Philosophy of Religion

Chapter  3: Science and Religion

Section 5.  Religion and Science

The social sciences study religion as a human phenomena to be explained in terms of the factors that contribute to its origination and continuation and transformation.  They study how religion functions in the lives of individuals groups and cultures.  One of the many ways in which religion can be examined is in relation to other social institutions such as science.  In such an examination it is often the case that there are reports of conflicts between the beliefs systems if not the actual institutions of science and religion.  As Religion is studied by Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology as well as by History there are no conflicts between the disciplines and Religion as these sciences that study religion as a human phenomena are not dealing with the verification of the sentences appearing in the conversations and writings of some religion that appear to make empirical claims about the universe: as to its origins and operations.  For those who insist on identifying religion with the apparent empirical or historical claims being made within the corpus of the literature of the various religious traditions there will appear to be a basis for conflict in as much as the apparently empirical; claims being made within the religious traditions are either incapable of being verified or have been empirically falsified or shown to be inconsistent or in contradiction to one another.

Most recently there has arisen yet another movement that appears to pit Science against Religion.  It is in the attempt of some to make claims about the origins of life that run counter to what science has found to be the case through careful observation and experimental research and testing.  There are some who invoke religious traditions and religious texts as the basis for those claims.  The conflict comes with those who proffer the beliefs now commonly know as "Creationism" and "Intelligent Design".  Is this conflict necessary?  What is the current standing of the conflicts between Science and "Creationism" and "Intelligent Design" ?

CONTENTS

1. The Conflict: Necessary or not?

2.  Science and Theory

3.  Science and Faith

4.  Evolutionary Theory

5.  Creationist Theory and Intelligent Design

1. The Conflict: Necessary or not?

Is it possible for a person to be both religious and to accept the findings of science at the same time? This appears to be a problem for those who participate or live within the domains and communities formed by the three principle Western Religions with their historical natures and the importance they place on historical events and their scriptures that appear to offer historical accounts of events. 

Conflict Not Necessary :

The answer from an empirical point of view based on ample evidence is that it would appear to be the case that it is possible to a certain extant for a person to be both a religious person and one who accepts science as the method for determining the accuracy of claims about the physical universe.  It is possible to a certain extant because not all who are religious think that they need to accept the tales told in their sacred scriptures to be taken as literally accurate and true.  Here is evidence to support that claim: examine examples of explanations for how a person in each of the major Western Religions can accept the findings of Science as to the origins of species and remain within the religious tradition.

READ: Can a person believe in evolution and also believe in a God? 

Conflict Necessary :

The conflict between Religion and Science will remain a conflict for the Western Religions with Science for  those who take the sacred scriptures of the Western Religions to be accurate and literally true and those who accept the claims and theories of Science to be the most accurate.  The conflict will result from an insistence that the language of the Western Religions that appear to make empirical claims be treated literally as making claims about the physical universe and past events. 

There is a fundamental opposition between Science and Religion

"There is a conflict between science and religion, and it is zero-sum. Surely it is time that scientists and other intellectuals stopped disguising this fact. Indeed, the incompatibility of reason and faith has been a self-evident feature of human cognition and public discourse for centuries."  in

Selling Out Science by Sam Harris  Free Inquiry Vol. 26, Issue 1, December, 2005  http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=harris_26_1&back=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.secularhumanism.org%2Flib%2Flist.php%3Fpublication%3Dfi

Conflict Not Necessary :

There is an alternative manner for dealing with religious language in which such claims are accepted as performing a different function. In this view religious language appearing to make empirical claims are not performing a cognitive function but instead such language is functioning to present and preserve non-cognitive ends such as representing what the speakers and believers hold to be most valuable in life and the basis for their having hope for life to have meaning, significance and value.  READ: Religious Language

Conflict Does Exist : "Creationist  Theory"

The conflict appears to exist and does exist between the Literalists and those who accept Evolutionary Theory as the best explanation of the origin of species in the universe.  "Literalists" are those who take the Bible of the Western Religions to be truthful and accurate.  On their interpretation the entire universe is approximately 6,000 years from its origination from an action of a single deity.  The Literalists advance their position in the form of a "Creationist  Theory".  They attempt to contrast that "Theory" with Evolutionary Theory.  In so doing they equivocate on the meaning of the word "theory" and in so doing undermine the epistemological foundation of empirical sciences.  This confusion needs to be addressed and the mistaken commingling of the two ideas of "theory" identified. 

