Darwin and God
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There was a debate earlier this week (12 May 2009) in Westminster Abbey on the topic "Did Darwin Kill God?" Of course, from a literal viewpoint, he did no such thing, but symbolically it might be a debatable issue.
The affirmative was argued by an atheist, Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, and an agnostic, Nancy Rothwell, a professor at the faculty of life sciences, University of Manchester. Arguing that Darwin did not kill God were two believers, Robert Winston, a professor of science and society at Imperial College, London, and Denis Alexander, director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.
There are quite a few news items and blogs discussing the debate which, with their various perspectives, make interesting reading:
- If Darwin has really killed God, when was the funeral? - A debate between believers and non-believers in Westminster Abbey was entertaining, but failed to change anyone's mind.
- Did Darwin Kill God? A debate at Westminster Abbey on Darwin's legacy failed to get beyond the tired stereotype of religion as rigid and unquestioning
- Did Darwin Kill God? (The Sensuous Curmudgeon blog)
- Did Darwin Kill God? (blog by Paul Woolley)
- Who killed God? (news.com.au blog)
- God Murdered, Darwin No. 1 Suspect (The Darwin Report)
- Proof: we need better questions on religion and science (Philosophy and Life Blog)
I have to agree with Mark Vernon (the final link above) that the question was poor. Surely a better question could have been developed to explore the impact of Evolution on belief. But I found one paragraph interesting in the first link above:
Despite their disagreeing about the existence of God, the panelists were united in their condemnation of intelligent design. Alexander said it was "a great way to turn people against religion" and "an aberration from both a religious and a scientific point of view". Rothwell said intelligent design was "pseudoscience" that tried to dress up religious belief as science. Winston agreed, saying it was "bad religion and bad science".
What this indicates is that intelligent believers have no problem combining an acceptance of evolution with their religious beliefs. In this line, I would point to another development which is the creation of the BioLogos Foundation by the geneticist, Dr. Robert Collins, formerly leader of the Human Genome Project for the US National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Collins is a Christian who has no problem squaring Christian beliefs with science. He thinks it is important to counter intelligent design and creationism, so he founded BioLogos, which "is led by a team of believing scientists who are committed to promoting a perspective of both theological and scientific soundness, which takes seriously the claims of theism and of evolution, and finds compelling evidence for their compatibility."
Obviously, I don't agree with everything on the BioLogos website, but in terms with dealing with those who push ID and creationism, it is a great resource. It clearly makes the point that science and faith are not incompatible.
As I have written several times before, these people are not the enemy. Intelligent believers are our allies in the battle against wilful ignorance.