Evolution and Religion
51 percent of Americans do not accept the theory of evolution, and believe that God simply made man. Only 15 percent believe that God played no role in the evolution of man. New CBS poll here.
I find those numbers startling, but not disturbing. People think whatever they want, but I have never experienced any conflict between science and religion, and I assume we have been given a brain to use the darn thing.
Robert Pollock, a molecular biologist at Columbia and a re-born Jew, if one can use that term, wrote an excellent essay on how his faith and his science come together:
Why do we ask what is right? How do we know which answer to believe? What difference can any answer make, in the span of a necessarily mortal life? Those non-scientific questions did not then appear, nor do they now appear, to be mysteries that may yet be resolved by molecular biology. Rather, they seem to emerge in most of us in what is a wholly unscientific but necessary way; in their absence a person will be freed from the necessity to ponder them, at great risk to one and all. Molecular biology must nevertheless continue to ignore these matters of moral norms, which leaves science with a gap that bothers many molecular biologists and others who cannot see why these questions of norms are not being acknowledged.
Any current issue of molecular biology or any other science, placed in the context of moral norms, is therefore no longer simply a problem in science, but rather, it becomes a problem in science and religion. There are two ways for this to happen: either it becomes a problem in religious science, or in scientific religion. The latter seems to me much less interesting than the former. A good example of scientific religion would be the futile attempt to pin religious meaning and purpose on the facts and evidence of natural selection, even though the mechanism of natural selection is demonstrably devoid of moral content.
Religious science on the other hand is simply what happens when one introduces the notion of moral norms to any current scientific agenda, and sees how that agenda might change. Neither compulsion nor certainty are embedded in the choice to expand the agenda in this way. One may turn away from one's science for guidance, not because molecular biology still knows too little, nor because of religious dogma, but simply because molecular biology cannot approach these questions at all, even to ask them. And in turning elsewhere one might reasonably be interested in the remarkable emergence in all cultures at all times of systems of thought and insight that address precisely these questions, systems we call religions.
Read entire in Crosscurrents.