An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science

| 17 Comments

In her ‘response’ toOrr’s excellent contribution in the New Yorker, Denyse O’Leary quotes Luskin

Luskin, an apparent enfant terrible, also challenges Orr on a sensitive point:

I publicly invite Allen Orr to explain to us how his Darwinian view of life interfaces with his personal religious beliefs. Public disclosure of Orr’s personal views would go much further towards reassuring people that it is possible to believe in God and evolution than would his mere citation to a statement by a pope who said that God and evolution are compatible. My e-mail address is [Enable javascript to see this email address.].

Any other Darwinist is welcome to do the same, I suppose.

Seems that O’Leary nor Luskin may not be too familiar with evolutionary theory or religious faith or they would have been familiar with the over 4000 people who signed the following:

Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.

We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

In addition, the NCSE has a list of Religios organizations on evolution and faith.

Until ID’ers stop confusing science and philosophical naturalism, I doubt that they will ever understand science or religious faith.

So far ‘post darwinism’ seems to be nothing more than the argument from ignorance, so typical of Intelligent Design.

17 Comments

The only thing they need to know about my religious viewpoint is that I do not let it interfere with my science.

Denyse is not ignorant. She regularly bashes Christian Darwinists on the ASA e-list, calling the ASA a “dozy” organization because they refuse to endorse ID. We exist and she knows it. Since she hangs out there she would also be aware of the above-cited Pastor Project as it was announced on that list.

Further, on page 148 of her book she said:

Sadly, the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), an organization of Christians in science who mostly believe in Darwinian Evolution, …

So, when she says “Any other Darwinist is welcome to do the same, I suppose.” she knows full well that has already happened because she documented it in her book.

I’ve been wondering who this person was.

I’ve been getting a bunch of hits on my blog coming from hers, due (apparently) to the fact that I posted an extremely brief comment on the Smithsonian’s original decision to accept the money and allow the film to be shown. It’s an utterly unremarkable post with no real insight or anything (indeed, it consists mostly of an excerpt from the NYT), yet she chose to link to it.

I can’t help but wonder why that is, especially when there are so many other posts on the subject, written by people who are better versed in both the science and politics of the matter …

Sorry to be off-topic, but does anyone know why this post is being reflected into the RSS feed over and over again?

My reader lists it as being received 7 times between 10:24am and 3:53pm, all with the same publish date.

Spencer wrote:

I’ve been wondering who this person was.

For what it is worth, O’ Leary is a Canadian religious and science journalist, writting for Christianity Today, Faith Today, and Crucible, the latter being the journal of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario. Though frequently describes as an award winning science reporter in blurbs, her award was actually the Canadian Christian Writer’s Award (2002). http://www.denyseoleary.com/writing.htm http://www.designorchance.com/author.html

She has in the past shown an unwillingness to base her opinions on evidence. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Creat[…]message/8804 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anti-[…]/message/446

More apposite to her “darwinbot” claims, she has previously made derogatory comments about reviews in the Panda’s Thumb of Meyer’s Hopeless Monster. Ironically, after making those comments she admitted to not having read the Thumb for several months prior, apparently because the Thumb is too abusive. I assume she does not see the irony in criticizing people as “darwinbots”, “… whose program does not, so far as I can see, contain an independent thinking module”, and taking them to task for commenting on a movie they have not seen (regardless of whether or not they have read the book on which the movie is based). http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…]/000510.html

Thanks for pointing out O’Leary’s letter, Pim! I missed that. Remarkable that she would point out Luskin – li’l Casey is being groomed for bigger and better things if/when he passes the California Bar. Denyse’s shilling on Luskin’s behalf is simply a part of her script.

I already commented on Luskin’s smearing of Orr here

http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…].html#c32162

And if you’ve got a shower nearby, you can read Luskin’s strange non-responsive and whimpering rejoinder to my dissection at the so-called IDEA Center website:

http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmg[…].php/id/1364

At the moment I don’t have the time to teach Luskin in detail why his cowardice and his willingness to obfuscate reamins utterly transparent. And I am surprised that Luskin would pretend to stake the high ground when he has ducked and run away from the majority of the straightforward questions he was asked! Luskin can rest assured, however, that I will once again turn over the stone under which he sleeps. I’ve enjoyed that practice since I was a wee lad!

A couple quickies

All that having been said, someone named “Steve” at Pandasthumb has been calling me a lot of unjustified names tonight. I have no ill-will towards “Steve,” and I have no idea why he has such ill-will towards me.

Luskin says he has no idea why I find his quackery and lies disturbing. That is not a credible statement. I could not have been more clear in my comments, all of which were justified by Luskin’s own treacle and reference to uncontroversial facts which are beyond dispute in the context of a sincere “debate” of the sort which Luskin pretends to enjoy.

Note Luskin’s prior statement in the Orr smear:

neo-Darwinism, if it is the correct account, has mandatory implications for a theist’s views about how God has operated in the world.

As I pointed out, this is a trivial statement. Every observed even has “mandatory implications” about how “God has operated in the world”. My coffee is cold. Before it was hot. If you believe in a deity, then there are mandatory implications. Either the deity made the coffee get cold or the deity designed the laws which made the coffee get cold or the deity allows coffee to get cold or hot as matter of random chance.

