Sabotaging Science: Creationist Strategies in the '90's

Strategy 3: Pitting Science against Faith

Not new but enormously popular is the erroneous argument that evolution precludes belief in God and that all evolutionists are perforce atheists. Yet in fact many scientists are religious, and most mainline religions see no conflict between their faith and evolutionary theory. In pleading for good science education, Kansas university presidents wrote “The simple fact is, demonstrated in our universities every day, that people can believe both in God and evolution.”47

Pope John Paul II reaffirmed his support for evolutionary theory and scientific inquiry in 1996, reiterating a similar statement he made to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences almost 20 years ago.48 In fact the Catholic Church went on record in 1950 with Pope Pius XII, who wrote that there is “no opposition between evolution and doctrine of the faith about man and his vocation.”49

Nonetheless, Pope John Paul II’s statement incurred the wrath of the creationist group Answers in Genesis, which charged that the Pope “contradicts the teaching of Jesus, the apostles, and even church tradition—that Adam’s literal Fall in a literal Garden of Eden caused death and suffering in the world.” Citing syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, AiG claimed that the Pope had succumbed to the tyranny he had fought all his life by accepting a “philosophy that stands at the core of communism.”50

Catholicism is not alone in its recognition that scientific inquiry and religious faith do not conflict. Merely a few decades after Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, the Church of England accepted evolution by natural selection.51 Voices for Evolution, published by the National Center for Science Education in California, is a compendium of statements supporting evolution made by scientific organizations, educational groups and religious organizations. The latter includes the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A; Lutheran World Federation; United Methodist Church; Episcopal Church, General Convention; Unitarian Universalist Association, American Jewish Congress, Roman Catholic Church, and many more.52

For their part, scientists do not contend that evolution precludes faith. Charles Darwin himself wrote “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist.”53 The overwhelming majority of scientists regard religion and science as separate realms of inquiry that do not contradict each other. As America’s largest professional society of physicists puts it, “Scientific inquiry and religious beliefs are two distinct elements of the human experience. Attempts to present them in the same context can only lead to misunderstandings of both.”54

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