Science and Imperialism

The Wall Street
Journal
commissioned Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong to respond
independently to the question, “Where does evolution leave God?” Their answers became
an article in the Life & Style section last month called Man vs. God.

Richard Dawkins said of Darwinian evolution, “We know, as
certainly as we know anything in science, that this is the process that has
generated life on our own planet.” Evolution, Dawkins concluded with his
characteristic wit, is God’s “pink slip.” In other words, since science says Evolution
is, we say God isn’t. (I discussed Dawkins’s argument for the non-existence of God in an earlier Salvo article.)

Karen Armstrong’s response was more artistic. She spoke of
two complementary ways of arriving at truth, which the Greeks called mythos and
logos, both of which were recognized by scholars as legitimate. Logos was
reason, logic, intellect. But logos alone couldn’t speak to the deep question
human beings ask like, What is the meaning of life? and, Why do bad
things happen to good people?
For that, she said, people turned to mythos –
stories, regardless of whether or not they were true, that helped us make sense
out of the difficulties of life. They were therapeutic. We could think of them
as an early form of psychology.

“Religion
was not supposed to provide explanations that lay within the competence of
reason but to help us live creatively with realities for which there are no
easy solutions and find an interior haven of peace; today, however, many have
opted for unsustainable certainty instead. But can we respond religiously to
evolutionary theory? Can we use it to recover a more authentic notion of God?

Darwin made it clear [that] we cannot regard God simply as a divine personality, who
single-handedly created the world. This could direct our attention away from
the idols of certainty and back to the ‘God beyond God.’ The best theology is a
spiritual exercise, akin to poetry.”

Not only is the veracity of any religious story irrelevant, she
seems to be saying, it is incorrect to believe any account concerning God as
objectively true. To do so is to construct an idol of certainty. How do we know
that? Because of the certainty of Darwinian evolution.

Her response, at bottom,
isn’t much different from the atheist’s. Evolution is. God isn’t. But some of
us like to imagine that he is.

Notice the source Dawkins and Armstrong consult for certain truth: Science. Why? Because Science proclaims what is.

The questions I’m pondering and
posing are (1) At what point do the proclamations of science become imperialistic?
and (2) At what point does an appropriate respect for science morph into worship?

4 thoughts on “Science and Imperialism

  1. Armstrong’s view (to my simple mind) is – Religion and “god” are a teddy bear—Comfort yourself with it…read stories about it—but it ultimately is not real…not beyond the fabric & stuffing. (I oversimplify of course.)
    Dawkins’ view is that Evolution is “it”. No deity. No designer. He mentions “aliens” as maybe influencing our world but he says his aliens idea better than he did during the Ben Stein interview in EXPELLED No Intelligence Allowed. Of course, he sees nothing – no higher truly supernatural being…but possibly aliens whom we might perceive to be supernatural.
    And both approach worship of the Darwinian (i.e. no “god” allowed) evolution framework.
    Yes, both Armstrong and Dawkins speak in semi religious tones…..
    Wait till later generations read this article. It will be as quaint and dated as—some of us reading a 110 year old British article on “the white man’s burden”, or on women who persist in acting like “bluestockings”, or on the future of the horse versus…the horseless carriage.
    And note how they sneak in PROPER NOUNS — Evolution…Physics…the various forces which they say run the evolutionary process. If there is truly no designer…they should not be sneaking in designer type action into their NOUNS…

  2. Armstrong’s discussion of mythos is correct as it pertains to pagan religion, which is why, in the Graeco-Roman tradition, mythos gave way to philosophy (Plato’s Socrates famously barring the lies of the poets from the just society); however, this is one of the key distinctions between the Graeco-Roman (and other pagan) tradition and the Judaeo-Christian, where God is not invented according to our imagination of Him, but reveals Himself, ultimately, as fact (“et homo factus est”), deliberately showing that the supernatural intersects in an unmistakable and inextricable way with the natural, the divine with the mundane. (Of course, even facts can be denied; witness Richard Dawkins, et al.) When Armstrong asserts that we “need God,” she means “we need the concept of a god,” (“a symbol that points beyond itself …”) which is quite different from recognizing, as the Christian does, that “in Him we live and move and have our being” — a God who is realer than we are, without whom we could not exist. Armstrong’s view is really farther from the Christian’s than it is from Dawkins’. The Christian has the God who is Logos, the true story who tells Himself, and has no need to make up his own stories about Him.

  3. Brett: You prove my point.Since when did wanting to put a note sinyag evolution is a theory so look at it with an open mind become anti-science? ALL SCIENCE IS THEORY. That’s what science is a process for developing theory. All scientific knowledge is part of theory. You are using the word science to mean speculation, but scientists use it to mean explanation. The theory of evolution is not speculation whether evolution happens; THAT, son, is beyond dispute. The theory of evolution is an explanation of how evolution works, just as the theory of gravity is an explanation of how gravity works, or the theory of relativity is an explanation of how time works. I think. When you say evolution is a theory, unlike the rest of science, you are proving you don’t know science from corn flakes.You do realize that very few real scientist still believe that life originated through random chance and countless mutations absent of any sort of designer.You are wrong. The entire science of biology is based on evolution theory. No evolution, no biology. FYI: evolution is not about the origination of life; it is about the development of species. How life got to this planet is a separate issue from evolution. If you’re going to disagree with something it would be wise to understand what it is you disagree with.You may not agree with who that “intelligent designer” is, but life is far too complex and the evidence is far too compelling to believe that life happened through a miraculous cosmic accident and continues to advance without any outside assistance.This fanciful notion has been proven wrong through a computer simulation, which I wrote about . There is more information and . Essentially you ID proponents do not grasp the vast amount of time involved, but there has been plenty of time for the complexities of life to have developed as they did.

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