Monday, October 23, 2006

Is it sinful to look for evidence of design?

Denise O’Leary provides the links to a few reviews of Richard Dawkin’s book, The God Delusion, over at Uncommon Descent.

She made an interesting comment at the conclusion, which I must say I tend to agree with:

If I were Microsoft billionaire Charles Simonyi (an atheist who funded Dawkins’ chair at Oxford), I would try to get Dawkins to retire, in favor of a mild-mannered science prof who holds down a pew at the local tabernacle and is firmly convinced that we sin when we look for evidence of God’s work in the universe. To be truly faithful, we must ignore evidence in favour of blind faith. Such a scientist would do far more than Dawkins to limit the growth of ID, because he makes it a positive sin among religious believers to wonder whether the heavens really do declare the glory of the Lord.
I often wonder why a person who believes that there is more to our existence than mere chance would not support the Intelligent Design movement. The majority of people in this world believe that a Designer had a hand in the creation of the universe. Why then is there so much animosity toward Intelligent Design?

I’ve heard various responses to this question, and some Christians have even told me that we cannot detect design in nature. That statement goes against biblical scripture which states that, "The Heavens declare the glory of God". His fingerprints are everywhere.

Some claim that evolution is God’s creative mechanism. Yet the theory of ID does not invalidate the theory of evolution. Certainly, there are many in the ID camp who believe that molecule to man is a fallacy, but the theory itself does not negate even Darwinian evolution.

Unlike Dawkins, who is very outspoken about his atheism, Eugenie Scott has recognized what O’Leary is alluding to in her quote above. In an earlier entry, I pointed out Scott’s statement during an interview:
"I have found that the most effective allies for evolution are people of the faith community. One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists at a school board meeting any day!"
She puts this idea to good use. I’ve seen her at presentations alongside preachers and Jesus Seminar advocates telling the flocks that evolution doesn’t go against biblical teaching and then the Jesus Seminar folks will follow up with their idea that Jesus was not a deity and was never meant to be considered as such. They state that Christ was a mere man, and that the supposed resurrection was merely an analogy of something that gives our Christian lives meaning. They basically reject the good news of the gospel, yet claim to be Christians.

I’ve just started reading Eugenie Scott’s book, Not in our Classrooms, which she has recently written along with Glenn Branch. Reverend Barry W. Lynn wrote the forward for the book. I have to wonder whether she considers this gentleman a “Clergyman with a backward collar”.

In his foreword, he states that...

“Intelligent design represents a religious viewpoint, but this does not mean that all leaders of the faith community support it; in fact, many do not see any conflict between the evidence for evolution and their own theological views about divine purpose in the universe.”
I very much disagree with this statement. The theory of ID, in and of itself, does not represent any particular religious viewpoint. Intelligent Design states that "it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than by unguided processes."

The theory has religious ~implications~ in that it could be assumed that the "designer" is a god of some type, or it could also support the idea that aliens created our particular universe through natural means. ID does not play favorites, nor does it attempt to describe or put a name to the Designer. That is something best left to theologians, not scientists.

So it’s not the theory itself that has some of these clergymen up in arms, it’s that they feel their philosophical and theological positions are being questioned and they don’t care for that. Hence, they fight the ID movement and instead of looking at what the theory actually says, they focus on what they feel is an attack on their evolutionary beliefs.

Anyway, Eugenie’s on the right track in her goal to squash ID. If she can convince those of religion to follow her footsteps, she furthers her humanist/atheistic goal which is: defend and promote metaphysical naturalism, the view that our natural world is all that there is, a closed system in no need of an explanation and sufficient unto itself.”
The Humanist Manifesto III also professes that:
“Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.”
These statements are based as strongly on faith as any religious belief may be.

I have no idea why anti-religious philosophical positions are given free reign in the classroom, but support for Design is completely rejected. Even Dawkins, a strong atheist, states that the universe gives the "illusion of design". Follow the evidence where it leads, Dawkins. I thought that was what science was all about.

But, between the two of them, I would certainly state that Scott is more of a threat to Intelligent Design, and religion for that matter, than Dawkins is. Dawkins is so vocal about his atheism and his hatred toward religion that he actually hurts science. Scott on the other hand often works within the church to further her cause against Intelligent Design. Many churches have accepted her view of science, which in part is based on faith and inferences, to the extent that they have turned their backs on the truth of scripture because they feel that they can no longer hold their belief in God on anything more than blind faith. What a shame.