Conflict Does Not Exist: "Intelligent Design theory"

The conflict appears to exist as long as one adheres to a certain idea of a deity as a creator and intervener in the affairs of the physical universe in a manner that science does not confirm.  If the idea f the deity is changed then the conflict may be dissipated.  Consider this manifestation of the reworking of the idea of the deity away from the traditional and toward the post modern by the Roman Catholic priest who is head of the Vatican Observatory is a trained scientist.  Dr George Coyne has spoken and written about the relation of Religion to Science.  He has expressed his view that there need not be a conflict of religious belief with scientific findings. In the controversy concerning Intelligent Design and Evolution Dr. Coyne has expressed these views concerning the nature of the deity.

" Religious believers who respect the results of modern science must move away from the notion of a God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly.  God should be seen more as a parent or one who speaks encouraging and sustaining words.  Scripture is very rich in these thoughts.  It presents a God who gets angry , who disciplines, a God who nurtures the universe.  The universe has a certain vitality like a child does.  It has the ability to respond to words of endearment and encouragement...Words that give life arte richer than mere commands of information.  In such ways does God deal with the universe.  I claim that Intelligent Design diminishes God , makes her/him a designer rather than a lover. "  From  "The Pope's Astronomer" in New York Daily News, December 26, 2005, p. 33.

Conflict Does Exist : "Intelligent Design Theory"

The conflict between Religion and Science does exist currently in one of the most subtle expressions of the basic differences between them.  It manifests itself in the attempt to arrive at a proof for the existence of a deity through the argument from Design or "Intelligent Design" argument.  This is offered by those who hold that the best explanation of the origin of the universe to be its creation by an intelligent being.  In order to accept the "Intelligent Design Theory" as the best explanation for the origin of species Evolutionary Theory would need to be shown to be inaccurate and in some fundamental manner flawed.  As of 2005 most of the presentations of  "Intelligent Design Theory" consist of attempts to attack or undermine Evolutionary Theory in the hopes that the alternative "Intelligent Design Theory" would then be accepted as the most likely or best explanation.  There is no empirical evidence or program for scientific verification or falsification of the "Intelligent Design Theory". There are significant ways in which this "theory" is not at all the sort of "theory" as is known in science. As in the case of "creationist Theory" equivocating on the word "theory" so too does the "Intelligent Design Theory" commit the same sleight of hand sort of substitution of meaning. In so doing they equivocate on the meaning of the word "theory" and in so doing undermine the epistemological foundation of empirical sciences.  This confusion needs to be addressed and the mistaken commingling of the two ideas of "theory" identified. 

One of the most pernicious aspects of the presentation of "Intelligent Design Theory" as if it were science or akin to science is the undermining of the public understanding of, respect for and valuation of science.  The appearance of a debate or conflict of "Intelligent Design Theory" with Evolutionary Theory is the appearance that the two are of the same character when they are not.   "Intelligent Design Theory" and debates about it are political exercises. It is predominantly a political and cultural issue rather than a scientific issue.  The public-political debate is attempting to redefine science as a belief system somewhat akin to others and in particular as an alternative belief system to religion.

Conflict Does Exist : Evolutionary Theory

The challenge posed by science with its empirical methods for determining the accuracy of empirical claims and historical claims about events on planet earth to religious faith based on literal readings of the creation stories in Genesis is the least of the conflict as it can be resolved and has been resolved by either accepting a non-literal interpretation of the sacred writings or to view religious language as functioning in a non-cognitive but axiological manner. Other elements of science and of the extension of the thinking that is found in Evolutionary Theory challenge the belief  in a deity as creator and as a being aware of , caring for and acting in events on earth.

The explanatory power of Evolutionary Theory with its component theories and hypotheses to account for the current state of affairs and  the emergence of diverse and complex life forms in terms of strictly natural interactions of random events and reproductive advantage over huge spans of time appears to seriously undermine the need for accepting a belief in a supernatural being that plays a guiding role in human events.  The explanation of  life forms, including humanity, emerging through a process of natural competition that is uncaring and without direction or aim threatens to render the belief in a deity, a supernatural being as being unneeded and implausible implausible.

Is the war between science and religion over?

