“Science and Religion: Can This Marriage Be Saved?”



The language of nature


An account of one respected Latter-day Saint mathematician’s take on the question:





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  • brotheroflogan

    I have not yet had the time to go through the symposium’s material and talks. I hope to be able to do so. But I am reluctant to because I am afraid I will get facile answers. At BYU the biology professors strive to be patient with students who do not accept evolution. I can sympathize with them. It must be monotonous for them to always be responding to ignorant claims.
    But I do not think that they gave me very good answers that truly reconciled evolution with Genesis. I had to turn to a friend who was a premed major. He explained that he thought that we don’t have all of the puzzle pieces so we’ll just have to live with ambiguity. I said that I could accept that. But if anyone says that there is no apparent conflict, I feel like I am being sold a bill of goods.
    That is why I am interested in Intelligent Design and saddened that the biology professors at BYU don’t take it more seriously. The cynical side of me thinks that they care more for their career than for taking a controversial stand. (The other side of me tells me that they are just doing their best and that I shouldn’t give them a hard time about it).
    I know that there are criticisms of intelligent design. But there are also responses to those criticisms. I wonder if the BYU professors have reviewed those responses or had personal correspondence with Michael Behe or others of the ID movement.

    • DanielPeterson

      I think it was a very good conference. But I was not happy with the one relatively brief discussion of ID, which seemed to me to respond rather dismissively to a straw man caricature rather than seriously engaging the position.

    • Chris Crabtree

      brotheroflogan, I attended the conference on Saturday and overall was very please with many of the presentations with exception of Dr. Steven Peck’s (BYU Biology Prof.) presentation and his comments during the life science panel. If you are familiar with or an advocate for the ID movement, his presentation will not sit well with you (which is no surprise), and some of the things he said were very troubling to me.

      I spent the better part of a half hour after the conference asking him questions and discussing with him about various topics in his presentation. In particular he made the following assertions:

      1) Don’t be fooled by the theory of “Intelligent Design”, it sounds good but is not science.
      2) There is really no difference between Micro and Macro evolution.
      3) The Discovery Institute produces nothing but t-shirts and bumper stickers (quite literally insinuated that it has produced absolutely ‘nothing’ of significance in the field of life science)
      4) The idea of irreducible complexity as put forth by Michael Behe and others has been debunked back in 2008 (in respect to bacterial flagellum).
      5) Scientific theories must be constrained to Methodological Materialistic explanations only.
      6) Intelligent Design theory can only be reduced to a “God of the Gaps” theory.
      7) The arrangement of codons and/or amino-acids in various DNA or protein sequences is comparable to the arrangement of pieces on a chess board (I have a lot to say about this, but will save that for a later review of his entire presentation once it is available online).
      8) God designed life (and I assume, the Universe in general) as comparable to a computer capable of producing all known variations of software applications with the touch of a single button, rather than the product of individual software programmers designing and building individual applications.

      He’s a friendly fellow, and I do respect him for taking the time to answer my question during the Panel, which was “How do you explain the origin of Complex Specified Information (digital code) in DNA and other epigenetic information contained in the cell if you are constrained to methodologically materialistic mechanisms?” (or something close to that). The jist of the answer was that we basically don’t know, but that there are some good theories and the further science advances, we will eventually come to a better understanding of how things become more complex over time.

      He does not appear to be very familiar with recent publications in the field of ID and appeared to be unfamiliar with any of the works of Stephen Meyer (Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt). This is a shame really, since there is so much rich information available today in the field of ID that I find so many biologists are simply unfamiliar with. I’ll write a full review of his presentation in the near future after the presentation becomes available online.

      • brotheroflogan

        Thanks for the responses Mr. Crabtree, Mr. Petersen. I can understand that Intelligent Design is poison to a biologist career.