Friday, March 14, 2008

Evolution Schmevolution - Overview

[From Evolution Schmevolution - Overview | The Daily Show | Comedy Central]


Heidi Rivera March 18, 2008 at 10:03 PM  

Where do you fall in the religion vs. science debate? Can you support evolution and still believe in or support your religion? Some people support both and say that God created certain species and evolution is the mechanism that produced diversity from those species. Is this plausible? What do you think?

Madhu March 19, 2008 at 2:05 AM  

Heidi -

Good questions! I'd have to say I am completely in the science camp. And I've been there ever since college when I started studying and thinking seriously about science, including evolutionary biology (especially through the writings of Stephen Jay Gould). And I haven't ever felt the need to fall back upon any kind of "faith" to hold up my worldview. It may be that my polytheistic (Hindu) upbringing made it easier for me to give up on religion than might be for someone from a monotheistic tradition; I can't say.

There are many people who have reconciled their religious beliefs with scientific evidence supporting evolution, including some prominent biologists like Ken Miller and Francis Collins who have written best selling books on how they retain their Christian faith as evolutionary biologists. And if what they say makes it easier for christians to accept the reality of evolution, more power to them. Note, however, that their actual scientific work is not (and cannot be) in any way influenced by their religious faith, although their practice of religion may be influenced by science. So that seems to be a one-way street.

As for your question about what if god set the whole thing in motion and used evolution as a mechanism? Well, what if? How does that help me understand anything about the mechanisms of evolution? Besides, I can't think of any way to test such a hypothesis within the realm of the scientific method (i.e., the natural world) - unless god comes down and tells us this is what s(he) did in a manner irrefutable by science (i.e., not in someone's private dream). Supernatural explanations are, by definition, outside the framework of science and have to be taken on "faith". And frankly, given how well the scientific method has done in uncovering so many of the mechanisms behind the wonders of this world, I don't really see the need for supernatural explanations. Mysteries we don't yet understand - yes, bring them on, science thrives on them, but it cannot do much with fundamentally untestable ideas.

I hope that helps you in finding your own balance against the false "debate" about evolution.

Heidi Rivera March 19, 2008 at 9:58 PM  

I certainly don't doubt that evolution exists. I mean, the evidence, support and mechanisms are clear as day. I was just interested in how other people, particularly scientist, balanced the belief in evolution and religion at the same time or if most of them just supported evolution alone. I completely agree with you on what you were saying about God coming down and explaining how the world "came about." There is no way to test this hypothesis, and scientifically speaking, that means that it is just that, a hypothesis. But, I guess this is where all the controversy comes in. I guess some people have very strong beliefs in relgion and some people don't. I think that it is safe to say that there will always be a variation in opinions regarding the "balance" (if any) between evolution and religion, not only within the public but in the science community as well.


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