Thursday, February 07, 2008


Other Opinions

The International Society for Science & Religion, a group founded in 2001 under the inaugural presidency of mathematical physicist and Anglican priest Sir John Polkinghorne, has issued a statement on Intelligent Design Creationism, prepared by, among others, historian Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists, and philosopher of science Michael Ruse, author of many books on the evolution/creationism controversy and a witness in the famous case of McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education that found the "equal time" laws for the teaching of "creation science" and evolution unconstitutional under American law.

The authors of this statement constitute a group set up for the purpose by the Executive Committee of the International Society for Science and Religion. Through a process involving consultation with all members of the Society, the statement has now been accepted by the Executive Committee for publication as a statement made on behalf of the Society.

... We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language. Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper. Besides, ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of "irreducible complexity" in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be "irreducibly complex" today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow.

Scientific explanations are always incomplete. We grant that a comprehensive account of evolutionary natural history remains open to complementary philosophical, metaphysical, and religious dimensions. Darwinian natural history does preempt certain accounts of creation, leading, for example, to the contemporary creationist and ID controversies. However, in most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels. In many religious traditions, such as some found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, the notion of intelligent design is irrelevant We recognize that natural theology may be a legitimate enterprise in its own right, but we resist the insistence of intelligent-design advocates that their enterprise be taken as genuine science - just as we oppose efforts of others to elevate science into a comprehensive world view (so-called scientism).
The aim of the ISSR:

... is the facilitation of dialogue between the two academic disciplines of science and religion, one of the most important current areas of debate in terms of understanding the nature of humanity. This includes both the enhancement of the profile of the science-religion interface in the public eye, as well as the safeguarding of the quality and rigour of the debate in the more formal, academic arena.

A positive indication of progress toward a constructive dialogue between Science and Religion is currently taking place regarding the subject of Evolution. Space Age Religion notes that a number of such discussions are currently underway. Some listed are:

Cleric Urges Science and Religion Dialgue

Princeton talk Explores Science and Religion

United Church of Christ Embracing Evolution

United Church of Christ Embracing Evolution
Thanks for the links.
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