This entry was precipitated by Gary over at the No Death Before the Fall blog. Obviously I don’t need to point out that Gary and I disagree. Actually, I like his blog and he makes an interesting foil for my thought. I find it useful in exploring how things need to be clarified in the debates about a faithful view of evolution. While I disagree completely with his outlook, I do think discussion is important and opposing views can often end up coming to some sort of dialectic synthesis. There are points on which we agree–Creation, Fall, Atonement for example. I will, however, continue to bicker about the details. And I do find his approach flawed. He relies exclusively on selectively quoting general authorities in order to perpetuate and support deep-seated suspicions of science. It’s not that suspicions about scientific findings are unhealthy, it’s that these kinds of suspicions take a form that plays out in unhelpful ways. By repeatedly emphasizing suspicions, it seems to pit General Authorities, and thereby the church, against all science. Not against TRUE science, they might argue, suggesting that only that science which lines up scripture and verse with their interpretation of reveled religion, is TRUE. This an extremely unhealthy way of viewing science. Science is not a monolithic bureaucracy that can be dichotomized into ‘True’ vs. some other flavor of science. It is an approach to hard empirical problems, a tack into an underlying physical ontology. Science involves complex methods of discovery and justification; using reason, experimentation, trail and error, but in everything and despite it’s flaws, it self-corrects, reexamines, and reinterprets. It constantly realigns itself with the facts and data it gathers. It is a powerful way of knowing that has been preeminently successful. It’s findings are always open to question, but never ever should be taken lightly, especially about those things that are repeatedly and consistently putting themselves forth as the way things work. Good science provides explanatory and unifying power. As evolution does for all of biology. Science, as a way of knowing, is an invaluable tool (think back to the Middle Ages if you want a vision of the world without science). To dismiss it’s most potent and well established findings you had better engage with the data and the empirical facts at hand. Don’t selectively quote your favorite statements by GAs–we can play “My General Authority can beat up you General Authority” all day. You don’t like evolution? Then offer something that is as equally unifying and explanatory in its scope and power. Intelligent Design tried to tout itself a science by listing anomalies that it thought evolution could not explain (and in no instance did they hit on anything that evolutionary theorists had not tackled long ago), but other than the dictum, “Then a miracle occurred” it offered nothing in the way of explanation or unification (see this post). It was scientifically still-born. So, bottom line, don’t quote out-of-context strings of general authorities and suggest that this line of argument somehow dismisses the fossil record, the patterns found in DNA, the developmental pathways found in embryology and other numerous such things that demonstrate and support evolution. Give me something explanatory on which I can hang my hat. Selectively quoting GAs to piece together a preconceived belief (on which, moreover, one refuses to accept any contrary evidence) is exactly the same method used by anti-mormons to try and show that the church is racist, or sexist, or non-christian, or whatever. That tactic is no more effective or meaningful in that arena than it is in these science attacks. Those that use that method think they are defending the church by raising suspicions about science, I defend the church by embracing both science and my faith fully and unapologetically. If one really thinks the Gospel can’t stand up, arm in arm with (not against!), the best science . . . then it is a weaker Gospel than the one I believe in.