Are science and religion mortal enemies? Does evolution = atheism?
Ray Comfort seems to think so — he claims a banana is an “atheist’s nightmare” since he feels it disproves evolution. On the other side of the belief divide we have scientists like Richard Dawkins and P. Z. Myers who disagree with Comfort on practically every point — except the incompatibility of science and religion.
So are there any dissenters on this point? Is there anyone out there who understands and accepts the theory of evolution and believes in God? Let’s look at the Mormon blogs. This post on BCC is probably a joke, but it seems to hint that accepting evolution won’t get you kicked out the door of the church. On the other hand we have Mormon Matters, following the creationist party line by calling evolutionary biologists “secular darwinists.”
Personally I think science and God-belief aren’t necessarily incompatible. My evidence? I’ve met actual research biologists — the kind who do research using scientific theories including evolution — who also believe in God.
Opposing my position we have the creation science movement. These are the guys who feel that the theory of evolution is threatening to their belief in God, yet they recognize that the scientific method has a pretty dang good track record for finding accurate information. So they cover their mantle of religion with the respected mantle of science before attacking the scientific method, recently renaming their movement “Intelligent Design” to give it a sciency aura. A good example is the group who produced the movie Expelled. They’re the ones who threw the irony meter off the charts by making a whole movie to demonstrate how their views have been unfairly suppressed by the science establishment — and then showing it exclusively to religious audiences, expelling any scientists or other potentially critical voices, including one who appeared in the film.
But suppose you’re that rare bird who believes in God yet doesn’t have a problem with listening to actual biologists when it comes to questions of biology. Suppose you accept that evolution occurred, but you think God had a hand in guiding it. Fair enough. But the question of whether “Intelligent Design” is a scientific theory is a completely separate point. Let’s analyze it.
The question of what constitutes a scientific theory is fairly simple, so I’ll consult a simple source: Wikipedia. Their article offers the following basic explanation:
The defining characteristic of a scientific theory is that it makes falsifiable or testable predictions about things not yet observed. The relevance, and specificity of those predictions determine how (potentially) useful the theory is. A would-be theory which makes no predictions which can be observed is not a useful theory. Predictions which are not sufficiently specific to be tested are similarly not useful. In both cases, the term ‘theory’ is inapplicable.
The article gives quite a bit more detail, so I encourage you to click on the link and read further.
So, is “Intelligent Design” a scientific theory? Why or why not? What do you think?