I read Keith Wilson’s article “No science, no faith” in the Northerner (Edition 42, Issue 10). I certainly don’t hate him or my biology colleagues who share his view, but I have a different perspective. I’d like to make three main points.
First, I agree that faith and science need not be at odds. Indeed, many science pioneers were religious. However, the creation/evolution issue is often presented in a biased way. It is described as creationism vs. evolution as though the creation side is more ideological. Or it is described as science vs. creationism as though creationists are against science. Creationists are not against science. They simply think that the theory of evolution is not good science.
Now evolutionists, creationists and proponents of intelligent design all agree that some aspects of evolutionary theory (e.g., natural selection, speciation) are well supported. I suspect that they could collaborate on research and rarely have a disagreement. However, the idea that random mutations are capable of generating the genetic information necessary to change a single-celled organism into a butterfly, an oak tree or a human seems implausible to many based on the evidence. (I can see why a number of critics of evolution have backgrounds in statistics.)
It’s worth noting that both evolution and creation make testable predictions, but because both have to do with the past, neither is observable nor repeatable. Some argue that only evolution is scientific because it is naturalistic, but in my view that is purely arbitrary. What makes something a science is that it is empirical.
Science should follow the evidence wherever it leads and if it leads to God, that does not make it unscientific.
Second, it seems that sometimes people try to leave the impression that creationists are few and that they are ignorant. But anyone familiar with polls on this issue knows that nearly half of people in the U.S. are creationists, including many who are intelligent and knowledgeable. Given that people like to slam the creation museum, consider Dr. David Menton. I heard him speak here at NKU. I don’t know him well and I’m sure we disagree on some things, but no one could argue that he is an ignorant man. He was a professor in the Washington University School of Medicine for more than 30 years.
Because I have an interest in these issues, I have data from NKU students. Of 676 participants, 52 percent were creationists (and most of the evolutionists were theistic evolutionists who held that God was involved in the process). Do those of you on the evolution side really want to argue that all such NKU students are ignorant? Do you want to potentially discourage bright students from pursuing careers in science by ridiculing their view or giving the impression that disagreement with evolution disqualifies a person from being a good scientist?
Third, very briefly, let me mention something about faith. I have noticed that many people seem to have the idea that faith means believing something for which there is no evidence. Perhaps in some religions that is correct, but biblical faith refers to trust or belief based on testimony or other evidence. I could say that I have faith that my friends would help me when I’m in need or that I have faith that Paris is a real city even though I’ve never been there. As some of you recall, when Jesus calmed the storm he was upset because his disciples lacked faith. They had reason to have faith based on what they had already seen.
In closing, perhaps I should mention that this is my perspective. I am not representing the psychology faculty. However, I am thankful that most of them seem to recognize that one doesn’t have to believe in evolution to be a scientist.
Doug Krull Faculty Psychological Science