Jerry Coyne has a new article on “Seeing and Believing. The never-ending attempt to reconcile science and religion, and why it is doomed to fail.” (The New Republic, Feb 4th 2009). It’s a very interesting article and well worth reading. It primarily deals with the attempts of Giberson and Miller to defend evolutionary biology while holding fast to their religion.
Coyne states that:
“A meaningful effort to reconcile science and faith must start by recognizing them as they are actually understood and practiced by human beings. You cannot re-define science so that it includes the supernatural, as Kansas’s board of education did in 2005. Nor can you take “religion” to be the philosophy of liberal theologians, which, frowning on a personal God, is often just a hairsbreadth away from pantheism…No, a proper solution must harmonize science with theism: the concept of a transcendent and eternal god who nonetheless engages the world directly and pays special attention to the real object of divine creation, Homo sapiens.”
I really appreciate this statement since, in an effort to minimize the difference between science and religion, both are often redefined and reinterpreted. Coyne rejects such a merger and insists that both must be defined properly. Doing so means that somehow evolution must show some purposeful drive to humanity since that is the apex of God’s creation:
“If we cannot prove that humanoid evolution was inevitable, then the reconciliation of evolution and Christianity collapses. For if we really were the special object of God’s creation, our evolution could not have been left to chance. (It may not be irrelevant that although the Catholic Church accepts most of Darwinism, it makes an official exception for the evolution of Homo sapiens, whose soul is said to have been created by God and inserted at some point into the human lineage.)”
I will go further than this. Since the Christianity most people believe in depends on a literal Fall that plunged the whole world into sin and which required a Savior, then somehow the evolution of man must explain this. It just can’t and without a Fall there is no Christianity. The Apostle Paul said:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. (Rom 5:12-19)
This cannot be reconciled with evolutionary theory. So then, why is the attempt made to reconcile science and religion. Coyne points out a particularly candid comment made by Giberson:
“As a purely practical matter, I have compelling reasons to believe in God. My parents are deeply committed Christians and would be devastated, were I to reject my faith. My wife and children believe in God, and we attend church together regularly. Most of my friends are believers. I have a job I love at a Christian college that would be forced to dismiss me if I were to reject the faith that underpins the mission of the college. Abandoning belief in God would be disruptive, sending my life completely off the rails.”
Coyne comments on this statement:
“This touching confession reveals the sad irrationality of the whole enterprise–the demoralizing conflict between a personal need to believe and a desperation to show that this primal need is perfectly compatible with science.”
In other words, ones religious faith requires some type of reinterpretation of evolution to fit in with a belief system even though the facts don’t support it. It’s amazing how well we can fool ourselves into believing just about any nonsense. This is why science is so important because it is the evidence not a belief that speaks. It’s not that a belief can’t redirect research efforts, but eventually the evidence always wins. Religion has no evidence, just faith and belief.
Coyne concludes by saying:
“Attempts to reconcile God and evolution keep rolling off the intellectual assembly line. It never stops, because the reconciliation never works.”