The (Lack Of) Conflict Between Science and Religion in College Students

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June 3, 2011 Tags: Education

Today's entry was written by Matt J. Rossano. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

The (Lack Of) Conflict Between Science and Religion in College Students

Reposted with permission from Huffington Post.

Media-hungry atheist, creationist and religious fundamentalist provocateurs have successfully dominated the science and religion narrative for the past decade or so. In doing so, they have created the false impression of an ongoing unavoidable war between the two camps. A recently published large-scale survey of college students, however, finds that the call to arms has fallen on deaf ears. For the vast majority of American university students, there simply is no conflict between science and religion.

Christopher Scheitle, a Penn State sociologist, analyzed survey data from more than 10,000 students at over 200 colleges and universities across America (Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 50, p. 175). The students were surveyed both as freshman and juniors so that attitudinal change over the course of their university years could be assessed. Among the many items on the survey was one that asked the following: "For me, the relationship between science and religion is one of..." Four possible responses were provided: (1) Conflict -- I consider myself to be on the side of science, (2) Conflict -- I consider myself to be on the side of religion, (3) Independence - science and religion refer to different aspects of reality and (4) Collaboration -- each can be used to support the other. Students were also asked about their religious beliefs and affiliations and their course of study (i.e. major).

Results showed that nearly 70 percent of college freshman saw the science/religion relationship as one of either independence or collaboration. The minority who saw science and religion in conflict were roughly evenly split between those who sided with religion (17 percent) and those who sided with science (14 percent). Even more interesting was the fact that when students changed their opinion over time, the most likely change was moving from a conflict position to one of non-conflict (either independence or collaboration). For example, 70 percent of those who as freshmen said they were on "religion's side" had changed to a non-conflict position by the time they were juniors. Similarly, 46 percent of freshmen who said they were on "science's side" had adopted a non-conflict position by the time they were juniors. By contrast, only 13 percent of freshman who took a non-conflict position changed to one of conflict by their junior year (5 percent to religion's side, 8 percent to the side of science). For most students, more education means less science/religion conflict, not more.

The above results also reflect the fact that the pro-science point of view appears to be more entrenched than the pro-religion point of view. In other words, once someone has adopted "science's side" in a perceived science and religion conflict, it is harder to move them from this position compared to when someone has adopted "religion's side." Exactly how to interpret this is unclear. Are religious people actually less dogmatic on the issue? Maybe. Maybe the evidence more clearly confirms the rightness of the "science" side and this is why fewer people switch. Then again, if the evidence so clearly supports the "science side" then why don't the majority of people see a conflict to begin with, and why do nearly half of the pro-science folks defect over time?

The apparent greater willingness of "religion side" students to re-examine their stance can also be seen in another interesting finding. Students at religious schools were actually less likely to claim to be on "religion's side" than students at secular schools. This pattern held true even after the results were adjusted for the students' degree of religious commitment and religious conservatism. The author suggests that students at religious schools may feel less threatened than equally religious students at a secular school and that the conflict narrative may be more salient at secular schools.

The breakdown of findings by major also showed some interesting trends. Business and education students were most likely to adopt a conflict approach, with nearly 40 percent doing so, most of whom claimed a pro-religion stance. The conflict approach was endorsed by just under 30 percent of natural science, math and engineering, social science, and arts and humanities students. However, while the majority of "conflict" students in natural science, math and engineering sided with science, the majority of arts, humanitie, and social science students sided with religion. While it is important to keep in mind that most students of all majors saw no conflict, this pattern across majors was somewhat troubling to the author:

"The finding that scientists and engineers are among the most likely to have a pro-science conflict perspective could mean that some of the most influential voices in these public debates might be more likely to fuel the debates than attenuate them. Similarly, future educators are among the most likely to hold a pro-religion conflict perspective. Given that classrooms and school boards have been one of the central forums for the struggle over religion and science, this does not bode well for a reduction of those struggles" (p. 185).

A shrill alarm cry naturally attracts attention and the few extreme voices promoting a science and religion conflict have taken full advantage of this. Seeking common ground or respecting distinct domains are not sexy, but this is where the majority of educated people are when it comes to science and religion. As the author of this survey points out, the non-conflict position firmly established among college students is only a reflection of what has already been found for most working scientists.

The majority position is not always the right one. It is not always the wrong one either. But one is justified in being wary of those who promote conflict (whether in science and religion or in politics, society, etc.) when: (a) it not obvious to most people why the conflict is necessary and (b) those promoting it have something to gain by doing so. Crass opportunism could be afoot just as easily as sincere disagreement.


Matt J. Rossano is Professor of Psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University and author of Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved.


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Merv - #62059

June 3rd 2011

I’ve been noticing at my own university-town church:  that science/religion conflict is a non-issue.  I know this can vary widely between denominations and even churches, but recalling the ad slogan “...is not your father’s Oldsmobile”—-I’ve had the impression that students think the science/religion wrestling match is their FATHER’S favorite issue (and therefore not their own.)  I think this is good in a lot of ways.  While a professional wrestling match sells more immediate news than published fossil findings, eventually folks just roll their eyes at the wrestling enthusiasts.  The reaction of a young generation to their parents’ heated vitriol against religion or science may most often be:  “smile, nod, and then ignore them.”  (to borrow a phrase from a recent book “UnChristian” which sampled today’s youth on many similar questions.)

Dr. Rossano wrote:  ...“and why do nearly half of the pro-science folks defect over time?”
That question should be more tightly coupled with what was written a couple paragraphs up:  “Similarly, 46 percent of freshmen who said they were on “science’s side”
had adopted a non-conflict position by the time they were juniors.”  Which helps us see that it isn’t a “defection” in terms of pro-science folks becoming less pro-science.  It’s a defection from the conflict side to the co-existence side (a differently-placed battle-line).  If this survey is any indicator, the “professional-wrestling enthusiasts” will be trying to ramp up their promos over the outmoded battle-line—trying their best to keep the spirit of Huxley alive.

Thanks for sharing this, Dr. Rossano.
—Merv


Mike Gene - #62083

June 4th 2011

 For most students, more education means less science/religion conflict, not more.

Fascinating.  This makes sense, as mainstream scientific organizations like the AAAS and NAS have long denied the conflict posture.  For example, the NAS has an official position that states:

Acceptance of the evidence for evolution can be compatible with religious faith. Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution.

Fringe groups with cultural agendas try to cast aspersion on the NAS by claiming it is only saying this for political reasons.  But if more education means less science/religion conflict, it would make sense that the mainstream scientific organizations would deny the claim that science and religion are irreconcilable. It’s not political; it’s educated.

As Rossano wisely notes, one is justified in being wary of those who promote conflict (whether in science and religion or in politics, society, etc.) when: (a) it not obvious to most people why the conflict is necessary and (b) those promoting it have something to gain by doing so. Crass opportunism could be afoot just as easily as sincere disagreement.