How profound is this sort of thinking? Evidently it so impresses Casey Luskin, a 3rd year law student at a middling law school with an alleged degree in geology, that he is motivated to scold us all:

Barbour seems to indicate that under Neo-Darwinism, active intervention by God to disrupt the natural course of the laws of nature couldn’t have happened during the history of life. For theists who believe that God did engage in such intervention, Neo-Darwinism opposes that belief. So, one can believe in God and Neo-Darwinism, but it is wrong to pretend that Neo-Darwinism therefore has no religious implications whatsoever for theists.

Forgive me but my binoculars are having trouble making out the goalpost that Casey ran away with. The issue – the only issue that matters – is whether scientific explanations for the diversity of life on earth necessarily undermine or threaten the beliefs of people who worship or otherwise assume that one or more deities “exist.”

Whether one can envision or identify a religious doctrine that is inconsistent with a scientific explanation is utterly trivial. No one disputes that as a theoretical possibility or as a matter of fact. No one “pretends” that scientific explanations for observed phenomenona are incapable of contradicting a religion’s mythology.

The question was – and remains – whether one can sincerely practice one’s faith and believe that life on earth evolved. And unless Casey Luskin wants to judge the hearts of many millions of human beings on this planet, the answer remains, simply: yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Which brings us back to the issue which the habitually obfuscating Luskin ducked. Since Luskin admits now that

I consider some of my closest Christian friends to be full-blown theistic evolutionists!

why would Luskin write in bold italics in his piece on Orr

Public disclosure of Orr’s personal views would go much further towards reassuring people that it is possible to believe in God and evolution

Why wouldn’t Luskin simply reassure those people himself?

And if Luskin’s closest Christian friends were theistic evolutionists, why would Luskin write simply that he agrees “with Orr that it is at least possible to believe in God and neo-Darwinism”? (emphasis added) Why wouldn’t Luskin simply state the facts that are well-known to him?

There are many other similarly confounding statements buried in Luskin’s lengthy, rambling and self-pitying retreat. Eventually, I’ll get to them.

Of course, Luskin could surprise us all by suddenly appearing here and addressing the other straightforward issues I raised in my original dissection of his Orr critique.

What do you think are the chances of that happening?

Steve U, I might be the Steve casey’s referring to. Last year I said something insulting about him, and he emailed me asking how on earth I could imagine that his club was religious, etc etc. Maybe it’s you. They’re very antiSteve in general, these theocrats.

Until ID’ers stop confusing science and philosophical naturalism, I doubt that they will ever understand science or religious faith.

Once they do stop confusing science and philosophical naturalism, they’ve lost their raison d’etre.

Administrative interruption: Steve U. asked me to post this for him. It seems that when he attempts to post a comment, a message appears stating “You are not permitted to post here.” Has Steve U. been inadvertantly “banned”?

have steve send an email to the admin (link on the main page). It’s probably got something to do with JAD’s ridiculous name swapping attempts.

cheers

Here was my comment posted to Denyse Oleary’s board:

“Neither Luskin nor you are the theological matches of the recent Pope John Paul II. Perhaps you should both study his views on evolution. You and Luskin might also want to read any of the several books by theologian John Haught. Also recommended reading is anything by Teilhard De Chardin, evolutionist, theologian and Jesuit priest. Please have Mr. Luskin study more theology before making such ignorant comments.

I have brought these authorities to his attention before. I bet he didn’t bother to read them.”

And I bet I don’t get any response from any “Post-Darwinists” either.

what the hell is a “post-darwinist”?

“The question was — and remains — whether one can sincerely practice one’s faith and believe that life on earth evolved. And unless Casey Luskin wants to judge the hearts of many millions of human beings on this planet, the answer remains, simply: yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.” (Post #33147, above.)

Is this really the right question? Who denies that many millions of human beings “sincerely” practice their faith and also believe in evolution?

Isn’t a better question whether people can “consistently” (or “coherently” or “intelligently”) practice their religious faiths while also believing in evolution?

Isn’t a better question whether people can “consistently” (or “coherently” or “intelligently”) practice their religious faiths while also believing in evolution?

I’m not sure that the phrase “believing in evolution” is really the appropriate phrase to use in this context. Those of us defending evolution should be careful with the words we use. “Believing in evolution” is one of the worst phrases we could use because it suggests that our acceptance of evolution is based on faith rather than evidence. It’s understandable that ID promoters frequently use similar language, since their ultimate concerns are usually all about their personal beliefs. I suggest we avoid falling into their trap.

I doubt if you could find too many people who profess a personal faith in God and also truly “believe” in evolution. They may accept evolution as a significant scientific explanation, but this acceptance is based on an analysis of the scientific evidence, not personal faith.

[self endorsement] In case you’re wondering, I’m one of the people I just described. If you’re at all interested, you might want to click on my name to visit my website and read about how I balance my religious faith and my acceptance of evolution. [/self endorsement]

Re: #33302. I was following the structure of the initial post (#33147).

Re: #33302. I was following the structure of the initial post (#33147).

Re “They may accept evolution as a significant scientific explanation, but this acceptance is based on an analysis of the scientific evidence, not personal faith.”

I agree. Analysis of evidence, plus noting the lack of viable argument against the main hypotheses of the theory of evolution.

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on June 1, 2005 1:13 AM.

ID, scientifically vacuous and collapsing gaps was the previous entry in this blog.

Smithsonian Institution Statement is the next entry in this blog.

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