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Discussion 3 to Talk Back 55
Evolution theories do not address divine matters

by Maarten van den Driest

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Dear Mr. DeLucchi,

I have read your reply to mine with interest. It seems that the core point of your problem with science is that you feel threatened in your beliefs. In other words, you feel that (certain parts of) science are irreconcilable with your beliefs. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) I will try to explain to you that this is in no way necessary.

Your reply again falls into two parts. In the first, you make it quite clear that you don't really have anything against any science at all as long as it is never used to prove the non-existence of God. This is quite reasonable and I believe also that science should never be used for that, although probably for other reasons. In the second, part you question again the basic tenets of evolutionism or, better, materialism. You try to make it evident that the existence of a divine creator is necessary in order to explain the universe as we see it. I will answer your reply point by point.

I do not agree that it is, as you say, only evolutionism that promotes the non-existence of a deity. First of all, evolution theories do not address divine matters at all and are therefore strictly neutral. Secondly, I do not see any difference between evolution theories and physics, chemistry, astronomy etc.

The two Genesis accounts seem to be contradicted by evolution theories but they are also contradicted by cosmology and basic physics in general.

The core point here is the 'promotion' of a certain point of view.

This idea is logically flawed. Just as mentioning the fact that homosexuality does exist is not the same as 'promoting' it, describing reality as we see it without reference to God is not the same as saying God doesn't exist.

For that is what all good science is: a description of the universe as we see it around us; a description grounded in only those things that are verifiably and quantifiably a part of this universe.

The positive part of this - in short: the scientific method - is that every result can be used to explain the world a bit better than before. This is never perfect but works well enough: results can be verified and check out very very well. Otherwise, they are discarded. The - at least for you - negative part of this method is that we have no use for the concept of a god.

The crux of the matter here is proof. No god can ever be part of a scientific proof since no god can be predicted. Invoking God as part of an explanation is scientifically stupid since just might just as well say 'It was God's will' about absolutely everything that ever happened. Although this is very devout, we learn absolutely nothing from saying that.

That is the reason that scientific theories don't use gods or a god.

Not because scientist don't like the idea of gods - some do, some are devout believers - but because gods can never be part of a scientific explanation.

You might think that using a theory that ignores the possible existence of God is the same as saying there is no god but that is not true.

About gods, since they are gods, nothing can ever be proven or not.

Scientists ignore these questions, it is not part of their field. A good scientist will always leave others the room to believe in what they want to believe in. Conversely, believers should not try to hinder scientists in their work as that is their field.

A case in point is the creationism debate. Although many Christians may believe in a form of creationism, it is still not science. This is not necessarily a bad thing but creationism is belief, not science.

Therefore it should not be taught in science classes. Period.

Mind that this is a neutral consideration and no value judgment.

Rationalism doesn't mean that we aren't ethically conscious or that we know no beauty or belief but that we never base a decision on what we would like to be true or not true instead of what really is.

I do indeed not 'concur' that life is a special stuff that should be breathed into inanimate matter. You are quite free to think so and there is no reason to say you are wrong. You might be right.

However, that is not the point. The point is that we have a very well functioning set of theories that does explain how it could have been. Those theories can be checked, falsified and tested again.

This cannot be done with your belief, we can only believe in that.

No scientist will ever claim that his or her theory describes what 'actually' happened, we were never there. They will claim when they have done their homework that they have an explanation that fits the facts beautifully, generates predictions that also turn out to be true and doesn't upset too much. That is the sole pretension of science. Nothing more, nothing less.

A far better point is that when we choose to accept that a divine creator is needed, any god would do. Who animated the universe?

Allah, Vishnu, JHWH, the Christian God? Why not the Invisible Pink Unicorn? Which one of the absolute unalterable truths is really true? Within the scientific method, this a meaningless question.

Terry Pratchett wrote, in one of his novels, "All religions are true, for a given value of truth."

You can't have your cake and eat it. In other words: Either you use the scientific method or you give up the claim of verifiable truth. Science and religion are neighbours who should never be in conflict because they never enter each other's backyard.

To summarize: no believer is ever threatened by any scientist at all.

However, no believer can pretend to know for sure any more than any other person. St Paul said: "Faith is the proof of that which we do not see." Science is the research of that which we do see.

Maarten van den Driest