Mikor - #62090

June 4th 2011

There are many things that a majority of college students get wrong.  Of course science and religion are in conflict.   The demonstrations are easy, one doesn’t need to think it through all the way to epistemological and ontological questions.  Here is a simple question:

How old are the Earth and the Universe?  Precision isn’t needed, I am asking plus or minus a billion years either way. 

The latest Gallup poll, in December, revealed that 40% of Americans, that’s about 120 million adult human beings living in America, believe that the Earth was created by God less than 10,000 years ago in its present form, including human beings.  That is the answer “religion” gives and we know this because 120 million adults didn’t learn to answer this way by being scientifically literate.

That’s consistent with polls which report that 60% of us believe that the Noachian Deluge occurred exactly like it says in the Bible.  That’s 175 million American adults with so degraded an understanding of the world that we should all be mortified.

Here are a few more beliefs which are evaluated rather differently by the scientific and the religious.  Francis Collins is welcome to state how he concludes on each issue, as is the author.

A) The Bible says Yahweh created the Universe about 6,500 years ago in 7 days in a particular order : 1) light, day/night 2) firmament/sky 3) land/sea/plants/fruit trees 4)lights in the firmament/Sun/Moon/stars 5)birds/fish 6) land animals/man 7) day of rest

B) The Bible says there was a Global Deluge about 5,500 years ago that lasted 40 days and 40 nights, covering the entire Earth to the highest mountains in water and destroying all terrestrial life on Earth not on Noah;s Ark at the time because Yahweh was unhappy with how people were living

C) Yahweh stopped the Sun and Moon in their orbit around the Earth for an entire day so that Joshua’s armies could kill more Canaanites at Gibeon.

D) Jesus replicated a few fishes and loaves of bread to feed 5,000 and later 4,000 hungry people.  Jesus was born of a virgin, his Y-chromosome presumably created whole cloth by his father Yahweh to match Joseph’s in every detail?  Jesus was resurrected after death.

E) Jesus cured blindness, muteness, epilepsy, and leprosy by casting out the demons which cause those maladies.

This BioLogos project seems to me a nonstarter unless either:

the religious who want to do science can justify illogical and irrational beliefs which are incompatible with science  or

the religious who want to do science can produce results in undoing the intellectual damage that religion does to adults.


BobRN - #62095

June 4th 2011

Mikor,

Your post is an example of one of the major causes of the supposed conflict between science and religion: a misunderstanding of the other side (or an unwillingness to truthfully represent the other side?).

Your evidence for science and religion evaluating beliefs differently holds water only for believers who interpret the Bible literally.  Catholic, Orthodox and most mainline Protestant traditions don’t hold such an interpretation.  The Church Fathers of the early centuries interpreted the Scriptures according to four meanings, the literal being only one.  Christians who are not of the fundamentalist variety have little difficulty reconciling the supposed contradictions between the stories of the Bible and scientific discovery. 

Some of the examples you provide are biblical miracles.  There is nothing inherently un-scientific about the miracles of the Bible, any more than than the miracles of today.  Also, you presume things that Christians don’t: that Jesus’ Y-chromosome matched Joseph’s in every detail, or that all maladies were caused by demons.  There is nothing either in the Scriptures or in Christian teaching that make those claims.

The dialogue between science and faith that is the goal of the BioLogos project is only a non-starter for those entrenched in their own dogmatism, of whatever brand.

Mikor - #62106

June 4th 2011

This is not a responsible response, it seems to me.

First, I represent religious views honestly.  That is why I included the results of polls of Americans.  40% believe in the Creation tales and 60% in the Noachian Deluge literally.  While you want to wish away those plain words as symbolic or ironic or allegorical, that is not what “religion” broadly does.

Second, “miracles” is a rhetorical ploy, only, a way to paper-pver conflicts between science and religion.  Any claimed violation of science can just be labelled a “miracle” and the conflict hidden from view.  Your example “miracels” are no more or less that than the Creation and Noachian Deluge.  Let me ask you this:  was Yahweh stopping the Sun and Moon in their tracks for a day a miracle or a tale not to be taken literally?

Thirdly, I think you missed the point of Jesus.  If Jesus was born of a virgin, then where did his Y-chromosome come from?  And whose Y-chromosome was it?  Did Yahweh craft  each base pair from scratch like he did for Adam or did Yahweh just copy Joseph’s?  See?  Just asking yourself the questions puts in relief just how ludicrous the claim of his virgin birth is.  And that the New Testament explains again and again the mechanism of Jesus’s “miracle” healings puts the lie to religion:  it is clear that demons, not viruses, bacteria, or genetic disorders, were cast out by Jesus in exorcisms to cure epilepsy, muteness, blindness, and leprosy.  Your answer was “doesn’t say all maladies were caused by demons”?  Really?

I think you don’t know the meaning of the word “dogmatism.”  Also, what’s the problem?  A-E, 4 simple questions that show there is conflict between religion and science, yes?  Too, where do you stand again on those?  I noticed no answer.  Huh.


BobRN - #62178

June 5th 2011

Mikor,

Sorry for being so late in replying.  I work night weekends, so I’ve either been sleeping or working until this morning.

Your error is not in representing some religious views dishonestly.  Your error is in insisting that the fundamentalist/biblical literalism approach, particularly to Genesis 1-11, is the only legitimate representation of religious belief.  You seem to refuse to consider that there are perspectives among religious believers other than religious fundamentalism, or among scientific thinkers other than atheistic scientism, both of which, historically, are relatively recent developments.  

The fact is many millions of believers don’t read Genesis 1-11 as a history book.  How do you account for the 38% (statistically identical to the 40% you mention) who chose the theistic evolution option in Gallup’s poll to describe their view on the origins of humans?  Obviously, these millions of believers don’t subscribe to religious fundamentalism.  Why exclude them from the discussion?  You presume the priviledge of defining the terms for both religious believers and scientific thinkers along the lines of religious fundamentalism and atheistic scientism.  The whole point of Mr. Rossano’s article is that college educated Americans reject those terms, as they see no inherent conflict between religion and science.  

There is a centuries-old tradition of participation in the sciences by men of faith that continues today.  There is, too, a much older tradition of reading Genesis 1-11 not as history, but as theology.  Do you insist that this nurse reject his faith in order to apply the scientific underpinnings of the nursing care I provide?  Do you insist that this Catholic reject centuries of Catholic commentary on Genesis and read my Bible as a religious fundamentalist?  I can’t imagine why I would do either, or why anyone would expect either of me.  

The conflict to which you seem so dedicated is less one between religion and science and more a conflict between religious fundamentalism and atheistic scientism.  I agree that there is little common ground on which to build a meaningful dialogue between those two positions.  What I deny is that the religion/science dialogue is defined by those extremes.  Since you do define the religion/science dialogue by those extremes, we probably have little to talk about.

