What I Think About Evolution
Remember the Republican Debate and the three candidates who rose their hands when asked if they did not believe in evolution? Well, this is an editorial written for the New York Times by Sam Brownback, one of the three. He writes that he believes in microevolution but that he does not accept the deterministic view that no intelligent presence was involved in creating life (I think someone posted something about one of the three saying something like this after the debate, but I couldn't find it).
Brownback seems to endorse the NOMA argument that we discussed last night- he thinks that "the scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths." It seems that he thinks that science answers questions like why does this work the way it does, and why are there all these similarities between species, etc, but he also insists upon asking the question "why are we here?". He claims that because the questions are different, both are important, and says, "Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose." By stating this, he acknowledges that he thinks humans have a special place in the world, a belief that he expresses later by saying, "I am wary of any theory that seeks to undermine man’s essential dignity and unique and intended place in the cosmos. I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose."
He also states that he thinks that some aspects of evolutionary theory are true, but that he rejects the ones that interfere with the "truth" of the creation of man. While claiming to be reasonable and accepting of science, he clearly does not realize that rejecting a theory because it does not fit in with an unproven ideology is unscientific.
While he tries his best to come across as rational, I am by no means convinced. Probably the main point of the editorial is that he is saying what he thinks he needs to say to get the votes of the people: he needs to appear rational enough for secularists but religious enough for the religious right. And, as we discussed last night, trying to assign meaning and purpose to life tacitly gives credence to religion. I do not know if he claims to need meaning in order to placate the religious right or if he actually does feel a need to find the meaning of life. To me, his seems to be a sadly human-centric view of the universe.