By Dr. Norman F. Hall and Lucia K. B. Hall in The Humanist, May/June 1986, pg 26  http://www.talkreason.org/articles/war.cfm

The complicated relationship between science and religion has been the subject of numerous discussions, with a variety of views proposed by authors, from assertions that science and religion are hopelessly at odds and can never be reconciled to the opposite asseverations, suggesting that there is not now and never can be any contradiction between faith (of whatever persuasion) and the facts of science. The essay by Dr. Norman Hall and Lucia Hall treats the religion vs. science controversy from the standpoint of reason and humanistic values. It was originally published in 1986 but preserves its relevance to present day debates related to the controversy in question.  Is the war between science and religion over?   By Dr. Norman F. Hall and Lucia K. B. Hall in The Humanist, May/June 1986, pg 26  http://www.talkreason.org/articles/war.cfm   or at http://www.godless.org/sci/war-sci.html

Can science be used to find a deity?

Has Science Found God? By Victor J. Stenger The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 19, Number 1. http://www.talkreason.org/articles/found.cfm

Can science be used to disprove that there is a deity?

Can Science Prove that God Does Not Exist?  by Theodore Schick, Jr. The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 21, Number 1   http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=schick_21_1

 

Fundamentalism and Science  By Massimo Pigliucci    http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/~massimo/essays/fundamentalism&science.html

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2.Science and Theory

What Is Science?  A way of knowing about the natural world based on observations and experiments that can be confirmed or disproved by other scientists using accepted scientific techniques. Science is a way of understanding the world, not a mountain of facts. Before anyone can truly understand scientific information, they must know how science works. Science does not prove anything absolutely -- all scientific ideas are open to revision in the light of new evidence. The process of science, therefore, involves making educated guesses (hypotheses) that are then rigorously and repeatedly tested. For a better understanding of the nature and process of science, check out these links, books, and articles. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/09/index.html 

What is the meaning of "theory"? In everyday usage the word "theory" has several meanings.  In the discussions about Creationist Theory and Intelligent Design Theory the meaning of the word "theory" is other than it is in science.

What are the other meanings of "theory" ?  It can mean 1) :abstract thought or speculation or it could be used in the sense of 2)  a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action or even 3) an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances.

What is a theory in Science?  A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that typically incorporates many confirmed observations, laws, and successfully verified hypotheses.

What Is an hypothesis? An explanation of one or more phenomena in nature that can be tested by observations, experiments, or both. In order to be considered scientific, a hypothesis must be falsifiable, which means that it can be proven to be incorrect.

Is Creationist Theory a  theory as in "scientific theory"? NO.  It is not a  well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that typically incorporates many confirmed observations, laws, and successfully verified hypotheses.

See further: Dr. Massimo Pigliucci http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/~massimo/lectures/creationism-no-science.pdf

Is Intelligent Design Theory a theory as in "scientific theory"?  NO.  It is not a  well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that typically incorporates many confirmed observations, laws, and successfully verified hypotheses.

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3. Science and Faith

Can a person believe in evolution and also believe in a God?  YES, it is possible.

READ: Can a person believe in evolution and also believe in a God? 

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4. Evolutionary Theory

Evolving Ideas: Isn't Evolution Just a Theory?

Biological evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time. That this happens is a fact. Biological evolution also refers to the common descent of living organisms from shared ancestors. The evidence for historical evolution -- genetic, fossil, anatomical, etc. -- is so overwhelming that it is also considered a fact. The theory of evolution describes the mechanisms that cause evolution. So evolution is both a fact and a theory. http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html

When we use the word "theory" in everyday life, we usually mean an idea or a guess, but the word has a much different meaning in science. This video examines the vocabulary essential for understanding the nature of science and evolution and illustrates how evolution is a powerful, well-supported scientific explanation for the relatedness of all life.    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/11/2/e_s_1.html

Why Evolution Matters

One of the fathers of the "modern synthesis" of evolutionary biology, Theodosius Dobzhansky, stated that "nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution." His words are equally true when applied to related fields, such as agriculture, medicine, and environmental and conservation biology. The books, articles, and Web sites listed here discuss the importance of evolution as the foundation of biology and its implications for our future.

Evidence Supporting Biological Evolution at http://books.nap.edu/html/creationism/evidence.html   It is the convergence of evidence from so many areas - fossil record, species distribution, molecular, etc. - that makes the case for evolution so overwhelming.

A site at Oxford University  http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/index.shtml can be used to search topics in evolution. If you search for intelligent design you can get a variety of papers by evolutionary biologists that squash its claims using accessible evidence from nature.

www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution
This interactive and entertaining website is a companion to the PBS series on evolution. Explore
Darwin's life and the theory he proposed, find resources for teachers and students and a library of additional resources.
 
