Let’s take the argument one step further why Science needs to demonstrate the facts that explain the paths of evolution as it now stands. It is important that they describe the factual characteristics of the currently “missing pieces” in the theory and not simply present a hypothesis about what’s missing. In the absence of those facts, the unexplained gaps could in fact indicate the end of that line or perhaps a surprising mixed-featured creature as in the case of Archaeopteryx,
which in no way connects the claimed connected evolutionary line! In explaining the research that led to rejecting the transitional role of Archaeopteryx, the article (Published online 27 July 2011) in Nature concluded: “Its combination of lizard-like and avian features made it the ideal ‘missing link’ with which to demonstrate evolution from non-avian dinosaurs to birds. But the latest rearrangement knocks it from its position as the earliest bird.” As the theory now stands there is no guarantee there are no more changes or modifications to be made to it. As such the truth from Science about how human beings came to be has to remain tentative, as it always will be because of the scientific method. As things are always changing on our planet Science plays an authentic role of reflecting that reality as the officially and universally recognized authority on explaining or teaching the observable aspects of the physical and biological world. In the same way Theology and Philosophy, including Metaphysics champion different types of education. If Science insists on claiming educational leadership in all areas of life, then they have to answer the awkward question: When does a theory become true or a fact: at present or in the future, before or after one or more “modifications”?
The BSA makes the following “argument” in the same article in connection with the apparent unfairness in allowing the teaching of evolution but not creationism:
“… So why do we support and teach evolution and not creationism/“intelligent design” if both explain the same phenomena? … The fairness argument implies that creationism is a scientifically valid alternative to evolution, and that is not true.”
This statement is acceptable only within the context of a claim that Christianity is to be considered as scientific endeavor. Christianity is not Science, in the sense that its facts are measurable and testable. If “science” is defined basically as a system of knowledge, in that sense Christian Theology may also be seen as a science. The issue is really about accepting Christian Theology on the same footing of authority and validity as secular Science, regardless of how different one system is from the other. It is not reasonable to say that because it does not operate like Science we cannot allow creationism in the classrooms. If Theology operates like Science would it qualify as based on religious faith? Using that same argument the teaching of philosophy should be disallowed. A fundamental problem with the BSA’s viewpoint in their article seems to be the assumption that all education must be based on known or knowable occurrences being observable and measurable, in order to qualify as legitimate. If this is true then, for example, much of the learning that children have acquired from parental upbringing anywhere in the world through the ages is not education. This fallacious reasoning assumes wrongly that all teaching and learning needs to conform to scientific principles. Adopting such a false and misleading argument is probably responsible for the invalid conclusion that Christianity does not belong in classrooms. The fact of course is that Christian topics are indeed being taught in many classrooms, as authentic faith-based information. In other words within the notion of Conceptual Egalitarianism there’s room for a variety of educational theories and approaches and for each to stand or fall by its merits. Clearly Science has had an unfair advantage of visibility and popularity for their teaching at the expense of Christianity being disallowed free access to the minds of developing and older students. No doubt Science would prefer to retain this privilege. Due to their vested interest in this matter, Science should not participate in the decision-making or worse, have veto power as to the kind of education permissible in classrooms.
On the issue of the legitimacy of certain other criticisms, which Science has made of Theology (for example that God does not exist), the fact is, using scientific methods, Science cannot prove there is or isn’t a God. Therefore Science cannot know whether or not there is divine intervention in the world. Scientific principles are not the arbiter of what exists. Ideas are real in our minds so they exist because we are aware of them. In its milieu of operation, Science does not appear to have produced the formula/calculation to accurately measure or observe ideas. Nor can Science prove the number of stars in the universe or grains of sand there are on all of the beaches on Earth, although stars and sand are observable and countable. Christianity has a stronger case because within the setting that it functions the problem of certainty about how many stars and grains of sand there are is framed differently, namely: I do not know for sure, but God does. Ridiculing this response is neither elucidating nor intellectually sophisticated on the part of Science, since they cannot produce an accurate number either.
