No More Accommodating!

title

You can find this New York Times article here.

David Barash uses this article to lay out his hard-line position on the coexistence of science and religion, a position that is controversial and hopefully thought provoking!

Barash is a biology professor, who looks at evolution the same way our friend Jerry Coyne does, noting that “many Americans don’t grasp the fact that evolution is not merely a ‘theory,’ but the underpinning of all biological science.” He feels it is an essential part of his class, but finds that many of his religious students are troubled by how to reconcile their faith and evolution. To address these concerns, he delivers The Talk.

He begins by discussing the idea that religion and evolutionary biology are compatible. Some thinkers, like Stephen Jay Gould, say that religion can deal with values, science can deal with facts, and everyone can be happy. Barash believes this is a harmful misrepresentation, but acknowledges the widespread acceptance of this “accommodating” way of thinking.

Barash counters this concept by pointing to several pillars of belief that evolution has undermined. First is the argument of complexity, which claimed that the incredible beauty of the Earth must have a creator- the development of complex systems was explained by natural selection. Second is the idea of human centrality and purpose- evolution has shown that we are all animals, and all linked in the same biological chain. Additionally, natural processes are full of death and pain, showing no signs of a benevolent creator.

Barash concludes that these discoveris have made the acceptance of religion and science untenable. His students may continue with their faith, but “they will have to undertake some challenging mental gymnastic routines.” In any case, science should no longer have to jump through these religious hoops.

Bold words! Do you place yourself in the Gould’s camp (coexistence) or Barash’s (not)? Did reading the article shift your position? Will enough evidence ever completely edge out religious beliefs and make us all like Barash? How does Barash’s firm declaration compare to other statements we’ve heard from the pope or Islamic study centers?

Barash, David P. “God, Darwin and My College Biology Class.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 27 Sept. 2014. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.

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42 Responses to No More Accommodating!

  1. With an extremely secular outlook on life, I would definitely side with David Barash. I really enjoyed his piece in The New York Times and his approach of immediately addressing the controversy that arises in teaching evolution as fact. His opinion piece walked through his ‘Talk’ precisely in the sense of what he says chronologically to his students. This also walks the reader through his thought process while explaining why he finds it important to address this issue with students in a college level biology class. I find his approach to be quite admirable as he doesn’t want to ignore the controversy; therefore, he aids his students into accepting evolution as a fact while still mentioning the plausibility of following a religion with this very secular belief.
    While I strongly believe in the superior validity of science, I still find it difficult to see our society completely edging out religious beliefs. With extremely deep roots and an apparent modern day advocacy for non-secular school systems (example as seen in the following blog post, Clergy Letter Project of 2004), I find it near impossible for some clear evidence to eradicate the tradition that has developed over thousands of years.
    Barash’s firm declaration really contradicts the other statements we’ve heard, as previous blog posts have suggested. Both separation of religion and education or complete rejection of evolution still suggest that religion has an influence on the society and that it can be believed personally. Barash advocates for the complete eradication of religious beliefs tied to creation or human origin. This ‘harmful misrepresentation’ allows for the acceptance of both religion and science. His near zero tolerance approach to a mutual belief contradicts many contemporary religious efforts to adapt to the scientific discoveries of the recent centuries.

  2. gatorade15 says:

    Really interesting post, moneytrees3001! I would have to agree (mostly) with Barash and his views. He makes greta points about naturally occurring complexity, our non special existence on this planet, and the hardships that we undergo and how no benevolent creator would put us through such events. I agree with Barash that evolution is not merely a theory but an indisputable scientific fact; new methods of carbon dating, genome sequencing, and ancestral theories have placed evolution into a credible and concrete realm of certainty.

