Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Archbishop of Canturbury backs evolution over creationism

Archbishop of Canterbury backs evolution ... Apparently the Intelligent Design quandry has been raised in England as well as here in the U.S. I shouldn't be surprised since it's clear the political strategists behind this are international in scope. In any case it's interesting how Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canturbury, have all announced that it's a mistake to teach creationism in schools, and how we should accept evolution into religious peoples view of the world.

The Intelligent Design crowd are fundamentalists who seem to be at odds with leading religious figures. Hmmmm.... Interesting.

Here's the Guardian article: Archbishop: stop teaching creationism ...or...
"I think creationism is ... a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories ... if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there's just been a jarring of categories ... My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it," he said.
The debate over creationism or its slightly more sophisticated offshoot, so-called "intelligent design" (ID) which argues that creation is so complex that an intelligent - religious - force must have directed it, has provoked divisions in Britain but nothing like the vehemence or politicisation of the debate in the US. There, under pressure from the religious right, some states are considering giving ID equal prominence to Darwinism, the generally scientifically accepted account of the evolution of species. Most scientists believe that ID is little more than an attempt to smuggle fundamentalist Christianity into science teaching.
It's clear these religious leaders aren't saying to ignore the Creation story and only look at Science and Evolution. The Archbishop's words seem to center on guarding the specialness of the Biblical Creation story.

In my eye the story isn't as simple as Evolution is superior over Intelligent Design. And, for that matter, its disturbing that the Archbishop seems to be saying we shouldn't be questioning or debating the validity of the Creation story.

First, consider this: Establishing control over a society ... the gist is that religion is easily be used to control the beliefs of society. The Intelligent Design debate is precisely an example of religious claims being pushed by political operatives to establish some control over society. And, further, it's an example of the people in society being expected to suspend their power of critical thought just because their church tells them to do so.

Why shouldn't the claims of religion be tested? We have the power of critical thought. We have the power of independant reasoning. Why not examine spiritual practices, experiences and beliefs?
Okay, one problem with that leaps immediately to mind. Scientists have regularly tried to test religion and ended up bashing religion, largely because they're testing it in the wrong way. Religious folk are expected to lean on "faith" and to not ask questions, leading to a dependency on something other than rational critical thought for making decisions. Scientists, on the other hand, are expected to trust only logic and equations and critical thinking, and to distrust subjective experience.

The problem is the nature of the religious claims. God is said to be something which created the universe and everything within it. God is said to be everywhere. How can a scientist hope to measure such a claim? The proof of God comes from subjective experience, the thing scientists are taught to distrust.

For example, when you pray what happens? Do you feel good when you pray? Most do. Is that a subconscious thing firing off some brain chemicals, and that because you believe God is helping you feel nice when you pray, therefore the chemicals your subconscious fires off will help you feel good? Or is there a divine presence that reaches inside you?

What about miraculous healing? What about prayer for someone who's sick? It's been shown in several studies (double-blind etc) that intercessionary prayer helps the ones who are prayed for.
It seems to me the critical mind, the dependence on logic, can easily go too far. And that the dependence on logic interferes with subjective experience. That the way to experiment with the divine is to operate with both subjective experience, and the critical mind. Subjective experience is not to be pushed away but to be embraced. Just as we are wired for the critical mind so are we wired for subjective experience.

Hmmm... I seem to have strayed from Intelligent Design versus Evolution. Sorry....