Friday, April 02, 2004

Naturally speaking...

There has been a flurry of postings regarding the topics of naturalism, evolution and, creationism latetly: Check Bill Wallo's Hitchin' a Ride on the Passion Express in which he examines some of the ramifications the movie the Passion is having on Hollyweird. In true C. S. Lewis fashion, though, Bill reminds us of the difference between a pagan mindset and a truly secularist mindset - with Christians being closer to the pagans. He also illustrates the conundrum that those who attempt to hold to a naturalistic worldview have when also attempting to find purpose or meaning in such a world. World Magazine has a post which references an article at NRO which examines actions by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) to introduce a curriculum "that tries to use religion to support the teaching of evolution." What's more, "'s been funded by nearly half a million dollars of taxpayer money." From John West's article at NRO,
But the strangest part of the website, by far, is the section that encourages educators to use religion to endorse evolution. Teachers are told that nearly all religious people, theologians, and scientists who hold religious beliefs endorse modern evolutionary theory, and that indeed such a view "actually enriches their faith." In fact, teachers are directed to statements by a variety of religious groups giving their theological endorsement of evolution. For example, educators can read a statement from the United Church of Christ that "modern evolutionary theory... is in no way at odds with our belief in a Creator God, or in the revelation and presence of that God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit." Needless to say, statements from thoughtful religious groups and scholars who critique Darwinism because of its claim that the development of life was an unguided process are not included. Nor is there any indication of the fact that, according to opinion surveys, the vast majority of Americans continues to be skeptical of Darwin's theory of unguided evolution. This effort to use religion to endorse evolution is part of a larger public-relations strategy devised by the NCSE to defuse skepticism of neo-Darwinism. On its own website, the group advises inviting ministers to testify in favor of evolution before school boards, and it has created a Sunday-school curriculum to promote evolution in the churches. The NCSE even has a "Faith Network Director" who claims that "Darwin's theory of evolution... has, for those open to the possibilities, expanded our notions of God." Eugenie Scott, the group's executive director, is an original signer of something called the Humanist Manifesto III, which proclaims that "humans are... the result of unguided evolutionary change" and celebrates "the inevitability and finality of death." Although a non-believer herself, Scott apparently understands the political utility of religion.
You've gotta wonder if the evidence for evolution is so truly convincing (as most evolutionists will claim), then why bother with getting religious endorsement? Frank Beckwith has a profound question at in Humanists to Fight Creationists' Acne?. He states,
In an essay published in the Fall 2003 Newsletter of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, philosopher Barbara C. Forrest had this to say about a conference she had attended: "NCSE executive director Eugenie Scott led the session on initial organizing. Attendees discussed ways of locating the scientists, teachers, clergy, parents, and community members who are needed to fight creationist outbreaks." (emphasis mine) The humanists may not agree with the creationists, but at least they care about their complexion.
That reminds me of the fictional Country & Western song from a few years back...
You can lock me up in jail, and throw away the key, But you can't keep my face from breakin' out!
Joe @ EO has a post titled, Yokoi’s Cave and the Monkey Mind: How Evolution Refutes Naturalism, in which he does an excellent job of summarizing arguments from the likes of Alvin Plantinga who posit that modern evolutionary theory and philosophical naturalism are incompatible. (hint... well, actually... answer: they are inconsistent with each other). UPDATE: Per the Understanding Evolution website:
Misconception: “Evolution and religion are incompatible.” Response: Religion and science (evolution) are very different things. In science (as in science class), only natural causes are used to explain natural phenomena, while religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world. The misconception that one has to choose between science and religion is divisive. Most Christian and Jewish religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings. In fact, many religious people, including theologians, feel that a deeper understanding of nature actually enriches their faith. Moreover, in the scientific community there are thousands of scientists who are devoutly religious and also accept evolution.
In other words, we're asked to believe that science is about the rational while religion is about the... irrational? Or rather, simply understand that science works with physical reality, you are certainly free to believe in whatever abstract non-reality you want - so long as you understand that it has absolutely no impact on our understanding of nature. The NCSE has a link that lists statements from religious organizations on evolution. Now what about religious organizations that don't subscribe to the compatibility of evolution and religion?

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