The Writing of Charles Darwin on the Web
pages.britishlibrary.net/charles.darwin
This site claims to be the most extensive collection of
Darwin's writings ever published and includes The Origin of Species and other books, volumes of letters, and articles published in periodicals.  Although the site appears to come from the British Library, it is produced by a historian affiliated with Cambridge University.
 
Exploring Constitutional Conflicts: The Evolution Controversy
www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/evolution.htm
A fascinating look at both sides of the issue from a
University of Missouri law professor.  Includes links to websites supporting evolutionist theory and creationism.
 
AboutDarwin.com
www.aboutdarwin.com
More about Darwin himself than about evolution, this entertaining site offers great detail about
Darwin's life and science in the late 1800s.  It includes a long list of links.
 
Center for Science and Culture
www.discovery.org/csc
This website presents the non-Darwinist and non-creationist point of view known as intelligent design, which holds that the universe is the product of intelligent thinking.
 
Answers in Genesis
www.answersingenesis.org
A very large young-Earth creationist website. Although most material is in English, it includes pages in ten Asian and European languages.
 
The Talk.Origins Archive
www.talkorigins.org
This website is built around essays and articles addressing the evolution/creationism controversy from a mainstream science viewpoint.  Lots of links to websites on both sides of the issue.
 
National Center for Science Education
www.ncseweb.org
The NCSE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Robert Clark
www.robertclarkphoto.com
Preview the diverse work of this award-winning photographer at this site, which includes photo galleries, a short biography, and more.

The National Academies
www.nationalacademies.org
This organization provides a committee of experts in all areas of scientific and technological endeavor and gives independent, objective advice on critical international and national issues.

Bibliography
Browne, Janet. Charles Darwin: Voyaging. Vol. 1. Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.
 
Browne, Janet. Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. Vol. 2. Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
 
Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. John Murray, 1859. (Modern editions are available from many publishers.)
 
Desmond, Adrian, and James Moore.
Darwin. Michael Joseph, 1991.
 
Eldredge,
Niles. The Pattern of Evolution. W. H. Freeman and Company, 1999.
 
Larson, Edward J. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Modern Library, 2004.

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5. Creationist Theory and  Intelligent Design

"Intelligent Design theory  is simply a repackaging of the Teleological Argument which Hume repudiated centuries ago." Mark Halfon (NCC, 2005)    see further Teleological Argument.

American Association for the advancement of Sciences AAAS:   national organization of professional scientists.

The "Intelligent Design (ID) Movement" is comprised of a diverse group of persons - including philosophers, lawyers, theologians, public policy advocates, and scientific or technical professionals - who believe that contemporary evolutionary theory is inadequate to explain the diversity and complexity of life on Earth. They argue that a full scientific explanation of the structures and processes of life requires reference to an intelligent agent beyond nature. The ID Movement seeks to modify public science education policy at state and local levels to allow inclusion of the Movement's critiques of evolutionary theory and its assertions of an extra-natural origin of biological diversity and complexity. Institutionally, the Movement is supported by the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute and has also created its own virtual professional society to promote its views. However, all other relevant professional scientific organizations judge the ID Movement to be outside of mainstream science and its theoretical proposals to be unwarranted on the basis of observations from nature and laboratory experiments.--- http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/evolution/issues.shtml

The Intelligent Design movement is the latest in a number of attempts to advance what has been known as the Teleological Proof or Argument for the Existence of a Deity.  See more on this at: The Teleological Argument

AAAS Board Resolution on Intelligent Design Theory

The contemporary theory of biological evolution is one of the most robust products of scientific inquiry. It is the foundation for research in many areas of biology as well as an essential element of science education. To become informed and responsible citizens in our contemporary technological world, students need to study the theories and empirical evidence central to current scientific understanding.

Over the past several years proponents of so-called "intelligent design theory," also known as ID, have challenged the accepted scientific theory of biological evolution. As part of this effort they have sought to introduce the teaching of "intelligent design theory" into the science curricula of the public schools. The movement presents "intelligent design theory" to the public as a theoretical innovation, supported by scientific evidence, that offers a more adequate explanation for the origin of the diversity of living organisms than the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution. In response to this effort, individual scientists and philosophers of science have provided substantive critiques of "intelligent design," demonstrating significant conceptual flaws in its formulation, a lack of credible scientific evidence, and misrepresentations of scientific facts.

