Thursday, August 11, 2005

The intelligent design fight introduces some interesting thoughts

Evolution vs. Religion - Quit pretending they're compatible. By Jacob Weisberg

At least Bush's attack on biology is producing some interesting discussions. Weisberg tosses aside the commonplace convention that one can be both a traditional christian and a 'believer' in natural selection:
That evolution erodes religious belief seems almost too obvious to require argument. It destroyed the faith of Darwin himself, who moved from Christianity to agnosticism as a result of his discoveries and was immediately recognized as a huge threat by his reverent contemporaries. In reviewing The Origin of Species in 1860, Samuel Wilberforce, the bishop of Oxford, wrote that the religious view of man as a creature with free will was 'utterly irreconcilable with the degrading notion of the brute origin of him who was created in the image of God.'
For Weisberg the truce between science and religion is a built on a 'white lie' and it's time for the old battle to rage anew.

Weisberg clearly has a point, and the catholic church agrees with him. The basic tenets of most of the world's religion are in conflict with the idea of humans as a random and possibly transient and superficial event in the history of the world.

It's not impossible to reconcile deity with natural selection. Personally, I find it easier to imagine a deity that fires up universe and waits to see what develops; creating entities in one's 'own image' seems to me rather dull and vain. I like to hope a deity is a bit beyond that.

Or one could always invoke the 'incomprensibility of God' clause, or assume that God creates Man by choosing to inhabit the one of a trillion, trillion universes in which Man by chance evolves. Still, these ideas are a bit of a stretch for most religions.

Religion places Man at the center of things. Natural selection makes him just another miraculous species. That's a genuine conflict.

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