|Posted by thethousandmarch on March 14, 2008 at 10:01 PM|
A few weeks ago I was asked to sub for a release time class at my church. Release time is when the local elementary school lets children, who have their parent's permission, go up to the church for a Bible lesson. I liked release time as a kid, except that it was always during art, or something fun; never during math. The subject they had been covering was creationism vs. evolution. I was not excited, but didn't have a good reason to say no. Thankfully the teacher had been teaching the children what the creation story in Genesis meant, so I was able to teach about stewardship.
That got me thinking about the creation/evolution debate. I've never really understood why so many Christians get so worked up about the issue, but I'm starting to. What I mean is, I think I understand what the real issue is. I can see why some people get upset, and it would be unwise for anyone to write off creationist/intelligent designers as simply ignorant fools who refuse to accept the hard facts of science.
What is truly at stake is human identity, purpose and meaning. I believe God created the universe, and that humans are created in the image of God. My beliefs are in no way threatened by the scientific theory of evolution. At most that theory - like any other scientific theory - can only tell us how something occurred, not why it occurred. Science does not answer questions of meaning. It cannot tell us what the purpose of mankind is. Science cannot tell us if there is or isn't a God who made the human animal unique - physically an animal, but still somehow bearing the image of God.
There are people who feel that their understanding of human identity and purpose is being attacked by evolutionary science. And, even if they are secure in their own sense of identity, they are concerned for the wellbeing of their children. Perhaps they've overreacted. Yet, haven't scientist overstepped their boundaries. They don't just want to tell us what they think happened, but why it happened, and therefore what that means about human nature, purpose, and ultimately our identity. When discussing evolution, we discuss the origins of life and humanity. Then we tread on the domain of religion and philosophy; it can't be helped.
Let's be honest about science: it's not just about objective, observable, provable, truth. This is true especially when talking about theories that cannot be checked through observation, when we cannot actually watch the observable cause and effect, because we are talking about history. Besides, if there is an invisible hand that guides the causes, or initiates the causes, we can't see it. We don't know if its there, because we can't observe it. But we can't say it's not there. We don't know. So, scientists can tell us what is observed, but they have no right, as a scientist, telling us that life is a lucky accident, or that humans are not special, we are just apes.
I'm tired of hearing faith and science presented as antagonistic. Religion/philosophy and science are two different disciplines attempting to answer different, though often overlapping, questions. How can we learn to respect the difference, but also learn when we must integrate the disciplines and therefore must allow for the discussion of all opposing views? I do believe Christians can engage in scientific pursuits. They have nothing to fear from science. However, they may have to be wary of some scientists.