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It’s science vs. science, not science vs. religion

Original Article

Last Saturday in Faith & Values (Nov. 27), Chris Glaser, the spiritual leader of the Midtown Spiritual Community, wrote about the dichotomy of science and religion. Unfortunately, Glaser’s column was full of inaccuracies, contradictions and outdated stereotypes.
The very first words written . . . indeed the entire premise is spectacularly wrong: “The court battle over evolution and creation. . . .” The only way this court case could be perceived as a battle between evolution and creation is if your only source for information is the AJC. The truth is that Cobb County bent over backward to make sure there was not even a hint of religion in the disclaimer, which reads: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.” Cobb officials further clarified their position by stating unanimously, “It is the intent of the Cobb County Board of Education that this policy not be interpreted to restrict the teaching of evolution; to promote or require the teaching of creationism. . . .” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of creationism, is it?

In proclaiming “an awesome God that employs the elaborate process of evolution to give life,” Glaser is attempting to take the middle ground of two contradictory positions. While on the surface this idea may seem intellectually satisfying, a closer examination reveals fatal flaws in logic.

First, when you interject the supernatural you are no longer talking about the theory of evolution, which by definition attempts to explain life in purely naturalistic and materialistic terms. Most biology textbooks go all the way back to the primordial soup, before there were any living organisms, to explain how life evolved from nonliving matter through a series of chemical reactions. While this may or may not be how life came to be, one thing is certain: There isn’t room in this story for a creator God. Quite simply, evolution and any degree of theism are incompatible. As Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins has said, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

Second, suggesting that evolution was the mechanism for creating life is to assign attributes to a Creator that are not very godlike. Slow, unguided, directionless, random and purposeless are not how most religions characterize their God, but that is exactly how evolution works. At a very minimum, most people think of their God in terms of someone with a plan or a purpose for the universe. Christians, Jews and Muslims even believe that humans were created in the image of God. Yet this would be impossible if God used a random, unguided, purposeless method to achieve his objectives.

Another mistake by Glaser was to misrepresent the Intelligent Design theory as a “stand-in for faith in a creator God.” For one, the Intelligent Design theory is put forth by scientists, not theologians (leading ID proponents are Baylor mathematician William Dembski and Lehigh biochemist Michael Behe). For another, ID doesn’t attempt to address the “why” or “who” questions about life and creation. Glaser maintains that science explains the “how” of things, not the “why” of things. Given this definition, ID is clearly science because it attempts to answer only the “how,” leaving the “who” and “why” up to religion. While evolution attempts to explain life in purely (and perhaps artificially) naturalistic and materialistic terms, ID seeks to explore if intelligent engineering can be deduced in living molecular machines. Although ID is a new and unconventional approach to answering questions about life scientifically, it isn’t faith.

Without the facts to substantiate their own arguments, Darwinists resort to using an outdated stereotype that describes critics of evolution as ignorant, intolerant, religious fanatics. But increasingly the critics of evolution are scientists, not theists. Much like the pioneers of science who changed our views about the Earth and our place in the universe years ago, today a new breed of scientists is challenging outdated ideas. Yet evolutionists cling desperately to an increasingly suspect ideology, refusing to consider the mounting evidence coming to light against it, such as the lack of transitional fossils, the irreducible complexity of molecular machines found in living things and the coded language found in DNA.

These facts don’t fit well with the conventional view of evolution, which brings us to the real reason the evolutionists are against the Cobb disclaimer. They are really afraid of what would happen if students were allowed to examine evolution openly and critically, as opposed to the dogmatic approach the Darwinists are defending with the fervency of a rabid fundamentalist. If the Cobb disclaimer is a Christian statement as the [American Civil Liberties Union] maintains, isn’t it interesting that it encourages students to study evolution with an open mind? Now juxtapose that with the schoolyard bullies who file lawsuits for the slightest thing that might upset their protected ideology. Through legal intimidation and the power of the state, they seek to insulate their own beliefs from critical examination while propagating those beliefs on an unwitting student population.

If nothing else is accomplished with the Cobb disclaimer, at least the ACLU and the Darwinists have shown how extreme their position really is, and to what lengths they will go to protect it from the light of truth. Their desperation grows because they know that with each passing day and with each new scientific discovery the debate is no longer science vs. religion. It’s science vs. science.

Larry Taylor, father of three Cobb County public high school students, is the director of Parents for Truth in Education.