    When you pose the question, “Will enough evidence ever completely edge out religious beliefs and make us all like Barash?”, I think you misunderstood his idea. Barash states that, “I CONCLUDE The Talk by saying that, although they don’t have to discard their religion in order to inform themselves about biology (or even to pass my course), if they insist on retaining and respecting both, they will have to undertake some challenging mental gymnastic routines.” Here he is saying that religious beliefs, specifically the belief of a God, can in fact coexist with evolutionary theory. Barash just thinks that some of their beliefs may have to be altered and tweaked to be more credible and on point with evolutionary theory. What do you think, moneytrees3001?

    • moneytrees3001 says:

      Thanks for the alternative reading of that portion of the article! Looking back on it now, his phrasing does leave a little more wiggle room for religion and science coexisting, if only in a very tenuous relationship. If anyone wants to tackle this further, your comment raised some confusions I have about the article. Barash says students can “inform themselves about biology” without abandoning their religion, but “science” must. What is the difference between “science” (what does that even mean?), and a general, informed public? Is Barash pulling his punches a little bit after all his statements about the conflict between religion and evolution?

    • Gatorade15, I love the idea here of “mental gymnastic routines” that Barash presents and that you draw attention to. I think that this aspect of the line between the science of evolution and the values basis of religion is the one that the average person grapples with during day-to-day encounters of the conflict of the two and the internal need to take a stance on the matter. To address moneytrees3001’s question about “science” versus the general informed public, I think that here, Barash’s use of “science” means the community of researchers that conduct and deduce their knowledge based on the foundation of evolution. Here, there is arguably no room for infiltration of religious values because of the objective, numerical nature of this type of thinking. However, I think that the general public’s thought process on their beliefs in religion in the context of what they believe to be true, based more on reasoning and their own personal logic, has more room for the influence of religious values on scientific knowledge. Does that make sense? That’s my interpretation of what Barash is trying to say, but his wording leads me to believe that there is more than one “correct” interpretation.

      • glowcloud says:

        I’m not even sure if Barash is even referring to the people who comprise the scientific community when he speaks of “science” as being incompatible with religious belief. I think he’s actually referring to the subject itself. He is saying that scientific advancement and accepted theory must be completely distinct from religious dogma and influence. While in practice this may translate into actual scientists not practicing religion, I think Barash is speaking in the purely theoretical sense.

  3. sm4321 says:

    I enjoyed your post, moneytrees3001. I think that you allowed the preceding blog posts to “make a space” (as we’ve discussed in class) for your post in a way. I have a hard time sorting out my thoughts about this, and I think many people may feel the same way (those in our class and not in our class). I have always been one to sway more near the area of Gould’s camp. I would like to think that there is some sweet spot of the coexistence of religious ideas and evolutionary theory that exists out there, that maybe we, as a society, just haven’t found it yet. Before everyone runs at this post with pitchforks and eloquent arguments, I just want to make it clear that I am not a person of religious faith, but I do wish to respect the thoughts and ideas of individuals who are. If you were to ask me what I think personally on the issue then I would say that creationism is near crap, and that evolution is obviously a more valid point of view. But for the most part, my personal opinion doesn’t, or shouldn’t matter. I think that the professor approached the issue in a pretty appropriate way, claiming that they do not have to throw away their religion,but in his class, evolution will be the theory of validity. This also brings up the idea that this is in a university setting. I am unaware if the institution at which this professor works is public or private, but in the event that it is private, his ideas deserve to have a voice. At least as long as they do not violate the code of conduct or rules of said institution. While I personally will probably always want to be respectful of the beliefs of others, I understand what the professor is claiming, in order to succeed in his particular class, the students will have to place their focus on the validity, as recognized by the scientific community, on evolutionary theory, and remove it from their personal beliefs.

    I agree with the comment gatorade15 made stating, “. Barash just thinks that some of their beliefs may have to be altered and tweaked to be more credible and on point with evolutionary theory.” I think this view point also connects with the mention you’ve made to the pope. If I remember, some of the discussion on that particular blog post focused on how the Catholic Church was forced to adapt their ideas over time. These adaptation also occurred in things such as the accepting of democracy as a valid form of government and has more recently shifted to the accepting of the validity of evolutionary theory. I think that as time goes on, the two will be forced to come together closer than they are now, but will never be one in the same. Whether it involves religious ideas shifting to be more accepting of scientific evidence, or science giving way that some religious doctrines may hold water in science, these two will experience a sort of asymptotical pull towards one another.

    • moneytrees3001 says:

      Thanks for bringing up the idea of setting and appropriateness. Talks like this are definitely close to edging into preaching and violation of freedoms, but I agree that Barash stayed on the safe side of the line. I think religion often gets a special criticism-shield that other ideas and opinions do not (political parties, sports teams). We can be quick to attack any statements that concern religious beliefs out of fear of offense. I believe it’s important to try to shelve those fears; the value of this is evident in Barash’s article. He voices an important critique of religious dependence while remaining respectful. What did Barash avoid to make the tone of his article successfully reasonable?

  4. collegeblogger19 says:

    This was a very interesting article! I appreciate how Barash presented his argument that evolution discredits some of the values of religion. His “talk” may seem rather harsh to religious students, but I think he has the right to discuss with his students the relation between science and religion. My personal views coincide with Barash’s; religion and evolution just don’t seem capable of existing together in my opinion. However, I think religious people are able to find that balance–if they are willing. And, as time goes on, I think that balance will be easier to find because people are beginning to adjust their faith with the evidence science presents. In response to the question if scientific evidence will ever completely edge out religious beliefs, I don’t think that will happen. I think religion can be a changing concept that can adapt to modern ideas, which is evident through the pope’s announcement of accepting evolution. I don’t think religious beliefs will be completely edged out of society, but I think religious people will become more comfortable with science over time. Barash talks about how his religious students become more and more uncomfortable as the course goes on, which is why he began giving the talk. But I think that as more scientific discoveries are made and science becomes a bigger part in our daily lives, religions will adapt and become more comfortable with science.

    • moneytrees3001 says:

      But what is left of religion when they “become more comfortable with science”? Key tenants of Christianity used to hinge on creationism, human centrality, and other magical events. It doesn’t seem like there are new idea replacing these as they are disproved; Christianity’s dogma is just decreasing. I see it as less adapting and more shrinking- am I missing an element of changing religious beliefs?

      • serrobert says:

        I don’t think that Christianity’s dogma is decreasing, it is changing. I feel like reconciliation between religion and science strengthens both positions. Gives more legitimacy to religion and provides more people who will willingly accept scientific discovery.

      • graduallychanging says:

        Moneytrees3001, I don´t think the matter is whether Christian dogma is increasing or decreasing, but the manner in which the religion is responding to new scientific advancements. As shown by Pope Francis, certain topics that appear to be incompatible with traditional religious dogma can indeed be reconciled. He recently stated that the Big Bang did not contradict God´s involvement in the creation of the world, but, instead, that the Big Bang created the need for a divine creator. Although the statement is not scientifically solid (as there are theories about the event that prompted the Big Bang), it shows that the Church can use science in order to reinforce its dogma.

        Pope Fracis’ discussion of the Big Bang: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/pope-francis-evolution-big-bang-theory-are-real-n235696

        • moneytrees3001 says:

          But when the church claims something is “compatible” with their beliefs, the reality is that they are relinquishing God’s influence in that area. The Catholic Church used to believe that God created us, and that the sun revolved around us. They now say that these passages are allegorical- they can claim that for the entire Bible if they want to, but they’re still ultimately retreating from being the authorities on this subject.

    • waterbottle19 says:

      I think you introduce a very good point, and I agree! Acceptance of science by the religious community has come a long way. Four hundred years ago, Galileo was being imprisoned by the Catholic Church and today the Pope is announcing that the Big Bang Theory and evolution are true. I believe this is a positive trend of the relationship between science and religion. I agree, I think that as more scientific discoveries are made religion will have to adapt.

  5. waterbottle19 says:

    I lean more towards Gould’s line of thinking. While many aspects of both evolution and religion are incompatible, creation for example, I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive. Barash seems to be drawing conclusions only from a comparison of Christianity and evolution. While this is not necessarily wrong considering a majority of Americans are Christians, I don’t think he can just proclaim all religion is incompatible with evolution. For example, the principles of Buddhism do not contradict evolution in any way. In this example, both can coexist peacefully; one can be Buddhist and also a believer in evolution. I think religion and evolution can be reconciled, and Barash has simply not tried hard enough.

    • sm4321 says:

      I agree with your comment, waterbottle19. I think that it is possible for evolution and religious ideals to coexist more peacefully than they do in modern day. You mentioned how Buddhism specifically acknowledges the validity of evolutionary theory. I agree that the clash between religion and evolution so often occurs with christians. But when 78.4% of the american population is christian (fact courtesy of http://religions.pewforum.org/reports) that is a serious problem. I agree when you say that “Barash has simply not tried hard enough”. While efforts such as that made by the Pope are religious authorities versions of making a step towards the middle, I don’t think that we see members of the scientific community doing the same. Please feel free to correct me on this if I am misinformed. Do you think the scientific community should make efforts to meet religious doctrine in the middle? Do you even think that this sort of agreement is possible? If so, do you see it happening any time soon?

      • waterbottle19 says:

        While I believe religion and science can coexist peacefully, I don’t think it is the responsibility of scientists to meet religious doctrine in the middle. Everything produced by the scientific method is fact. If a discovery made by a scientist contradicts some aspect of a religion, it is not his or her responsibility to change the findings. Rather, it is the responsibility of the religion to reform its teachings so that it doesn’t contradict what man has found to be true. I do believe that this agreement is possible, but it is still going to to take a long time. As I said in a previous reply, it took the Catholic Church 400 years from imprisoning scientists to finally accepting the Big Bang Theory and evolution. My guess is as good as any as to how long it will take to reach an agreement.

      • sm4321, when you say that “it is possible for evolution and religious ideals to coexist more peacefully than they do in modern day”, do you mean to say that they have been more compatible previously? If not, what do you see as methods for today’s society, policymakers, scientists and religious officials to make this a reality in the future?

        • sm4321 says:

          What I mean by that first statement apluckypremed, is that they have not and do not currently peaceful coexist. In response to your second question, I think that the best way for us as a society to make this better is to work to make compromises and to work to address other view points in a way that does not work to tear them down or say “I’m right and you’re wrong.” If you’re interested in a more detailed response, I comment on my thoughts on this later in the blog! But basically, my personal thought is that we work together instead of taking sides and working against each other.

    • moneytrees3001 says:

      Haha, subtle plug. Could you, or anyone, expand on the connection you see between that article and the Barash’s? I see a parallel between shifting religious views, but they are being delivered by two very different sources. Who has more powerful opinions, secular Barash or the clergy?

  6. sunny2018 says:

    I tend to lean towards the idea of compatibility; you shouldn’t have to sacrifice ideas concerning evolution for religion, but I also don’t think it’s fair to take religion away from an individual who supports the theory of evolution. It’s true that ideas of evolution and religion often clash, but as water bottle stated, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I think that Barash does make extremely relevant points, especially when he discusses how some religious beliefs undermine important aspects of evolutionary theory. However, I feel that as long as you don’t let religion come before science in your understanding of biological/scientific processes, there is no reason why the two can’t coexist.

    • sm4321 says:

      I agree with your comment, sunny2018. I also think that Barash tries to make it clear that individuals in his class are welcome to have individual opinions and beliefs, but that for him and his course, scientific theory will be the “law of the land” so to speak. I’m simply mentioning this to add another dimension to your idea, as I agree with what you’ve stated.

      • sunny2018 says:

        I think this is an important addition to make. My initial comment made it seem as if Barash was attempting to eradicate religious thought completely, which is definitely not the case. Thank you for the clarification!

    • moneytrees3001 says:

      This reply is for anyone who had ideas about the coexistence of religion and evolution. What is religion to you? If it continues to fail to provide the knowledge that science can, what is it’s purpose? What do you think science will never cover?

  7. arcanium82 says:

    moneytrees,

    This is a very interesting article. I think that Barash brings up some valid points in his “Talk”. He is addressing an issue that many people of faith have problems with. There is a large portion of religious people who want to believe in God, but they don’t want to forfeit their ability to think logically. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Galileo. He said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

    This is something that every person of faith must come to terms with on their own. After reading his article, it seems to me that Barash is trying to dissuade his students from their faith. Just like I do not agree with teachers preaching to their students, I do not think that teachers should try to undermine their students’ faith either. In my opinion, that falls outside the job description of a biology professor.

    I happen to agree with Barash’s argument, I just do not think that he should be giving his “Talk” to a room full of impressionable undergraduates.

    • sm4321 says:

      While I understand the point you are trying to make arcanium82, I somewhat disagree. I do not know that Barash is necessarily attempting to “dissuade his students demo their faith”. While I see where you are coming from, I think your interpretation may take it a step too far. I would argue, rather, that Barash is simply making a point that in his class religion will not be considered in the analysis of material. So while he is say that in his classroom, creationism will not carry validity, he says nothing about the validity it holds in other respects. I also think that Barash is full entitled to give his “talk” in his classroom. While education in public middle and high schools is one thing, I would argue that college is another. I think that during college professors often force us to question or own beliefs and to broaden our horizons. If we can speak of things such as rape and gay rights freely (which are often viewed as controversial by some) then why can’t we discuss religion and evolution? I accept that this is merely my personal decision, but I do disagree with some of the points you articulate.

  8. gwuw2014 says:

    I actually had an experience that I believe perfectly highlights Barash’s idea of the growing tension between evolution and religion. When I was confirmed during my freshman year of high school, my confirmation class spent and entire Sunday discussing the concept of creationism. Naturally,I believe in evolution — I’m now a biological anthropology major — but my faith was also a very important part of my life. However, I was flat-out told by my confirmation leader that I had to pick one: Darwin or God. I was completely shocked because this was my first personal experience with the unnecessary feud between the two fields. Previously, I had been told by teachers that the two were compatible as long as I understood the science involved.

    While I agree with Barash that The Talk is necessary, I think maybe he needs to expand his audience. After all, where would students get the idea that religion and evolution were exclusive of each other? From biased religious figures like my confirmation leader. Maybe the whole world just needs to have a long talk about how these two fields don’t have to be in opposition, but that’s idealistic. As Barash says, if only it were that simple.

    • Interesting connection! I find it strange that a religiously affiliated person could be so bi-partisan on the issue between faith and science. I find that most religious people I meet have found a great balance that incorporates the scientific evidence and the belief in a higher being. I really agree that this doesn’t need to be a battle over truth or myth, but a complete understanding of each in order to find an answer that suits a specific individual. I wonder what your religion teacher would think of the Pope’s recent acknowledgment of the validity of evolution. Having such an official religious being combine the two opposing sides has really helped the acceptance and fusion of the two ideas.

  9. cfc0567owls says:

    I really like Gould’s summation that religion is for values and science is for facts. Many of the lessons to be taken from the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, are important life lessons. Upon reading the Old Testament, the primary message is that people used to do whatever they wanted, and that is not right. The Old Testament is a very strange and explicit piece of writing. Stories such as the tales of Sodom and Gomorra depict human beings acting on their primal, animalistic urges. They rape, they kill, and they only care about themselves. The Old Testament should be read as a collection of fables, through which simple morality can be derived. The lessons of religion should not be thrown out the window, however, they should not be taken as a literal and historical account of history or fact. Facts are to reserved for the scientists. Religion has it’s place in society, but it is not in the classrooms.

