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MY WORD: Science vs. religion: How about an experiment?

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By Linda Allewalt

I happen to agree with a statement that Chuck Souder made as a main theme of parts 1 and 2 of his column titled “Evading the Obvious” (a fitting title but not in the way Mr. Souder may think it is). He said, “Ideas have consequences.”

Well, they sure do, but the consequences become even clearer when ideas are distorted, misrepresented or worse. It appears that Mr. Souder now fancies himself as so knowledgeable about Darwin’s theories of evolution that he can not only take them on, but he can also declare them “impossible.” And he manages it all without the “buffoonery” of a high IQ (one of his pet peeves).

Who knew it was that easy?

One of his tactics in downing Darwin was to quote Darwin himself. In these quotes Darwin admits he could be wrong (gasp!) or that his theories could be disproven (how shocking!). To borrow a well-known phrase.. well, DUH! Of course Darwin said this. He’s a scientist! It might have helped Mr. Souder to familiarize himself with the definition of that term before he no doubt embarrassed his grade school science teacher. Most of Darwin’s work still stands because the evidencecollected over the past 100 plus years supports them, including the hundreds of transitional fossils that Mr. Souder claims don’t exist. By the way, the Big Bang theory also still stands because what it predicted we would find has overwhelmingly been found. However, both theories are still subject to scrutiny and the possibility of being knocked out of the running by newer findings.

 I am amazed that creationists like Chuck Souder and Ken Ham (of Answers in Genesis) so desperately try to use a discipline (science) that they not only disdain but also have no understanding of to bolster their totally unevidenced religious ideas. Pointing to scientists who are also religious believers is a ruse, since these successful scientists keep their beliefs to themselves when doing experiments or writing up scientific papers.

If they didn’t, they’d be out of jobs, and they know it. I am often amused by creationism (humans riding dinosaurs) until I remind myself that these ideas have very detrimental consequences on our ability to educate our children and help them understand their world as it is in reality rather than fill their brains with unproven magical mythologies.

We all need them to be curious, skeptical and mentally free to explore new ideas if we are to have any success in the future as a species. If answers are fixed and unchallengeable, then we have no hope. Ideas need the freedom to breathe, and no idea should be off the table in terms of scrutiny, criticism or change. This includes religious ideas.

The most telling moment in the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate at the Creation Museum came when a member of the audience asked both men if anything could change their minds from their positions on evolution/creationism.

Bill Nye said that “just one piece” of observable or testable evidence to support a Biblical interpretation of the Earth’s formation would cause him to change his mind “immediately.”

Ken Ham’s answer was, “I’m a Christian.” (In other words, nothing). And that’s it in a nutshell.

Chuck Souder and Ken Ham have a total lack of understanding as to what the discipline of science at its core is all about. At least Mr. Souder’s hero, Michael Behe of the Intelligent Design movement, has enough understanding of what science is all about to downgrade his own work. He admitted in testimony and under oath in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case (ID in the public classroom) that he had no scientific backup for his own proposals.

He offered to the court the fact that there were no peer-reviewed papers supporting his claim that complex molecular systems were “intelligently designed,” nor supporting his argument that certain molecular structures are “irreducibly complex.” I would suggest some more research about Mr. Behe on Mr. Souder’s part. The trial and Judge Jones’ comments about Behe in his decision are a good place to start. Mr. Behe had his hat handed to him, and he deserved it.

Mr. Souder also tried to corral a theory put forth by Francis Crick (of DNA fame) concerning the early biochemistry of the earth and how some of the gaps in chemicals needed to start life forms could have been produced. Yes, Crick did talk about “seeding” coming from alien or other cosmic sources, but what Mr. Souder neglected to tell the reader was that Mr. Crick changed those ideas when new scientific evidences were produced that filled in those biochemical gaps, and he wrote about his errors.

The old saying “turn about is fair play” comes into mind at this point. So I would like to make two suggestions to Mr. Souder.

One would be to apply the scientific method (surely he gets it by now) to the Creation story, and to the Garden of Eden in particular, and then write about it.

My second suggestion involves a kind of experiment. Take two large boxes. Fill one with a copy of the Bible, maybe a C.S. Lewis book, other religious artifacts and maybe some trinkets from the Creation Museum gift shop. Seal the box and label it, “Faith, Belief, Religion.”

Then place it somewhere along the East Coast of the U.S. Take the second box, label it “Science” and then fill it with a copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, maybe some magnets, telescopes, etc. Seal it and place it somewhere along the West Coast of the U.S.

Leave the boxes where they are, permanently. Then answer this question: “ What conclusions or lessons can you draw from this experiment?”

 

Linda Allewalt lives in Shelbyville.