As my faithful readers know, I’ve been lately fascinated by the ID v Evolution debate, such as it is. It’s really not so much a debate, really, it’s more like the Israelites against the Philistines (1 Sam. 17:3): “The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.” They lined up like this for 40 days, hurling insults. While a few on either side may consider themselves a Goliath, so far no David has shown up to lay the opposition flat, so the insults continue.
While the issue is indeed fascinating (and at the same time frustrating, as the Goliaths on both sides tend to use embarrassing logic), it seems that the real issue – at least among those of loud voice – is not actually evolution, or even science. If you read the blogs and pay attention to the news and recently published books on the issue, it becomes more clear that the real issue is, in fact, God.
For Creationists, of course, this has always been the issue – but I’m not talking about them. It is obviously an issue with some IDists (ID is not necessarily Creationism although there is some overlap), but not with all. What is interesting is that the issue of God – or rather, the lack of God – has become such a major issue with many evolutionists (obviously this is not an issue with all evolutionists, as many of them are also God-believers).
We could expect some ID people to raise the issue of God – after all, we really only have a couple of options when discussing the identity of the “I”; we have a god of some description, or we have the space alien theory (I guess if we could also propose some type of Star Wars-like midi-chlorian cosmic Force). There are those IDists who believe that the ID hypothesis can prove design (as opposed to simply inferring design), and as such, prove the existence of God. What is interesting is that some in the evolutionist circles have followed these IDists into focusing on the proof – or disproof – of God. Again, it seems that the debate has drifted from science into theology, which is fine; I enjoy theology more than biology anyway.
Consider the recent book by Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, or the one by Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis. Now, check out some of the blogs: we have Richard Dawkins site, RichardDawkins.net, where he seems more like a champion of atheism than anything else. Or, take a look at the blog by science prof PZ Myers, making sure to look at his religion and anti-ID posts (at times, he’s actually interesting, but he often resorts to Goliath-like name-calling and ranting). There are, of course more – start following links from the sites above and you’ll find them.
All of this makes me wonder: Has God now been drafted into the realm of science, as Stenger appears to propose, or has science moved back (note the word “back”) into the realm of philosophy & theology?
What scientists may be realizing is that there are, of course, deeper issues and larger truths than that of evolution, such as whether there is a God and where science fits in the overall picture. Are there limitations to science? If all that exists is the natural world, then it is perhaps the world that is limited. However, if I am right, then science only shows us part of the picture.
On to deeper issues and bigger truths…
Not so long ago the marriage of God and science was called “Natural theology” which was the search for signs of deity without recourse to supernatural evidence referred to as “revealed” theology or religion. The expression “natural theology” may go back as far as Saint Augustine. Natural theology (or natural religion) is THEOLOGY based on reason and experience. It appears that the discussion you describe has indeed moved again toward a venerable tradition. To the horror of your scientists in question (if they were to realize it), theology is once again ascending to her place as the “Queen of the Sciences,” to which the lesser, experimental sciences are but handmaidens.
Ah, sweet irony!