experts on evolution. It requires a great deal of study to appreciate the DNA evidence and the totality of the fossil record. Those who reject evolution reject the whole foundation of modern biology and medicine. Yet, they rarely take a principled stand and refuse to accept their fruits. It's hypocritical to use antibiotics but reject evolution.

If I hear one more Occam's Razor plea against religion, I think I'm going to be sick.

Well, from a scientific point of view it's perfectly logical: There's no evidence for God, so there's no basis for including it in a theory. The supernatural and the unsourced are not allowed in. Otherwise, you get the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" sneaking in on the same basis: You can't prove it's wrong, after all.
 
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