From: Denyse O'Leary (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Mar 26 2003 - 09:08:18 EST
In response to Michael Ruse's commentary in Science,
" Is Evolution a Secular Religion?"
my letter was published at:
Here is the letter appended:
<P> Teaching any aspect of science as a religion is harmful to science
-- not to religion. The science teacher does not expect most students to
become professional scientists. Many will forget the details of snails
and quasars. However, the teacher does hope that students will learn the
scientist's way of thinking about nature. When science teaching
succeeds, students continue to apply their thinking through life.
<P> The last thing science teaching needs is to take the scientist's
ways of thinking about nature (evolution, for example) and turn them
into doctrines, to be believed in their own right. That is like staring
at the light bulb, instead of using it to illuminate a page. Not only
will you not see what you need to see, you will soon not see clearly at
all. Evolution has great explanatory power, but only when applied to
subjects it best explains, not when treated as a dogma into which all
events in life must be fitted. Indeed, part of what makes evolution
controversial is the persistent habit of some evolutionary biologists of
using principles derived from Darwinism to pronounce on controversial
topics such as religion. In these instances, their explanations often
lack explanatory power, principally, I suspect, because they are
oblivious to the fact that human culture is, as S.J. Gould pointed out,
a Lamarckian, not a Darwinian inheritance. People purposefully adapt
their religion and culture during their own lifetimes and pass them on.
As a result, the evolutionary biologist probably doesn't even have an
edge over the sociologist, especially if the sociologist knows the turf
<P> Evangelists for traditional religions sense the weakness of
evolution as a religion, and discredit it with little effort. That is
part of the reason that so much of the American public, for example,
does not "believe in" evolution. It was promoted as a religion to be
believed in, failed to make as many converts as hoped, and generated
hostility. However, thatoutcome should be no surprise; the evolutionists
were amateurs matched against experts.
<P> Science functions best and teaches best with the knowledge that all
scientific hypotheses are provisional, and not a form of dogma or a rule
-- To see what's new in faith and science issues, go to www.designorchance.com My next book, By Design or By Chance?: The Growing Controversy Over the Origin of Life in the Universe (Castle Quay Books, Oakville) will be published Fall 2003.
To order, call Castle Quay, 1-800-265-6397, fax 519-748-9835, or visit www.afcanada.com (CDN $19.95 or US$14.95).
Denyse O'Leary 14 Latimer Avenue Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M5N 2L8 Tel: 416 485-2392/Fax: 416 485-9665 firstname.lastname@example.org www.denyseoleary.com
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