To address briefly some of your other points:

A word about miracles: God, being the Creator, stands outside creation.  He is, therefore, not subject to the laws of creation.  The sun standing still in the sky, the virgin birth, the multiplication of loaves and fish, the resurrection: none of these are contrary to the law of God, though they certainly represent a departure from the laws of nature.  So, there is nothing unscientific about miracles.  God being God, we would expect Him to have authority over creation.  The only basis on which to deny at least the possibility of miracles is to deny the authority of God over creation.  Which, of coarse, is to deny that God is God.  Which, of coarse, is what atheists do, and believers don’t do.  But, we already knew that, didn’t we?

If you find it difficult to accept that the accounts of the healing miracles of Jesus in the NT do not attribute the etiology of maladies to demons, all you need do is read the NT.  The blind, the mute, the paralyzed, the leprous, the infirm are all healed without reference to demons.  The NT offers little speculation on the etiology of such maladies.  It does make mention of the apparently predominant view that sufferings had their origin in sin, either those of the individual or of his or her parents, just as wealth and the enjoyment of earthly goods supposedly had their origin in righteous obedience to God.  Jesus rejects this thinking.

My dictionary defines “dogmatic” as marked by an authoritarian, often arrogant assertion of principles, and “dogmatism” as dogmatic assertion of opinion or belief.  That is exactly the sense in which I meant it in my original post.  

JohnR22 - #62133

June 4th 2011

Your entire post is based on the premise that people professing religious faith are all fundamentalists (i.e. take a literal interpretation of scripture). IMO the percentage of people that are fundamentalists is very, very small. I’ve never me one in my 52 years; not one.

If you take scripture as parable open to interpretation, then I see virtually no conflict between religion and science. In addition, I’ve seen very few people on-line professing hatred against science and technology; I’ve seen legions that utterly loathe religion.

BTW, I’m not at all religious, so don’t think about going there.


Norman - #62092

June 4th 2011

It would surely be interesting now if a survey of non college bound 18-21 year olds were also examined in like manner.  What is the percentage of Amerians as a whole that attend college?  Is exposure to critical thinking skills as influential as expousure to lifes adjustment away from the nest?


Norman - #62093

June 4th 2011

@Mikor - #62090

One of the critical thinking skills that are expounded in a college education is to perform due diligence before attempting categorical applications.  

Have you extensively investigated whether the ancient Hebrews wrote or interpreted the scriptures in the manner that you are implying they should be understood?

 If you haven’t performed that work and haven’t realized that your assumptions are highly doubtful conclusions then your premises are misplaced according to well established educational and intellectual practices of examination.

Just because some believe that the earth is still flat or that aliens landed in New Mexico in the 50’s or the moon landings were a hoax doesn’t implicate all Americans.

Be careful of your over generalizations in attempting to paint with too broad a brush.


Mikor - #62107

June 4th 2011

Not close to an adequate answer.  That is why I included the polls of belief in a literal Creation and Noachian Deluge.  You don’t just get to pretend that evidence away, sir. 

120 million American adults believe the Universe is less than 10,000 years old and 175 million that a global flood happened just the way the Bible says it did.  They didn’t learn those things from scientists, they learned them from religious conmen.

And yes, I have extensively studied both Mesopotamian creation stories which were lifted and editted for inclusion in Genesis.  How in the world does that impact the argument?

Again, Norman… A-E are simple demonstrations of science and religion in conflict.  Yes?  Also, what say you about who is right and why?

 

 


Norman - #62113

June 4th 2011

Yes and your polls fully illustrate that the 40/60 divide goes both ways to illustrate the rift within religious thinking itself. Also do you understand the theological differences between the debate over spiritual death and physical death as illustrated through Paul’s writings?  This one issue has profound implications for understanding the theology or intent of the OT and NT authors. Missteps in that arena will skew and affect conclusions drawn about the intent and purpose of Adam and Genesis.

Do you also understand the historic flood application by the Jews themselves in second Temple Judaism?  It is not the modern application by any stretch of the imagination, and so when Christianity took on more of the Greek philosophical influence in its early days there were patterns developed that were contrary to the Hebrew way of understanding their own scriptures. We are just now positioning ourselves to be able to work out some of these malignant applications that have affected many in the Christian community. Your simple conclusion seems to be to throw the baby out with the bath water.

There are a multitude of issues that are under evaluation concerning religious belief systems and yes there will always be corridors [sometimes extensive] of religious groups that bear untenable views.  Again you are attempting to paint people of faith with broad brush strokes and then attempt to draw overly dogmatic conclusions.  A good scientist or theologian will recognize the fallacy of over extending conclusions too generally. Dogmatism may be applicable to a degree but general conclusions are limited in the practical sense of scrutinizing dynamic cultural concerns. Many within religious circles are not satisfied at all with the status quo of current evangelical implications. We work within to help remedy those concerns instead of standing at a distance disparaging it all.

I would say that religion is as always in a flux and it has been especially this past century and a half for various reasons.  The added information, just as it transpired with the introduction of the printing press is currently mushrooming and bringing about more examination and discussion than ever possible.  The more you bring a diversity of minds to the table the greater the possibilities that the old time religious power brokers can’t control the debate any more. This is new uncharted waters and will continue to play out well into the future. Those on the outside looking in will always be in bewilderment to a large degree as they are generally not people of faith in the first place.


Norman - #62141

June 4th 2011

Mikor,

You really have no idea about religious issues so you resort to ad hominem. Your out of your element in these discussions; I declare victory ;-)


Mike Gene - #62111

June 4th 2011

Mikor,

There are many things that a majority of college students get wrong.

If these college students got it wrong, they got it wrong as a consequence of their college education.  So you are basically accusing college professors of misleading their students in order for you to sweep the scientific evidence under the rug.  That approach does not exactly match well with someone who purports to champion science.  

Of course science and religion are in conflict.   

Among the educated, this is a fringe view.  If it was so obvious that science and religion are in conflict, then why do mainstream scientific organizations like the AAAS and NAS say otherwise?  Did you ever notice that those who champion the conflict model almost always come to the table with some socio-political agenda?  

The demonstrations are easy, one doesn’t need to think it through all the way to epistemological and ontological questions.  

No, we don’t need a simple-minded, uneducated approach.  You might pause to consider why a college education tends to soften and dispel the conflict perspective.  Perhaps it is because critical thinking skills are taught across the curriculum.  Such skills allows us to detect that bold assertions such as “Of course science and religion are in conflict” champion a black-and-white perspective that fails to engage the various complexities involved in the relation between religion and science.  What’s even worse is that the bold assertion is built upon two words – religion and science – that you fail to define. Most college students learn that if you are going to make such bold, blanket assertions, you need to at least carefully define your terms.


Mikor - #62139

June 4th 2011

I teach critical thinking at the college level, so I think I can do some good here. 

College students getting many things wrong is hardly the fault of their college professors.  Your paragraph makes no sense at all:  I don’t blame college professors for the failings of their students, and I certainly don’t blame professors of science for those shortcomings.

Do you have some EVIDENCE that science and religion are at odds is “a fringe view” among the educated?  No?  You are touting the fatuous NAS statement about how evolution doesn’t challenge religious views.  Of course that was political posturing. 

My favorite response to that silliness was by Larson and Witham in their 1998 Nature article explaining that 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, this country’s most eminent collection of scientists, were non-believers:

“As we compiled our findings, the NAS issued a booklet encouraging the teaching of evolution in public schools, an ongoing source of friction between the scientific community and some conservative Christians in the United States. The booklet assures readers, “Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral”[5]. NAS president Bruce Alberts said: “There are many very outstanding members of this academy who are very religious people, people who believe in evolution, many of them biologists.” Our survey suggests otherwise.”

Again, though, whether or not most educated persons conclude that science and religion are in conflict, you have yet to marshall any reasonable response to my demonstrations of how they obviously are.

You BOLD my not defining “science” or “religion”.  Wow… just wow.  Of course no one has and the survey being reported didn’t and about 0% of the college students asked defined the terms and you certainly have not.  And that’s it.

Look, an honest discussion would proceed with you answering the examples I present of how religion and science clearly do conflict.  You aren’t even trying…

 


Mike Gene - #62143

June 4th 2011

I teach critical thinking at the college level, so I think I can do some good here. 

There is no evidence to support this claim.  Critical thinking teaches me to be skeptical of your claim of authority. 

College students getting many things wrong is hardly the fault of their college professors.  Your paragraph makes no sense at all:  I don’t blame college professors for the failings of their students, and I certainly don’t blame professors of science for those shortcomings.

It’s entailed in your logic.  While you claim to teach critical thinking, you attempted to wave the scientific evidence away by asserting “There are many things that a majority of college students get wrong.”  That’s misdirection. This is not an issue of “student getting many things wrong.”  Pay attention.  The results indicate that a college education tends to soften and dispel the conflict perspective.   Did you get that?  The college educational experience from 1st year to 3rd year was associated with a decline in the conflict perspective.  So yes, your position does have you blaming college professors for leading students away from the truth of the conflict position. 

Do you have some EVIDENCE that science and religion are at odds is “a fringe view” among the educated? No?  You are touting the fatuous NAS statement about how evolution doesn’t challenge religious views.  Of course that was political posturing. 

I see.  So a college professor who teaches critical thinking casts aspirations on the NAS.  By calling it “political posturing,” you are insinuating that NAS does not mean what it says.  You are accusing them of being dishonest.  Is that critical thinking at work?  Sounds more like the thinking of a conspiracy theorist. 

My favorite response to that silliness was by Larson and Witham in their 1998 Nature article explaining that 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, this country’s most eminent collection of scientists, were non-believer

Irrelevant.  Not all atheists buy into the extreme conflict model.  After all, that is one of the sticking points that Gnus and accomodationists battle about. 

Again, though, whether or not most educated persons conclude that science and religion are in conflict, you have yet to marshall any reasonable response to my demonstrations of how they obviously are.

Wrong.  I picked one and provided a reasonable response that shows no demonstration was made.  You may disagree, but then, you are not the Judge of Reality.  You are just another person on the internet. 

You BOLD my not defining “science” or “religion”.  Wow… just wow.  Of course no one has and the survey being reported didn’t and about 0% of the college students asked defined the terms and you certainly have not.  And that’s it.

You are the one who insisted, as if it was absolute truth, “Of course science and religion are in conflict.”  As someone who purports to teach critical thinking to college students, why do you show such contempt for the need to define your terms?  Let me help:

Critical Thinking
1. gather complete information – more than one source
2. understand and define terms (make others define terms, too)
3. question the methods by which results were derived
4. question the conclusion: do the facts support it? is there evidence of bias? remember correlation does not equal causation.
5. uncover assumptions and biases
6. question the source of information
7. don’t expect all the answers
8. examine the big picture
9. look for multiple cause and effect
10. watch for thought stopping sensationalism
11. understand your own biases and values
From Human Biology: Health, Homeostasis, and The Environment, 3rd Edition, by Daniel D. Chiras.


So, if you want to make the bold, far-reaching claim that science and religion are irreconcilable, make some effort to use critical thinking and define science and religion.

Look, an honest discussion would proceed with you answering the examples I present of how religion and science clearly do conflict.  You aren’t even trying…

LOL.  I have found that many gnu atheists can only last about 3-4 postings before accusing their opponents of dishonesty.  No, there is nothing dishonest about wanting you to address the findings of this scientific study.  Y’know, the topic of this thread.  It looks to me like you are trying to derail this thread from its topic with your red meat gnu talking points. 


Steve Ruble - #62147

June 4th 2011

LOL. I have found that many gnu atheists can only last about 3-4 postings before accusing their opponents of dishonesty

I suspect “3-4 postings” is about how long it takes before people who don’t know you realize that you are dishonest, Mike. You’re not reponding to the underlying point: millions of Americans hold false beliefs about the history of the Earth, among other things, and the fact that 70% of college students check one of two particular boxes on a survey doesn’t change that. Especially since, in violation of your second rule, no one has any idea what the students intended to mean by “science”, “religion”, “conflict”, or “aspects of reality”; the results of the study are consistent with the possibility that the 70% think religions make no empirical claims whatsoever - which is false, by the way - but we can’t tell from the data. So who cares?


Mike Gene - #62174

June 5th 2011

You’re not reponding to the underlying point: millions of Americans hold false beliefs about the history of the Earth, among other things, and the fact that 70% of college students check one of two particular boxes on a survey doesn’t change that.

Because that is off topic.  It is common on the internet for people to ignore the blog entry and use the comments section as their own personal soapbox for their own pet issues.  Your underlying point does not address the scientific findings of Christopher Scheitle – the topic of this thread. 

You seem hung up on the first 70% number, when you need to read the whole entry and address the following:

For example, 70 percent of those who as freshmen said they were on “religion’s side” had changed to a non-conflict position by the time they were juniors. Similarly, 46 percent of freshmen who said they were on “science’s side” had adopted a non-conflict position by the time they were juniors. By contrast, only 13 percent of freshman who took a non-conflict position changed to one of conflict by their junior year (5 percent to religion’s side, 8 percent to the side of science). For most students, more education means less science/religion conflict, not more.

I find it disrespectful to ignore the arguments put on the table by the person who wrote the blog entry.  

If BioLogos posts a blog entry that argues no claim, associated with a religious belief, has ever conflicted with empirical evidence, then “the underlying point” would be on topic.  


