Sunday Night Journal — November 27, 2005
Sunday Night Journal — December 11, 2005

Sunday Night Journal — December 4, 2005

Let’s Get Religion Out of the Biology Textbooks

I’ve been thinking a lot—“brooding” might be an applicable term—about evolution, materialism, and the nature of science. It seems plain that materialists, in their eagerness to suborn science in aid of their views, have drawn conclusions that aren’t supported by the physical facts. And it occurs to me that the almost violent objection of the scientific establishment, which I think can fairly be called predominantly materialistic in philosophy, to the concept of intelligent design may be a tactical mistake.

The charge against intelligent design is that it is not science. As I wrote here a couple of weeks ago, if “science” means laboratory or experimental science, it is indeed hard to see how ID qualifies. But the same objection applies with the same force to the materialistic conclusions drawn from facts by doctrinaire evolutionists.

One need not be a scientist to see this. It requires only common sense and open eyes. A week or so ago I ran across a brief article describing the relationship between the chromosomes of chimpanzees and humans, which was presented as a vindication of Darwinism. But what struck me was that it was nothing of the sort. It did not even touch on the Darwinian mechanism—common descent by means of chance variation and random selection. It illustrated a resemblance: a striking and fascinating resemblance, and an even more striking difference which nevertheless emphasized the connection between the two. But it was only evidence of common descent if you brought that assumption to the data. (My apologies for not citing the piece; I ran across it on the net, failed to bookmark it, and now can’t remember where it was.)

I’m not particularly concerned to deny common descent. Once you’ve conceded ground on the literal interpretation of Genesis, which I’m willing to do, there’s no particular difficulty in accepting the idea that the human body has as its ancestor some sort of ape body—no problem in the idea that God used, so to speak, existing material with a long developmental history to receive the first human soul. Granting this, and granting that the transition from ape body to human body was gradual, the facts do not supply any reason whatsoever to believe that the changes were the result of the Darwinian mechanism or any other array of purely material causes. Let me emphasize that: no reason whatsoever. The facts can tell us at most only that a very complex transition seems to have occurred; they tell us nothing at all about how it occurred.

If scientists want to take material causes as a working assumption for further investigation, that’s fine. That indeed is what they are supposed to do. But when they go beyond this and declare their certainty that purely physical forces have produced the unimaginably complex structures which fill the cosmos, still more when they imagine that they have disproved the existence of God, yet more, absurdly and unacceptably more, when they declare the question closed, they have stepped far beyond the facts and beyond science, and are pretenders to knowledge which they do not have.

I think the time is ripe for theists of all stripes—and for that matter rationalists who can see the question of intellectual integrity at stake—to press the attack here. It is no more tolerable in a secular biology textbook to state materialist conclusions on these questions than to state religious ones. If science, and, more to the point, spokesmen for science, would get out of the philosophy and theology business, the level of acrimony in this controversy could be greatly reduced. Unfortunately the tactic which comes immediately to mind for this effort is the very acrimonious one of the lawsuit. But that battle is already under way. The scientific establishment is making legal war on any attempt to include the idea of purposeful design in scientific education, and that, as I mentioned above, may be a tactical mistake. Darwinism and Intelligent Design are both attempts to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of origins. Neither has been proved or is, in my opinion, likely to be proved, by physical evidence alone. We are constantly being told that science textbooks are no place for religion. Very well; let’s get all the religion out of them.


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