A few days ago the Owl ventured some remarks about that old
bugaboo, Science and Religion. By now, one would think there is nothing fresh left
to say on the subject. In spite of that we ask the reader to indulge us on an
even more seductive canard, the authority of Charles Darwin, that flies in the
teeth of the creation stories in Genesis. Sophomores like to point out there
are two narratives on the subject in Genesis; the Biblical account is
contradictory on its face.
Actually, there are at least four accounts of creation in
the Bible—one in the eighth chapter of Proverbs, and another in God’s reply to
Job. This is not the place for elaborate exegesis; only to address the obvious:
that one can’t talk long about science and religion without Darwin’s name
coming up. The fact is, there is a definite conflict between Christian faith
and what is called Darwinism, but it has nothing to do with Genesis.
Continue reading “Darwin and Dread”
In From Dawn to
Decadence (2000), Jacques Barzun discusses the scientific revolution that
occurred between the seventeenth century and the present. In his description,
this is not just a matter of learning to observe natural phenomena. Our
medieval forebears were meticulous observers of their world—it takes only a
look at their exquisite engravings of plants to convince oneself of this. But
until a certain intellectual shift they could not derive general laws from what
they saw. We moderns do this every day, rising from raw observation to
abstraction. Then we treat the abstractions as things in their own right. Note
the word rise.
Scientific language is equipped to treat of geometry, physics,
chemistry, biology, and more. Finding meaning in the world is another matter. That
belongs to poetry, morality, belief, and faith. Its operant language is not
merely descriptive, but constitutive of reality. The two things do not operate
wholly independently, which is why we have a postmodern debate about how much
of science, especially the studies of human being, is comprised of social
constructs. However that may be, when western culture developed a scientific
world view, we found ourselves in a world divorced from many of its previous meanings.
Continue reading “Science and Religion”