Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Scientific religion? Religious science?

Are you following the court case in Dover, Pennsylvania? Parents are suing a local school district that is requiring high school biology teachers to read a statement casting doubt on evolution and promoting intelligent design as an alternative theory to evolution. The details on this case are amazing.

The attorneys representing the school board (that means this attorney is representing a governmental entity) are from the Thomas More Law Center, which is described in a WAPO article as being a "conservative, religiously grounded nonprofit firm". Attorneys for the school board claim this isn't about God, it's about science.

Bright people, these attorneys. Here's a quote from one of their attorneys.
"Dover's modest curriculum change embodies the essence of liberal education." Try to make it appear as though Dover is actually broadening students' educational horizons, rather than narrowing them by the introduction of religious belief into the field of science.

Attorneys for the parents fighting the promotion of intelligent design are arguing that ID is nothing more than repackaged creationism, which has been banned from being taught in public schools by the Supreme Court.

The coverage of this case overseas is darn embarrassing. Did you know that 50% (or 45% or 55%, depending on the newspaper story) of those surveyed in the US believe that God created humans as we know them today? Sweet Jesus, what's that about?

Of course, the case isn't any more embarrassing than the new museum being built in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Creation Museum is being created by those who hope to win the US back to creationism. "Evolutionary Darwinists need to understand we are taking the dinosaurs back," says Kenneth Ham, president of Answers in Genesis-USA, which is building the museum. "This is a battle cry to recognize the science in the revealed truth of God."

Here's more of Ham's hooey. "We admit we have an axiom: We have a book and it's the Bible and it's revealed history," says Ham. "Where the Bible teaches on science, we can trust it as the word of God." In other words, there's no need to research, carbon date, or any of that scientific nonsense. The Bible contains all we need to know.

Despite the fact that there are few, if any, legitimate scientist touting either creationism or intelligent design as a science, massive amounts of Americans believe it to be so. Why? My theory (for what it's worth) is that, like so much else of conservative religion, there is a great deal of comfort in believing the Bible's version of history. It is solid. It is sure. It does not require investigation, or a great deal of intelligence to understand.

There is not much in the world these days about which one can say that. And many in this post 9/11 era cling to what they can that will bring them some stability. Right or wrong. Or far right.

So that's my penny psychologizing on the topic. I think that Pastor Dan over at Street Prophets might agree with it, though, given his take on the area in which this is taking place. Great essay on this general topic (and those delving into it) over at the NY Times.

Top of my prayer list is that we can let science be science and faith be faith, whenever the twain shall meet in the public schools.

Until tomorrow,


Blogger Peter said...


I'm sorry you feel so strongly that this case is a threat to intelligent debate. I admit that we Christians get a bad rap sometimes for getting our facts twisted, and often that's in the area of science. But that doesn't in and of itself indicate that the basic questions raised about evolution are wrong, or not to be considered in an enlightened, educated society.

I really believe that if evolution is true (and I don't think it is), then it should be able to stand on its own merits. It should not need expensive court cases and legislation to outlaw questions or comments that it might not be true, that there are other opinions about origins, for it to be seen to be correct. In fact, by spending all this money and energy trying to stifle debate, the pro-evolution lobby looks as though they've got something to hide, that they're afraid of open debate on the questions.

There are tricky issues on BOTH sides of the debate that we should be able to consider as rational, reasonable thinking people. Telling Christians that their views are not allowed in a science classroom does not promote the development of informed, thinking people for the next generation.

Just my two-cents worth.

Dr Peter Price
Brisbane, Australia

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evolution is the answer. I..realy cant put words to the astounding idiocy purposed by creationists. A greater power? Sure, why not. Elder spirits, even. Some creator could exist- but when there is this much evidence for an argument, and yet some people STILL choose to rely on a text as corrupt as the bible? Makes me ill..

9:56 PM  

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