Monday, December 29, 2008

New Scientist Has an Article on Evolution and Unwisely Tackles Religion

I missed this during the year. New Scientist had an article on the 24 myths and misconceptions regarding evolution. It is separated into "shared misconceptions" and "creationist myths," which is aptly named. Each misconception links to an article on the topic and it is very thorough, with links to other articles included. Unfortunately, there is a subtle anti-religious tone throughout which sometimes manifests itself thusly:

So are religion and evolution incompatible? It depends who's judging. The idea that many religious people find most satisfactory - that a deity intervened in and directed the evolutionary process - cannot be disproved but is not supported by any evidence. The interpretations that are most compatible with what we know - that God did not intervene in evolution after creating the universe, or God is nature - are ones that many believers find unpalatable.

Of course, some biologists such as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers are well known for dismissing all theistic religions. However, the question of whether religion and evolution are compatible is not the same as the bigger question of whether any theistic religion is compatible with reason and rationality.

This sounds like it was written by someone who doesn't understand a religious perspective. Whether or not it can be supported depends on what you take as evidence. Are the arguments in Evidence that Demands a Verdict worthy of consideration? I doubt that this author would see them that way. The last statement quoted above is simply gratuitous. I suspect St. Augustine or C.S. Lewis would be able to argue circles around Mr./Dr. La Page on theological issues. We have seen how well Richard Dawkins has fared in this regard.

Take what you need from the evolution sections. The theology, on the other hand is a tad facile.

3 comments:

  1. The last statement you quote could be taken two different ways. The first is as you take it: the big question is whether there is any religion that can stand up to rational scrutiny, with the implied answer being no.

    The other way to take it is that Dawkins et al. take the abundant evidence of evolution by natural means and use it to argue that no theistic religion is correct. But whether theistic religion can stand up to rational scrutiny is a bigger question than whether we can find evidence of direct theistic intervention in the evolution of life. So Dawkins et al. are stepping out of their bounds.

    I suspect the author would claim he had the latter sentiment in mind.

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  2. Well, for starters, I linked to the wrong article. I meant to link to the entire site, not just the one dealing with religion. Time to fix it.

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  3. I also think that it was the other comments interspersed throughout the site that lean heavily toward the philosophical naturalism perspective. I just picked one out. Maybe you are correct, though.

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