The Harmony between Science and Religion
interview by Mary Beth Kirchner, edited by Ellen Guettler
Interview with Ted Peters, Professor of Theology, Pacific Lutheran Seminary
Ted Peters is a theistic evolutionist, believing God created the world and the principles of evolutionary biology. Many view the intelligent design debate as one of science vs. religion. Peters sees an important union between the two.
Ted Peters: There is no war here between science and religion, ... and the reason I'm confident in saying that is that everyone in this war has a positive view of science. The creationists see themselves as scientific creationists providing scientific arguments to buttress the claim that the earth is young. Intelligent design argues again and again that they want a better science. They believe that complexity in evolutionary history is the result of a transcendent designer is good science.
The problem with creationism and the problem with intelligent design is it's second best, if not non-science, that is being taught. ... My colleague, Marty Hewlett, teaches in the medical school at the University of Arizona; he's a virologist. His opinions, along with other virologists' [opinions], will be brought to bear now as we try to fight the avian bird flu that is coming our way. He must rely on the Darwinian model of evolution if he's going to produce the kind of vaccines in which we can preserve our health. Now, let me ask, do you want a creationist or intelligent design scientist in that laboratory? Or do you want somebody with the best science? And the Darwinian model is the best science.
Misuse of the Darwin Model
Peters: Now, if we take the Darwinian model of evolution and somehow or other turn it into a philosophy of life, an ideology by which we should live or something like that, it can only have quite deleterious consequences.
The late nineteenth century history is just red with blood. We had Herbert Spencer's laissez-fair capitalism and survival of the fittest, the spread of Darwinian ideas in order to promote the immorality of large corporations that would have no care whatsoever for the poor; just let them die because they're unfit. That doctrine was spread all over America by J.P. Morgan and the Carnegies and people of that nature. [There was] the belligerent atheism of Thomas Huxley and the whole idea that we should have a new religion in our society based on evolution; that's a problem. And then probably worst of all is the eugenics movement begun by Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin, which led to doctrines such as improving the human race through heredity, and eventually, when it got to Germany, it was combined with racism. ... Adolf Hitler studied Darwin and Spencer and Galton and these people in developing this doctrine of racial hygiene, which led to the gas chambers for people who were mentally handicapped, physically handicapped and the Jews. Now, all of this belongs at the foot of Darwinism.
I think it's important that Christians and non-Christian right-minded people work very diligently to extract the good science but eschew the ideology that lies on top of that science because all of the ideologies based on Darwinism to this point have been very dangerous.
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