Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Intelligent Evolution

An interesting addition to the evolution/intelligent design argument comes in the form of Francisco Ayala, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Irvine, who also has the unusual pedigree of having been a Dominican priest.

You can see a recent article summarizing Ayala's work here.

Ayala's basic position is that a belief in science and evolution are not at all incompatible with a genuine religious belief. He persuasively argues, in fact, that the principle of evolution makes a stronger case for believing in an underlying order than does either creationism or ID.

If one was to subscribe to ID, he says, you'd have to conclude that God is an idiot due to the mistakes made. Only a fool could believe both in God and ID. Evolution, on the other hand, implies a natural order governed that allows change and survival through adaptation. Evolution itself has an inherent intelligence; there is no need to clothe the principle with the trappings of a religious deity.

Ayala lectures frequently, and his background ensures that the ID crowd can't dismiss him. Virtually all the routine arguments against evolution are rather breezily and cheerfully dismissed in Ayala's hands, giving the creation apologists very little leverage. There quite simply is no aspect of intelligent design that bears up to reasonable minds.

But Ayala made an equally firm statement that atheists by no means speak for the field of science as a whole. The use of science to discount religion is just as insidious as fundamental Christianity seeking to ban the teaching of evolution.

"Science and religion concern non-overlapping realms of knowledge," he writes in his new book, Darwin's Gift. "It is only when assertions are made beyond their legitimate boundaries that evolutionary theory and religious belief appear to be antithetical."

Amen to that.


Anonymous said...

I can see how a religious person would want to make the case that evolution reveals the workings of god, but I think we really need to get to the point where we all agree that evolution (like all science) neither implies nor discounts a diety.

I think what it does do is help people who start with the assumption of god, to understand the nature of that god (if he did exist). For instance it definitely rules out the caricature of a meddling god wandering around tampering with everything on a whim.

C. David Parsons said...

Evolution is not compatible with Christianity, nor does it have to be.


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Anonymous said...

Me and Einstein, we agree: Everything's a miracle.

The more I learn about science, the more I want to know about God. Not religion, mind you. God.