Thursday, June 18, 2009

Theistic evolution

Dad's calling himself a "theistic evolutionist" was comparatively quite enlightened, none of his peers seemed to know what it meant or that it was an improvement on the old-time fundamentalist Know Nothing religion. He said he got the idea from a Baptist minister who probably didn't cotton to it himself, but Dad ran with it as an acceptable reconciliation of the handed-down faith of his fathers and the medical science he learned in vet school. His sense of loyalty to forebears and gratitude specifically to his good-hearted pious midwestern mother took atheism and agnosticism off the table for him, though he was still a free-thinker by the standards of that time and place.

I remember him plucking Ken Miller's book Finding Darwin's God from my shelf once and musing that he didn't understand why there was any controversy at all on this topic, among the devout: of course religion and science are compatible, of course a God should be expected to work His will through the laws and processes of a rationally ordered nature. "Intelligent Design" does not have to descend to anti-intellectualist Young Earth Creationist nonsense, though as a matter of fact it has tended to do just that in the debates of recent years, in the hands of rigid partisan pious zealots.

There's plenty of intolerant fire coming fron the other camp too, among evolutionists who insist that science moots religion entirely, and do not welcome any alliance with the likes of Miller. P.Z. Myers is one of those.

I understand where they're all coming from. There really should be room in a corner of the tent for at least those theists who aspire to scientific respectability even if their synthesizing project is doomed to fail. You don't have to agree with them, endorse their faith, or even respect it, P.Z. But you should respect them. A fundamental respect for the humanity of our fellow human beings should not depend on their falling in lock-step with our respective worldviews. I learned that from my Dad.

1 comment:

bobxxxx said...

The words "theistic" and "evolutionist" don't belong in the same sentence. There's nothing theistic about any branch of science, including evolutionary biology. Attaching the worthless adjective "theistic" to evolution is an insult to the world's biologists.

I thank Ken Miller for his defense of science education, but his sucking up to religious stupidity makes him part of the problem. Accelerating Intelligence News