Mikor - #62179

June 5th 2011

Just reread my first response…

Jesus’s resurrection was 1 of 3 parts of D) rather than E).  A copy:

A) The Bible says Yahweh created the Universe about 6,500 years ago in 7 days in a particular order : 1) light, day/night 2) firmament/sky 3) land/sea/plants/fruit trees 4)lights in the firmament/Sun/Moon/stars 5)birds/fish 6) land animals/man 7) day of rest

B) The Bible says there was a Global Deluge about 5,500 years ago that lasted 40 days and 40 nights, covering the entire Earth to the highest mountains in water and destroying all terrestrial life on Earth not on Noah;s Ark at the time because Yahweh was unhappy with how people were living

C) Yahweh stopped the Sun and Moon in their orbit around the Earth for an entire day so that Joshua’s armies could kill more Canaanites at Gibeon.

D) Jesus replicated a few fishes and loaves of bread to feed 5,000 and later 4,000 hungry people.  Jesus was born of a virgin, his Y-chromosome presumably created whole cloth by his father Yahweh to match Joseph’s in every detail?  Jesus was resurrected after death.

E) Jesus cured blindness, muteness, epilepsy, and leprosy by casting out the demons which cause those maladies.


Mike Gene - #62181

June 5th 2011

Mikor: This blog article reports a survey of college students’ response on whether there is conflcit between religion and science.  The survey has some interesting results which I dismiss by noting that a majority of college students get a lot of things wrong.  That’s pretty much what this survey deserves.

And there you go.  You admit that you “dismiss” the scientific finding with what amounts to a cliché.  This is not critical thinking.  This is denialism.  I would think that an expert in critical thinking would want to at least explore why it is students get it even more wrong after 2 years of college education.

 But no, you’d rather change the topic:

 But the underlying issue deserves some attention:  are science and religion in conflict?  That’s what I address.

Yet you want to address this issue by ridiculing the need to define your terms.  That is very odd behavior for someone who claims to be an expert on critical thinking.  Your pet issues could be addressed if they were the topic, but it would be important to set the stage appropriately to determine if your arguments would indeed lead back to the conclusion you advocate. 

So you don’t want to address the topic of the thread, you dismiss scientific findings, and you scoff at the notion of defining your terms.  Really, I can’t find a worthwhile point you are making in this discussion.
 


troyuller - #62160

June 5th 2011

If these college students got it wrong, they got it wrong as a
consequence of their college education. 

That does not follow at all. Correlation does not imply causation. Or did I overlook a matched control group without a college education? I didn’t think so.


So you are basically accusing
college professors of misleading their students in order for you to
sweep the scientific evidence under the rug.

Another non sequitur, and a rather malicious one at that. By the same “reasoning”, I’d be entitled to blame your college professors for your dishonest debating tactics, but I won’t go there because my college professors taught me not to.


Mike Gene - #62173

June 5th 2011

Troyuller,

That does not follow at all. Correlation does not imply causation. Or did I overlook a matched control group without a college education? I didn’t think so.

Very good.  So given that the survey data came from more than 10,000 students at over 200 colleges and universities across America, what other shared feature, other than the class room experience, and the universities common goal of promoting critical thinking, would explain the decline in the conflict perspective from 1st to 3rd year students?  

I laid my hypothesis on the table - the universities common goal of promoting critical thinking.  So far, it’s the only one on the table. 

But yes indeed, it would also be very useful to do the same survey with a similar population that does not attend college.


troyuller - #62183

June 5th 2011

I laid my hypothesis on the table - the universities common goal of
promoting critical thinking.  So far, it’s the only one on the table.


Very good. So we agree that your conclusion was premature and didn’t rise above the level of hypothesis. Since many hypotheses may explain the data, it’s not surprising to me that the authors of the original article didn’t speculate on possible causes for the students’ tendency to move away from a conflict view, let alone promote a single hypothesis that fits their political agenda and present it as a solid conclusion.







Mike Gene - #62115

June 4th 2011

Hi Mikor,

According to you, belief in the resurrection of Jesus is in “conflict” with science.  If true, what you are saying is that if Jesus rose from the dead, then it would follow that lots and lots of other people would likewise have risen from the dead. In fact, enough people would have risen such that we would have reams of medical and scientific evidence of resurrections to support the claim. In fact, science would be studying resurrections to determine how they occur.  But why think that?

This is where you also need to come to terms with Christian theology. I have always recognized the resurrection of Jesus as something that is inconsistent with the body of common knowledge (there is no need to dress it up with the word vaguely-defined word – science). I have always recognized it, if true, as a miracle. If the dead commonly came back to life, there would be no significance to the event. It would be just another piece of historical trivia.

In the end, you are free to embrace your skepticism. I simply can’t join in with you because I find it to be rather shallow. It basically says there are only two choices – either Jesus did not rise from the dead because it violates natural law, or Jesus’ resurrection did not violate natural law, as evidenced by all the other people who have risen from the dead, and thus becomes another piece of historical trivia.

Not true OR trivia strikes me as “heads I win, tails you lose.” And it certainly sidesteps Christian theology.


Steve Ruble - #62185

June 5th 2011

Mike Gene, the point of noting that millions of Americans reject science in favor of dogma is  is not to cast doubt on the results of Scheitle’s survey. The point is to contest the conclusion and framing of the article at the top of this thread:

A shrill alarm cry naturally attracts attention and the few extreme voices promoting a science and religion conflict have taken full advantage of this.
—————
But one is justified in being wary of those who promote conflict (whether in science and religion or in politics, society, etc.) when: (a) it not obvious to most people why the conflict is necessary…
But in the minds of millions of Americans there is a conflict between science and religion (<a href=“http://j.mp/mB7dw2”>Pew, Q. 25 & 26</a>), so those “extreme voices” are not “promoting a science and religion conflict”, they are pointing out that a conflict already exists. It’s not a matter of understanding “why the conflict is necessary”, because a conflict already exists. BioLogos would like to see the conflict between science and religion resolved by having everyone abandon those religious beliefs which are incompatible with science, but they face opposition from a large subset of the Christian population because a conflict already exists

The conflict doesn’t exist because there are a bunch of people going around saying, “Lets have a conflict. It’s ‘sexy’ and we have something to gain by doing so.” It exists because there are a bunch of people who believe that their religious dogma is not compatible with the scientific consensus , and they are sticking with their dogma. That is the conflict, and it is a real conflict, and no amount of survey results about people’s opinions can justify pretending that conflict is the result of “crass opportunism” rather than a genuine disagreement about what is actually true.


Cal - #62192

June 5th 2011

Steve:

I don’t think the topic is to ‘deny’ a conflict, but rather because of misperception there is a conflict when there really isn’t one. So the argument is not what folks perceive but inherently is faith opposed to science? The point of the study is that with college education (which I guess is to suppose better critical thinking?), perceived inherent conflict.

In my opinion there is some “Let’s have a conflict” but rather of it being “sexy” it is more in the business of making money. Sadly, fights sell. You take a couple of outspoken people and give them a box and some pen and paper, and watch book sales, guest speaking and debates flare up the money. I don’t doubt there are fair points on either side, but a lot of the hype is pop-press, greedy tabloids distorting opinions to ask inflammatory questions. Similarly, this is why a lot of the public rejects evolution (somewhat out of hand) because the popular books apply certain constructs of world view that have seemingly melded onto the theory.


