Thursday, June 14, 2007

Evolution Light

US Senator & Republican Presidential hopeful Sam Brownback raised his hand at the debate to say that he didn't believe in Evolution. Turns out he believes in parts of Evolution. He clarified his position in a New York Times Editorial that I have to admit I had a hard time following. He says that science and faith do not contradict each other - but the truth is that sometimes they do. If you believe that the Grand Canyon is 3000 years old - that's a direct contradiction to scientific findings. It's one thing to say, "Let's agree to disagree." It's another thing to pretend that we agree when we don't.

Here is an excerpt where he seems to be making an argument that I've heard before, basically - I believe in Evolution - but God could have created the process of evolution.

"Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species. Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him. It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science."

I don't have a problem with this argument. What I'm uncomfortable with is that after plowing through 11 paragraphs of Brownback's hedging - I still basically have no idea what he actually believes about the science of evolution. The closest he comes to being specific about what he thinks is this sentence:

"If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true."

Many scientists replied to this statement saying that one cannot pick and choose what to believe from scientific evidence. The point of science is that the evidence demonstrates what can be believed and what theories the evidence does not support. Here is an excerpt from one of the letters:

"As a person of science who does not believe that sound reason must be “purified,” I find his pick-and-choose approach to science very worrisome, as he might one day be responsible for making the most important decisions for this country.

We can only hope that he chooses to believe the facts when it comes to decisions about our health, national security, economic policy and education."

Here is an interesting and detailed blog on this exact topic.

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