I have to tell you that I have been a little lax lately. Until this past summer I had thought that the whole Genesis versus Evolution thing was settled a long long time ago. I knew that some of the Genesis literalists proponents when they finally figured out that it was actually against the law to teach religion in public schools tried to make something up called “Creation Science” and try to get their narrow religious views accepted as official State Dogma but they were blocked on that. Then they tried to distance themselves from religion and they recreated their beliefs as “Intelligent Design.” That thankfully has been blocked also.
Anyway I came to find out this past summer that people, educated people, really do take this stuff seriously. They think that it really is science. They talked about “irrudicible complexity,” something I had never heard of, and claimed that for all the millions of fossils found there were zero fossils of “transitional species” (I had never heard of a transitional species.) They also said that “more and more scientists are finding out that evolution is wrong and that there had to be a designer.” I had never heard of that either. They also talked about a lawyer named Johnson who wrote a book who logically proved that Evolution is impossible. (A lawyer, a professional spinner, spinning, instead of a scientist in his lab?)
What’s the deal? I suscribe to Scientific American and I thought I was reasonably on top of things. Evolution as a biological theory that explained how life changes was thriving I thought. Paleontology looked like a thriving field also. I mean people pay big bucks to see dinosaurs.
I was also puzzled because you see I am a believer in God and Jesus. In fact, I’m pretty conservative theologically. I like the basics. No fuzzy wuzzy, light some candles, get the incense smoking, me, we, you and the universe are one nonsense for me. God created the heavens and the earth, he created you and me, he sent his son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins. That’s where I am at. I also believe that there is not one iota of conflict between science and the Bible. (Gasps!)
I had to hit the books, or rather start using Google. Lots of stuff out there. What I noticed though is that the creation scientists and the intelligent designers are not really into laboratories and peer reviewed journals. They are also great at using scientific sounding words to advance their beliefs. I am ashamed to admit that I’m not qualified to evaluate what they were claiming. I needed somebody or something to help me along.
I found “Finding Darwin’s God” by Kenneth R. Miller. Miller is not only a Biology Professor at Brown University, he is a Believer.
The book is great. In the first part of the book he takes on the so called scientific arguments of creationists and disposes of them in an even handed manner. He is not mean about it. I’m not really going into it here. Read the book! Besides that is not the best part of the book. Later on he talks about what the real problem some people have with evolution. Part of the problem is that some people including scientists are adamant that evolution proves that God doesn’t exist. My opinion, reinforced by reading this book, is that it does no such thing. Many scientists have an arrogance that some people of faith just cannot stand. Plus, some think evolution takes much of the magic out of the world. (Personally I think that creation science and intelligent design, and the young earth theories totally destroy the magic of creation and the universe.)
The more speculative last part of the book goes into his beliefs about God and evolution and the limits of science.
Why do I worry about this stuff so much? I worry about because it matters. People can believe whatever they want but when it gets to teaching wrong science in our schools I draw the line. Teaching magical science in our schools teaches fuzzy thinking which this country has way too much of anyway. I think there is a link between the avoidance of evolution teaching in our classrooms and our slow erosion of technical capability in this country. I also think that teaching fake biology creates an extremely fragile religion. If we say we know the Bible is true because of (whatever) and then the youngster finds our for himself that is wrong, then does that mean that the Bible is not true anymore?
Easy to do. I remember as a teenager participating in a youth group where the leader tried to tell us that the world is only a few thousand years old. I told him that couldn’t be true. When I lived in Utah I remember seeing thin coal seams exposed on road cuts on our Boy Scout hikes where we could see the outlines of ferns and other plants. The leader told me that Satan put them there to deceive us. I also told him about fossilized shellfish I had seen. He didn’t want to talk about it.
I recommend this book highly. It sheds much light on the manner in a thorough but gentle manner. I give it a four on a one to four star rating for this type book.
Note that this book was first published in 1999 but has recently been updated in 2007. I didn’t know that until I finished the book and was researching this post. I recommend getting the updated book.