About Me

Find out more about me here.

29 August 2012

The Unintended Consequences of Evolution Denial, Pt. 2

The classic folly in the Religion vs. Science conflict revolved around the notion of a heliocentric universe. You remember this old tale of Galileo being forced to recant his support for the scientific theory that placed the sun and not the earth at the center of the cosmos. It took them another 367 revolutions of the earth around the sun, but to its credit, the Catholic Church did formally apologize to poor old Galileo. The debate over Evolution is is just as dicey, and I see see two possible reactions to the evidence surrounding the theory:
  1. We trust what we pull from the ground and what we analyze in the information stored in DNA.
  2. We see all of this data as an elaborate ruse set up by God to test our trust in him despite our God-given capacities for sensing the world around us and synthesizing logical conclusions based on those observations.
Some may argue that there is a third possibility that I fail to note above, that there is an alternative interpretation of the existing data. This is not correct. The only, I repeat, only logical conclusion given the existing data is evolutionary theory more or less as it exists in its current state. Certainly, there are details over which to bicker, but the foundation is inevitable. The Flinstones did not ride dinosaurs to work. Inevitably and eventually, one must decide between science or a woefully deceitful deity.

Contrary to what we are often told or might assume, though, possibility 1 above does not preclude religious faith. It is the standard teaching of most mainline Christian denominations and of the Catholic Church. Science and religion can in fact coexist in harmony. A serious question comes directly from possibility 2 above, however. If that is the reality, that God has intentionally deceived us by planting misleading evidence on the earth and by programming us to come to inevitable conclusions based on that evidence, many are forced to ask whether such a god is worthy of our veneration, and many would answer that such a god is indeed not worthy. (But, since any definition of a beneficent god would require that God do only good, then God would be incapable of possibility 2, but I digress.) And, this is the risk: when religions take hardline stances in the face of overwhelming and contradictory evidence, they endanger not only people's ability to adhere to their particular brand of religion but to religion as a category; they erode the plausibility structure on which religious belief is built. It may seem like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but this is the wages of such orthodoxy.

No comments:

Post a Comment