Jon Garvey - #62227

June 6th 2011

“...the point of noting that millions of Americans reject science in favor of dogma…”

This too, I think, is a misleading summary. I suspect it’s more correct to say that millions reject science dogma in favour of religious dogma (and vice versa), in that very few are in a position either to examine scientific data critically, nor to do theology seriously. So for many, the choice (if one is made) is between accepting a magazine article or documentary in which the narrator says, “scientists have shown that man evolved from primates/that the universe began with a big bang/that the world is heating up,” or a sermon that says, “The Bible says that man was created in 4004BC/that the universe was created in a week/that we God-fearing Republicans believe global warming is a conspiracy.”

I doubt that that is in any case a parody of the actual choice in many cases (and certainly has no bearing on the UK picture), but it is certainly likely that decisions are based on choice of authority to trust rather than examination of the evidence, on both sides of the fence.


Uncle Bonobo - #62202

June 6th 2011

Interesting discussion.  There appears to be two claims. First, that only a few fringe elements see a conflict and certain “bomb throwers” are over-emaphasizing any minor conflict for monetary gains. [Is Al Mohler a bombthrower?] That appears to be Mike Gene’s point.  


Second, the vast majority of Christians do not have a conflict between science and religion.  

I think both points are demonstrably wrong.

Mikor singlehandedly demonstrates why Mike Gene is wrong and the defect in the article.  Like Mikor, and Mohler, 40% of all people in the US believe in Young Earth Creationism.  

That is a conflict with the science as Mikor demonstrates and correctly points out.  I think Biologos needs to be honest here.  YEC is inconsistent with science.  There is no equivocation on this.  There are irreconcilable conflicts between some religious beliefs [YEC, OEC and ID] and science.  Those are undeniable.

Biologos is surely not advocating that science should alter or softpedal its findings as to the age of the earth, for example. To avoid the science/religion conflict, YECs must change their religious views.  This article suggests that some college students do so, adjusting their religious beliefs to accommodate science.  If so, good.  I hope they do. YEC is a poor theology and poor science. Biologos should be upfront here—it is advocating good science and religion that does not conflict with that science.  Science does not and should not compromise its findings to accommodate religion. Religion must accommodate the science.  Biologos does a very good job of demonstrating religious beliefs that do not conflict with science but these beliefs are a minority position in Christianity.

It is also undeniable that very large numbers of Christians hold these beliefs which are in conflict with science whether they know that or not.

BobRN - #62212

June 6th 2011

Uncle Bonobo,

Some interesting points.  I think you failed, however, to demonstrate that the vast majority of Christians have a conflict with science.

The Gallup poll to which Mikor refers doesn’t ask about YEC.  It asks people to choose the option that best describes their position on the origin of humans: Humans were made by God recently and pretty much as they are today, humans evolved over many centuries guided by God, or humans evolved over many centuries and God had nothing to do with it. 

Given the religious make-up of the U. S. population, it’s reasonable to presume that the majority of the 40% who chose option one are Christian.  But, to say that they then embrace YEC is to presume too much.  Also, a substantial number of those surveyed (a statistically identical 38%) chose option two, the theistic evolution option and, given the religious make-up of the U. S. population, it’s reasonable to presume that the majority of these believers are also Christian.

Also, even those who reject human evolution don’t reject science in toto.  I doubt that even religious fundamentalists reject the germ theory, the theory of gravity, genetics or the principles of physics.

Finally, those who reject human evolution, and certainly those who embrace YEC, are by definition of the fundamentalist/bibilcal literalism variety of Christians.  However, there are just over a billion Catholics in the world, hundreds of millions of Orthodox and many millions of mainline Protestants.  None of these traditions teach fundamentalism or biblical literalism.  Surely these substantial numbers of Christians ought to factor into the equation.

I think your final statement that very large numbers of Christians hold beliefs that are in conflict with science is certainly true and a better, more accurate description of the situation.  Prudence might recommend having left it at that.


Olavi - #62216

June 6th 2011

I noticed something funny in the numbers, so I decided to find the study:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01548.x/pdf

The actual numbers are 17%, 14%, and 69% for conflict/religion-side, conflict/science-side, and no-conflict, respectively, for freshmen.

There is no reason for Rossano to replace 69% with “nearly 70%” for the freshman no-conflict value. Perhaps 70% just sounds so much nicer than 69% (the difference between a C and a D).

Curiously, he rounds 70.8% down to 70% when reporting the students switching from conflict/religion-side to no-conflict.

Perhaps there is nothing to this fudging, but I found it odd. It would certainly be frowned upon in a venue more rigorous than the Huffington Post.

The next thing I noticed is that he is only reporting the relative percentage change per category. This can be misleading without an overview of the absolute percentages. Here are the numbers from the chart on page 182:

27.4—0.9—5.2

1.8—53.2—7.8

70.8—45.9—87.0

These are the corresponding absolute percentages:

4.66—0.13—3.59

0.31—7.45—5.38

12.04—6.43—60.03

In each chart, the top-left, middle, and bottom-right percentages represent students who did not change their mind. Thus 72.14% of students did not change their mind. That is an important result of this study (unmentioned in the HuffPo article).

Out of all students, 60.03% had a no-conflict view and did not change their mind. And out of all students, 12.04% defected from conflict/religion-side to no-conflict.

So while the 70.8% of students starting with conflict/religion-side switched to no-conflict, one should remember that the actual number of students in that category is six times smaller than number the students who did not change their mind (12.04% compared to 72.14%).

The switch away from conflict/religion-side is by far the most important switch, from “total dogma” to evidence-based thinking. Whether the end result is “some dogma” (a view of no-conflict) or “no dogma” (a view of conflict/science-side) is small potatoes.

Obviously I do not accept the Rossano’s premise that holding a conflict/science-side view is a dogmatic one. Indeed, in this view one does not accept propositions without evidence; that is, one does not accept dogma.


Anthony Smith - #62217

June 6th 2011

I think many/most YECs would choose answer (4):


“For me, the relationship between science and religion is one of… (4) Collaboration—each can be used to support the other.”

YECs don’t believe there is an intrinsic conflict between science and religion. They believe that any apparent conflict is because the scientific data have been misinterpreted. YECs would think that religious beliefs can help in interpreting the scientific data correctly, and that scientific data can lend support to the claims of the Bible. Collaboration, not conflict.

So if the ~70% figures include many YECs, how does that affect the conclusions?

Uncle Bonobo - #62235

June 6th 2011

“YECs don’t believe there is an intrinsic conflict between science and religion. They believe that any apparent conflict is because the scientific data have been misinterpreted.”

