At the Republican debate hosted by MSNBC and Politico, a question was posed to the candidate from an email: Do you believe in evolution? All of the candidates were asked to raise their hands if they did not believe in evolution. It was an unfair way to pose the question, allowing no opportunity for explanation. It seemed to me that the point of the question was to classify whoever raised their hands as "religious" and "anti-science."
Since evolution doesn't seem to have much to do with policies the president has authority over (school boards decide local curriculum), the question seemed inappropriate in the debate. And I wonder whether it's an example of a secular-religious divide in our culture that will put religious candidates under increasing scrutiny.
Senator Brownback was one of those who raised his hand in response. Today he offers a very thoughtful explanation in The New York Times:
But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.
The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.
People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us. At the same time, reason itself cannot answer every question. Faith seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly, not less. Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose. More than that, faith — not science — can help us understand the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love. Faith and science should go together, not be driven apart....
It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.
(HT: Justin Taylor)