  10. I would have to side with Barash. However, I do believe in the co-existence of religion and science. My opinion on religion is that it is essentially a social construct designed to provide humans with the idea of a meaningful life. Religion is an incredibly strong tool in convincing people in the importance of living an good and virtuous life and for that reason I believe that religion is important. Barash is correct in that as the situation stands, evolutionary theory is undermining some of the main supports of religion as it stands. But it is my belief that religion will simply have to learn to coexist with science. Religion will have to redevelop its theories and explanations so that they correlate with the scientific knowledge that is becoming more and more prevalent. It is not impossible for science and religion to coexist but it is not going to be compromise. Religion will have to be the entity that adapts as science changes. Science will continue to challenge religious belief and religion will simply have to adapt.

    • sm4321 says:

      I am interested as to why you think the compromise so to say will be a one way effort, vikingsfootball33. If religion is expected to make changes to be more accepting of science, then why isn’t science expected to make changes to be more accepting of religion? Im not saying that in making changes science denies fact, rather that they find a way to present their information as an idea, or work to make religion still able to exist. I don’t see why we as a nation have this idea of “one or the other”. I find it frustrating that for the most part there is no middle ground. People are more than welcome to say why their idea is “better” or “correct” but other people are always going to have opposing viewpoints. I just think that instead of standing in our corners and yelling that another group is “wrong” there is a more productive way to advance the common knowledge in our nation. Honestly if people are so concerned with the effect this is having on the intelligence of our nation, there should be brainstorming going on about how to make the information more acceptable. If we want people to listen to the evidence that science presents on evolution, then maybe we, as a nation, should be less about the condemning of the limits that faiths could potentially place and instead focus on the limits it doesn’t place. Just a thought.

      • moneytrees3001 says:

        Should science have to work to make ideas fit around the confines of religious belief? That strikes me as an unfair and frustrating burden. I don’t even fully understand what steps they could actually take. Science simply supplies people with facts, and those can’t be changed, as you said. Like the Smithsonian evolution exhibit, these facts are displayed in a secular manner, leaving visitors up to stretch their beliefs around them. I think the burden here lies on the people with outdated and conflicting beliefs.

    • I agree with what you are saying here, vikingsfootball33. I think its interesting how in a conversation about evolution, you are proposing that humans essentially evolve their own religious opinions on the very topic itself. Do you see this as something that could be evidence for further support of the argument for evolution science in the face of religious challenges?

    • jwmigook says:

      I also believe in the coexistence of religion and science, but I’m interested in your take on the issue. You believe that religion is important because it is a “tool” that “provides humans with the idea of a meaningful life.” Other people think it is important because it is the foundation of all they believe in regarding the world/humans/pretty much everything that exists. It’s not just some sort of persuasive tool in my opinion. I’m somewhat religious and I’ve never viewed religion as convincing me to live a good and virtuous life. That’s definitely part of it, but my other reasons overwhelm that one. This, of course, may be different for other people but it was interesting that you thought that.
      I think it’s strange that you say “religion will have to redevelop its theories and explanations so that they correlate with the scientific knowledge that is becoming more and more prevalent.” How exactly could this be done? Redevelopment, especially when used in the context of religion, seems almost impossible. Redeveloping one idea in religion affects all other ideas in some way and then literally every concept and idea ever known in religion would have to be changed. This is not to mention the fact that there are so MANY religions. Religious people would view that as nothing short of an attack on everything they know, in my opinion. Though science and evolution may be more fact-based, I don’t think it’s wise to simply say “religion will simply have to adapt.” As a topic that has been heavily talked about and debated over for so many years of history, it is definitely not that simple.

  11. pianokid123 says:

    The more I study the conflict between Creationists and Darwinists, the more I am starting to think it is not so much a conflict between religious ideology and science, but rather people being afraid of the consequences of accepting evolution. Hear me out. Throughout time, the Christian faith has shown it can adapt to new scientific theory. However, when it comes to evolution, there seems to be no progression on the issue. I think it is mostly because people are afraid evolution suggests humans are not special, and are actually the product of natural fources. They are just afraid it contradicts what they think they know about how the universe operates. When we teach radioactive dating in science class you do not see people up in arms because it contradicts the Bible when describing how old the Earth is. Rather, you see people extremley upset when evolution is taught because it supposedly is immoral.

