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Sunday, December 04, 2005



There has been a fair amount of banter in the media and among the pundits about Intelligent Design vs. Evolution. On "The Corner on National Review Online", among other places, this discussion has "devolved" into something like "Science vs. Religion". This is a fascinating topic to me, and far too poorly understood by non-scientists and non-believers alike. Someday, I'd like to tackle the subject in detail.

On a smaller scale, however, I did find time to respond to one small point in the on-going discussion. In response to this post by John Derbyshire, I sent the following email:

Mr. Derbyshire,

I found your recent argument regarding science vs. philosophy and theology interesting... but ultimately flawed.

First, a quibble: according to wikipedia, Pericles died in 429 BCE; Stoicism, which I personally think is about all the philosophy anyone needs, wasn't even started until 308 BCE. On this basis, then, I can say that, yes, a student of, say, Epictetus, would be at something of an advantage if transported back to the era of Pericles.

But, putting that aside, there is a more serious error in your argument. You compare the progress in science against the progress in philosophy and theology, as if progress is all that matters. But, if one believes in revealed truth, there is no need for theological progress. To a believer, all theological answers already exist, perfect and complete, inside the revealed truth.

The goal of theology, then, is not "more God"; it is to understand and apply God's revealed truth to whatever problems currently exist. The fact that such an effort is continuously necessary is of no concern; in fact, it is consistent with the revealed nature of man as an eternally sinful, errant creature. If man could ever settle all theological questions, and fix all of his spiritual problems once and for all, there would be no further need for reveal truth, nor even for God Himself!

True, there are some who apparently believe that they have reached such a state. However, even a casual glance over society as a whole reveals that, if so, they are in the extreme minority.


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