"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." [Deuteronomy 5:8-10]

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

An open letter to Jonathan Bartlett

Dear Jonathan

You kindly took the time to respond to my essay Just who is immoral in the evolution debate?, which I posted at soc.religion.christian.

My answer to your post will appear there in due course... But in the meantime I thought it would be worth contacting you directly. One of the benefits of posting publicly is the opportunity it gives to understand how other people see things... And as I hope I can demonstrate here, I think your views on Intelligent Design and Evolution are mistaken.

You seem to think that standard evolutionary theory discounts the hand of God. It does not. It may discount certain notions of "God" - the YEC interpretation being a prime example - but it most certainly does not equate with atheism. It also does not say that evolution occurs through "chance". Similarly, there are certain atheists who argue that evolution disproves any notion of God. (I do not agree with them.) Again, that position is beyond the scope of standard evolutionary science.

As I wrote in my essay, the Catholic Church accepts standard evolutionary theory. (A great many other Christian and Jewish organisations do to). As I noted, their position is "that evolution is the product of divine will - but that is a question beyond the scope of science". They clearly do not accept certain "atheistic" views of what evolution means, but that doesn't stop them agreeing that life evolved through natural processes, from microbes to man. (They believe that God provided man with a soul - but again that is beyond the scope of science to demonstrate or disprove).

You seem to think that disproving or challenging some part of evolution is support for an "alternate" theory of Intelligent Design. It does not. Intelligent Design makes specific claims (depending on whom you ask) that all life. or certain aspect of molecular evolution, could not have occurred naturally - and more than that, that we can reasonably infer the hand of an "intelligent designer" in this process. This position has almost no scientific support. It does, of course, have vocal and powerful support amongst the US population... But quite staggeringly, even ID scientists themselves admit Intelligent Design does not (yet?) offer a viable, teachable, useable alternative to standard evolutionary theory. What is most incredible in all of this is that ID supporters do not appear to care about any of this. All that matters to them, it seems, is that evolution is "wrong".

Let me be clear. I am not saying that Bonnie Alba, Ken Ham or anyone else are bearing false witness by not believing in standard evolutionary theory. My accusation is specific. They misrepresent what other Christians believe - either deliberately or through ignorance. That is bearing false witness. That is wrong. The fact that they know that they are misrepresenting other Christians makes it more than wrong. It makes them dishonest. Even more worrying, they do not care.

In your reply to my post, you wrote: " That [Philip Johnson]... believes the falsehood of pure naturalism is so bogus that nearly everyone can easily recognize it? How is that dishonest?" It is dishonest because the overwhelming majority of scientists who are recognised authorities in biology do not believe in a personal God. A much higher proportion are atheists and agnostics than the general population.

You write: "without God morality has no intellectual basis" and "that if morality is simply the _result_ of an unguided evolutionary process, then it is, in its essence... meaningless". That is gibberish and, frankly, insulting. I'll ask you what I have asked a great many Christians. If you ceased believing in God, would you suddenly go out and kill and rape and steal? Would nothing stop you? Answer that question. No other Fundamentalist Christian I have asked has had the courage, wit or courtesy to.

In your post, you referred me approvingly to a Blog entry by Crevo which contains the following statement:

"By its own admission, scientific knowledge is tentative. However, we let the tentative results of science trump belief in the authoritative word from scripture. As Christians, our authority is in scripture. Ceding that to other authorities is the equivalent of idolatry."
Please explain to me why insisting upon the "truth" of the Bible in the face of all of the wonders of creation is not idolizing scripture.

In closing, if you can provide cogent, reasoned, arguments against anything I have written here, I am prepared to change my position, Can you say the same thing?

Thanks for your time!


No comments: