Complicating ‘Creationism vs. Evolution’

Creationism versus evolution — it’s all the rage in the media at the moment, following the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate. The creation-evolution discussion is a primary example employed to evidence religion-science conflict. That is how it is depicted in the media and in popular perception: one or the other; a zero-sum game. Could it be that simple? Of course not — or maybe it’s just that academics such as myself have to question everything and begrudge simplicity.

So let me just say this: there are religious non-creationists and non-evolutionary scientists; there are those who believe in both creationism and evolution and there are those who believe in neither. With the former examples, I am disentangling the  connection between religion and creationism and between science and evolution; in the latter examples I am disentangling the connection between religion and science and opposition/conflict. With this in mind, it becomes clear what this ‘conflict’ really is all about.

The conflict arises from a mere perception of conflict. Obviously it is not necessary that religion and science conflict, because for many it does not. But everyone wants a final word — do they or do they not conflict? The answer is yes. And yes. We create conflict by identifying religion with creationism, science with evolution, and by identifying creationism and evolution as oppositional. Conflict and opposition between ideas is a normal and necessary thing in the ‘carving out’ of interpretive space in our cognitive worlds. It is also perfectly natural that we look for relationships and connections between these interpretive spaces.

Still want the Truth? Well, so do I. But the closest thing we got is to remember that historically these things that we ‘know’ are always changing — including scriptural interpretation, empirical science, and analytical philosophy. Personally, I’m looking forward to find out what we will ‘know’ next!

All the while, I’m hoping I’m not that guy …

atheists(credit: xkcd.com)

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