That may be sincely held.  But that’s a conflict.  There is no scientific doubt whatosever about the the age of the earth.  The scietific data has not been misinterpreted. This statement is simlar to saying “there’s no conflict between my religion which teaches that 2 + 2=3, and mathmatics, which teaches 2+2=4.  Mathematics isn’t in conflict—the 2+2 problem has been misinterpreted.”  Neither mathematics or scicence has misinterpreted the data.

“Finally, those who reject human evolution, and certainly those who embrace YEC, are by definition of the fundamentalist/bibilcal literalism variety of Christians.  However, there are just over a billion Catholics in the world, hundreds of millions of Orthodox and many millions of mainline Protestants.  None of these traditions teach fundamentalism or biblical literalism.  Surely these substantial numbers of Christians ought to factor into the equation.”

I will concede that those who reject human evolution and those who embrace YEC are fundamamentalist/literalist.  They also comprise about 40% of American Christians—with a disporportionate impact on our education system. 

Although Catholics do not *requre* YEC, there are many strains of Catholicism that do argue for YEC and even geocentricism.  The Church takes no official poisition on any of these scientific quations. That siad, it is possible to read certian Church authoritative documents as requiring a historical Adam and Eve and thereby rejecting human evolution.

When so many American Christians reject human evolution or embrace YEC, it is clear tha there is a real conflict between sciencce and religion and it has serious consequences for our educationnal system.  Mohler, Colson, Cameron and other high profile Christian apologists publicly take the stance that true Christians cannot accept evolution.  How is that not a conflict?  They can’t be dismissed as mere fringe elements or fundamentalists.

If Biologos (or anybody else) want to take the position that YEC and OEC adherents are merely a fringe element f Christiantity that can safely be ignored, I would have no problem with that.

But that’s not the Biolosos position.  Biologos is reaching out to YEC/OEC and asking them to reconsider and adjust their religious beliefs so those beliefs are not in conflict withe the science.  That’s a Herculean task and my hat’s off to them for attempting it. 

If the point is that Christiantity and science are not inherently in conflict and most Christians do not see a conflict, that’s a valid point but I don’t think we can paper over the real conflicts between certain beliefs of a farily large number of US Christians and scientific knowledge.


BobRN - #62240

June 6th 2011

I’ve not read all of the contributions to this conversation, but I certainly am not arguing that YEC or OEC adherents are “merely a fringe element of Christianity”.  I merely argue that you did not demonstrate that the vast majority of Christians have a conflict with science.  Indeed, there are a substantial number of Christians who reject evolution (YEC is a different question, I think).  These Christians are of the fundamentalist/biblical literalist tradition.  They do not represent the majority of worldwide Christendom.

“Although Catholics do not ‘require’ YEC, there are many strains of Catholicism that do argue for YEC and even geocentrism.  The Church takes no official position on any of these scientific questions.  That said, it is possible to read certain Catholic authoritative documents as requiring a historical Adam and Eve and thereby reject human evolution.”

Well, now Uncle Bonobo, you’re on my terf.  I have been studying and teaching the Catholic faith for 30+ years.  I defy you to identify any, much less many, “strains of Catholicism” (whatever that means) that argue for YEC or geocentrism.  The Church, in fact, does take an official position on these questions, and that position is that there is nothing in the scientific discoveries of an ancient Earth or a sun-centered solar system that is contrary to Catholic faith, just as the official position of the Church is that there is nothing about human evolution that is contrary to Catholic faith, that judgment having been made even in the first decades after Darwin published The Origin of Species.  The Church does insist that the human race descended from historical parents, a first man and first woman, but that hardly requires rejecting human evolution.  According to my resources, the study of DNA sequences in groups of humans has led to the conclusion that all modern humans can trace their ancestry back to a single woman.  Has that been since disproved? 

BobRN - #62241

June 6th 2011

I should perhaps clarify before I get jumped on.  

I don’t offer the conclusion of research on DNA sequences that all modern humans can trace their ancestry back to a single woman as scientific evidence of either the first or second creation stories in Genesis.  I offer it as argument that the Church’s position that there was a first man and first woman is not contrary to human evolution.  Indeed, reason and common sense show that, if there was a seven billionth human there must have been a six billionth human.  If there was a six billionth human there must have been a one millionth human.  If there was a one millionth human, there must have been a first human (or at least a first two!)  That is what the Church holds.  That in no way requires a rejection of human evolution.

Jon Garvey - #62242

June 6th 2011

Not to jump on, but to reply…

The problem with Y Adam and Mitochondrial Eve is that (a) the data shows that the single individuals identified lived tens of thousands of years apart and (b) although all living humans have these two as common ancestors, the evidence also shows (maybe counterintuitively) that they were part of a population numbering >1000, the rest of whose descendants just happened not to have passed their Y or mitochondrial DNA right down to us.

That makes a single primaeval ancestral pair of humans biologically problematic. However, Y chromosomes and mitochondria are not the whole story. We also have many common ancestors down the millennia. In fact our most recent common ancestor is likely to have lived 2 or 3 thousand years ago, and we are descended from everyone who has left descendants at all from a few millennia before that (the actual figures depend within surprisingly narrow limits on the assumptions you make in the calculations).

So the question for the Catholic Church is whether in some way it can accommodate the idea of A&E as ancestral though other H sapiens existed at the time, or ancestral in some spiritual rather than biological way.


Olavi - #62244

June 6th 2011

Indeed evolution implies a single Eve by logical necessity alone. The tracing of Eve through mDNA is “extra bonus” on top.

However the hypothesis of a single Adam mating with that Eve and producing all of humanity as their offspring is quite contradictory to evolution: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/

(Good news, there’s still time to enter the contest! This is an opportunity to put your knowledge of Catholicism to work. If you won it would be a great trolling of Coyne, and I’m sure he’d appreciate it.)


BobRN - #62270

June 7th 2011

Coyne’s article is directed at evangelical Christianity.  Can’t speak to that.

For Catholics, the key is to respect the differing realms of science and theology.

Biological monogenism isn’t essential, theological/spiritual (however you want to put it) monogenism is essential.  Human persons are body and soul.  The study of DNA sequencing has shown that we are all biologically related.  Even if the biological reality, however, is that the primeval community of biologically related primates can be traced back to a “bottleneck” of no less than 10,000 or so, that doesn’t speak to the question of how many of those 10,000 were ensouled with an immortal soul.  So, while we may be biologically related to many early couples, we are both biologically and theologically related to only one.  The Church accepts that evolution explains the bodily development of the human person (or, more precisely, that there is nothing about the biological evolutionary development of the human person that is contrary to Catholic faith).  But every immortal human soul is immediately created by God at the moment of conception.  

Up all night and most of day.  Gotta go to bed.



Olavi - #62275

June 7th 2011

BobRN: “So, while we may be biologically related to many early couples, we are both biologically and theologically related to only one.”

I don’t understand this. Since there is no couple to which all humans are biologically related, it follows that there could not be a couple to which all humans are biologically and theologically related.


Jon Garvey - #62280

June 7th 2011

Scientifically not a problem. “Biologically related” does not imply monogenism, but common ancesty - these should be kept distinct.

Briefly, all the human lines have interbred many times since Mitochondrial Eve and Y Adam. Mathematically that’s obvious - we have 2n parents where “n” is the number of generations. 100,000 years is, maybe, 5000 generations - and 25000 is far greater than the number of humans in that time. We therefore have many common ancestors, indeed some within the last few millennia. Therefore, to put it in Catholic terms, a first ensouled couple would be sole ancestor of all the ensouled, and by God’s providence also one of the biological ancestors of the whole race.

Bingo - we are related both biologically and spiritually to Adam and Eve, but they have human contemporaries.


Uncle Bonobo - #62298

June 7th 2011

“I defy you to identify any, much less many, “strains of Catholicism” (whatever that means) that argue for YEC or geocentrism. “

OK,

YEC:  http://www.kolbecenter.org/


geocentricism and bonus YEC:  http://catholicintl.com/epologetics/articles.htm#8

for starters.  There are much more.  I readliy agree (and said) that the Church does not teach YEC.  That’s not the issue.  The issue is that you can’t count all 65 million US Catholics as favorign evolution.  Large numebrs are in fact YEC, as they have a right to be under the Church. 

Neither the belief in YEC nor the belief in geocentricism is prohibited by Catholic teaching.  Both beliefs can be held by “othodox” Catholics.  The Church approves science beliefs in the same manner it approves music tastes.

The Church’s official position on evolution is not mageisterial (though I wish it was). 

“The Church does insist that the human race descended from historical parents, a first man and first woman, but that hardly requires rejecting human evolution.”

Actually, yes it does rejection of evolution.   It requires a complete rejction of human evolution unless Adam and Eve came about by a supernatural “miracle” event in violation of our understanding of biology and genentics.


I’m not sure the Church teaches this as a magisterial holding.

CCC 390: “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.264 Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

The bolded langauge is vague enough to leave room for a group of individuals.


BobRN - #62308

June 8th 2011

You list two lay organizations that teach geocentrism and YEC.  You say there are many more.  I was able to find two others, one in England.  This hardly justifies your conclusion that “many strains” of Catholicism argue for YEC and geocentrism.

One of these organizations, the Bellarmine Theological Forum, is the pet project of Robert Sungenis, and the other one, the Kolbe Center, lists Sungenis as a speaker/expert.  Let’s take a closer look at Sungenis, clearly the most ardent and well-known Catholic geocentrist.

Sungenis is a Catholic convert from evangelicalism who entered the Church in the early 90s.  Since then, he’s given evidence that his conversion didn’t fully take, for it seems he has problems with papal authority.  Sungenis thinks that the popes are too liberal.  In fact, the Church’s position on evolution is one of her problems, according to Sungenis.  Another problem for Sungenis is that the Church is way to easy on the Jews.  Sungenis’ bishop has ordered him to stop writing about the Jews because what he writes is un-Christian and does not reflect the teaching of the Church.  He has refused to obey his bishop.  Sungenis also writes for The Remnant, a newspaper that calls itself Catholic but is a strong supporter of the schismatic SSPX.

Here’s what Sungenis had to say about his relationship with the Catholic Church in Response to Jimmy Akin re Preaching to the Jews:

“Although some still regard me as a ‘Catholic apologist,’ unlike Jimmy Akin and Catholic Answers I no longer consider myself an apologist for the modern Catholic Church.  When compared to the Catholic Church of tradition, I have resolved that the modern Catholic Church will be required to stand on its own, for I simply cannot defend it any longer.  There are simply too many doctrinal aberrations and moral laxities in today’s Catholic Church that are indefensible.”

Hmmm ... doesn’t sound like a very obediant son of the Church.  I have to wonder about the Catholic credibility of any organization that identifies Sungenis as a leader. 

May Catholics believe in geocentrism and YEC?  Yes.  The Church does not bind the faithful in any way against these positions, just as surely as she does not bind them in faith to accept the germ theory or the periodic table.  How many Catholics believe in geocentrism and YEC?  I have no idea.  I think your claim that “large numbers” do is dubious and wonder how you came to that conclusion.  Catholics who do believe in geocentrism and YEC must accept that their beliefs are contrary to the thinking of the Church. 

Your statement that “the Church approves science beliefs in the same manner it approves music tastes” is misleading.  The Church is not a scientific organization (though she sponsers them), and leaves it to scientists to develop, research, test and draw scientific conclusions.  But the Church certainly does accept scientific conclusions, as we all do, when they are proved, as are geocentrism and an old Earth.  The fact that the Church teaches evolution, heliocentrism, etc… in her Catholic schools ought to be proof enough that the Church accepts these scientific positions.

BobRN - #62309

June 8th 2011

Oh, and I’ll allow my earlier response to Olavi to stand as my response to your statements on Adam and Eve, except to note that the Church rejects polygenism.  

If it’s a miracle you want, God has been known to work one or two.  

Suffice it to say that the Catholic Church has made a number of statements to the effect that she sees no necessary conflict between evolution as an explanation for the biological development of humans and Catholic faith.  I doubt the Church would have made those statements had she seen a necessary conflict between evolution and her teaching on Adam and Eve. 

R Hampton - #62343

June 8th 2011

“To add to BobRN’s comment re: Catholics and YEC…

“[The church affirms] an understanding of evolution that is open to the full truth about the human person and about the world. Assured that scientific truth and religious truth cannot be in conflict, Catholic schools should continue teaching evolution as a scientific theory backed by convincing evidence. At the same time, Catholic parents whose children are in public schools should ensure that their children are also receiving appropriate catechesis at home and in the parish on God as Creator. Students should be able to leave their biology classes, and their courses in religious instruction, with an integrated understanding of the means God chose to make us who we are.”
Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo (Richmond, VA) chair of the Committee on Science & Human Values of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

“it’s basically not controversial at all. The only time it’s controversial is when you’ve got parents who are very opposed. But it’s certainly not a pressing issue in my life.”
—Dominican Sr. Glenn Anne McPhee, secretary for education

“Catholic high schools have never really had a problem with the teaching of evolution because of the Catholic tradition of taking more of a contextual approach to scripture.”
—Mark Wilkins, religion teacher at St. Xavier High School (Cincinnati, OH), head of the Committee on Religious Education (representing teachers) for the Jesuit Secondary Education Association.


Robert Byers - #62281

June 7th 2011

The kids aren’t right about everything!

In fact their kids going to GET educated.
In all matters of human beings leadership, and from a few, is the origin of moving people to good or evil.
The kids today do not get much creationist information.
Creationism relies on people who put themselves forth to be interested in something.
Creationism needs only to have equal access to the kids and they will in like percentages embrace creationism  or become suspicious of evolutionism and company.
in fact the schools should teach both sides and let the best man win.  

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