Cross Reference: Science and religion; friends not enemies

In Columns, Cross Reference


Evolution in the historical Darwinian sense is defined as the process in which organisms tend to adapt to their environment for survival to reproduce themselves for the perpetuation of their own species.

This concept revolutionized scientific models and provided, at the time, the desperately missing link to the possible source or “origin” of species in the biological sciences. Unfortunately, as Kenneth Miller in his book, Finding Darwin’s God, argues, philosophers and others have taken Darwin’s fundamental theory and blown it out into other academic disciplines where it does not belong, such as theology.

In the same way, religion—namely Christianity—should not try to delve into science as Christian theology exclusively aims to explain purpose and existence through God and Jesus. Any perceived attempt at an overlap is bad hermeneutics.

Proper exegetical principles have shown that Scripture is not in fact a science textbook that aims to explain any scientific concept from creation to death. To do so is an explicitly erroneous and fallacious reading of the text that should never be considered.

Miller, a devout Catholic, argues when science and other disciplines attempt to blend together, major discontinuities surface that should not. Science only attempts to explain empirical phenomena (as it should) and other disciplines, namely theology, only should attempt to explain the immaterial that is too abstract for science to touch.

Miller says that theology and science are two different spheres that deal with completely different issues. The overlaps, he says, are not only minimal but are not present in each’s purest forms.

The National Academy of Sciences addressed the rift between science and religion in a statement in 1998 to clear the air of any misconceptions that had arisen.

“At the root of the apparent conflict between some religions and evolution is a misunderstanding of the critical difference between religious and scientific ways of knowing. Religions and science answer different questions about the world… Religious and scientific ways of knowing have played, and will continue to play, significant roles in human history.”

Miller’s thesis in his book is that evolution and Christianity are both equally relevant and valuable because of each other. He sees them as complementary to each other by virtue of difference as the National Academy of Science attested to.

Miller sifts through arguments of the world’s leading atheists and other secular thinkers with extensive scientific backgrounds. His critiques are that the world simply does not understand the divide that should exist between science and religion.

In the same work, he refutes the work of the infamous Michael Behe’s, Darwin’s Black Box, where he comes to the definition of an irreducible complexity, the idea that some concepts cannot be reduced any further down to proteins because of their complex makeup.

Because of irreducible complexities that exist in nature, argued Behe, must mean that there is a “designer.” But that in itself is a fantasy. The truth, as Miller points out, is that irreducible complexity in Behe’s example organisms are deeply flawed and therefore falsified.

Miller’s work, published in 1999, even predates the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case where Behe admitted on the witness stand in Dover, Pennsylvania, that the textbook Of Pandas and People was repackaged creationism as “intelligent design” and the court ruled to have the book removed from schools.

Evolution, Miller says, has contributed more to his faith in Jesus Christ and God than anything else because through his perspective, science and God validate each other through a pseudo-necessitative way.

“What if the very foundations that seem to lock evolution and religion into conflict were built upon suspect ground?” asked Miller.

Christianity or other faith groups should stay out of Darwinian evolution altogether because meaning and existence are not found in science.

To do so would violate the purpose of religion altogether.

Miller says there should be no social implications to Darwinian evolution because Charles Darwin didn’t intend it that way. He was no expert in theology and did not attempt to be.

In the same way, theologians should not attempt to explain science because theology was never meant to.

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