Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) has an op-ed in the New York Times wherein he tries to explain why he raised his hand at the GOP debate when the candidates were asked which of them did not believe in evolution.
The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.
The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.
In other words, evolution is fine as long as you acknowledge the fact that everything, including the theory of evolution, was zapped into existence by a supernatural being. Those are the terms, and anything outside of that is heresy.
While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.
Mr. Brownback offers no proof to back up his claim of divine intervention except to say that he believes it and thus it is so. That’s it; end of discussion.
It’s hard to argue with logic like that; it’s like having a fight with a five-year-old child. Nothing you say can convince them that there might be another explanation for life on earth, and it is only human arrogance that assumes that if there was some supernatural being that created the universe, that being would, out of all of the millions of stars and multi-millions of planets and moons that are capable of sustaining life just within our own galaxy, pay particularly close attention to the emanations of a minority of sentient beings that populate a rather insignificant planet orbiting a rather ordinary star — or that said being would reveal the Cosmic Truth to one senator from Kansas who happened to be running for president. Mr. Brownback may call that faith and it may be the guiding force in his life, but it is presumptuous and theocratic to think that his beliefs — and only his beliefs — deserve equal standing with science.
The problem that Mr. Brownback has with evolution isn’t that it contradicts the fables of Genesis; it’s that he seems to think that Darwin’s theory of natural selection was created to disprove the existence of God. But as any good scientist will tell you, they do not start out with a conclusion and search only for the evidence that will prove their case. Rather, they look at all the evidence and follow the trail wherever it may lead. Scientific evidence does not make judgments; it just is. The mission of science is not to find the truth. The mission of science is to find the facts and subject them to rigorous proof and arrive at a logical conclusion. You may not like where it leads, but that’s your problem, not the fault of the science. Interpret them how you will and call it the truth if you wish, but conflating faith and reason will only work if faith can be subjected to the same provable methods as we use to prove a scientific theory. A true scientist is willing to accept the fact that his theory may be completely wrong. Religion is not so open-minded.
Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.