On this recent Australian panel show Richard Dawkins was served up a number of Christian politicians on a plate. And he quite rightly ate them for breakfast. Of course, given their distinct lack of back-bone, they wouldn't have been hard to chew. But you do have to wonder why the key match-ups weren't scientist versus scientist, or atheist versus Christian - but atheist scientist versus... MP. Huh?
Anyway both Pete and I found this particular quotation from Dawkins interesting.
I think that the existence of a supreme being - a supernatural supreme being - is a scientific issue. Either there is a God or there isn't. Either there are gods or there are no gods. That is a... supremely important scientific question. If the universe was created by an intelligence, then we are looking at an entirely different kind of scientific theory from if the universe came into existence by natural means. If God or gods had something to do with the creation of life, then we're looking at a totally different kind of biology...
So I think you can't just say religion and science have nothing to do with each other. Science can get on and you let people have their own religious - of course you let people believe whatever they like. But you cannot say that science and religion are completely separate because religion makes scientific claims. It certainly makes scientific claims about miracles, as I mentioned before, and you cannot reconcile an authentic approach to science with a belief in miracles or, I suspect, with a belief in supernatural creation. At least the very least you should say is that this is a scientific question.
Here was an oasis of clarity in a desert of dualism. While other panelists were falling over themselves trying to affirm both evolution and "the one who provided the amino acids in the first place”, Richard refused to compartmentalise either religion or science. Good.
But if Dawkins is right here - and I think he is - then there are two major mistakes you must avoid.
1) You must avoid tacking on some kind of super-intending god to the science of naturalism. Whatever god of the gaps is left by a scientific method designed to exclude the supernatural is not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christian assumptions mean a very different way of doing science . There may be great overlap at points but the foundations are very different. Don't pretend that Christian assumptions matter in the theology class but not the science class. They matter as profoundly in theology as they do in science (and everything else!).
2) You must avoid judging creationists by the very same scientific method used for naturalistic enquiry. If indeed science 'with God' would be conducted differently than science on atheistic assumptions then to test the effectiveness of YEC science you'd want to avoid just assuming they were wrong, wouldn't you? I mean that wouldn't be very fair - not very scientific. Well then, you're going to have to walk a mile in their shoes rather than simply test them by a scientific method that excludes divine words from the outset. Instead, if you want to do science ‘with God’ – you’d better allow Him to BE God. ie You’d better allow Him to speak, for that to be your authority and then to move out into the world on the basis of His word. That would be good science wouldn’t it? If God is God – that would be the only kind of science you could do.
So I think Dawkin's words need to be heeded here - first by Christians who want to conduct and affirm science on common foundations to naturalists. But second by Dawkins himself. If he really believed that science ‘with God’ was entirely different then he wouldn’t be judging YEC science by naturalistic science. But he does this all the time!