On Science and Theology
And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I'll make me a world.
So begins the poem "Creation" by James Weldon Johnson. This poem was Johnson's wonderfully intimate re-telling of biblical story of creation found in the book of Genesis. This past Sunday, the associate minister of another congregation I'm a part of did an interpretive dance to the poem as it was read by the pastor. It was a wonderful telling of how lonely God was and how God solved that by creating...well, creation.
As a Christian, I believe that God created the world. My concern for the environment stems from the fact that I believe this is God's world and all who consider themselves Christians, must take care of the earth. I can't prove that God created the world; since my belief is faith. That doesn't make it any less important-faith, whether it's faith in the Christian God or Allah, or Buddha or Vishnu. Faith isn't something that can be proven, but simply believed. What it doesn't make it is science.
Charles Krauthammer has a dead-on column in today's Washington Post about the latest battle concerning "intelligent design." Proponents of this "theory" conclude that the universe is so complex, that it had to be designed by an intelligent being. Hmmm, what could that being be?
In some way, all Christians believe in Intelligent Design, in that we believe God had a role in creation. But that isn't science, that's theology and the proponents know that. Christians are free to believe that God created the world. We live in a free country that allows us to believe whatever we want. But we don't have the right to force our beliefs on others and it is repulsive to disguise a theological viewpoint as science.
Believing in evolution isn't anti-Christian. It is a well proven theory that shows us how we came to be. However, evolution can't explain the why. That is where religion comes in. I know that humans evolved over time. That's science. Theology tells me we were created in the image of God and that we are loved by this God.
The problem is that those on the religious right who are pushing intelligent design aren't really so interested in the "how." They really aren't interested in science. And that's dangerous. Science can and has helped us combat deadly diseases and find ways for us to stop polluting our planet. Science helped created drugs that help me not succumb so easily to my clincial depression and helped my mother beat breast cancer so far. Science can do good and it is not against God. Simply focusing on the "why" and ignoring science can lead to disasterous results. For example, people who contract HIV/AIDS are viewed as being punished by God instead of seeing this as a result of unprotected sex and pursuing the need for safer methods.
In the end, I think Republicans would be wise to step away from this. Both President Bush and Senator John McCain have said that Intelligent Design should be taught to give kids "both sides." I think this is dangerous. As much as I like McCain, I hope when he runs again in 2008, he drops that promise. ID is fool's gold and in some cases, I think it is poison. It's time for the GOP to be the party of faith and science again. One can be a devout believer and a rigorous scientist. Kudos to Krauthammer for reminding us.