Monday, September 07, 2009

Evolution vs. Creationism - Part7

[Long posts scare me. Read time: 3.5min]

Eugenie Scott now turns her attention to "Beliefs: Relgion, Creationism, and Naturalism" where she reminds us again that the natural world is not all that people think about; there are parts of reality that science can't examine. [47] This is, perhaps, "the most important reason scientists restrict themselves to materialistic explanations" [50].

She begins by stating that all religions seem to have "a belief in something beyond the material world, an Ultimate or Absolute or transcendent reality" [47]. And the ethical systems of human societies are "usually, though not universally ... strongly influenced by religion" [48].

Two thoughts:

  1. Non- or irreligious people do have a code of ethics. In fact, they are often easily perceived as more ethical than their religiously motivated, intolerant neighbors who are steeped in the blood of religious history. A closer inspection of this perception would, I believe, be very beneficial to everyone; unfortunately, that is far beyond the scope of this post.
  2. While I think it is perfectly fair for Scott to say that ethical systems are "strongly influenced" by religion, I think it is also essential that we recognize that often societal ills are perpetrated by those who are acting outside of their religious code. For example: Pornography use is rampant within the Christian church, but that is outside of the Christian ethic. I think there are fascinating implications to this reality, but--again--that is beyond this post.

Scott next points out that religion often asks the question of motivation: What is the motivation behind a natural disaster? Were the gods angry? These kinds of questions show a "blended" spiritual and natural worldview [49].

But just because we in the Western world accept a natural explanation for a "natural disaster" that does not mean that God was not involved... merely that He can use the natural world. Though, remember, the Bible does seem to show a certain impartiality to the righteous and the unrighteous.

Scott then quotes St. Augustine who makes a good case for not relying on the Bible to inform our views of natural world: If the Christian maintains "foolish opinions about the [natural world based on Scripture], how then are [others] going to believe those Scriptures in matters concerning the resurrection ... and the kingdom of heaven?" And much like Newton, it is wise to take on a natural philosophy and look for laws within nature. [49]

Yet it is entirely possible to stick with a "methodological naturalism" as opposed to a "philosophical naturalism" [50]. Scientists who are Christian often hold to the former, but there are those who go to the latter extreme and thus reject anything beyond the physical world.

Scott then mentions much of what I wrote in Part 2 stating that, "The Catholic Church rejected [geocentrism] partly on scientific grounds" but also because of their interpretation of Scripture [51]. I would also remind us to think of the political motivations as well.

"It is important to define terms and use them consistently," Scott tells us. [51] Too bad she has so infrequently taken her own advice thus far.

She then talks about "Origin Myths" which "are 'true' even if they are fantastic and deal with impossible events [because they] encapsulate important cultural truths" [52]. And I think that is fair; CS Lewis (or, perhaps, Tolkien?) called Christianity the one true myth. Too bad she does not include her own origin myth on page 27 in this mix.

I'll pause here and let you take a break. We'll continue this chapter in the next post.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

2 comments:

Anne L.B. said...

"Non- or irreligious people ... are often easily perceived as more ethical than their religiously motivated, intolerant neighbors who are steeped in the blood of religious history." As misguided as people may be in the exercise of their religion, I can better respect the man willing to die for his false religion than the man who twists truth to conform it to his myopic viewpoint.

"It is also essential that we recognize that often societal ills are perpetrated by those who are acting outside of their religious code." Well said, Luke.

Either of these assertions would make an excellent discussion if you choose to post on them.

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