Thursday, May 12, 2005

Dan Harper: Evolution and religion and philosophy of science

I've never found religion and science incompatible. They're different because they ask and answer different questions. I've never had a hard time reconciling the two; mostly because I see little to reconcile. Not that reconciliation a big deal for me either. I'm comfortable with ambiguity.

Darwinism on the other-hand always seemed a little logically strange because it has this panglossian quality to it. We are what we are because we're the only thing that could be given the environment. It's a tautology , although folks have argued otherwise with me, I'm still not persuaded.

Then we have the social Darwinist, and the geneticists of the 1930s who got into bed with the racialists of the 1930s. We know where that went. William Jennings Byron opposed the Darwinist from the left. He was a Democrat and Progressive and opposed Darwinism in the classroom because "Evolution is the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak".

Now we have the left claiming the Bush religious-right is going to convert our kids in the biology class room. Dan Harper finds a review on a new book by Michael Ruse telling us the Darwinist sometimes their own worst enemy in this debate because of their very unscientific habit of applying biological theories to social science and philosophy.

Evolution is controversial in large part, he [Ruse] theorizes, because its supporters have often presented it as the basis for self-sufficient philosophies of progress and materialism, which invariably wind up in competition with religion.

So the relgious right's not the only group with a classroom agenda. My experience is kids are pretty savvy on sorting the agendas out.

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