Monday, February 27, 2006

Creation and Evoultion

As a minister, I sometimes get questions about the "Creation vs. Evolution" debate. Here's a summary of my thoughts.

First, by my use of the word science none of it is science. As someone trained in the hard sciences, to me "science" is about measurable and repeatable experiments. So Creationism and Intelligent Design are not science, and neither is Macro-Evolution.

(For that matter, neither is Archaeology. There are volumes of Archeological reports claiming to either support or refute scriptural authenticity, and reading through them makes the lack of science quite evident. As perhaps the most blatant example, it is very reasonable but not currently provable to claim that carbon dating is as accurate for dates millions of years old as it is for recent dates which can be demonstrably verified.)

Micro-Evolution is science, as anyone who has bred goldfish or dogs knows well. But that's not what the debate is about. (Micro-Evolution describes how traits established but not always visible in a genetic code can be made visible in successive generations. The debate is about how traits not yet established in a genetic code first arrive there.)

I do agree with Michael Ruse that the debate is not a science-versus-religion fight but a religion-versus-religion intra-family feud. What the pro-Evolution people almost always discuss is not pure Macro-Evolution but what Ruse calls "Evolutionism": a worldview not based on science that has values and ethics as well as scientific theory, which deals with religious issues (a creation story, the purpose of humanity, a definition of human progress, ethical codes).

Ruse's book describes the rise of both Evolutionism and Creationism from a common base that originally lacked any fiery debate (even Huxley agreed Evolution had no implications for theism) and through common social factors (such as the Enlightenment's desire for views about human purpose and how to work towards a utopia). I could say more about the debate, but should probably just end with this book recommendation.