Those who reject the different-but-equal relationship between Science and Christianity and insist on the superiority of either are not reasonable and their stance is sometimes inexplicable to others who have a more balanced thought process. But it is not a question of which side is superior. Every learning situation has two components: the content to be taught and the teacher. The teacher must be qualified to teach the material. The same teacher can teach two different topics and two can use two different sets of facts to present the same topic. Christianity and Science have competent teachers who use two different sets of facts. So then after all is said, Science and Christianity are just two doorways or portals to two types of information that explain the universe, us included. Philosophy, of course, counts as yet another knowledge entryway to understand the truth. From this perspective an attempt to “silence” the viewpoint of one type of knowledge seems irrational.
Accordingly the approach, which requires the universal teaching of Science but not of Christianity (or Philosophy for that matter), remains unfathomable; but it also amounts to governmental censure. If it is ever the case, denying Science universal exposure in any democratic educational system is equally senseless. The BSA article rightly believes in “Science as a way of knowing… ” And the position of this article is that indeed essentially both Science and Christianity are channels to knowledge. Therefore it is not necessary for Science and Christianity to compete if the goal of each is to educate rather than protect ideology. It is a separate matter of what the learning does to/for the individual, for example clearly harming the individual. Such outcomes are grounds on which other groups can criticize and on which rejection can be based.
That it is preferable to accept the equality of the independent positions of Science and Christianity is admirably stated (on: http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/intro/cosmohaw-frame.html) by the theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate, Steven Weinberg: “If language is to be of any use to us, then we ought to try and preserve the meaning of words, and ‘god’ historically has not meant the laws of nature.” This advice greatly assists in maintaining the separateness of the communication platforms of Science and Christianity respectively. The vocabulary of the two is different and do not overlap conceptually even when it is similar. To take a cardinal example, apropos in this context, “God” in Christianity refers to the Father of Jesus portrayed in Judeo-Christian Scripture as the Son of God the Creator sent to reconcile mankind with God through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Different “gods” are the object of obeisance in a variety of religious and non-religious settings, though in the latter, including Science, the meaning tends to be more metaphorical than literal or substantive.
To reject the Christian God assumes knowledge of the process of establishing His existence (by acquiring the information in the Christian Bible) and this in turn relates to the faith-based principles (personal acceptance) on which His existence is explained. In the same way to reject oxygen assumes knowledge of the process of establishing its existence (scientific experiment), which implies an understanding of the scientific principles (property of air) supporting its existence. As independent sources of knowledge Science cannot reject the Christian God without an acceptance of how He is defined and known nor can Christianity deny the existence of oxygen without the specific information of how it is defined and known. Paradoxically however, by going through the process of understanding what you wish to reject you have proven its existence, de facto. That is by understanding how something is said to exist rules out denying its existence. Therefore because their means of determining existence are valid though different Science and Christianity do not have rational grounds for rejecting each other.
With amicable co-existence rather than rivalry goes mutual acceptance, which in turn leads to mutual respect. Both Science and Christianity may feel equally proud of its value in the world. Being on equal footing there will be no need for one side to exalt its usefulness and accomplishments while renouncing or demeaning those of the other. Sometimes of course such bias is simply ignorance. A case in point is this statement made in the BSA article:
“Creationism has not made a single contribution to agriculture, medicine, conservation, forestry, pathology, or any other applied area of biology. Creationism has yielded no classifications, no biogeographies, no underlying mechanisms, no unifying concepts with which to study organisms or life. In those few instances where predictions can be inferred from Biblical passages (e.g., groups of related organisms, migration of all animals from the resting place of the ark on Mt. Ararat to their present locations, genetic diversity derived from small founder populations, dispersal ability of organisms in direct proportion to their distance from eastern Turkey), creationism has been scientifically falsified.”
This set of selected assertions presumes knowledge that no other contributions are possible for Christianity to make in the world, ever. In respond to the specifics of the criticism levied against Christianity’s lack of scientific contribution. I suggest that the writer(s) of the BSA article go to Google and key in: “scientific contributions of Christianity ” or such search words. I expect they will be surprised at the vast amount of information about scientific discoveries of Christians, some of which have provided the bases of modern-day experimentation and discoveries. The main point here however, is that Science can applaud its scientific discoveries and Christianity can thank God for the people who have made these scientific contributions, including Christians. As such can we agree both Science and Christianity are equally important in the world?