Sunday, February 24, 2008

Finding Truth in Science

I am all for the scientific pursuit of truth. As a Christian, I believe that Truth points to God in the universe. It is a little scary then when universities begin a systematic persecution of scientists who believe in Intelligent Design. Ben Stein's video was sent to me by a friend. I found it disturbing. (BTW- it is a must see!)

Since science is a methodology at arriving at truth it should be based on evidence that is credible. When the powers that be try to enforce darwinism as the new religion they tinker with forces that they are too ignorant to understand. Or perhaps they are too blinded by bigotry against the position of a creator. For instance, how likely is it that evolution happened? Would you play the lotto with those kinds of chances? No you wouldn't!

One has to wonder about the fear of differing ideas that the establishment scientists have. To lie about the reason for dismissal as in the case of published assitant professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State, Guillermo Gonzalez adds to the mystery and the sense of conspiracy. Or consider Caroline Crocker who was released from George Mason University who was released for teaching Intellegent Design along side evolution. It seems that the idea of a creator is so threatening that there is a severe backlash against anyone who espouses the possibility of design.

There is great evidence for the creation of this world. We should not be snookered into trusting the bigoted and flawed system that calls evolution sacrosanct. While there is no demand that christians believe that God created the world in 6 literal days,or that the world is 6000 years old, the scripture clearly declares God as creator of all that is.

Knowing the creator is highest privilege of any human being.


Paul M. Harrison said...

There are so many variables to work with in this debate that it's hard to get anyone on the same page to define the terms. I find myself having to quilify like crazy every point being made in order to make sure the other person is on the same page.

For example, even getting people to agree on what science is, what its methodology is, and just what exactly it can tell us about the world seems near impossible. If science is based on falsifying, confirming, and adapting to new information, can it be said to deliver Truth in a transcendent, objective, and unchanging sense which is a much more of a philosophical and religious version or truth as opposed to pragmatically explaining physical reality?

Science itself is based on certain assumptions - that the universe can (for the most part) be apprehended and explained, or that nature works in an orderly manner. Does this assume a God at its base? There is a difference between historical science and empirical science as one can demonstrate claims in the here and now while others project as reasonably as possible into the past. How much "philosophy" is science allowed to assume. If science is filtered through a naturalist framework, isn't it freedom of thought to develop an intelligent design framework, a creationist framework, or whichever model you wish to develop and test?

Is explaining origins beyond science? Is evolution only explaining natural history - not whether or not there is a God behind or involved in the process, or does it demand naturalism and act as a positive evidence for the nonexistence of God in the process as Dawkins and most Creationists assume? (Dawkins uses this point as an argument for atheism while Creationists use it as a reason evolution must be rejected at all costs).

I think it's funny that evolutionists see ID as "Creationism in disguise" while young-earth Creationists see ID as "Evolution in disguise." I have read all of these new atheists books as well as about five Christian responses (McGrath, D'Souza, etc.) and so far not one will defend young-earth Creationism. Only one defends progressive Creationism, and the rest defend theistic evolution as the Christian norm, which I find weird.

After the NOVA program on the Dover case aired, Hugh Ross said his ministry uses a creation model based on the Bible and then predicts on that model. He had a slight falling out with the Discovery Institute crowd when he faulted them for not having a scientific model to work with, which Phillip Johnson admitted after the NOVA program as well. Ross said they are afraid to take a stand on theistic evolution or progressive Creationism as a model because most of their funding comes from young earth Creationists who want to see Creationism - not generic ID - in a classroom.

Ross was clear that he was not ashamed to say he was a Biblical Creatonist while the ID camp hides and outright deceives the public on their true motivation - to evangelize culture. This was pointed out in the Wedge document and in Myer's response to the NOVA program on the STR broadcast.

So Ross separates himself from the "political and cultural movement" of ID which admits now that the science is young, undeveloped, and not ready for classrooms (opting to "teach the controversy" instead), but agrees that there are valid scientific and philosophical arguments in ID.

I, personally, am all for the freedom to build and test various ID models just as evolution has been doing the past century, but I am against ID as a cultural movement with the agenda to "destroy Darwinism" because it supposedly is the cause of moral decay in America.

