as printed in Presbyterians Today , October 2006

Reclaim our birthright

As an elder, a parent and a neuroscientist, I see the hand of God everywhere. However, if I were to distort the empirical tools of science to “prove” what I see, my science and my faith would both be compromised. Those who would degrade the scientific method risk rendering our science useless, much as the removal of Christ from our lives would do to our faith. To undermine the scientific method under the guise of “free speech” is misplaced litigation. These efforts are as irresponsible and immoral as the accusations made against Christ for healing on the Sabbath.

I call for America to reclaim its birthright as a land of faith and reason. We must neither degrade our science to salve the uneducated, nor discredit our valuable religious diversity. The real threat to America comes not in the biology classroom, but in the international marketplace. America can ill afford to lose its competitive edge in science.

—Craig E. Tenke, Center Moriches, N.Y.

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submitted text:

Many Americans are confused about the nature of science. Science is not about Truth. It is just an empirical method for testing and reevaluating hypotheses. The scientific method also requires parsimony: when alternative interpretations exist, you must choose the least complicated one. When the simplest answer is wrong, good science must choose it anyway... at least until the weight of empirical evidence demands a change. Even if you "know" the Truth, it's not science if you can't demonstrate it by the scientific method.

Atheists and the faithful agree that God is the most complex and universal mechanism that can be proposed. God is the antithesis of parsimony, and any "theory" based on His purposiveness cannot be science at all. If this makes science atheistic, it's no more so than any other tool. I hear no outcry about the atheistic bias in teaching automotive repair. Conversely, irreducible complexity - the key premise of Intelligent Design advocates - is itself an untestable belief, not a scientific theory.

As an elder, a parent, and a neuroscientist, I see the hand of God everywhere. However, if I were to distort the empirical tools of science to "prove" what I see, my science and my faith would both be compromised. Those who would degrade the scientific method risk rendering our science useless, much as the removal of Christ from our lives would do to our faith. To undermine the scientific method under the guise of "free speech" is misplaced litigation. These efforts are as irresponsible and immoral as the accusations made against Christ for healing on the Sabbath.

I call for America to reclaim its birthright as a land of faith and reason. We must neither degrade our science to salve the uneducated, nor discredit our valuable religious diversity. The real Darwinian threat to America comes not from the Biology classroom, but the international marketplace. America can ill afford to lose its competitive edge in science.