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Why I am open in my support of evolution

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Scientific American, whose articles often are noticeably skewed toward an antireligious (rather than merely secular) perspective, begins to make up for past transgressions with this fascinating profile on an accomplished geneticist and evolutionary biologist who speaks up for the compatibility of evolution and religion. Among the excellent points Francisco Ayala (who was once ordained a Dominican priest, though it's not clear whether he still practices any faith) makes:

  • Evolution not only does not undermine a divine explanation for nature, it actually helps. It shows that the suffering in nature, caused by predators and parasites and plain bad luck, is amoral rather than immoral — that it is not evil in the sense of an act of the will. Since God by definition can do no evil, describing nature as neither good nor evil explains how a good God can create a world with natural suffering. It helps, in other words, with theodicy.
  • Outside the United States, the strong feeling that "Darwinism" is the enemy of Christianity and vice versa is not prominent.
  • The biggest reason I feel strongly about explaining how evolution is compatible with faith is reiterated by Ayala: Many intelligent Christian students of biology lose their faith when they discover the strength of the theory of evolution because they believe evolution and Christianity are incompatible. It is tragic to think of people turning from God as a result of learning more about his sublime creation.
Ayala's interest in the philosophy of science, unfortunately, does not seem to show as much evidence of his theological training as SciAm implies. For example, according to Wikipedia (admittedly not a terrifically reliable source), he has spoken out against the United States ban on federal funds for vivisecting human embryos.

Nevertheless, though I have far less education in both science and theology than Ayala, I would like to think that in at least some ways we are kindred spirits. We both oppose the sneering attitude of the "Brights" who think they have the corner on truth, when they are actually just closing their eyes to the brightest part of it.

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