Thursday, April 12, 2007

Feedback about recent heated Intelligent Design debate

Here are some recent articles in CNN about the science and intelligent design debate. The first article [download] considers a scientists reasons for why he believes in God as a scientist. The second article [download] talks about the possibility that religion is simply a matter of evolutionary necessity.

Recently, this author has heard about some incidences which reflected a bias of non-religious scientists who think that religious people do not consider what the evidence is suggesting. This comment arose out of a scientific discussion on how our personal beliefs do affect the way we interpret objective data.

I think I will have to comment on this as I feel that the discussion has a very crucial point, and the remark made by non-religious scientists may not be a fair one. Firstly, I do not think that the discussion point was wrong. In fact, I agree with it. Beliefs most certainly bias our interpretation of the world, and of reality. In fact, that is fundamentally what belief is. It is attributing meaning and cause to what we see around us. In this sense, the idea that belief is a psychological state innate in human beings (since we do not seem to see animals that have beliefs) out of evolutionary necessity. One theory is that if we do not have something to believe in, human beings would not function, we would in fact go crazy. Thus, to resolve this state, we developed religion.

This might be true, it might not. Scientifically, we cannot prove that it does not exist. No science can prove that anything does not exist. I think scientists have to conceed to this. This author is a scientist too, and I think there is no reasonable argument to suggest that science can ever get past this problem of proving non-existence, at least with current empirical methods. Similarly, science cannot prove the non-existence of God.

But back to religion as an evolutionary outcome. If in fact this is true, it says nothing about whether God is real. Just because we think our ideas of God are a result of our neurons firing, which are a result of our DNA "directing" our neurons to wire in a certain way, that results in this "feeling" or state of thinking there is a God, these do not have bearing on whether God exists or not. If God exists, he exists whether I think he does or not, he exists whether my thoughts about his existence arise out of a reflection of truth or if they arise due to pure chance.

That being said, religious people, specifically Christians, do not necessarily disagree with the existence of evolution. In theory, God could implement evolution as his way things should work? Is it not also a theory that he did not? What I mean is, these are theories, not facts. And science has yet to show that it can prove that evolution = no God.

So, in sum, we all belief something. For the non-religious scientist, it is simply that they believe that all they can observe has no intelligent cause. For the religious scientist, we also need to look at the objective evidence that there is intelligent cause for everything we see. No one is spared this burden. And surely, which side we are on, will bias the way we see thing. The point is not to say the other side believes what they do because they are not objective. The point is to recognize how we ourselves are biased, and how others might have different biases, and consider the data together.

If God exists, then the data will show it, if indeed this method can show it. If he does not, then the data will show it too, if this method permits, however, we know that this method cannot show that something does not exist. So perhaps we should be thinking if there is ever any way to show that something does not exist?

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