Thursday, August 11, 2005

Even More on Intelligent Design/ Evolution

Okay, well this time I will try to be a bit more succinct because I know I can ramble a bit.

Lee: According to my research, the point that advocates of intelligent design are trying to make with school boards such as the Kansas school board is not that they want ID taught in its fullness in the classroom. “Why is that,” you might ask…well, basically ID is still a young movement in the scientific world and, as a result, supporters (for the most part) recognize that it has not yet matured as a science and there needs to be more investigation before it is taught full-blown in a classroom.

What I would argue here is that Intelligent Design can't be taught in a science class because its major points require us to theorize about things we can't observe. As it is now, the argument is strong where it says that, ultimately, science and religion are not mutually exclusive. Because, it essentially points to a body of evidence that atheists see as proof of randomness and non-atheists see as proof of God and says that neither one has any strong or direct evidence of their particular interpretation. However, since both interpretations require a particular theoretical world-view, and neither one offers strong evidence, I would say that neither interpretation should be taken seriously as science.

But, you know, that's okay! I mean, I have no concrete evidence that my cat loves me, but it seems that way to me, and ultimately, I don't need lab-work to have faith in it.

Lee: So the debate (as far as curriculum is concerned) is mostly about presenting evolution as a theory, identifying where it may not answer all the scientific questions, and teaching the science of evolution…not the doctrine of Evolution (aka Scientific Fundamentalism, right?).

Right, that would be the ideal Biology class, because it would allow for the possibility that the gaps in the theory may or may not be filled by God, but also acknowledge that it's not the place of science to try to answer questions of religion.

Lee: -You mentioned, ”the nature of faith is that it requires us to believe in something without evidence.” I would have to disagree heartily. That would be the definition of stupidity, not faith. Faith is believing something without conclusive evidence. I have a measure of faith every time I get in the car and assume I will make it to where I am driving. I have faith that you will probably answer this comment. I have faith that God exists and that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. None of these three things require me to have “faith” as you define it…why? Because I drive places all the time and survive; I could look at stats on how successful drivers are in arriving at their destinations unharmed; I know that you are the kind of guy that enjoys thinking and carrying on good, challenging conversation; I can see evidence for God in the world (as you have said); there is no evidence strong enough to disprove the existence of God; belief in God is philosophically and logically reasonable; and because the disciples knew Jesus, knew He died, saw Him resurrected, and died to preach that gospel (among others). Faith is reasonable, and ID is a real science that helps to demonstrate that it is not unreasonable to have faith…that faith is not a synonym for stupidity.

No, certainly not. Einstein was no fool. Nor was Kant, for that matter.

Faith is not unreasonable, but it still requires you to believe in something beyond sense perception, beyond the realm of science. In all those cases you mentioned, you have no conclusive evidence, which isn't actually the goal of science, but you also have no direct empirical evidence, at least not until you can build a machine to observe the future. The nature of faith is that it requires belief in something that cannot be conclusively proven or disproven by any empirical methods. I honestly can't imagine that I could ever point to any fact, person, or event in the physical world and convince you that God didn't exist. The nature of your faith is such that, ultimately, you believe. It may be reasonable, but reason isn't the criteria for faith- it wouldn't be faith if anything in the physical world could convince you to abandon it. That's not stupid by any means, but it's a distinctly different sort of knowledge than scientific knowledge.

By contrast, science requires us to accept all empirical evidence about the physical world as disprovable. I have to accept that, however unlikely it may be, the sun might not rise tomorrow. I have to believe that there could someday be a black swan. I even have to believe that someday Newton could be proved wrong. Otherwise, my beliefs become purely faith-based and not scientific.

Moreover, science can only deal with those phenomena that I can directly observe. This is why, incidentally, much of quantum theory is theoretical. It cannot yet be tested. It is also why, ultimately, I don't think science is at all qualified to deal with matters of theology. This sort of attitude that people like Richard Dawkins have of: "Well, you must be stupid to believe in God. I know better- after all, I have an electron microscope!" is not only arrogant- it's a dogmatic faith.

But, I don't think theology can answer questions in the lab either.

There are a few reasons that I don't consider ID to be a real science:
1) It has to go beyond direct empirical evidence and into the realm of pure speculation to come to its conlusions.
2) It seemingly relies on no actual experiments. There is no way of demonstrating in a laboratory to a group of athiests that God is creating ______ as observable through, say, an electron microscope.
3) I would argue that, as the theory stands now, it cannot possibly be disproved. That might sound good, but that's the nature of faith, and not science.

Lee: I am curious to know more about what you believe about God when you say, “I actually believe in the existence of God.”

I believe that the universe is intelligent, benevolent, and that it wants us to interact with it.

Lee: How would you describe the scientific process? At what point would a scientist being a theist invalidate the legitimacy of that process?

Well, it wouldn't out of hand. The scientist just couldn't bring the unknowable in to fill the gaps in her science. Look, the scientist can offer great amount of evidence in a lab to argue that an oak tree is ideally suited to its environment. And, in her personal life, she can believe that God made the tree that way. However, she cannot show, in any empirical way, God creating the tree. She cannot observe God directly or through instruments. She cannot build a computer that can give a reading of God's presence. She cannot demonstrate God's presence to a non-believer in any direct empirical way.

I've said this is good for those who have faith because proving God's existence in the lab would make belief a matter of sense-perception and salvation would be as meaningless as me looking at my cat and acknowledging that she exists. However, it's also good for the theist who does science because it acknowledges that science and religion both offer very plausible explanations of the world that are not really mutually-exclusive, but which essentially occupy different spheres of perception. That's why I think they should also occupy different classrooms.

Hmmm... not totally succinct, and I mentioned the cat a bit much. But, still very interesting points you raised. Thanks for being so willing to discuss these things and bringing up such good ideas.

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