Faith’s place in science and seeing the good of both sides

Until we witness evolution in action or face some creative force, we will not know for sure.

There has been much debate in the Daily recently about intelligent design and evolution. Some argue that faith has no place in science and intelligent design is some fundamentalist plot to force religion upon the unsuspecting masses. Still others argue that all the facts point toward evolution and intelligent design is just mythology. One person was worried that we somehow would prove God and destroy his mystery. Whether they are arguing for or against intelligent design or evolution, everyone seems to be forgetting two things: First, science cannot prove anything; what we take for scientific “facts” are actually theories that seem to make sense from the available data that haven’t been proved wrong yet. Secondly, faith is an integral part of science ­’ yes, you read that correctly.

Anyone who has spent 10 minutes in a freshman biology class should realize that science is advanced by proposing theories and testing them. If they are proved wrong, we come up with new theories. It nearly is impossible to prove something right, but it only takes one experiment to disprove something. We have a working theory that unicorns do not exist which most people take for fact, as no one has yet had a reliable unicorn sighting. We are content that our theory is probably correct, but when someone sees a unicorn, we’ll have to reject something that was previously held as fact. The same applies to intelligent design and evolution, except it will be very difficult to disprove either. This is where faith comes in.

Since we were not there at the creation of the world ‘ however and by whom or whatever, it occurred ‘ and have never seen one species evolve into another, we have to take it on faith that one or the other events actually occurred ‘ or come up with another idea as to how it happened. What we know is that life exists, it is very complicated and constantly is adapting to its surroundings. Our observations work for intelligent design and evolution. They are both theories that attempt to explain the origins of life and neither can be proved or disproved. We have evidence that suggests both, but neither disproves nor proves either. Until we witness evolution in action ‘ and I mean macroevolution, not some minor change like the flagellum on a protozoa or the color of a moth’s wings ‘ or come face to face with some creative being or force, we will not know for sure.

Neither evolution nor intelligent design should be barred from being broached as a scientific theory. You can not prove one or the other. They both should be presented as what they are: working theories that are impossible to prove, yet try to explain the origins of life. Intelligent design does not specify Jehovah, Allah, the Goddess, Ashtorah, Baal, the Great Spirit, space aliens, Elvis or any other particular being or force; it should not be used to promote any particular religion or ideology. It simply says that life is too complex to be an accident and something set it in motion. It is as wrong for evolutionists to deny the possibility of intelligent design as it is for creationists to think that evolution should not be taught in biology classes; both require some modicum of faith, yet we wish to deny the teaching of one or the other because it threatens our deepest beliefs. Science can only thrive in an unbiased environment and our beliefs about either theory affect every aspect of our lives, so we wish to stifle the teaching of the opposing view in order to feel better about ourselves and our philosophies. Yet we hinder the advancement of knowledge and progress by putting blinders on our search for truth. Mankind is known as “Homo sapiens,” which translates into “wise man.” We are the rational, thinking primate; let us teach both and let the students decide. Let them use that wonderful organ called the brain, be it the result of chance or an intricate piece of art. The purpose of education is to teach people how to think for themselves, not to indoctrinate them with whatever ideas the teacher deems to be “truth.” To deny either theory is to limit ourselves to the rhetoric and paranoia of the status quo. Teach both ‘ let the students weigh the facts and make up their own minds.

Einstein once said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” Science and religion are both steeped in mystery and require faith; both try to explain a bit more about our world, its origins and how it works. They have more in common than one might think.

Shannon McMartin is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]