Monday, May 23, 2005

Coyne's Reply.

Jerry Coyne has replied to the Nature cover story on Intelligent Design. Coyne's letter is short, so I suggest you read the entire thing if you have a subscription to Nature. Here are some of his key points:

"[T]he science classroom is the wrong place to teach students how to reconcile science and religion. For one thing, many scientists deem such a reconciliation impossible because faith and science are two mutually exclusive ways of looking at the world . . . The real business of science teachers is to teach science, not to help students shore up worldviews that crumble when they learn science . . . [ID] has no more place in the biology classroom than geocentrism has in the astronomy curriculum . . .

"[S]tudents who cannot handle scientific challenges to their faith should seek guidance from a theologian, not a scientist. Scientists should never have to apologize for teaching science."

I'm glad someone (especially one of the leaders in his field) has called out Nature's absolute ineptitude in reporting the ID "debate."


At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I found Coyne's letter condescending and not all that helpful to debate. I agree that science and religion are mutually exclusive, and that the science classroom is the wrong place for religion. However, I do not find it hypocritical to mention the alternatives. By that I do not mean that they should be part of the curriculum, merely that if religion comes up (as it certainly will), the scientist must address the issue in a thoughtful way, and not be immediately dismissive, as Coyne is when he suggests that knowledge of science will cause worldviews to "crumble."

It seems to me that it is quite hypocritical to claim that science and religion are mutually exclusive, and then demand that a theologian explain how to reconcile science and religion. If said theologian is a fundamentalist new earth creationist, how will we advance the discussion? The issue needs to be addressed from both angles. I believe it is quite possible for the scientist to do this without going outside his realm of experience.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger RPM said...

It is not the job of a scientist to reconcile a student's internal debate between science and religion. Most scientists do not have a very good understanding of religious doctrine (myself including). However, I do realize that most theologians do not have a comprehensive understanding of science. Very few people can intelligently (and with adequate understanding of both fields) help a student through the interal conflict between faith and knowledge. I'm not sure who a student should consult regarding this issue.


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