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January 31, 2007

Faith and science together: Some thoughts on origins, part 1

Commenter Sarah Edwards writes, in response to my post about having been a “confused creationist”:

Gina, I'd be interested to hear more here of your experiences with this issue. What you talk about in the old blog entry you linked to sounded awfully familiar. Personally, I'm at the stage that when people ask about origins, I just say that however the world began, I'm pretty sure God had something to do with it. However, this completely sidesteps the whole issue of interpreting those verses in Genesis...

I remember that state of mind very well, Sarah. I grew up with the mindset (absorbed mostly from church and from Christian school) that Christianity and science could not ever possibly hope to come together on this issue; therefore, scientists must be either mistaken or fraudulent on issues such as carbon dating and so forth.

It was when I came to work for BreakPoint that I first encountered something called “Intelligent Design.”

(No, that wasn’t a subtle plug for my employer; that's just the way it happened.)

I was intrigued but also somewhat repelled by it. On the one hand, it looked like something totally new and appealing: a way for science and Christianity to work together instead of against each other to find a plausible theory of origins. On the other, I couldn’t understand why ID theorists seemed so eager to put as much distance as possible between themselves and creationists. Well, la-di-da to you too, snobs, was my instinctive (and not overly polite) reaction, as intellectual pride was the only explanation I could think of.

That was before I had to start reading books on intelligent design as part of my work here—an assignment I wasn’t thrilled about, for as I said, science is very far from being my strong point. But God, it appears now, had His purposes.

What I discovered, among other things, was that evolutionists have been eager all along to lump ID in with creationism, and the ID theorists’ backing away from this characterization was in response to that. What they (the ID theorists) wanted to make absolutely clear was that they were approaching the issue from what Thomas Woodward calls “a scientific paradigm,” not from a religious one. In other words, they weren’t starting with religion and working towards a scientific view of creation. They were starting with science and working toward a view of the origin of life that would allow for the presence of a designer.

This story is getting very long, so I'm going to cut it short here and put the rest of it into another post. Stay tuned . . .

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Very interested in hearing more....

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