Saturday, April 25, 2009

Evolution and Christianity are Completely Compatible

Science can only ask the question: "How does nature function?"

Religion focuses on the question: "Why are we here?"

Christian writer, C. S. Lewis, and scientist, S. J. Gould, both explain the lack of contention between science and religion very clearly:

C.S. Lewis:

Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave. Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, "I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2:20 A.M. on January 15th and saw so-and-so," or, "I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such a temperature and it did so-and-so." Do not think I am saying anything against science: I am only saying what its job is. And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science - and a very useful and necessary job it is too. But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes - something of a different kind - this is not a scientific question. If there is "Something Behind," then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some different way. The statement that there is any such thing, and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them. After all, it is really a matter of common sense. Supposing science ever became complete so that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, "Why is there a universe?" "Why does it go on as it does?" "Has it any meaning?" would remain just as they were?

---CS Lewis, "Mere Christianity", Chapter 4, Paragraph 3 (

Scientist and evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould:

"To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth millionth time: Science simply cannot by its legitimate methods adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can't comment on it as scientists. If some of our crowd have made untoward statements claiming that Darwinism disproves God, then I will find Mrs. McInerney (Gould's third-grade teacher) and have their knuckles rapped for it . . . Science can work only with naturalistic explanations; it can neither affirm nor deny other types of actors (like God) in other spheres (the moral realm, for example). Forget philosophy for a moment; the simple empirics of the past hundred years should suffice. Darwin himself was agnostic (having lost his religious beliefs upon the tragic death of his favorite daughter), but the great American botanist Asa Gray, who favored natural selection and wrote a book entitled "Darwiniana", was a devout Christian. Move forward 50 years: Charles D. Walcott, discoverer of the Burgess Shale Fossils, was a convinced Darwinian and an equally firm Christian, who believed that God had ordained natural selection to construct the history of life according to His plans and purposes. Move on another 50 years to the two greatest evolutionists of our generation: G. G. Simpson was a humanistic agnostic, Theodosius Dobzhansky, a believing Russian Orthodox. Either half of my colleagues are enormously stupid, or else the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with conventional religious beliefs -- and equally compatible with atheism."

-- S. J. Gould, "Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge" (review of Phillip Johnson's "Darwin on Trial", Scientific American 267 (1992):118-21.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Debbie,

    I started writing a comment, but it grew into an essay, so I've posted it on my blog instead! Thanks for these two quotes - they are both profound and bear much reflection.

    Here''s the link with my further comments: