Saturday, March 15, 2008

Frosty reception

Recently in a local paper there was an interview with Christian marine biologist Dr Matthew Frost. He seems quite a sensible chap to me, although apparently some commenters on the story disagree.

What interested me particularly about this article is his contention that Richard Dawkins pushes some Christian believers over the edge, as it were, into "young Earth creationism". That his insistence that science and religion are incompatible leads to some Christians shutting the door on science. This isn't really anything new, but I thought I would have a chew over it anyway.

Young earth creationism is rather whacky in that to believe it you have to throw out swathes of scientific knowledge: geology, paleontology, cosmology, all sorts of -ologies. This to me is a Very Bad thing. It shuts downs curiosity and inquiry: it says science bad, all lies, do not bother with it, or go and get a load of rote responses from some gawdawful website that regurgitates a lot of chuff about transitional fossils and imaginary lines between macro & micro evolution, argh.

If Dawkins really does cause people to reflexively curl up into balls and reject that there book-larning, then it is a shame.

Not that I would want Dawkins to lie or fudge it: his sincerity is not in doubt. As I recall from the God Delusion, he does say that evolutionary theory was what led him inexorably to atheism and he seems to view such as Dr Frost as the thin end of the wedge.

I don't think it should be framed as a science vs theology thing, or having to choose between. Evolutionary theory is not the only, or probably, even the main route to (or reason for) atheism: it's not why I am an atheist, for example, more to it than that.

I see no problem with Dr Frost's take on it and the last thing he would want is to remove bits of scientific study from the syllabus, unlike the YEC movement. Not that it is particularly a problem in the UK.

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