Recognizing that the "intelligent design theory" represents a challenge to the quality of science education, the Board of Directors of the AAAS unanimously adopts the following resolution:

Whereas, ID proponents claim that contemporary evolutionary theory is incapable of explaining the origin of the diversity of living organisms;

Whereas, to date, the ID movement has failed to offer credible scientific evidence to support their claim that ID undermines the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution;

Whereas, the ID movement has not proposed a scientific means of testing its claims;

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the lack of scientific warrant for so-called "intelligent design theory" makes it improper to include as a part of science education;

Therefore Be Further It Resolved, that AAAS urges citizens across the nation to oppose the establishment of policies that would permit the teaching of "intelligent design theory" as a part of the science curricula of the public schools;

Therefore Be It Further Resolved, that AAAS calls upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of "intelligent design theory" as subject matter for science education;

Therefore Be Further It Resolved, that AAAS encourages its affiliated societies to endorse this resolution and to communicate their support to appropriate parties at the federal, state and local levels of the government.

Approved by the AAAS Board of Directors on 10/18/02  http://archives.aaas.org/docs/resolutions.php?doc_id=432

Against Intelligent Design

·         http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/nhmag.html   

          http://www.talkorigins.org/ -  Usenet newsgroup devoted to the discussion and debate of biological and physical origins. Most discussions in the newsgroup center on the creation/evolution controversy, but other topics of discussion include the origin of life, geology, biology, catastrophism, cosmology and theology.

·         http://www.talkdesign.org    --  a response to the "Intelligent Design" movement of creationism. It is dedicated to:

  • Assessing the claims of the Intelligent Design movement from the perspective of mainstream science
  • Addressing the wider political, cultural, philosophical, moral, religious, and educational issues that have inspired the ID movement
  • Providing an archive of materials that critically examine the scientific claims of the ID movement.

·         http://www.talkreason.org    -- This website presents a collection of articles which aim to defend genuine science from numerous attempts by the new crop of creationists to replace it with theistic pseudo-science under various disguises and names. Talk Reason is designed to provide a forum for articles arguing against modern creationism in all of its forms.

Intelligent Design Theory Has No Scientific or Biblical Basis   By Bob Enick  http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/evolution/issues/pennsylvania/12.27.04enick.shtml

READ: Design yes, Intelligent no!: A critique of intelligent design "theory." by Massimo Pigliucci
http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/~massimo/essays/intelligent-design.html
 

READ: Neither Intelligent nor Designed: Evolution succeeds where "Intelligent Design" fails in describing the natural world. by Bruce and Frances Martin  Skeptical Inquirer magazine : Nov 2003

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Additional Readings on Intelligent Design

Michael J. Behe On-line Articles

http://www.arn.org/behe/mb_articles.htm

Michael J. Behe Responses to Critics

http://www.arn.org/behe/mb_response.htm

Critiques of Michael J. Behe's Writings and Positions

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe.html

General Information about Evolution and the Intelligent Design Movement

Doubting Darwin, by Jerry Adler, Newsweek, February 7, 2005 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6884904/site/newsweek/page/3/

Science Classes Are for Science, Not Faith, by Alan Leshner, AAAS CEO, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 2, 2005   http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2005/0202id.shtml

The Crusade Against Evolution, by Evan Ratliff, Wired, October 2004 http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/evolution.html

In Defense of Darwin and a Former Icon of Evolution, by Fiona Proffitt, Science, June 25, 2004

Political Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution
American Geological Institute
http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/evolution.html

The National Center for Science Education provides up-to-date listings of anti-evolution activity around the nation.

Position statements by American Geological Institute and its member societies are available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/resources/positionstatements.html.

The booklet Evolution and the Fossil Record, produced by American Geological Institute and the Paleontological Society, is now available on-line at http://www.agiweb.org/news/evolution/. Written by paleontologists John Pojeta Jr. and Dale Springer, this non-technical introduction to evolution aims to help the general public gain a better understanding of one of the fundamental underlying concepts of modern science.

The October 1999 issue of Geotimes features a series of perspectives on the Kansas situation from geoscience community leaders along with columns addressing the ramifications from both public policy and curriculum development standpoints. The December 2000 issues of Geotimes is devoted to the evolution debate. Articles include "The Politics of Education in Kansas" by M. Lee Allison, "Studying Evolution and Keeping the Faith" by Patricia H. Kelley, "Evolution Grades for the States" (a review of the Fordham report), and "Hot Spots across the U.S." (an overview of recent flare-ups). Other articles and columns are listed at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis.html#evolution.

The National Academies have produced several publications for teachers and the general public. They are available, along with an extensive array of links to other resources, at http://www7.nationalacademies.org/evolution/.

