Free Sample: Harmony: Religion and Intelligent Design paper example for writing essay

Harmony: Religion and Intelligent Design - Essay Example

Harmony is tuning of our lives to those around us and the natural world that sustains our wellbeing. We listen and watch so that we can move In time with that Great Dance In which we all have a small part. To live in harmony requires that we be conscious of the hopes and needs that surround us and flexible in our own course of action. In a harmonious relationship each party at times sets aside his or her own desires to nurture the relationship itself.

We can be in harmony with others only when we are in harmony with ourselves–living true to our deepest sense of what Is real and what matters. A broad understanding of modern science is indispensable in today’s society, not only to be competitive in today’s high-tech Job market, but also to be well informed on scientific matters, in light of the many challenges that the world now faces. The methodology of modern science has been remarkably successful In uncovering the workings of the Earth and universe about us.

Just In the past half-century science has unlocked the code of life and read the DNA of many organisms, traced the history of the known universe and discovered a set of mathematical laws that explain, at a monumental level, virtually all physical phenomena with remarkable precision. It is increasingly clear that any movement that opposes the progress of modern science is simply digging a pit for itself.

On the other hand, religion plays a similarly important foundation In the lives of the vast majority of people worldwide. According to a recent study, over 92% of Americans (Including, amusingly enough, 21% of self-described atheists and 55% of self-described agnostics) affirm some belief in God. What’s more, 39% of Americans (including 37% of atheists and 48% of agnostics more than the population at large) say that they experience a “deep sense of wonder about the universe” on at least a weekly basis [Pewee].

One scientific colleague of the present author, which colleague personally hasn’t practiced conventional religion for many years, nonetheless acknowledged that with regards to the magnificence of the universe and the elegance of natural laws, he Is a “devoted worshipper. ” Religion has indisputably inspired some of the world’s greatest art and literature, as is evident from even a casual stroll through any of Rupee’s great art museums. The Book of Job’s remarkable search for meaning in suffering has few peers in world literature [Nonirritating].

Religious motifs pervade the works of Shakespeare, especially marquee plays such as Macbeth, Hamlet and Othello. Johann Sebastian Bach, who composed over 1000 pieces of sacred music, even today is widely regarded as the greatest composer of history, and his Mass in B-Minor is thought by many to be one of the greatest single works of music in the classical repertoire [Denominations]. Similarly, Victor Hog’s intensely religious Less Miserable is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of all time, and, in our own time, is the basis or Loon’s longest-running musical theater production [LesMlserables2011 b]. Vernon of moral conduct through the ages. As historians Will and Ariel Duran explained, “Even the skeptical historian develops a humble respect for religion, since he sees it functioning, and seemingly indispensable, in every land and age. There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion. ” [Turnaround, pug. 43, 51]. Thus any movement that opposes modern religion is simply digging a pit for itself. The “war” between science and religion

Unfortunately, beginning several decades ago, but with greater intensity in the past few years, a battle is being waged between certain groups loosely representing “science” (actually certain atheistic scholars and scientists) and “religion” (actually certain creationists and religious fundamentalists). In the U. S. And elsewhere, battles simmer over the teaching of evolution in public schools [Lebanese]. Some scientists with religious faith feel they must live double lives, not mentioning their religious beliefs to their colleagues [Excellently].

And many college students (and older adults) experience crises of faith, in part because they have heard this all-or-nothing rhetoric from both sides [Gibberellins]. The “science” camp in this war attack not just religious fundamentalists, but anyone who takes religion seriously, including numerous moderates who argue for a harmonious middle ground. One of these writers, in a single breathtaking sentence, decried religion as “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children. (did he leave anything out? ) [Heathenishly, pug. 6]. In a similar vein, a prominent biologist recently asked us to imagine “a world with no religion no suicide bombers, no 9/1 1, persecution of Jews as ‘Christ killers,’ no shiny-suited bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing gullible people of their money. ” [Dishwashing, pug. 23-24]. The “religion” camp in this war is led by religious fundamentalists, who, in keeping with their inflexible belief that the Bible is complete and without error, insist that God created the Earth (or even the entire universe), complete as it now stands, a few thousand years ago.

