Well, maybe “evolution hater” is too strong a term for this woman from Virginia, who wrote me an email this morning. She said “there is no need to respond,” but given that she sent me an unsolicited email, I’ll send her the link to this post, along with the comments. Feel free to respond, but again—be polite. (I informed the retired Air Force officer who wrote me yesterday of the readers’ responses.)
Dear Professor Coyne,I read with interest your review of Behe’s book. As a nonscientist, I am not in a position to make any critical judgment on either view. As the mother of five and grandmother of seven, I know what the younger generation is seeking- authenticity without vitriol, Truth without preaching and a genuine desire to tackle the “Tough” questions of our time- which include open discussions of the Four big questions- Origin, Meaning, Morality and Destiny.
Personally, I find evolutionary theory sorely lacking in any meaningful answer to any of theses questions and the attempts to address them fall into the hubris and arrogance of scientism rather than the humility that stems from wonder at the order of the universe and a willingness to admit we do not know everything.There is no need to respond.
There was a postscript:
The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing. Pascal
1.) It saddens me to see a non-scientist claim that they’re not capable of making a critical judgement of ID. The arguments are not that arcane and have been addressed in many popular venues. I think this is just intellectual laziness, or perhaps an unwillingness to engage with the criticisms of ID.
2.) Why is a scientific discussion, or promoting evolution, which happens to be true, “preaching”? In fact, any attempt to say something that contradicts another person’s religious beliefs is always construed as “vitriol.”
3.) Evolutionary biology doesn’t really deal with the questions of “Origin, Meaning, Morality, and Destiny” except insofar as abiogenesis (the study of how life began) can be considered part of evolutionary biology, and insofar as some aspects of morality—its roots in our animal ancestors—can be examined scientifically.
But, of course, religion, while it may tackle these tough questions, doesn’t answer them. For example, what is the proper moral behavior? If you’re a Christian it’s one thing (actually more, depending on what kind of Christian you are), if you’re a Muslim it’s another thing, and if you’re a Scientologist it’s still another. The fact is that evolutionary biology actually answers the questions it asks, while religion does not. (Is there a God? Who knows? If there is one, is it the Christian God, Allah, or Shiva? Who knows?) Or if religion does provide answers, there are better (and more consistent) answers provided by secular humanism and ethics.
4.) Once again we see the scientism canard leveled at people like me (at least I presume it’s me, since she’s reacting to my book review). Well, I admit that we don’t know everything, and I know of no scientist who disagrees. The thing is that in 100 years we’ll know more about biology and evolution than we do now, while theologians and believers won’t know one iota more about the divine. It is not the scientists who have hubris, but the believers. And any changes and improvements in morality will, as Steve Pinker argues, come not from religion but from humanism.