Monday, April 14, 2008

D'Souza on evolution typically taught along with atheism

In his latest essay, Dinesh D'Souza expands on the last two paragraphs of his previous essay on the failures of ID....

The problem with evolution is not that it is unscientific but that it is routinely taught in textbooks and in the classroom in an atheist way. Textbooks frequently go beyond the scientific evidence to make metaphysical claims about how evolution renders the idea of a Creator superfluous. Here are some examples that are drawn from my recent bestseller What’s So Great About Christianity.

Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson writes in his widely-assigned book On Human Nature: "If humankind evolved by Darwinian natural selection, genetic chance and environmental necessity, not God, made the species."

Biologist Stephen Jay Gould writes in his essay in the book Darwin's Legacy: "No intervening spirit watches lovingly over the affairs of nature...whatever we think of God, his existence is not manifest in the products of nature."

Douglas Futuyma asserts in his textbook Evolutionary Biology: "By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous."

Biologist William Provine writes, "Modern science directly implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws...We must conclude that when we die, we die, and that is the end of us." Evolution, Provine has also said, is the "greatest engine of atheism."

In his essay on "Darwin's Revolution" in the book Creative Evolution, Francisco Ayala credits Darwin with proving that life is "the result of a natural process...without any need to resort to a Creator."

Some Christians seek to counter this atheism by trying to expose the flaws in the Darwinian account of evolution. This explains the appeal of "creation science" and the "intelligent design" (ID) movement. These critiques, however, have not made any headway in the scientific community and they have also failed whenever they have been tried in the courts.

Most Christians don't care whether the eye evolved by natural selection or whether Darwin's theories can account for macroevolution or only microevolution. What they care about is that evolution is being used to deny God as the creator. For those who are concerned about this atheism masquerading as science, there is a better way. Instead of trying to get unscientific ID theories included in the classroom, a better strategy would be to get the unscientific atheist propaganda out.

How can this be achieved?

Consider this: the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits public schools from teaching or promoting atheism in any way. How do I know this? Well, the religion clauses of the First Amendment protect the "free exercise" of religion and at the same time forbid the "establishment" of religion. Courts have routinely held that the free exercise clause protects not only religious beliefs but also the absence of religious beliefs. If you are fired from your government job because you are an atheist, your First Amendment rights have been violated. In other words, the term "religion" means not only "religion" but also "atheism."

Yet if the free exercise clause defines religion in a way that includes atheism, then the no-establishment clause must define religion in the same way. So the agencies of government are prohibited from "establishing" not only religion but also atheism. This means that just as a public school teacher cannot advocate Christianity or hand out Bibles to his students, so too public school textbooks and science teachers cannot advocate atheism.

I'd like to see Christian legal groups suing school districts for promoting atheism in the biology classroom. No need to produce creationist or ID critiques of Darwinism. All that is necessary is to parade the atheist claims that have made their way into the biology textbooks and biology lectures. The issue isn't the scientific inadequacy of evolution but the way in which it is being used to undermine religious belief and promote unbelief. If the case can be made that atheism is being advocated in any way, then the textbooks would have to be rewritten and classroom presentations changed to remove the offending material. Schools would be on notice that they cannot use scientific facts to draw metaphysical conclusions in favor of atheism.

In this way Darwinism in the public schools would no longer be a threat to religion in general or Christianity in particular.


At April 15, 2008 at 8:55 AM , Blogger Vinny said...

From the days that someone figured out that the sun was not a chariot being driven across the skies by Helios, science has replaced supernatural explanations with natural explanations. This is a matter of historical fact.

None of these explanations compel atheism, but every single one them could be viewed as having the same metaphysical implications as evolution. I don't see how you can "protect" students from these implications without distorting history.

At April 15, 2008 at 11:24 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Implications are one thing-- although even those might not be explored in a "science" text. Subtle presuppositions and confident inferences beyond what science can say-- about matters scientific or theological-- are quite another.

At April 15, 2008 at 12:12 PM , Blogger Vinny said...

Are the implications being explored in the science textbooks used in public schools? The only textbook D'Souza cites is used at the undergraduate level.

At April 15, 2008 at 9:28 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

I don't know; I haven't read the book or followed up on his cites.

In any case, it's inappropriate in both contexts-- although moreso given the audience in government schools.


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