Others in this camp are more accepting of modern scientific endings, but still hold that science is the “enemy,” utterly incompatible with religion, and therefore one must choose religion or science, but definitely not both [Trucker’s]. Several of these writers criticize by name the same moderate-minded scientists and religious figures criticized by the science camp. These writers also blame scientists for the moral decline of society and accuse scientists of deliberately hiding the “truth. One writer, in a single breathtaking sentence, blamed science for “racism, fascism, Marxism, imperialism, Freudianism, promiscuity, abortion, homosexuality [and] drug use” (did he leave anything out? [Morristown]. So what are we to make of this “war”? Are all scientists militantly atheist? Are all religious believers ignorant of modern science? Is it necessary to “check [your] brains Prominent scientists and theologians on the “war” First of all, it is important to recognize that many leading scientists and theologians have publicly declared the futility of a war between science and religion, for example: Francisco J.

Ally (American biologist, Dominican Priest and winner of the Templeton Prize) [Layaway, pug. 174]: “Scientific knowledge cannot contradict religious beliefs, cause science has nothing definitive to say for or against religious inspiration, religious realities, or religious values. ” Francis Collins (Director of the U. S. National Institutes of Health, former Director of the Human Genome Project, and an evangelical Christian) [Collision’s, pug. 6]: “In my view, there is no conflict in being a rigorous scientist and a person who believes in a God who takes a personal interest in each one of us.

Science’s domain is to explore nature. God’s domain is in the spiritual world, a realm not possible to explore with the tools and language of science. Stephen Jay Gould (prominent paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and author of numerous popular books) [Colluding, pug. 4-5]: “Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain these facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings, and values subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve. Kenneth Miller (prominent biologist, co-author of a popular textbook and a Roman Catholic) [Millimeter]: “l think that faith and reason are both gifts from God. And if God is real, then faith and reason should complement each other rather than be in conflict. . I think by revealing a world that is infinitely more complex and infinitely more varied and creative than we had ever believed before, in a way it deepens our faith and our appreciation for the author of that nature, the author of that physical universe. And to people of faith, that author is God. John Polyhedron (British theologian, physicist and Anglican Priest) [Polkinghorne1998, pug. 99-100]: “Science and theology share one fundamental aim which will always make them worthy of he attention of those imbued with intellectual integrity and the desire to understand: in their different ways and in their different domains, each is concerned with the search for truth. In itself, that is sufficient to guarantee that there will continue to be a fruitful developing dialogue between them. ” Many others examples could be cited see Religions, Scientists and Theologians.

The “new atheism” As mentioned above, recently several prominent atheist scholars, in a series of widely read books and articles, have attacked a broad range of religious beliefs as being incoherent and even harmful. Compared with earlier writers, they are significantly more outspoken and acerbic in their rhetoric. Some of their criticisms must be acknowledged: there are indeed some translation errors, internal contradictions and historical difficulties in the Bible; numerous wars have been fought in the name of religion; and many religious figures and writers through the ages have opposed modern science.

But the writings of the “new atheist” authors do not provide any new insights on these topics. No one who has studied the history of religion will be Scholars who have analyzed the writings of the “new atheists” have identified serious laws in their work. For one thing, their “scientific” arguments against God do not have any credibility, since science, by its very definition, cannot say anything one way or the other about the existence or nature of a transcendent being. Another weakness is that the “new atheist” scholars presume that the empirical world studied by modern science comprises all of truth and reality.

It may be easy to dismiss religion from this worldview, but it is Just as easy to dismiss art, literature, music, philosophy, ethics and many other fields. For that matter, the atheist writers’ own scientific materialist worldview would itself have to be questioned, since it cannot be derived from experimental science or mathematical reasoning, and thus must be accepted on faith. If nothing else, the blustery and one-sided style of the “new atheist” writers is unbecoming of serious scholarship.