Voices for Evolution is a compilation of statements by scientific, educational, religious, and civil rights organizations published by the National Center for Science Education. It is available online at: http://www.ncseweb.org/article.asp?category=2.

A position paper by the National Science Teachers Association is available at http://www.nsta.org/159&psid=10.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has an evolution issues section on their Web site. It contains a current issues section, information on state science education standards and various state evolution issues. The site can be found at: http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/evolution/issues.shtml.


Was Darwin Wrong? No. The evidence for Evolution is overwhelming.  By: Quammen, David, National Geographic, 00279358, Nov2004, Vol. 206, Issue 5

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Who Owns the Argument from Improbability? - Richard Dawkins 

Free Inquiry October/November 2004 - Volume 24, No. 6 

……The design argument is fatally wounded by infinite regress.  The more improbable the specified complexity, the more improbable the god capable of designing it.  Darwinism comes through the regress unscathed, indeed triumphant.  Improbability, the phenomenon we seek to explain, is more or less defines as that which is difficult to explain.  It is obviously self-defeating to try to explain it by invoking a creative being of even greater complexity.  Darwinism really does explain complexity in terms of something simpler-which in turn is explained in terms of something simpler still, and so on back to the primeval simplicity.  It is the gradual escalatory quality of non-random natural selection that arms the Darwinian theory against the menace of infinite regress. …

Design is the temporarily correct explanation for some particular manifestation of specified complexity such as a car or a washing machine.  It could conceivably turn out that ….evolution was seeded by deliberate design of...alien designers then they require their own explanation: ultimately, they must have evolved by gradual and , therefore, explicable degrees.  The argument from probability, properly applied, rules out their spontaneous existence de  novo.

……………………………………

Sooner or later we are going to have to terminate the regress with something more explanatory than design itself.  Design can never be an ultimate explanation.  And-here is the point of my title-the more statistically improbable the specified complexity, the more inadequate does the design theory become, while the explanatory work done by the crane of gradualistic natural selection becomes correspondingly more indispensable.  So, all those calculations with which creationists love to browbeat their naοve audiences-the mega astronomical odds against an entity spontaneously coming into existence by chance-turn out to be exercises in eloquently shooting themselves in the foot.

The argument from improbability firmly belongs to the evolutionists.  It is our strongest card, and we should instantly turn it against our political opponents (we have no scientific opponents) whenever they try to play it against us.

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Additional Readings on Science and Religion

Einstein and Religion

Another Case Not Made: A Critique of Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator (2005) by Paul Doland

Awesome Versus Adipose: Who Really Works Hardest to Banish Ignorance? (1998) by Peter Atkins

Can Creationism Be Scientific? (1998) by Theodore M. Drange

Essays on Science and Religion by Victor J. Stenger

Evolution and Philosophy: An Introduction (1997by John Wilkins

Flew's Flawed Science (2005)  by Victor Stenger

The Improbability of God (1998)  by Richard Dawkins

Interview of Richard Dawkins by Sheena McDonald (1994)

Is Science a Religion? (1996) by Richard Dawkins

On Debating Religion (1994) by Richard Dawkins

What Good Is Religion?   By Richard Dawkins

Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (1996) by Richard Dawkins

Snake Oil and Holy Water (1999)  by Richard Dawkins

Religion: For Dummies Richard Dawkins on Darwin  Interview by Laura Sheahen

he Problem with God: Interview with Richard Dawkins  Interview by Laura Sheahen

When Religion Steps on Science's Turf  (1998) by Richard Dawkins 

Pitfalls of Metaphysics and Chimera of Divine Revelation (2003) by Mohammad Gill

Pseudoscience and Rationality (1997) by Mike Hardie

Religion--the antithesis to science (1997) by Peter Atkins

Review of Chet Raymo's Skeptics and True Believers (2005)

Review of Massimo Pigliucci's Tales of the Rational: Skeptical Essays About Nature and Science (2000) by Amanda Chesworth

Review of Schroeder's The Science of God (1998) by Graham Oppy

Review of Taner Edis' The Ghost in the Universe (2005) by Anthony Campbell

Science, Complexity, and God (1999)

Science and Religion: Bridging the Great Divide (1998) by George Johnson

Supernatural Selection (1993) by Ken Marsalek

Test Your Scientific Literacy! (2001) by Richard Carrier.

The Wedge at Work: How Intelligent Design Creationism Is Wedging Its Way into the Cultural and Academic Mainstream (2003) by Barbara Forrest

Where Science and Religion Disagree (2001) by Taner Edis

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