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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ancient Gods

Since the beginning of time, humans have tried to understand the world. Religions, gods, and mythologies all sprang from a need to explain and understand. They were the answer to “I don’t know”.

“I don’t know”, in terms of science, leads to hypotheses that can be used to make predictions, which are then tested. Depending upon documentable and repeatable results, a hypothesis is either supported by the evidence, or revealed to be false.

If the hypothesis is proven wrong, and “I don’t know” is still the answer, that’s a wonderful outcome too, because those three words have led to every discovery ever made.

If the resolution to “I don’t know” is “It must be God” – then we’ve left the realms of fact for mysticism. Said another way – trying to explain science with religion gives up on the search for knowledge. That’s just too easy an answer.

Every now and again, I try to picture a person in ancient times during a thunderstorm, without concepts like electricity or thermal dynamics. Science has brought us a long way since then, and I suspect (though I could be wrong) that even the most faith-based interpreter of the world today would scoff at angry gods hurling thunderbolts at one another as a scientific explanation.

So how is a “scientist” like this one different from ancient worshippers of Thor? According to the AP article:

A biochemistry professor who is a leading advocate of "intelligent design" testified Monday that evolution alone can't explain complex biological processes and he believes God is behind them

What he has said is, "I don't know. Therefore it must be God."

No. If it cannot be defined, tested, measured, and repeated, it does not qualify as science – no matter what “it” is. All the revisionism and redefining in the world will not turn faith, and religion, into science… and to be quite honest, I don’t want a school teaching religion to my child at all unless I have her enrolled in a religion-based curriculum. That decision, and my approach to it, belongs to me - not to a science teacher.