If any of these atheist writers were to use this sort of polemic rhetoric in a scientific paper, it would be immediately rejected for that reason alone. Published reviews of the “new atheist” writings are generally rather negative. Some of these criticisms are clearly amateurish and do not really deflect the issues the theistic writers have addressed. But other negative reviews of these writings have been written by prominent scholars and scientists, and cannot be so easily dismissed. Religious scholar Karen Armstrong, for instance, wrote [Armstrong’s, pug. 03-305]: Like all religious fundamentalists, the new atheists believe that they alone are in possession of truth; like Christian fundamentalists, they read scripture in an entirely literal manner and seem never to have heard of the long tradition of allegoric or Talmudic interpretation or indeed of the Higher Criticism. This type of reductionism is characteristic of the fundamentalist mentality. One of the atheist writers] is also wrong to claim that God is a scientific hypothesis, that is, a conceptual framework for bringing intelligibility to a series of experiments and observations.

It was only in the modern period that theologians started to treat God as a scientific explanation and in the process produced an idolatrous God concept. In any event, the writings of the “new atheists” are not published in respected, peer-reviewed journals in the religious studies field, and so cannot be taken seriously by professional scholars. If any of these writers believe they have arguments that would ass peer review, they are invited to submit them to a Journal in the field. For further discussion, see Atheists and Peer review.

Creationism and intelligent design To begin with, it should be emphasized that many from both scientific and religious backgrounds conceive of a supreme Being who organized the creation in some high- processes. There is no difficulty with “creationism” or “intelligent design” in the sense of an open-ended philosophy of this sort. Instead, the discussion here uses the terms “creationism” and “intelligent design” only in the specific sense of present-day events by these names, as will now be described.

The “creationist” movement (see Creationism) holds that the Earth and all of its life (or even the entire universe) was created in essentially its present form Just a few thousand years ago, in accordance with a literal reading of Genesis, and rejects a broad range of modern scientific thought. Creationism is very popular with the public. A 2012 Gallup poll found that 46% of Americans believe that “God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years,” a percentage that is up 6% from a similar study in 2010 Newburyport; Newburyport].

A 2007 Gallup poll found that 44% believed that evolution, particularly as it relates to human beings, is “probably” or “definitely” false [Newburyport]. In recent years, a movement known as “intelligent design” (see Intelligent design) has gained considerable support and attention. Its practitioners generally accept the old-earth worldview of modern science, but still reject the notion that the creation could have proceeded largely via natural processes. Both groups reject the possibility of harmony between science and religion and argue that there s solid evidence that “proves” their approach.

But as Carl Eagan once observed, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” [Assassins, pug. 60]. So to what extent have the creationist and intelligent design movements produced evidence to establish their claims? With regards to traditional creationism, the answer is clear. Modern radiometric dating, which has produced very consistent and reliable dates for the various epochs of the Earth’s development, overwhelmingly contradicts the central creationist tenet that the Earth was created a few thousand years ago.

Indeed, the young-earth rollover is no more tenable today than is the ancient notion that the sun, planets and stars are only a few miles (or a few thousand miles) above the Earth both reckonings are off by factors of millions and billions. And evolution, at this point in time, is much more than a “theory” in the colloquial sense of the word, having been confirmed in hundreds of thousands of exacting studies and having long ago supplanted any competing paradigm in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Indeed, the latest DNA sequence data screams “common descent” there is no other reasonable way to interpret these results (see DNA). Research continues, and many new discoveries and adjustments to the current understanding will doubtless be made. But none of this is likely ever to draw into question the central tenets of the field. Although the intelligent design community is much more accepting of modern science several of these writers openly accept old-earth geology and the common descent of biological organisms there are difficulties here as well.

