Protect and Defend

Welcome to my blog, Protect and Defend. You don’t have to understand me. You only have to agree with me. I can live with losing the good fight, but I can not live with not fighting that good fight at all. - Publius

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Daily Rant/Explanation

Today I was asked about my beliefs on intelligent design and if it belonged in the classroom and more specifically if it belonged in the science classroom. So I looked up exactly what “Intelligent Design” means.
The Center for Science and Culture (a Discovery Institute in Seattle, WA) states the “theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” Proponents of intelligent design look for evidence of what they term "signs of intelligence," or physical properties of an object that they assert necessitate design. The most commonly cited signs include irreducible complexity, information mechanisms, and specified complexity. Its leading proponents are all affiliated with the Discovery Institute.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has stated that intelligent design "and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life" are not science because they cannot be tested by experiment, do not generate any predictions and propose no new hypotheses of their own. I agree with this assertion, we can not prove that God exists but we can also not prove that He doesn’t.
So, a group in Seattle says there is an Intelligent Design to explain the origins of Man, and the U.S. government says there is no evidence to support Intelligent Design.
However, the theory of Evolution is also that, a theory and not a scientific law; there is a great deal of scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution but that in and of itself does not make it infallible or true. The Theory of Evolution is merely the best the guess we have right now to explain the origin of man and those creatures here on Earth. Intelligent Design is crutch for explaining what can not be explained by science; if science cant’ explain it then God must have done it. Intelligent Design tries to make God all-powerful and part Creator and part uninterested bystander rather than seeing Him as one or the other. I see no reason to believe that God did not do it all.
That being said, I believe in Creationism. Remember the Book of Genesis was written by Moses around 1350 B.C. and it is believed that God inspired Moses to write the book and preserved him from including any errors. Man wanted to know his origins but was incapable of comprehending those origins. How does God in all His infinite wisdom attempt to explain evolution to a man who lived more than 3,000 years ago? Even man today does not believe in evolution with all the scientific evidence to support it. In 1350 B.C. the world was flat, the sun revolved around the Earth and most civilizations were nomadic pagans. In this context trying to explain to man evolution is impossible.
But if you read the text, the Book of Genesis follows the path of evolution. God created the earth, and then the land and the seas, followed by grass, seed and herb, next were fish and fowl, followed by cattle and land animals, and finally Man. The Book of Genesis details evolution from simpler organism to more complex organism until finally the appearance of Man. Is it so impossible to believe that God was the driving force behind evolution; the Book of Genesis acts as an early blueprint for the theory. The Book of Genesis states that God created Adam first and not Eve, and even though the first upright hominid found so far was a female does not prove that Eve came first, it only represents the oldest upright hominid yet found.
Is it so difficult to believe that God and Creation are so different from evolution? Try explaining to someone 500 years ago that man came from single-cell organisms. Then try to explain to them what a single-cell organism is. Then think about how difficult it would be to explain this more than 3,000 years ago. The Bible like all of history can not be judged through modern eyes but instead can only be judged through the eyes of those who were there.
To me, Creationism is the Cliffs Notes to evolution. Should Creationism be taught in schools and science classrooms? I don’t think so; you wouldn’t have kids learn to read Shakespeare from Cliffs Notes, although it does provide a wonderful means to explain the first true masterpiece.


Blogger Oncorhynchus Mykiss said...

First I just wanted to point out that the Discovery Institute is as non-partism as the ACLU. What started out as an amazing organization dedicated to funding Christian scientists and principles has turned into a thinktank dedicated to rhetoric and the complete dismissal of genuine scientific work. Of course this is what happens anytime an organization becomes politicized. Now their main objective is to push intelligent design and they have effectively removed themselves from a position of any credibility whatsoever. Anyhow....

"However, the theory of Evolution is also that, a theory and not a scientific law; there is a great deal of scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution but that in and of itself does not make it infallible or true. The Theory of Evolution is merely the best the guess we have right now to explain the origin of man and those creatures here on Earth."

This is definitely correct. It is also, however, understated. The exact tenants and specifics of "evolution" are hotly debated by scientists, but its basic principles---particularly natural selection---are as universally accepted in scientific circles as gravity. It is not a question of whether to believe in evolution, but which school to adhere to. HOWEVER, the fact that nearly every rational scientist (those not funded by sectarian interests, that is) believes in some form of natural selection doesn't mean its true OR subject to proof now or any time in the future.

Part of the debate amongst scientists, as you so eloquently point out, includes whether or not to believe that evolution is a process like any other in nature that is directed by God. Some of the greatest minds of our generation have moved from agnostic to deep belief in a higher power after more closely studying the physics of space-time, universe genesis, and life right here on earth. I think it's important to note that one doesn’t have to believe that the God of Abraham directs life to believe that Someone does.

"Is it so difficult to believe that God and Creationism are so different from evolution?"

Absolutely not. The problem is that your definition of Creationism, Publius, is different than the one referred to 99.99% of the time in contemporary literature, religious teachings, and political debates. That Creationism is one of predominantly Christian origin, and is more strictly drawn from the Bible rather than being interpreted abstractly. Perhaps your definition is more accurate and thoughtful, but, say the word "Creationism" to a lecture hall full of people, and your interpretation is not the one that comes to mind.

To me, faith is a personal matter and involves personal choices. I have turned out fine believing strongly in both evolution and God, and the only contradictions that belief entails are the ones pointed out by organized religions. I don’t see any contradictions. Teaching intelligent design in science classes, in the form in which it is commonly understood, is a contradiction; teaching Publius' version of Creationism as a theory for creation (not necessarily in science class) doesn't have to be.

My favorite description of how God may be involved in the universe and Earth and humans came from (believe it or not) a documentary on Albert Einstein (an opponent of atheism) from the BBC. Talking with his nurse near the end of his life, he asked her if she believed in God.
She replied " you?"
His response: "Do I believe there is someone who plans the daily life of Albert Einstein? No. Although sometimes I think He may have been leading me up the garden path. "
"But don't you think He made the garden?" said the nurse.
Einstein replied "I think he IS the garden. "
"And isn't he the gardener too?
"Yes, and all my life I have been trying to catch him at his work."

Thu Mar 02, 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

“That Creationism is one of predominantly Christian origin, and is more strictly drawn from the Bible rather than being interpreted abstractly.” This is not true, as Jewish people also follow the Old Testament of which the Book of Genesis is the beginning. And, although Muslims do not follow the Bible, which they believe is corrupt, the Qur'an does present fragmented passages scattered across many of its 114 chapters that illustrate a similar belief and understanding of Creation.
This means that 3 of the world’s major religions believe in Creationism, that Christians are at the forefront of the Intelligent Design debate does not mean that they are the only ones who believe in an interpretation of the origins of Man other than evolution.
And that my understanding is different from the religious teachings on the origin of Man only means that that is my understanding. Perhaps as a scholar of history and not a scholar of religion it leads me to follow a different path of logic and understanding.
And as far as believing in God, I still think the best description of whether people believe or don’t believe is the saying, “There are no atheists in a foxhole.”
God is not something you see, it is something you feel. I don’t believe he controls my life but I do believe he already knows how my life is going to turn out. God is not a disinterested observer. To believe in an omnipotent Presence also allows that nothing we do, will do, or have done was not know to Him before and after we did it.

Thu Mar 02, 12:43:00 PM  

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