If I believed in coincidence, I might wonder at the following circumstances, all of which occurred within 12 hours of each other:
- We watched Ben Stein's documentary Expelled about scientists fired and blacklisted for suggesting the possibility of Intelligent Design.
- Going through some old papers (while watching the movie), I came upon one of Janie B. Cheaney's essays in WORLD, which referred to Richard Dawkins as "perhaps the world's most famous skeptic." Dawkins is both heavily referenced and personally interviewed in Expelled.
- I read that WORLD's Daniel of the Year is Intelligent Design proponent Stephen C. Meyer, a scientist also featured in the Stein documentary and author of Signature of the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.
- First thing Tuesday morning I found three news media alerts pertaining to "Climategate," in my in-box.
Perhaps I see the connections among these topics with particular clarity because I have been in a several-months-long debate with a person dear to me. We'll call her Dot.
Dot used to be a believer but "lost" her faith at a secular university while studying biology. She now teaches science to eighth graders and considers her position vital to the community in which she teaches. Making sure I am crystal clear on the fact she teaches evolution, Dot now claims she is a Buddhist, yet admits not so much a disbelief in God as much as anger toward Him. Like many who eschew Christianity, she throws the typical accusations toward God: "Why is there suffering in the world?" "Why is there war?" "Why do babies die?"
Chuck Colson, in a recent Christianity Today article titled "When Atheists Believe," offers one way to find the answer:
"I've been teaching students . . . to draw a grid listing the four basic questions that most people ask about life: Where did I come from? What's my purpose? Why is there sin and suffering? Is redemption possible? Then, on the other side of the matrix, we list the various philosophies and prominent world religions. By examining how each view answers the four questions, we can determine which worldviews conform to the way things really are. This is a correspondence theory of truth---a thoroughly rational test."
Such questions might help my friend sort her thoughts. I learned in my philosophy class at Biola University that an inconsistent worldview is a flawed worldview. Stein's documentary shows a strong connection between Darwin's concept of "survival of the fittest" and Hitler's ethnic cleansing. I doubt if my friend, married to an African-American, would recognize that by embracing Darwin she unwittingly embraces Hitler's racism or that such a dichotomy in her worldview might shed light on other inconsistencies.
This all begs the question, is modern science truly the search for factual, observable truth? Even some within the scientific field say no: "It is a worldview conflict between scientists with two competing worldviews," said Oxford mathematics professor John Lennox. "Worldview comes first and is influencing the interpretation of science. Admitting our biases is the best way toward rational discussion, which I would welcome."
So, as we continue to monitor the aftershocks of Climategate, I wonder if scientists and those like my friend Dot will continue their "science is objective" rhetoric, admitting evolution is---like my 7-year-old innocently answered when I asked her what evolution was---"some sort of religion." Or will they, in word and deed, prove to us that they actually do want to discover truth, even if it---gasp!---points to a Creator.