Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sowing Confusion

Lots of people are confused about the relationship of religion and science. Michael Shermer adds to the confusion:

Intelligent Design creationism resurfaced in the news last week after President Bush's remarks were (mis)taken by IDers to be a solid endorsement for the teaching of ID in public school science classrooms. (Bush's science advisor, John H. Marburger III, said that "evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology" and "intelligent design is not a scientific concept.")

One magazine reporter asked for my opinion about whether one can believe in God and the theory of evolution. I replied that, empirically speaking, yes, you can - the proof being that 40% of American scientists profess a belief in God and also accept the theory of evolution, not to mention that most of the world's 1 billion Catholics believe in God and accept the theory of evolution.

But then this reporter wanted to know if it is logically consistent to believe in God and the theory of evolution. That is, does the theory of evolution - if carried out to its logical conclusion - preclude belief in God? This is a different question. Here is my answer.

You can believe in God and evolution as long as you keep the two in separate, logic-tight compartments. Belief in God depends on religious faith. Belief in evolution depends on empirical evidence.

This is the fundamental difference between religion and science. If you attempt to reconcile religion and science on questions about nature and the universe, and if you push the science to its logical conclusion, you will end up naturalizing the deity because for any question about nature - the origins of the universe, life, humans, whatever - if your answer is "God did it," a scientist will ask: "How did God do it? What forces did God use? What forms of matter and energy were employed in the creation process?" and so forth. The end result of this inquiry can only be natural explanations for all natural phenomena. What place, then, for God?

One could argue that God is the laws and forces of nature, which is logically acceptable, but this is pantheism and not the type of personal God to which most people profess belief.

One could also argue that God created the universe and life using the laws and forces of nature as his tools, which is also logically fine, but it leaves us with additional scientific questions: Which laws and forces were used to create specific natural phenomena? How did God create the laws and forces of nature? A scientist would be curious to know God's recipe for, say, gravity or for a universe or a cell. For that matter, it is a legitimate scientific question to ask what made God, and how was God created? How do you make an omniscient being?

Finally, one could argue that God is outside of nature and therefore needs no explanation. This is also logically consistent, but by definition it means that the God question is outside of science, and therefore religion and science are separate and incompatible.

Bottom line: Teach science in science classes and religion in religion classes.

Shermer has just finished arguing that a consistent evolutionism leads to atheism and then turns around and argues that the God question is not answerable by science. That's a most peculiar juxtaposition of arguments.

He closes the article by urging us to teach science in science class and religion in religion classes, but having told us that science logically entails a religious conclusion, i.e. that there is no God, a school would be violating his advice by following it. Very odd and not very helpful.

All's Fair On the Left

Judge Roberts must be stopped by any means necessary. Even if it means twisting logic and inventing slanders to smear him with. Here's the latest:

CNN has reviewed and agreed to run a controversial ad produced by a pro-abortion group that falsely accuses Supreme Court nominee John Roberts of filing legal papers supporting a convicted clinic bomber!

The news network has agreed to a $125,000 ad buy from NARAL, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned, for a commercial which depicts a bombed out 1998 Birmingham, AL abortion clinic. The Birmingham clinic was bombed seven years after Roberts signed the legal briefing. The linking of Roberts to "violent fringe groups" is the sharpest attack against the nominee thus far.

However, the non-partisan University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg reviewed the NARAL ad and found it to be "false." found "in words and images, the ad conveys the idea that Roberts took a legal position excusing bombing of abortion clinics, which is false."

The Republican National Committee is preparing to send a letter to television stations asking them to pull the spot, according to sources. The RNC's letter claims: "NARAL's ad is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that has no purpose but to mislead the American people."

No doubt NARAL's response is "So?"

This ad is so unfair that even many of NARAL's allies are uneasy about it, but, hey, you have to do what you have to do. Any organization that defends partial birth abortion can hardly be expected to suddenly scruple over distorting the truth to discredit a foe.

Another One Goes Over the Edge

Another liberal is driven over the brink by Bush's re-election. They're unable to stop themselves, apparently, from indulging in their hate-inspired weirdness, even at this late date.

Speaking of left-wing weirdness inspired by George Bush, Mick Jagger has weighed in with a new song with which to demonstrate to his fans his political astuteness by insulting the president and his secretary of state. The very clever lyrics go:

"You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite/ You call yourself a patriot. Well, I think your are full of sh*t!... How come you're so wrong, my sweet neo-con."

Insightful, no?

Mick has sympathy for the devil, but only contempt for George Bush and Condi Rice. Pretty weird.