Saturday, May 26, 2007

Continuing the Creation/Evolution Discussion

What follows is a continuation of the previous article, Creation Museum Stirs Scientists’ Opposition, and is based upon a comment by Leo, a new commenter to Observations, which poses a thoughtful challenge to my original post. I chose to make the following exchange an article of its own because I think it will be interesting reading, and because it might have been “lost” if left in the Comment section. Leo’s comment has been slightly edited, and the unedited comment can be found among the comments to the original article.

Leo's Comment: I have a question for you, if you believe religious ideas of creationism are correct and you have faith in those ideas why attempt to falsely couch them behind the guise of science?

In other words, there are plenty of churches and Sunday schools where religious people are FREE to teach their children any theory of creationism they desire, so why would religious people feel the need to open a "museum" which is historically an arena reserved for purely intellectual/factual/secular teaching???

The only logical answer to this question that I can think of is that the said religious people wish to present their beliefs in a secular/factual type of setting in order to convey a false presumption that their beliefs are not based on faith, but on fact, which is backed up by science. In my opinion this is the same reason that some religious people want to tout "intelligent design" as a science instead of what it is, which is a purely faith based opinion/theory.

I'm sure you will not particularly enjoy my point of view on this subject, but before you jump to the conclusion that I'm some sort of atheist, I'll let you know I'm actually a weekly church-goer who has enough faith in my religious beliefs to feel comfortable continuing to use the mind God gave me to reason, and allow that while God created the universe there is plenty of evidence that evolution is factual and the Bible does not have to be taken completely literally when it comes to the seven-day time frame.

I think there is room in one's mind to believe that science and religion do not have to be diametrically opposed.

Response: First, it isn’t clear from your first sentence whether “you” refers to me, or whether it refers more broadly to believers. I frequently take science and scientists to task for its/their dismissive attitude toward people who believe in God, and quite frequently I am identified as someone who is a believer defending the position of believers. However, I actually am neutral in these arguments. This labeling of me as a believer with no more proof than a neutral argument is evidence, I believe, of the pro-science/anti-religion arrogance of many scientists and science advocates, and a hypersensitivity and hyper-defensiveness about their theory. Truth be told: I see the Big Bang/evolution theory and the Biblical account as compatible stories, not as mutually exclusive accounts in which one is right and one is wrong.

I haven’t seen the Creation Museum, so I cannot comment on whether or not it attempts portray religion as science, but I have to disagree with your characterization of museums as vehicles of “purely intellectual/factual/secular teaching,” as there are numerous types of museums: Museums of art, music, history, science, natural history, broadcasting, etc. I doubt that all of these are scientifically oriented, and the definitions of “museum” do not indicate this as a required characteristic. Therefore, the Creation Museum may be no more than a place where exhibits have been created to represent in concrete form the concepts portrayed in the Bible.

A couple of definitions of “museum”:

1 - A building or place where works of art, scientific specimens, or other objects of permanent value are kept and displayed. (

2 - A museum is a "permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education, enjoyment, the tangible and intangible evidence of people and their environment" (ICOM definition).

As for intelligent design, it is not a new theory, having its origins hundreds of years before Charles Darwin was born, so I do not regard it as some recent effort to “legitimize” a God-centered view of creation by trying to make a science out of it. Instead, I see it as a third view of how things began that, while centered on an intelligent being—a supernatural creator—that some regard as God, represents a view as different from the creationist story as it is from the evolution story.

So, I maintain my position that science, for whatever reason or set of reasons, desires to stifle the efforts of religious people to advance their beliefs in an arena outside the traditional, and limited, arenas of churches and religion-oriented schools and media.

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