To begin with, their search for design in nature is not particularly novel similar arguments were advanced by Palely in the 19th century. In any event, their claimed examples of irreducible complexity” and the like are countered by published research showing attempting to exhibit “design” in nature as evidence for God is problematic in light of the many features of nature (including numerous features of the human body) that are clearly deficient. At the least, “design” must be thought of in a high-level sense, not in specific low-level mechanics as argued by intelligent design writers.

In general, the overwhelming consensus of scientists (even among those who are firm religious believers) who have examined these matters is that the creationist- intelligent design arguments are deeply flawed. They do not remotely rise to the level to pose a significant challenge to modern evolutionary theory. Virtually all of these issues have already been debated at length in the scientific literature, and more recent data confirms these theories more than ever before.

In any event, the leading creationist and intelligent design writers, like the “new atheists,” have not published their material in respected peer-reviewed scientific journals, so they cannot be taken seriously by leading scientists. If any of these writers believe they have arguments that would pass peer review, they are invited to submit them to a Journal in the field. For full details, see Creationism, Intelligent design, Evolution and Peer review.

Philosophical and theological problems with creationism and intelligent design Just as importantly, there are significant philosophical and theological difficulties with creationism and intelligent design. To begin with, the creationist-intelligent design search for phenomena that cannot be explained by natural laws, in an attempt to “prove” the hand of God, is almost a contradiction in terms. As mentioned above, science, by its very definition, cannot comment one way or the other on the existence or nature of a transcendent being.

Also, attempting to “prove” the hand of God is tantamount to claiming that faith is not an essential feature of religion, and ironically affirms the scientific materialist worldview of atheist critics. Furthermore, it is patently clear that the Bible is not a scientific document one can search in vain for even a single passage of scripture that contains quantitative data or analysis typical of a modern scientific Journal article. And defining religion in terms of what is currently unexplained in science is tantamount to “God of the gaps” theology, which has left a legacy of disappointment as science continues to advance.

One monumental difficulty with both creationism and intelligent design can be seen by considering the following “thought experiment. ” Suppose a major international society announced that it had received a communication from a super-intelligent Entity, and the authenticity of this communication could not be denied because it included, say, solutions to mathematical problems that are utterly beyond the present level of human knowledge and computer technology. Suppose also that this communication disclosed that this Entity had initiated or created life on Earth.

The next day inquisitive humans would then ask questions such as “What time frame was squired for this creation? ,” “What processes and steps were involved? ,” “Can we replicate these processes and steps in a laboratory? ,” “Why was the Earth created this Entity? ,” “Who created the universe? ,” etc. In other words, virtually all of the fundamental questions of existence that have intrigued scientists and theologians alike for centuries would remain unanswered.

In this light, the creationist-intelligent design approach of merely asserting “God did it,” and resisting deeper investigation, is tantamount to a “thinking stopper,” reveling in ignorance instead of thirsting for knowledge. Surely there is a more productive approach to harmonize science and religion. The last straw for many observers is the notion, taught by some writers in the creationism-intelligent design camp, that the world may appear to be very old, governed by natural laws and the product of an evolutionary development, but this is only because God created the world to look that way, perhaps as a test of faith.

In other words, when we analyze a rock, it may appear to be millions of years old, but it really was created Just a few thousand years ago with a set of altered radioactive isotopes. Or when we view a distant galaxy or supernova explosion in a telescope, those photons may look exactly like they came from a galaxy millions of light-years away, but they really didn’t because the universe was only created a few thousand years ago, and those photons were created in-flight to the Earth.

In short, these writers teach, in effect, that God is a Great Deceiver, which is an absurd and indeed blasphemous notion that goes against the entire tradition of Jude-Christian religion. For additional details, see Deceiver and Theology and philosophy. Philosophy of science and postmodern science studies We should add here that creationist and intelligent design writers are not the only ones who critically examine modern science.