In "The God Delusion" Dawkins begins a chapter saying most of his mail is positive, some corrective, and a minority is negative and hostile. Without exception, he says, these are religious people (mostly Christians) objecting to evolution on moral grounds. Because Creationists have done such a good job at linking evolution to immorality, evolutionists become demonized. There isn't a critique of science or scientific claims, but of moral and cultural concerns. The ID movement is motivated by a little science and a lot of moral indignation towards evolution, which is why it is hard to take seriously.

But much can be said of Scientific institutions having reputations and being guarded by the values of its own subculture, so they will be intolerant of anything anti-Darwinist. I think in the same way, Christians are intolerant of Christians who are open to evolution or liberal forms of Christianity. Carlton Pierson taught universalism and lost all but a hundred people in his congregation! This is just natural of humans to do in the name of religion, atheism, or whatever.

I like Ben Stein and I think this movie will be good social commentary, but not contribute anything to the debate over the scientific validity of ID. I want to be careful it isn't a Michael Moore film. Some blogs are already saying that most teachers can talk about ID without getting in any trouble, he's just picking out the cases of intolerance and whitewashing the whole scientific community this way.

We'll see! I'm going with an ID friend and discussing it after.

Paul M. Harrison said...

I forgot to add one other central point. There is controversy as to where ID should be open for discussion. As science in a science classroom or as philosophy in a humanities classroom. So it's not that ID is having its free-speech trampled, it's just that they want to be recognized as science in a science classroom, bypassing all relulations of curriculum standards set forth for science. In other words, if evolution is established by the scientific community, that makes the curriculum. Unless ID has good peer-reviewed science, it can't just bully its way into schools by the courts.

Certianly there is not a free speech issue here, as ID is free to express itself everywhere but science curriculum, and this is because the science is shoddy, not because of a conspiracy theory of scared Darwinists defending their "religion."

I do believe that teachers have every right to question evolution, wonder about God in the process, and should as a point point out flaws and holes in the theory. I do believe anyone should be free in a science classroom to discuss intelligent design as well. If people are getting in trouble for this, more power to Ben Stein for bringing it up.

Pastor Dave said...

I don't think that evolution needs to be discredited by the Creationists linking it to morality- rather atheism is discredited by its flagrantly immoral adherants. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc. The evolutionary theory was the argument for their atheism, which, in turn lead them to reject moral treatment of others and excuse their immoral behavior.

Paul M. Harrison said...

Dostoyevsky's character Ivan says in "The Brothers Karamazov" that if there is no God, all things are permitted. This is oft quoted when making a case for Christian morals. Christopher Hitchens counters by saying that as long mankind believes God sanctions or endorses an action, there is no evil he will deny himself from doing in the name God. With or without God, it seems all things are permitted!

In a debate between Michael Shermer and Dinesh D'Souza last year, Shermer made the point that we don't determine the veracity of a worldview by pointing to dictators and political adherants because they are usually interested in one thing - themselves. They are narcissists who love power, control, worship, and will use religion, evolution, or any other thing they can exploit.

Hitler had psychological problems, used Nietzsche and Darwin, but also Christianity, Catholic anti-semitism, the occult, ancient myths of arian gods and a pure race, etc. He persecuted atheists as much as Christians who did not submit to his "new" Christianity. Stalin made himself into a god and demanded full devotion so he tried to wipe out religion as a rival to his power. On and on this totalitarian absurdity went on, but was by no means endorsed by secular humanism which tends to uphold free thought, democracy, civility, etc.

There are plenty of civil people in the world who don't believe in a personal God or final judgment but find many reasons to be civil and moral, just as many people who believe in God fall into the same traps of immorality they believe are endorsed by their holy text.

I think atheism does allow for people to live without fear of eternal punishment, causing some to want to get away with evil, but it does not by default endorse the evil done. I think from a Christian perspective free will allows me to do very evil things, but doesn't endorse or encourage evil by default. Both worldviews allow for good and bad as contingencies.

The difference is that believers with holy texts see morality as "pleasing God" by obeying his commands whereas non-religious people usually determine morality by rational inquiry and asking to what degree actions cause suffering in the world.

These are bigger issues than we can treat here.