re: "Was Darwin Wrong?" (Estacada News, Sept.19,2007)

 

            I feel bad for everyone who feels compelled to attack science, because I sympathize with their motives. They want to deny that the world is meaningless or ŇrandomÓ, lacking a sacred dimension, and indifferent to the special role of mankind. But these ideas arenŐt part of science; they are only philosophical interpretations of science. I think they are bad interpretations. (Sometimes scientists offer them. Sometimes good scientists are bad philosophers.) I wish that people who feel threatened by science would realize how limited it is.

            As with Darwin, the theories of Copernicus and Newton were once greeted with horror by some religious people, who thought that they deprived the universe of meaning and purpose, and humanity of its uniqueness. But as time went on, most people realized that the explanations given by astronomy and physics only apply within narrow, measurable parameters, having nothing to say about the meaning of life or the special value of humans. Many came to think that the complexity of the material world, as revealed by astronomy and physics, should only make us more appreciative of God's handiwork. You don't see "Copernicus was wrong" or "Down with Newton" on bumper stickers.

            What Newton said about the falling apple was true; but those who interpreted it as implying that life is meaningless, or as making religion obsolete, didn't know what they were talking about. ItŐs the same thing with evolution. Biology, like astronomy and physics, isnŐt in the business of providing meaning to our lives. ThatŐs the business of religion, and of culture in general.

            ItŐs also the business of each of us individually, to appreciate and work to elevate the meaningfulness of our lives – to seek out God, in other words – not have Him handed to us Ňon a silver platterÓ, as the conclusion to an argument. ItŐs wonderful to view the world as a gift, and its beauty as the trace of the holy. But what we should do with that vision isnŐt to try to ŇproveÓ it as a matter of scientific fact (since it isnŐt really a hypothesis at all). Rather, it must be shared and made manifest in the way we live. I trust that thatŐs the real function of the anti-Darwinian gathering, despite its misconceived theme.