Precinct 333

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Why Not Let The Data Speak For Itself?

The Dallas News, not known for its favorable coverage of religious issues, had a great editorial earlier this week supporting the teaching of Intelligent Design. It notes that famed British philosopher Anthony Flew, a leading proponent of atheism for decades, announced last week that he had become convinced of the existence of some Creator behind the existence of the universe. Why? Because DNA research has convinced him that biological life as we know it could not have come randomly into existence due to its sheer complexity. Darwin and his successors may be able to explain much about the process that followed later on, but they cannot account for the beginning of life itself. As he said when he made this announcement, his conclusion isn't based upon some pre-conceived notion of religious faith.
My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.

Please note -- this isn't some jack-leg street-corner preacher thumping a Bible. This is a serious intellectual whose writings have been cited for years by those who are opposed to religion and supportive of rational materialism. Why, then, are so many folks opposed to even presenting the theory of intelligent design alongside the theory of Darwinian evolution? Why do leading scientist like Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin insist with a fundamentalist fervor that any view that might even hint at the existence of God is unacceptable?
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, and in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so-stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."
Lewontin, R., "Billions and Billions of Demons," The New York Review, January 1997, p. 31

No, it is long past time for us to reject the notion that science and spirituality are necessarily at odds with one another. Teach the theories -- both Darwinian Evolution and Intelligent Design -- AS THEORIES and present the evidence for both. Then allow students to follow Plato's Socrates, as did Flew: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.


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