Posts tagged ‘science’
When discussing religion with believers, I often encounter the accusation that science is just another religion, complete with dogma, blind faith, etc. This is a misguided idea. Science is set apart from religion in that it is verifiable by everyday experience. It is also fluid in the sense that scientific facts are falsifiable and theories are subject to change according to the most current observations. Religion, on the other hand is static and considered infallible. Believers are expected to have faith not just in the absence of supporting evidence, but also when the evidence blatantly contradicts the religious tenets.
Someone who considers the validity of any scientific principle has the benefit of being able to verify the claim to their satisfaction. Anyone can retrace the logical steps of any successful theory or repeat any successful experiment and see the results for themselves, but this is not always practical. Because scientific theories and experiments have the tendency to be too complicated and labor intensive for the average person to experience for themselves, many people do take scientific principles on faith alone.
But what is the nature of that faith? I have faith that if I jump off of the side of the cliff, I will fall down and probably be killed. This faith is not blind, it is established from prior evidence…
I started writing this review for my Shelfari page, but it kept growing and growing until I decided it might make a halfway decent article here. Since my scathing review of Blue Like Jazz , I thought this one was a little more generous. By a little.
I wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to like this book. Inspired by an article by blogger DagoodS, I picked up the book in Dallas while waiting for a connecting flight. Dowd has lately been making the rounds promoting his book, and appearing on everything from Albert Mohler’s radio show to Point of Inquiry. He lives the life of an itinerant evangelist, who travels about the country writing and lecturing on his successful marriage of Christian faith and the theory of evolution. After hearing Dowd being interrogated and his Faith questioned by Dr. Russell Moore, I admit I developed a soft spot for Dowd. I wanted to like him, and his book. I wanted somebody from inside the Christian faith who could successfully promote and evangelize both Christian belief and modern science. Picking up the book, I was struck by 6 pages of accolades from theologians, physicists, ministers, biologists and Nobel laureates. I was impressed by his opening paragraphs which promise inspiration and insight to such diverse beliefs ranging from the Fundamentalist to the Atheist, and everyone in between…
For much of my evangelical Christian life, I held a Theistic Evolutionary view of creation. I’ll confess that I didn’t always adhere firmly to this view. Sometimes I wavered and veered into a fairly conservative Creationist point of view. Nevertheless, I could never entirely shake free of the realization that evolution had lots of empirical support. Moreover, I realized this long before I ever read my first book about evolution.
What, you may wonder (or maybe not), does a theistic view of evolution look like? Let me state up front that I can only describe what my view was; I cannot and do not claim to speak in any way for other theistic evolutionists. My view of theistic evolution was pretty simple and consisted of these points:
- The first section of Genesis (say, the first eleven chapters) should not be read as literal accounts; they were literary constructions intended to recognize and respectfully memorialize through poetic imagery God’s activity in the universe. As for the rest of Genesis, I’ll shamefacedly admit that I took much of it literally.
- Evolution was the process that God designed to create and sustain life on earth…
Rover recently posted a couple questions for us that I thought I would highlight.
“I have been on this site for several weeks now and the views shared here have challenged me greatly. I was wondering if some of the de-cons might answer a couple questions?
- There are Christians like myself who claim that the universe is finely tuned and shows evidence of being created by God. I have read many arguments refuting this claim, but what have you found to be the best one and most irrefutable?
- How can atheism truly support the evolution of sacrificial love? Dawkins arguments on this subject seem inadequate. Do you have any others?
Kieran Bennett recently completed his series on why Christians de-convert. To answer this question, he considered 94 of the 117 de-conversion stories he read on one of the largest archives of de-conversion stories on the internet.
Here is what he found:
- Dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the religion was the most common reason cited for de-conversion amongst the sample (14.89%).
- The realisation that religious dogma contradicted observable reality was
the second mostan equally common reason for de-conversion cited within the sample (also at 14.89%).
- 12.76% of the de-converted Christians in the sample spoke about realising the contradictions within the dogma itself.
- For 10.63% of people in the sample, reading the bible was significant in ending their faith.
- Only 8.51% of people in the sample attributed their de-conversion to the hypocrisy of the church.
- In another 8.51% of the de-conversion stories, people tried to speak to god and they now credit god’s lack of an answer for their de-conversion
- And finally, stumbling across the realisation that many religions were just like theirs caused deep doubts for 8.5% of the sample he read…
by John Trever, Albuquerque Journal, 1998.
I don’t have a problem with intelligent design (ID). In fact, I believed in something like intelligent design when I was a kid and it allowed me to be both a creationist (believing God created the universe) and to accept science and evolution (God set the ball rolling, set up the rules, and used evolution as a tool). Eventually this led to me dropping the creationist beliefs.
I do support ID as a philosophy because it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution. Born-again Christian kids are going to be taught some form of creationism whether skeptics and atheists and scientists like it or not. I for one would like that to include at least a rudimentary acceptance of evolution as a concept. And since ID is basically a “God of the gaps” theory, it will eventually collapse under scrutiny by those who take the time to think, and the individual may be left with naked evolution.
Literal young earth creationism on the other hand, is part of a mindset that does not leave much of a window for thought at all, and it is a much more insidious philosophy.
I can live with people thinking that God started the evolutionary ball rolling, and even with the idea that he tinkers with it a little bit — as long as they keep their religious beliefs out of public school science classrooms, unless they actually scientifically discover verifiable evidence of God’s tinkering…