Friday, September 14, 2007

Darwin makes several references to the Creator

Religion advances despite science (and thanks to Dawkins)
Today's arguments between science and religion are not constructive. Worse, they could result in some unforseen consequences for both sides September 13, 2007 5:30 PM
The title may be backhanded flattery to Richard Dawkins but the shrill tones with which he pitches his anti-religious campaign may have implications he couldn't have foreseen.The debate that pits science against religion seems to fascinate more than ever. One of the best-attended lecture series on Tuesday at the BA Festival of Science in York dissected the link between secularisation and science. Speaking to more than two hundred people, John Brooke of Oxford University said that, contrary to popular intuition, the world is becoming anything but more secular despite advancing science and technology.
Prof Brooke, who held the Andreas Idreos Chair in Science and Religion at Oxford until last year, has a background in chemistry, history and theology. In Western Europe formal religious worship may be flagging but other expressions of faith are taking root. Among scientists themselves, Prof Brooke quoted a survey from Nature which found that around 40% of scientists hold some kind of faith. That number has been the same for more than 20 years. In Eastern Europe Catholism and Orthodoxy is more vibrant than it has been for the last 60 years, boosted at the end of the Cold War but developing nevertheless against a backdrop of advancing science. And throughout the world religious fanaticism is on the rise. In the United States, Christian fundamentalism continues to thrive in one of the most affluent and technologically advanced societies.
But instead of building bridges and a dialogue, a wedge is being driven between the faith and non-faith camps by tarring moderate believers with the same brush as fundamentalists. Dawkins et al lay down a spiritual version of the gauntlet from DC Comics: "Are you with us or against us". That mentality should be consigned to the comic books where it belongs. "Richard [Dawkins] does seem at times to conflate two very different understandings of creation.
One is that of American creationists who like to see God conjuring up new species as if by magic. And [Dawkins] represents that as a doctrine of creation. That is actually an aberration if one if looking at the history of creation doctrine. The classical doctrine within Christian theology [...] is ultimately the dependence of everything that exists, including evolutionary processes, on some transcendent power (God). And we shouldn't confuse those two ideas", said Brooke. One might not like either of those ideas, and Richard [Dawkins] clearly doesn't, but they are not the same", he said. "It is the reductionism of the argument that creates the confrontation."
So we arrive at the absurd situation where both camps batton down the hatches and lob grenades across their spiritual Magineaux line. Speaking on misconceptions about Darwin's Origins of the Species, Brooke said: "the book is not an atheistic book. Darwin makes several references to the Creator and indeed adds more for subsequent editions where he argues that the Universe is not self-explanatory and that it is not unreasonable to refer to a creator."
Worryingly, one real fear is starting to emerge, hitherto whispered only in academic and extremist circles. If Dawkins et al insist with their zeal to promote evolutionary theory as an inherently atheistic doctrine - which could be construed as a matter of faith - he may well be handing a rope to the creationist brigades. The US Second Amendment forbids the teaching of faith in schools and it would be at least ironical if the creationists could use that to evict Darwin from the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. To talk about the "creator" is to confess ones always active disocciation from the Divine Radiance of Being.

    There is "me" solidly defined, over and against a solidly defined separate "creation", and the always "other" god.

    What a terrifying sityuation to be in.

    "Where there is an other--fear arises". a phrase from an Upanishad.