Some writers, in a genre commonly known as “sociology of scientific knowledge” or “postmodern science studies,” examine the fundamental reliability of scientific findings, or critique the scientific enterprise from a perspective of group dynamics or sociology. Some of this literature, such as the writings on the philosophy of science by Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, has significant merit and relevance to modern science. Popper emphasized the importance of fallibility in science, which remains an important consideration to this day, effectively distinguishing the scientific enterprise from numerous other forms of scholarship.

Kuhn observed that science does not advance in a linear fashion, but more commonly from one “paradigm” to another. Issues such as ensuring that the legitimate scientific contributions of non-western societies (such as the ancient mathematics of India and China) are certainly important and worth discussing. But other instances of this literature, such as writings that express contempt for the scientific enterprise, or which deny that science can progress awards truth of the natural world, are problematic, to say the least, and not recommended. For full details, see Postmodern.

Modern physics, astronomy and cosmology such as the age of the Earth and evolution, some far more interesting developments have been emerging in the fields of physics and astronomy. In particular, scientific researchers have noted various “cosmic coincidences,” suggesting that our Earth and universe have been exceedingly finely tuned to permit the emergence of intelligent life. Some scientists have tried to explain these facts by proposing a huge set of outside universes, saying that the reason the Earth and universe is so finely tuned for life is because if they were not, we would not exist to be here to discuss the issue.

For full details, see Physics and cosmology. But even these explanations, which many scientists regard as highly speculative and unsatisfactory, still fall short of answering the fundamental question “Why does the universe harbor intelligent life? ” As physicist Paul Davies observes [Advertises, pug. 231]: [H]unman minds, at least, are much more than mere observers. We do more than Just watch the show that nature stages. Human beings have come to understand the oral, at least in part, through the processes of reasoning and science.

Nothing requires that level of involvement, that degree of connection. In order to explain a bio-friendly universe, [this theory] merely requires observers to observe. It is not necessary for observers to understand. Yet humans do. Why? As intriguing as these ideas are, however, they still leave most religious-minded persons with a certain emptiness. Does the “God of the big bang” truly coincide with the compassionate, weeping God described in Psalms, the Gospel of John, and in other religious works (e. G. , the OLDS Book of Moses)?

Did Johann Sebastian Bach have the “God of the big bang” in mind when he composed the Mass in B Minor and over 1,000 other sacred works? Is this the same being that inspired Albert Schweitzer, Mohammad Ghanaian and Mother Teresa to surrender their careers and fortunes, and instead devote their lives to the poor and downtrodden? Is this the same being that even now inspires countless millions to lead moral, charitable, purposeful lives? Should one base one’s personal sense of values and spirituality on the outcome of some extremely esoteric investigations into the fundamental nature of particles and forces in the universe?

Probably not! The lessons from the creationism-intelligent design controversy are clear: claims that one can “prove” God via arguments based on apparent design or seemingly inexplicable phenomena in the natural world are likely to disappoint in the long run. And invoking a Creator or Designer every time unexplained phenomena arise is a “thinking stopper,” burying the grand questions of science and religion in the inaccessible, inscrutable mind of some transcendent Being. For full details, see Big bang theology.

The idea of progress We have discussed several approaches that are not recommended as a basis for ending an intellectually honest basis for harmony between science and religion. Can anything positive be said in this regard? There is one fundamental sense in which Insist defines the idea of progress as the notion that mankind has advanced in the past, from barbarism and ignorance, is now advancing, and will continue to advance through the foreseeable future [Insentient, pug. 4-5].

The idea of progress stands in sharp contrast to the widely held view that modern society is in decline, a view that upon closer inspection proves to be highly questionable (see Decline). Closely unconnected with this concept of linear, progressive history is the Jude-Christian belief that God governs the world based on a system of rational laws. British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead noted that modern science, as it developed in the West, was based on this faith in rationality [Whiteheads, pug. 17-19, 27].

Similarly, British- American physicist Paul Davies wonders whether modern science would ever have evolved in the absence of Jude-Christian theism: “Without minds prepared by the cultural antecedents of Greek philosophy and monotheism (or something similar) ND in particular the abstract notion of a system of hidden mathematical laws science as we know it may never have emerged. ” [Advertises, pug. 74-75]. In the early twentieth century, French theologian Pierre Detailed De Chagrin argued that human progress was inexorable, virtually mandated by the natural laws of the universe.

