During a “meet and greet” in New Hampshire, Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked a question by a young boy about why in Texas both evolution and creationism were taught. He responded by saying, “[Evolution is] a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it, but in Texas, we teach both evolution and creationism in our public schools.” Mr. Perry, satisfied that he gave an answer that would be as non-contradictory as possible, started to move on before the mother of the child loudly said:
“Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.”
This is what bothers me: Why do people assume that in the marketplace of ideas, one must choose between God and science? The very idea is not only new but asinine.
Never mind the fact that several of the greatest scientists in the history of mankind (Copernicus, Galileo, Isaac Newton, William Kelvin to name a few) were theists and saw no need to pick between the two.
Never mind the fact that there is nothing in a belief in a God that logically or necessarily proscribes a belief in science, or vice versa.
I can rest my case on the very word “science.” It comes from the Latin word scientia, which means “knowledge.” It refers to making deductions about things that are observed. These are things that can and should be taught, and everyone agrees upon this. For example, frogs are cold-blooded. This is a fact that can be proven. Weather is caused by the change of temperature and moisture. This is also a fact. These are things that ought to be taught in school, as surely as Abraham Lincoln, nouns, and polynomials. These are things we “know,” so they are “science.”
The problem comes when we start to ask questions about which we cannot see. Instead of saying, “Frogs are cold-blooded,” science starts to ask, “From where did frogs come?” While there are many different ideas available about how frogs originated, they must remain as theories, since we have no record of when frogs first came to be. Evolution is one theory that claims to exclude a metaphysical cause; creationism includes One. In the marketplace of ideas, Texas has stated that if one is going to be on the table, the other one is going to be as well. This is not a denial of science; it is more robust science.
Governor Perry had an answer for that mother who asked, but he directed to the child. He said, “…because I figured you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”
Most people, apparently, aren’t, and need to be told only one theory about what happened, despite the underwhelming empirical evidence for it. Why not let both ideas compete in the marketplace of ideas?
Disclaimer #1: This post is not intended to advocate any one political party, candidate, or to denigrate any one political view or news outlet.
Disclaimer #2: I am not advocating a naturalistic, atheistic viewpoint of science or the origins of life, nor that it OUGHT to be taught in schools. I am merely saying that it is naive to say that someone must either believe in God or science.