Putting ID to Bed in the Science Classroom


There’s lots of confusion about evolution, ID, and creationism posted on this blog. Putting it simply, one can define science as:

A branch of knowledge or study, especially concerned with establishing and systematizing facts, principles, and methods, as by experiments and hypotheses.

That’s what my Webster’s says. Schools teach natural sciences: biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and related disciplines which focus on the natural world and what we can learn about it.

Evolution is better described as a model, rather than a theory. Evolution as a phenomenon can be tested by experiments, by observed phenomena, and it has been verified as a fact of nature. What human beings can glean from the fossil record, from studies in genetics and ecology, and by observing living things is science–natural science. Assessing a genome, collecting and identifying fossils, and other such activities are verified by the scientific method, a rational and rigorous approach to the enterprise of mortal knowledge.

In other words, if our senses can convince our intellect, it is a matter of science.

Intelligent Design and its evolutionary ancestor, creationism, are philosophy.

Do they deserve “equal time” on the teacher’s docket with evolution? No. They are the stuff of religion: the social sciences, if you will. In reflecting on God’s role in our creation, we are dealing with the stuff of faith. This realm of knowledge begins from the interior of the soul. God communicating to us the truths of grace so that we may live a holy life in imitation of God from the inside out, as it were.

We comtemplate our origin as thinking and self-aware souls, and perhaps we find science cannot give us all the answers. That is as it should be. But we do not graft philosophy onto science in order to satisfy our desire for a rational answer to life’s great mysteries. Faith in the reality of God’s creation can never be the subject of experimental verification. We do not test God. We accept God as the Divine Maker of all, and we accept God on the terms he offers us. We do not distill observed evidence so as to bypass the messy uncertainties of faith.

Where we come from is a question for the philosophy or religion classroom. Keep this modernism out of the science lab. It doesn’t belong there. And ultimately, it is an insult to the proper roles of God and human beings to insist it be there. I want to love and worship God, not science. I want to test, study, and admire the natural world, not worship it.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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