He further saw the idea of progress as the one theme that could re-unify science and religion: “To incorporate the progress of the world in our picture of the kingdom of God would immediately and radically put an end to the internal conflict from which we are suffering. [Tallahatchie, pug. 96]. Similarly, scholar Robert Wright describes a vector of progress, consisting of ever-widening extensions of human cooperation, extending over several millennia, and encompassing both religion and modern science [Wrights, pug. 17, 332]: [l]f we talk about the objectively observable features of social reality, the direction of history is unmistakable.

When you look beneath the roiled surface of human events, beyond the comings and goings of particular regimes, beyond the lives and deaths of the “great men” who have strutted on the stage of history, you see an arrow ginning tens of thousands of years ago and continuing to the present. And, looking ahead, you see where it is pointing. Maybe history is not so much the product of divinity as the realization of divinity. For additional details, see Progress. Ending the war So is there any prospect for peace in this “war”? Can this marriage be saved?

The main solution here is simply to recognize that while both science and religion are committed to an eternal quest for truth, never being content to say “We have enough,” nonetheless at the present state of human ignorance they are better rated as two distinct worlds, since they address mostly different questions and employ mostly different methods [Colluding, pug. 4-5]. Recall in the Christian New Testament when Jesus was asked whether Jews should pay taxes to Rome. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus replied, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Career’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” [Matt. 2:21]. Similar and unto religion the things that are religious. ” In other words, those of religious backgrounds need to grant technical questions of the natural world, such as exactly hen and how the Earth was created, to the field of scientific research, and stop insisting that the scriptures are scientific textbooks (they aren’t). And those of scientific backgrounds need to grant questions of the ultimate meaning of life and moral conduct to enlightened religion, and stop insisting that science can displace religion, art, music, literature, philosophy and morality (it can’t).

Along this line, it is worth recalling a lesson from the great ancient mathematician Euclid, whose work even today is the basis of the course on geometry that many have taken in high school. According to an ancient account, when Pharaoh Ptolemy I of Egypt grew frustrated at the degree of effort required to master geometry, he asked Euclid whether there was some easier path. Euclid is said to have replied, “There is no royal road to geometry. ” [Turnaround, Volvo. 2, pug. 501]. Today we see new attempts to find “royal roads” quick, easy paths that short-circuit the long, difficult process necessary to master a field.

Some criticize and dismiss religion, even though they have never devoted themselves to religious pursuits and have never made any in- depth study of theology or religious history. Others criticize and dismiss prevailing theories of biology, geology or astronomy, even though they lack the specialized expertise required to make such a sweeping Judgment. Both groups are equally guilty of stepping beyond their expertise. Modern science is the most powerful tool known to explore the physical laws and processes that govern the universe.

Yet it can say next to nothing about morality, salvation, ethics or the ultimate meaning of life, nor were its methods ever designed to probe such fundamental questions. Similarly, religion through the ages has dressed morality, salvation, the purposes of existence, and is a powerful force for mutual understanding and charity worldwide, but scriptures alone provide no clues as to the mass of the electron or the equations of general relativity, nor were they ever intended to be read in such a technical sense.

In general, there is nothing in modern science that is fundamentally anti-religious or in any way negates the many positive aspects of living a moral, charitable, purposeful life; and there is nothing in modern religion that is fundamentally anti-science or should in any way stand in the ay of scientific progress.

One final note: Just as it is important for science to stay scientific, focused on studying natural laws, processes and empirical data, so it is important for religious movements to stay focused on religion and not embrace, as its central belief system, some particular scientific theory or worldview. As Holmes Ralston observed, “The religion that is married to science today will be a widow tomorrow. Religion that has too thoroughly accommodated to any science will soon be obsolete.