    • sunny2018 says:

      I definitely agree with your assessment of the situation. We all want to believe in a human spark that separates us completely from other species, and it can be difficult to accept that we share so much with other animals as far as development goes.

    • punky1218 says:

      I don’t agree that Christians in general cannot accept evolution as a valid theory. A couple of weeks ago someone posted an article stating that the current Pope and the previous Pope’s accepted that evolution is a theory that could coexist with their religious beliefs. For the religious people that still do not except evolution I think it is a matter of conflicting with their religious views. People have been able to get over that they aren’t the center of the universe. A couple hundred years ago everyone has believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and know everyone knows that that’s not true.

    • punky1218 says:

      Although maybe it is some combination of the two.

  12. punky1218 says:

    I didn’t find Barsh’s argument particularly convincing. I do not think religion (or my personal religious beliefs) necessarily relies on the idea of human centrality. I found the article very interesting that Barsh went to such lengths because students’ were having trouble grasping the concepts. I don’t consider myself a very religious person but I do believe that no matter how much evolutionary biology research is done, religion will always (and should always) have a place in society. Religion will have to learn to coexist and many religious people including the pope have already started. Religion explains things that science will never be able to explain. It gives people a certain kind of comfort or purpose in life that science cannot and will never be able to accomplish.

    • moneytrees3001 says:

      What things does religion explain? Religion offers possible ideas about life and the nature of the world, but to confuse these with explanations is unfair. Creationists always ask scientists what created the universe, as if scientists are worse off because they don’t have any idea how it happened. Scientists accept ignorance when it occurs, and explain what they can. Religion offers unproven theories. Also, the scope of future scientific understanding can simply not be grasped by us now. Middle Ages men and women could not perceive a day when we would go into space and watch the planets move, confirming that the Earth was not central. Future scientists could explain souls, the universe, love, and lots of things we don’t feel we can leave up to science today.

    • jwmigook says:

      I agree with you when you say that religion does not necessarily rely on the idea of human centrality. I also agree that religion will always have a place in society, but at the same time it doesn’t have to “learn to coexist,” it already coexists with evolution. There is a lot of conflict and a lot of debate over the two when they’re used in the same context, but people have learned to live with both whether they like it or not. I’m interested to see what you mean when you say that “religion explains things that science will never be able to explain,” though. What things in particular? I think strong advocates of the evolution > religion side (as some people like to think) would question that strongly. I feel like science has also given a certain kind of comfort to people in that it provides raw logical explanations of phenomena that people can’t find in Christianity. I mean, that’s usually the argument anyway, isn’t it?

  13. jwmigook says:

    I have to admit that if I were in Barash’s class, I would be included in the group of students that gets uncomfortable when evolution and religion are referred to together in science. I always assumed that the two clashed indefinitely; even though I didn’t have in-depth knowledge of either, I was raised to believe traditional Christian/Catholic values and my parents always talked about evolution and the concepts related to it in a way that made them clash with the Christian values we were so familiar with. Reading Barash’s article made me start thinking of the two in a different way. I agree that we cannot simply pretend that evolution and religion can coexist 100% peacefully, and I will admit that he brings up some good points. I have questioned my religion many times, so I am not in a place to thoroughly defend it. I like the fact that Barash uses generally neutral language to convey his viewpoints, so as not to seem too biased (even though he clearly is anyway) or be inflammatory in any way. I also appreciate his somewhat “childish” references to “three strikes out” and “The Talk” so that readers have a familiar connection to make. The article itself is not enough to fully convince me of any certain viewpoint, but I will say that it has exposed me to new, raw information about the coexistence of evolution and religion.

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