For the last couple of nights, we were listening to the opening lectures of ‘Biological Anthropology’ by Professor Barbara J. King, PhD., one of the Great Courses made by The Teaching Company. She begins her series with a defense of Evolution against the challenges brought by Fundamental Christianity.
For so long this issue of the challenge to the scientific validity of Evolutionary theory has been a discussion between members of the scientific community who defend Evolution and the so-called scientists of those alternative theories. What has never happened is no one has thought to bring a religious scholar into this discussion and debate. This short essay is an illustration of what would happen if a religious scholarly perspective would be allowed to comment on the issues raised by those groups who challenge the theory of Evolution. This is important since those challenges to the theory are not really based on any valid science but depend on upon initial religious premises.
Whether it is called Creation Science, Intelligent Design, or Old Earth Creationism, all of these attempts to present a religious-based challenge to Evolutionary theory in the guise of and modeled on the form and claim of being alternative science-based theories is in fact false.
All of those so-called ‘science-based’ challenges fail as valid science. To be called a science is to be a system that constantly reviews, challenges, and questions the foundational beliefs and evidence behind that theory being put forth. This is what it means to be a science. This is what the science of Evolutionary theory does and it is something that all members of the scientific community that make use of the theory do.
Whereas all the so-called ‘alternative science’ systems that challenge Evolutionary theory fail to do. They fail to examine, review and test their basic starting premises. Nor would they allow that starting premise challenge to ever be taught in any public school. That failure to discuss and open up to challenge their starting premise is why all of those ‘alternative science’ systems that challenge Evolutionary theory, such as Creation Science, Intelligent Design, or Old Earth Creationism, etc. fail as a science and reveal themselves as the religious theology that they truly are.
So, what is the starting premise of all of these ‘alternative sciences’? It is that the Biblical text, in this case, the Hebrew Old Testament is the ‘Literal Word of God’. From that initial premise, the next premise is deduced and that is: That being the Literal Word of God what the text recounts are 100% accurate and truthful about the presentation of events it is recounting. Or to put it another way, Biblical inerrancy is the belief that the Bible is without error or fault in all its teaching. It is this belief that the Hebrew Old Testament is the Word of God is the foundation of all those ‘alternative sciences’ challenges. However, this very premise can not and is not examined or challenged by these so-called ‘sciences’. That failure to challenge that beginning premise is the reason they fail to be a true science are revealed as only a form of religious theology.
Let us start to lay out what it would be like if those ‘alternative sciences’ were actually taught as such.
They would have to defend the statement:
Let’s start with the last statement, and examine just the opening segment of that statement, that is that we actually have an original existing Hebrew text of the Old Testament. In actual fact, there is no one single Hebrew text. There are actually hundreds, if not thousands of different fragmentary copies of the Hebrew text. Each is slightly different and thus proving that the textual creation and transmission was not by the hand of God but by human hands and human processes. To claim to be the “Word of God” the proponents would have to explain why there are differences in the text and how these differences could come about if God was the author and writer of the text. They will fail.
They would have to show that we actually have the oldest original Hebrew text from which all the other thousands of varying fragments and differing copies derive. They will fail. We do not now, and the human species has never, owned an ‘original’ full Hebrew Biblical text. A so-called science would have to prove and defend that we have such a text and that it existed at one time. They will fail.
We only have differing texts of the Hebrew manuscript. We only can demonstrate that they were the product of human transmission and authorship processes. There is no way to prove that they were made by anything other than human acts. There is no way to prove any intervention from God in the creation of the text. That failure to prove the involvement of God in the text's creation or even the bigger problem with not being able to prove the existence of God at all is the reason why all the ‘alternative science’ challenges to the theory of Evolution are not sciences but religious theology pretending to be a science in order to deceive their true purpose and intent. Which is of course the promotion of Christian religion as the only one true religion.
If Old Earth Creationism or Intelligent Design, or Creationist Science wishes to be taught in the public school system then it means that all of the challenges to the foundational premise that the Hebrew Old Testament is the word of God would have to be taught. To do this would truly teach to their children that there is no evidence that God exists or that God can directly transmit information to human beings with 100% accuracy or that we have an original text or that the thousands of differening texts do not raise any problems with the idea that we still have a 100% reliable word of God. All of these issues and the failure and inadequacy of the ability to demonstrate and prove any of this would probably harm any belief in religious faith that those children have. For the children of Christian religious believers, this discussion would threaten the whole foundation of their ability to keep their religious doctrines from being questioned and their faith from being maintained.
Once they realize what is at stake, that maintaining the deception and illusion that Old Earth Creationism or Intelligent Design, or Creationist Science, etc. are a scientific theory requires such a challenge to their fundamental doctrines such as proving that the Old Testament is the ‘word of God’, and how this would bring disaster upon their religions; once that is realized, then all of the challenges to Evolution being taught in the public schools would come to an end.
Gary Jaron's musings.
In my High School Art Department someone had made an ornate sign on hung it on the wall that read: 'Ignore this sign completely.' A paradox couched in sarcasm and irony. This blog is for random musings on anything and everything that comes into my head.