With the ongoing discussions about Bruce Waltke’s video at the BioLogos website and his subsequent resignation from RTS, as well as the long comment thread here at Evangel about events in Genesis, I thought I would post some thoughts about the relationship between science and religion that were gathered from a series of helpful lectures from the Teaching Company. Some might find it helpful and others, I’m sure, will not.
In conclusion, Principe sees the real problem of the warfare thesis perpetuated by the likes of atheist activists like Richard Dawkins who excoriate religion in the name of science and the creationist lobby who want its theories taught in public schools before they become accepted as scientific theory. When we find our blood boiling over the legal battles, the expulsion of professors from the academy, the jeremiads of militant atheism, or the narrowness of literalism, we should stop and take a breath and consider the complex yet cordial relationship science and religion have enjoyed over the centuries. In the end faith and reason serve one another.
While I am not in total agreement with everything Principe has taught there is much to be commended in this series. His is a scholarship of integrity that honestly evaluates the highly complex issues surrounding tumultuous historical events and handles philosophical arguments competently and admirably. Though I still find myself sympathetic the scientific interests of the ID project, particularly with regard to development of a criterion to detect design, I recognize that the design argument has its limits. Today’s advocates should abandon the attempts to have it taught in the public schools and focus its energies on testing its hypotheses. It may be a fact of life that the scientific establishment is sold out to naturalism and will not allow any project that postulates intelligent causation for patterns in question and that is lamentable. But the questions don’t stop with court-rulings, tenure denials, or rejections from peer-reviewed journals. ID theorists may have to resort to doing science the old fashion way: doing simple experiments, forming cogent theoretical explanations, and publishing the results in popular books. There will be no shortage of review from scientists and curiosity from the public. If they do well enough, the paradigm will shift. If it was good enough for Darwin it is good enough for design.
Principe is correct that methodologically speaking, looking for natural explanations is the best way to do science. It may not be the only way or the perfect way, but it seems to further investigation the most. He is also correct that miracles do not necessarily halt investigation altogether since it takes a robust inquiry to verify one. With all the arguments trying to refute claims of irreducible complexity, this seems to be the only positive result of the conflict between ID and evolution has produced. And why should we be surprised? This has always been the inspiring outcome between science and religion.