2006-01-29

Religion and Science (2)

Continuing a previous post...

A recent report indicates that "Just under half of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life, according to an opinion poll. Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should be taught in school science lessons."

In a 2005 Gallup poll, 53% of US citizens said they believed the Biblical account of human origins to be true.

Even when evolutionary theory is not completely incompatible with religion (e.g. Darwin himself was religious), it seems that a great part of the public is against it... In the UK, people over 55 are more likely to be on that side. It is true that deep rooted beliefs take time (in generations) to change, but still, the question remains: Is science doing something wrong in the divulgation of evolutionary theory? Or it is just that religion has PR you can't fight against with?

I mean, evolutionary theory does not imply that God doesn't exist, nor most (socially useful) teachings. Moreover, David Sloan Wilson, in his book Darwin's Cathedral : Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society uses evolutionary theory to explain the benefits of religions to societies: they promote social cohesion, cooperation, punish free riders, etc. So, societies with a religion of certain properties have better chances of survival. The only thing that evolutionary theory puts into question is the strict interpretation of the Genesis. If you take the Genesis as a metaphor, then there's no conflict. And the evidence for evolution just can't be ingored.

On the other hand, that is not the only, nor the most important, thing in the Bible that cannot be taken literally. The story of the word "virgin" being mistranslated from the hebrew "young woman" is not so popular, but it implies that the birth of Jesus wasn't a miracle. Still, this does not contradict his teachings. I mean, we don't really need the mystical aspect of history. And if somebody wants it, well, let it be. But it's silly to argue over it. The world doesn't need more holy wars. Just tolerate the beliefs of others in the things that cannot be proved, and accept the things that have been proved.

Summarizing, what I am saying is that evolutionary theory should be accepted by the general public, because it does not threaten the socially important aspects of any religion. I think that if somebody puts his/her beliefs (i.e. those that cannot be proven right or wrong) over those of others, that somebody falls into fanatism, independently of his/her religion.

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