Saturday, June 04, 2005

Whose Covert Religion?

Thursday The Washington Post published an editorial called "Dissing Darwin" on the Smithonian Museum of Natural History allowing the screening of an intelligent-design film.

The editorial states all but explicitly that the film has nothing whatsoever to do with Darwin. One might write off the title as just journalistic sloppiness, but actually it is very revealing.

The editorial's central paragraph is paradoxical if taken at face value:

[Aside from Discovery's involvement] the film itself also should have given them pause. The museum's policy, according to its spokesman, is to allow private groups to use its auditorium for a fee -- in this case, $16,000 -- so long as the material shown is not religious or political in content. While "The Privileged Planet" is an extremely sophisticated religious film, it is a religious film nevertheless. It uses scientific information -- the apparently "perfect" position of Earth in its orbit and in its galaxy, the uniqueness of its atmosphere -- to answer, affirmatively, the philosophical question of whether life on Earth was part of a grand design, and not just the result of chance and chemistry. Neither God nor evolution is mentioned. Nevertheless, the film is consistent with the Discovery Institute's general aim, which is to drive a wedge into the scientific consensus about the origins of life and the universe and to give a patina of scientific credibility to the idea of an intelligent creator.

The paragraph itself notes that the film says nothing about either God or evolution, and yet charges the film is religious. If God isn't mentioned, then how can the film be religious? Apparently "It uses scientific information... to answer, affirmatively, the philosophical question of whether life on Earth was part of a grand design, and not just the result of chance and chemistry." So it sounds like exploring a philosophical question is "religious." But why is openness to religion a problem? Isn't one of the main modern virtues supposed to be "open mindedness"? It sounds very much to me that the Post is being rather close-minded.

The tenuous connection to religion aside, what about Darwin? How can the Post maintain the film "disses Darwin" while acknowledging it has nothing to do with Darwin or Darwinism? I believe the answer must be that in the editors' minds "Darwin" implies much more than Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. The film is questioning one strand of a whole knot of connected beliefs conceptualized collectively as "DARWIN."

According to secularists, "religion" is tantamount "philosophy," and both are exclusively private matters unsuited to public discourse because they are "unscientific." But wait... isn't the delineation of science from non-science a philosophical question? Isn't the secularist engaged in philosophy by excluding some subjects as "unscientific"?

Furthermore science can speak only about the measureable; nothing beyond the universe can be measured. To jump from "science can't speak about God" to "science denies God exists" can't be based on science, or even simply logic: it takes faith.

So who is disguising religion as science?

No doubt secularists will call on DARWIN to save them from self-examination.

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