Religion, science can peacefully coexist

By Peter Watson

I’ve always enjoyed a good religious debate. That’s why I was excited to sit down on Feb. 4 and watch the “creation vs. evolution” debate between Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” and Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Science Museum in Kentucky.

To say that I was disappointed in the outcome would be an understatement. Nye made Ham look foolish and wholly unprepared. In the face of Nye’s well-reasoned presentation, Ham’s argument seemed to consist of two main themes: 1. “We weren’t there, so we can neither prove nor disprove evolution.” And 2. “Just because the majority of the scientific community believes evolution is true doesn’t make it so.” Nye and Ham debated for almost three hours, and in the end, did nothing to change anyone’s mind or to really advance the debate on the very profound question of our origins.

When it comes to the question of where we — and the universe — came from, I don’t believe we can say the biblical creation story or the theory of evolution is the only answer to the origin of everything. In fact, I believe the answer is a combination of both.

I am a Christian. I believe in God, and ultimately, I believe God is the author of creation. I also am an evolutionist who believes evolution is proven scientific fact. My question is, why do the two have to be mutually exclusive? Why can’t we believe that while God created the world, he also used evolution as a tool to aid in that creation?

Does it make me — or anyone else who believes in evolution — less of a Christian if we embrace both science and religion? I don’t think so. In fact, I believe God created science and blessed us with both intelligence and a burning natural curiosity that would drive us to seek the answers to questions such as our origins.

The problem with the “creation vs. evolution” debate is that a significant segment of Christians aren’t comfortable with not knowing where we came from. They prefer to take solace in the biblical creation story. No muss, no fuss and no loose ends. And you know what?

That’s OK. What’s not OK is to try to pass their personal religious beliefs off as science. What’s not OK is for the Louisiana Legislature to pass ridiculous laws such as the Louisiana Science Education Act in an attempt to shoehorn religion into the science classroom.

Let’s be clear. Creationism is not science. It is religion. If we want to talk about creationism in public schools, let’s discuss it as part of a religion history class. Let’s discuss it as part of an elective course on comparative world religions. Or let’s discuss it as part of a philosophy course. All of these would be an appropriate place to study creationism. If that’s not good enough for creationists, then I suggest the discussion be moved back into the churches and into the home where it rightfully belongs.

Creationists claim that including creationism as part of the science curriculum will promote critical thinking. Hogwash. While religion and science can peacefully coexist, trying to pass creationism off as legitimate science is intellectually dishonest and only serves to muddy the waters when it comes to defining what is — and what is not — science.

Science is not the enemy of religion. In fact, the two complement each other. Science has given us the answers to many of the questions about our world, our universe, and to a degree, our own origins. But even science can’t answer the ultimate question of who — or what — set everything in motion — at least not yet. For Christians, those unknown answers are provided by their faith. And that’s OK. What’s not OK is to try to equate religion with science, to pretend they are one and the same. They are not, and we only do ourselves, and our students, a disservice by trying to pretend otherwise.

Peter Watson lives in Shreveport.

Reference

Additional Reading

Darwinian Evolution: Islam or Christianity?

Exposing Creationism of Zakir Naik, Tahir ul Qadari, Yusuf Estes and Harun Yahya

Pope John Paul II and Me: ‘Truth Cannot Contradict Truth!’

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