Professors should do better….

Sometimes, if you see something, you just have to say something. Today’s NYT published the following article by a college professor from University of Washington.

This professor gives a talk at the beginning of his evolutionary biology course to his students about why they ought to have a harder time reconciling science and religion.

The three pillars of his argument are:

  1. Just because the world is complex does not mean that it has to have been designed that way
  2. Mankind is not sufficiently different in a qualitative way that he can be placed at the center of the universe as God’s chosen super-being
  3. Bad things happen in the world and how could a loving God permit this to happen?

He starts with conceding that a creator God could have worked his plan through evolution because a creator God could have done anything he wanted to.

The rest of the article seems to be intended to undermine this first point. Unfortunately, the arguments are weak and could be easily answered as follows:

  1. Correct, but this does not address the implications of the Big Bang or prove that the first cause was not God
  2. The fact that mankind is ‘among and part of nature’ (though arguably not part of the food chain) in no way diminishes mankind’s role as a distinct and reasoning part of God’s creation
  3. Bad things happen because we mess things up – the presence of evil. Freewill means we are free to do so. Granting freewill means that, to be consistent, God has to allow us to work through our messes.

Overall, it is disappointing to me that such weak arguments make it to the pages of the NYT and, even more distressing, that these views are imparted as a formative part of the curriculum in a university biology class.

Professors should just be better than this. The intellectual underpinnings of religion are quite far from being as Professor Barash represents them. I suspect also, that the more interesting discussions of faith and science are taking place in the philosophy and physics classes.