A Newsweek poll found that 90 percent of Americans had a religion and 97% believed in a deity, and 80percent were Christian.

They also, for some reason, included in the poll questions about evolution, finding that  ” nearly one half reject the scientific theory of evolution”.

This last fact made one blogger comment: “Gee there seems to be some confusion here”.

No, the confusion is that the press doesn’t get religion, and has even less training in philosophy or the history of ideas. One suspects that the question was asked so that pundits could bash the hoi polloi as ignorant anti scientific “christianists”.

One is reminded how Tina Brown moved to Washington and lamented that, unlike New York City, she now had to (shudder) meet Christians. But of course, Tina Brown had been surrounded by Christians in New York, she just didn’t see them. They were the “invisible man” : the waiters, the cops, the firemen, the maids, the secretaries, and others who like the waiter in the GKChesterton novel, was “invisible” to those who thought they were superior.

The first “invisible man” in the Newsweek discussion are Catholic Christians, who since the time of Augustine have been allowed to believe God used an evolutionary process to create the world.

The second “invisible man” in the discussion is that too often evolution is taught as philosophy/religion rather than science.

And the third “invisible man” is the collapse of reason itself in deconstructionism.

Science is not truth, it is a process. We think about something, devise a way to test our ideas, and experiment. With time, we get closer and closer to the truth, but essentially we use mathematics and analogies to explain this reality.

But scientism is Philosophy. It insists that only things that science can measure or explain is real. So we can reject angels or God etc because we can’t measure them.

The problem with this is that whether or not God or anything exists does not depend on someone’s ability to see or measure them: They either exist, or don’t exist, in themselves. Two hundred years ago, we couldn’t “measure” bacteria or viruses or quarks yet such things were real. Similarly, we can’t measure or explain love, or altruism.

In science, we can explain what is gravity and how it works, but we can’t explain the “why” of gravity. In the old days, angels moved the planets, and now the force of gravity does. But what is gravity? Why is gravity? And why should we be able to describe gravity logically with mathematics? Why is the universe logical? Why and what is time? What existed before the universe? Why does the universe exist? Why did an animal evolve to be able to ask the question “why”?
Scientism says: Because I said so. Religion says: Because God is the logos, he is the logic, and he made it that way, and because he loves us, he wants us to be adults and find things out using our gifts to serve others.
Darwin’s theory is often presented as the bible for scientism, since it eliminated the need for God in the equation. Yet the dirty little secret is not all those arguments about fossils or the missing link, but a little thing called entropy. Why should things become more complex? Why do things evolve in a way to fit all the niches of nature?

For those who are truly educated, there is no divide between faith and science. It is only a divide with those who seek pat answers and rigid rules, and then like to use philosophical tricks to confuse the weak minded to prove their superiority.

Just like I see no problem with seeing an electron as a wave and a particle, so also I don’t see why there should be a problem with seeing things evolve through mutations and seeing this evolution being a symphony that is directed by a loving Father.

The first explains the “how”, the second, the “Why”.

The danger for both, however, is that more modern philosophical trends that reject both religion and reason in favor of “that’s the way I feel, so it’s the truth for me”.

But that’s another essay for another day.

———————————————-Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket 

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