21.3.07

On Darwinism, Creationism and Petitions

There has been a recent petition and counter petition to the Prime Minister that has brought the issues of Creationism and Darwinism to the fore again.

Those who are familiar with this blog will know that I have posted on the topic of faith and science and Darwinism in particular several times. Check my archives under "faith and science" if you want to see what I have had to say.

In this particular case I have not signed the petition. Not because I don't have strong feelings on the subject of faith or science - as a Christian with a first-class honours degree in Physics, I care about both - but because the petition is primarily about faith schools. Something I am ambivalent about. It is people who have faith, not institutions. I did not attend a faith school, and I don't know much in the way for or against that would persuade me to petition the Prime Minister about them. People should have the freedom to make up their own minds on scientific theories and the claims of Jesus Christ, regardless of what type of school they attend.

The original petition, despite its emotive wording and obvious atheistic bent, basically said that creationism should not be taught as science in schools. This may come as a shock to some, but I actually agree with that statement!

Don't get me wrong. I believe absolutely that the Universe was created in a literal seven days by the one true living God as revealed in the pages of the Bible. But I believe this not because of any scientific theories I have studied, or which school I attended, but on the basis of my own personal faith in Jesus and in the authority of the word of God.

Simple logic dictates that if the Genesis account is true, then the act of creation was a miraculous act by the hand of God himself. It can no more be explained by science than how Jesus rose from the dead, walked on the water, or turned water into wine. To attempt to come up with scientific explanations for the miraculous acts of the divine hand is both foolish and futile.

Faith and science are not enemies, but they are distinct. Faith should be taught as faith, and science as science. They are not mutually exclusive. When did you last hear the argument that Shakespeare should not be taught at school because it is not scientific? The Genesis account does not need to be scientific to be true. Nor does it need any scientific bolstering to make it more acceptable. It stands on its own merit.

The opposite side of the scale is where the problem with Darwinism lies. I don't have any problem with evolution being taught in schools. Indeed how can you argue against what you are ignorant about? There is much good science bundled up with Darwin's speculative nonsense about the Origin of the Species. Where the problem lies is when it is presented not as theory but as unquestionable fact. It then crosses the line from science into dogma.

Having said all that the counter-petition is worded well, and is careful to promote the teaching of creation rather than creationism. But it doesn't change the fact that both these petitions are primarily about faith schools, and concerns about them setting their own scientific curriculum. If you care deeply about faith schools then by all means sign the petition, but if you don't then don't feel obliged to respond in a knee-jerk way. Save your energies for the real battle.

"Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honour as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." (Isa 8:12-13)

6 comments:

Mark H said...

You know, I was discussing this very topic with a friend last night, and saying the exact same thing. My only issue with Evolution in education is that it's taught as fact (which is faith - believing in a theory as fact), when it should be taught as what it is - theory (which requires scientific study, and no mention of faith). Teaching any theory as fact is bad science.

Chris HH said...

Here's a petition that I was happy to sign.

Richard Bentall said...

Chris. Thank you for your coments and I just wanted to add that this is an opportunity for the next generation to be made aware of "other" views. Some folk, like me, have not had the opportunity like youryourself to study Physics and then get a degree [sorry a 1st :-). When it comes to physics all I know is that when a + and - electricity cable is put together on a class mates finger, it makes them jump !!, I think that was physics]. The point being is that our children who are GROUNDED in Christ will not waiver from what has been taught but will understand that there are many different ideas out there, however it all comes back to Genesis 1. None of these views are new today and have been around for a long time and I'm sure that you've got a verse for them somewhere

Every blessing today for you my brother and send our love to your wonderful family.

Richard

Lawrence Gage said...

Chris, you're right. Christian believers, too, need to be educated about Darwinism to be able to discuss intelligently with Darwinism's believers.

You could use a better example for a non-scientific academic subject than Shakespeare though. I assume you don't want the Bible taught "as literature." History might make a good alternative example.

LG

Chris HH said...

Good point, Lawrence. Shakespeare was the first example that came to mind. Although, the Bible is extremely significant from a literary point of view too - it was the first book ever to be printed and has sold more than any other book, and on this basis alone (appealing to the secularly minded) is worthy of study... but you are absolutely right, to study the Bible merely as literature is to miss the point.

History would have been a better analogy.

Anonymous said...

There are some things that cannot be proved in an experimental lab, should they not be discussed in science lessons? You may find you loose a lot of stuff!
I'd say science is this: notice something, try to explain it, and work out weird situations that will prove or disprove your rule, all the while making it possible to repeat everything you did so it can be checked. As such science is always about the continuous present tense, and anything that happened once and only once is not open to scientific study, unless it had lasting implications that can be repeatedly studied non-destructively.

Both the kingdom of God and the creation of the world have this property, as God's words are unshakable. I do an experiment every time I pray for something, wanting to learn more about God through his unusual action. In fact, surely Gideons signs were examples of a scientific methodology, except that he did not ask anyone else to check them.

But then do we elevate science too highly? Many features of it are biblical; such as having honest consistent measures and having many councillors, but to measure all knowledge purely on whether it can be proved in a lab is I think a bad idea! Oh and I haven't forgotten about stats, but they seem to have quite a few untested philosophical assumptions so I'm not sure if they can be called science.