St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
Faith, Science, and Understanding by John Polkinghorne
Discussion Led By Prof. George John
Sunday, November 6, 2005
This last session consisted of the group listening to a C-Span recording on the topic of Natural Selection vs. Intelligent Design as emceed by John Entine of the American Enterprise Institute. The topic was focused on which of those two theories should be taught in our schools today. Father George Coyne took the position that Intelligent Design should not be presented as an alternative scientific theory, while Michael Novac took the opposite side suggesting that students should be exposed to both theories so that they could decide for themselves.
Father Coyne centered his discussion on the scientific findings to date regarding evolution. He hypothesized from his book, “The Dance of the Fertile Universe,” that evolution was not solely dominated by random chance. If the age of the 15-billion-year-old universe were compressed to an hour, we would be living in the last two seconds before the end. The heavy elements that are part of our life today were created by the life and death of many stars over billions of years. The sun is a third-generation star and there are ten to the twenty-second power stars in the Milky Way. Intelligent Design was not required for our evolution to occur. God is not the response to a need and is not found through a practical process. In its early years, evolution was supported by the church as a means of showing that God was still allowing the world to evolve. In fact, Father Coyne believes that Intelligent Design diminishes God. God lets the world be what it wants to be! Science and religion should be treated as totally separate entities.
Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute believes that Intelligent Design is crucial to American schools. It needs to be discussed as an alternative theory to Darwinian evolution. There are many cases that support religion has made a difference in the world of science, such as how people with a deep religious faith tend to heal faster. Many of today’s scientists are deeply religious. Don’t keep science and religion separate from each other.