Thursday, November 15, 2007

Exploring Our Matrix - And Why Intelligent Design Forced Me To Leave The Church

Dr. James F. McGrath left a comment on my previous post regarding the recent PBS series Judgement Day. Be sure to read several posts McGrath has on the series. But more importantly...

...visit Exploring Our Matrix and read Dr. McGrath's insightful posts on things scientific and theological.

Consider, for example, the questions he poses to the ID Advertising Team (Denyse O'Leary, Philip Johnson and Casey Luskin):

In the same way, people like you cause more people to lose their faith (or to not come to faith) than any Darwinian biologist ever could. You tell people evolution is nonsense and present it as incompatible with faith, and some people who don't know any better actually believe you. Then when eventually the mountain of evidence finally gets their attention, they lose their faith, because people like you told them that was the only other option.

Do you fear God? If so, do you think you will not be held accountable for putting unnecessary stumbling blocks in the way of the faithful and those who could believe if it weren't for people like you driving them away from God? [emphasis added].

Dr. McGrath's point is well taken - largely because I am a perfect example of what he is discussing. I remember the day the nuns at St. Thomas More Catholic School in Paradise, California allowed a number of us 6th graders to develop a class lesson on any subject of interest to us and were given time to "teach" the rest of the class. My lesson was on paleontology (using Romer's Vertebrate Paleontology as a main source, if I remember correctly) and made no apologies for liberally invoking evolution. The kids, and the nuns, loved it. The concept of evolution was never a problem for Catholics during my childhood - the pursuit of science was actively encouraged by the nuns and during high school, my biology teacher and mentor (and agnostic) used to comment that his best science students came from the Catholic school. Fast forward 30 some years and we have Catholics Behe and O'Leary spreading misinformation about science and telling students they can't accept evolution and have faith; Cardinal Schonborn telling lies about evolutionary theory; most of my fellow Knights of Columbus couldn't give you a single fact about evolutionary biology but are convinced intelligent design is science; even a significant number of my relatives have been fed enough false information through the church that they now ask me if it's true that all animals appeared suddenly during the Cambrian or that scientists have abandoned radiocarbon dating.

The propaganda from the church and the gullibility of the flock got to be too much. If I have to go against the evidence and believe that Darwin was completely wrong or abandon the Catholic faith, well....the faith just became meaningless. And this didn't end with me....the Catholic church asked my wife and my kids to sacrifice too much in intellectual integrity to make it worthwhile to remain.

So we all left.

O'Leary, Luskin, Johnson and Behe are so interested in protecting their own version of faith that they cannot even comprehend the impact they're having on the church. It's no wonder young people have developed such a negative view of Christianity.


James F. McGrath said...

Thanks for taking the time not only to read my post, but share it with a wider audience, and share your own experience as well!

The third link doesn't work, by the way...

Christopher O'Brien said...

Thanks! I fixed it this morning! I enjoy reading your blog!

James F. McGrath said...

The feeling is mutual! :)

Anonymous said...

Christianity has a long history of evidentialist apologetics (an apologetic is a defense of something). For example, the Apostles appealed to being eyewitnesses of a resurrected Jesus Christ. I do think a strong case can be made that the theory of evolution has insufficient evidence to be believed. For example, scientist Simon Conway Morris wrote in the peer reviewed science journal Cell: "When discussing organic evolution the only point of agreement seems to be: 'It happened.' Thereafter, there is little consensus, which at first sight must seem rather odd. (see: evolution ). Mark Ridley, who currently serves as a professor of zoology at Oxford, stated: "In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation."

In short, a healthy skepticism is warranted when it comes to the evolutionary position.

James F. McGrath said...

Anonymous, based on your own account and quote mine, it would seem that there is adequate basis for certainty about evolution having happened, even while recognizing there is some disagreement about details of process, speed, and mechanism.

I think reading beyond Conservapedia may give you a better understanding of the subject...

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