Via Andrew Sullivan I came across this article, from the Canadian magazine The Walrus, on the subject of science and religion. The article’s focus is on Guy Consolmagno, a Jesuit astronomer. It was the article’s conclusion that really caught my eye:
Consolmagno has little patience for intelligent design. “Science cannot prove God, or disprove Him. He has to be assumed. If people have no other reason to believe in God than that they can’t imagine how the human eye could have evolved by itself, then their faith is very weak.” Rather than seeking affirmation of his own faith in the heavens, he explains that religion is what gives him the courage and desire to be a scientist. “Seeing the universe as God’s creation means that getting to play in the universe – which is really what a scientist does — is a way of playing with the Creator,” he says. “It’s a religious act. And it’s a very joyous act.”
And if people have no other reason for doing science than the dubious belief that they are playing with God then their commitment to rational inquiry is very weak.
Consolmagno is welcome to assume whatever he wishes, of course. Why, though, this admiration for a strong faith, based on an evidence-free assumption that God exists, as contrasted with a weak faith, based on a rational contemplation of the world? Does that not seem backward to you?
I do not think most ID folks believe in God solely because of the complexity of the eye. Rather, it is that a contemplation of nature reinforces a belief in God already held for other reasons. They are taking seriously Romans 1:20:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (NIV)
It is all well and good to say that science can not prove God, but Romans is telling us that contemplating nature makes His existence so obvious that men are without excuse for non-belief.
The reality, though, is that nature puts up one roadblack after another to faith. Christianity tells us that humans are the primary reason for the Creation, but evolution tells us we are just an afterthought of an evolutionary process that did not have us in mind. Christianity tells us that God’s nature is one of love and justice, but science tells us that we are the result of billions of years of savage and wasteful evolution by bloodsport.
A lot of clever people with advanced degrees in philosophy and theology, writing at book length, have devised ingenious arguments for why these seeming contradictions may not be fatal to Christianity. The fact remains that having to work so hard just to establish that Christianity is still possible is a far cry from leaving men without excuse.