There’s an article up tonight on Salon.com that looks like it’s a pretty balanced view of the conflict between Science and Religion – at least in terms of Evolution/Creationsim
University of Wisconsin historian Ronald Numbers is in a unique position to offer some answers. His 1992 book “The Creationists,” which Harvard University Press has just reissued in an expanded edition, is probably the most definitive history of anti-evolutionism. Numbers is an eminent figure in the history of science and religion — a past president of both the History of Science Society and the American Society of Church History. But what’s most refreshing about Numbers is the remarkable personal history he brings to this subject. He grew up in a family of Seventh-day Adventists and, until graduate school, was a dyed-in-the-wool creationist. When he lost his religious faith, he wrote a book questioning the foundations of Adventism, which created a huge rift in his family.
Numbers says much of what we think about anti-evolutionism is wrong. For one thing, it’s hardly a monolithic movement. There are, in fact, fierce battles between creationists of different stripes. And the “creation scientists” who believe in a literal reading of the Bible have, in turn, little in common with the leaders of intelligent design. Numbers also dismisses the whole idea of warfare between science and religion going back to the scientific revolution. He argues this is a modern myth that serves both Christian fundamentalists and secular scientists.
Most of the article is a series of interview questions posed to Prof. Numbers and his answers. In the responses he discusses the motivations of the Creationist scientists and the difficulty both sides have in coming to terms with each others world-views.
More interestingly to me at least, he details how he was forced to confront the evidence in favor of evolution (or specifically an “Old Earth” rather than a “Young Earth” and changed his mind as a result. It is the willingness to be convinced by evidence that makes a good scientist a good scientist. And should make a good theologian a good theologian as well, though the rules of evidence are a bit different in the two realms of endeavor.
Read all the way to the end of the article – there’s an interesting critique of Richard Dawkins latest arguments on the final page.