Religion and Science Questions

In separate documents for each question, typed, double spaced and citied using any and all references to the articles provided. Answer the 3 following questions by using the articles provided. I do not want you to merely quote from the articles, you must be able to explain what each of the concepts mean, provide examples, and give definitions of terms as needed.MLA CITED (2 PAGES PER QUESTION WITH WORK CITED PAGE) ** ANSWER EACH QUESTION INDEPENDENTLY ** DO NOT USE THE PREVIOUS ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTIONS ALREADY ANSWERED. (i.e, Questions 1 and 3)1.- What is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? Please explain in terms of Natural Selection. Is Natural Selection purely random chance, or is there design to be understood at various levels? Please see Barbour Chapter 9 and explain instances of chance and instances of design. Does this allow for some type of Dialogue between religion and science in terms of ultimate truths? What would that be? 2.- What is Strict Creationism? Why is Strict Creationism at odds with science? Explain in detail how Strict Creationism creates conflict between religion and science in terms of the scientific method as explained in Barbour Chapter 5. Even though the Scopes trial ends with Scopes being found guilty, what is it about William Jennings Bryant’s testimony that signals the death knell for anti-evolutionist belief at the level of education? 3.- Why does Haught in Chapter 10 argue that we have to understand and take suffering in the world seriously to understand God? As stated, the Dialogue between science and religion leads to a comprehension that in the universe, suffering, creation and destruction, birth and death, are integral to ‘Life’ in general, including the birth and death of entire systems. How would this view lead to an integration of religion and science to understanding the nature of the universe? Explain it in terms of Process Theology. See Barbour Chapter 9.


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One of the main reasons why religion and theology are so appealing to their followers
is that they provide answers to the problem of suffering. Today, however, the
traditional answers do not always seem believable, and suffering, no less than death,
seems to be just one more fact of nature. Especially after Darwin all aspects of life,
including suffering, can apparently be understood in natural terms. To the strict
naturalist this means that, as far as life’s suffering is concerned, there is no need to
fall back on obsolete religious interpretations, nor is there any good reason any longer
for invoking the idea of a redeeming God. Humans, with the aid of science, can
understand and respond to the fact of suffering all by themselves.
From Darwinian biology’s point of view, suffering (which in this chapter I shall
take to be inclusive of the sensation of pain by all sentient life~I is simply an
adaptation that enhances the probability of survival and reproductive success in
complex organisms. How then could theology plausibly add anything of explanatory
substance to the Darwinian naturalist’s account? Darwin himself observed that
suffering is “well adapted to make a creature guard against any great or sudden evil.”2
Suffering, he surmised, is life’s warning system, and if at times the torture it brings
seems exorbitant, the excess is still consistent with a purely naturalist understanding
of life.’ A follower of Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin might even suggest that
the surplus of suffering is a byproduct of adaptation rather than an adaptation itself.’
In any case, when compared to Darwin’s understanding, religious and theological
views of suffering may seem to have little if any explanatory value.
Nowadays, of course, some evolutionists go beyond classical Darwinism by
accounting for the suffering of sentient life in terms of genes striving to make their way
into subsequent generations. Genes somehow sense that they will not get passed on to
the next generation unless they fashion for themselves organic vehicles endowed with
sensory feedback equipment that can alert living beings when their survival is in
jeopardy. So, for their own good, genes have to take it upon themselves to engineer
delicate nervous systems that will secure their immortality. Such machinations may
seem intelligent and even ingenious to those who are unaware of how evolution works,
but to Darwinian naturalists there is nothing intelligent about it at all. The process is,
at bottom, blind and impersonal.
Still, it seems to be nothing short of remarkable that the lifeprocess, however one
explains it, has gradually woven into organisms more and more delicate and painsensitive nervous systems. It is impossible not to remark at how an allegedly
unintelligent evolutionary process, no matter how much time it takes and how
gradually it all unfolds, could turn out to be so ingenious. And yet Darwinians
endowed with a sense of deep time have no difficulty at all in conceiving of a purely
natural, because very gradual, emergence of sensitive organisms. Furthermore, at least
for some people, the haphazard way in which pain is distributed in the organic world
is a most disturbing challenge to religious interpretations of life. Although he was not
a scientific naturalist himself, Sir Charles Sherrington, in his 1940 Gifford Lectures,
offers a poignant portrayal of how the lowly fluke-worm, for example, secures its
existence at the expense of excessive suffering in higher organisms:
There is a small worm (Redia~ in our ponds. With its tongue-head it bores into
the lung of the water-snail. There it turns into a bag and grows at the expense of
the snail’s blood. The cyst in the snail’s lung is full of Redia. They bore their
way out and wander about the body of the snail. They live on the body of the
snail, on its less vital parts for so it lasts the longer; to kill it would cut their
sojourn short before they could breed. They breed and reproduce. The young
wander within the sick snail. After a time they bore their way out of the dying
snail and make their way to the wet grass at the pond-edge. There amid the
green leaves they encyst themselves and wait. A browsing sheep or ox comes
cropping the moist grass. The cyst is eaten. The stomach of the sheep dissolves
the cyst and sets free the fluke-worms within it. The worm is now within the
body of its second prey. It swims from the stomach to the liver. There it sucks
blood and grows, causing the disease called “sheeprot.”
The worms then produce eggs that travel down the sheep’s liver duct and finally
exit into the wet pasture. “Thence as free larvae they reach the meadow-pond to look
for another water snail. So the implacable cycle rebegins.”
What does it all mean? To Sherrington
it is a story of securing existence to a worm at cost of lives superior to it in the
scale of life as humanly reckoned. Life’s prize is given to the aggressive and
inferior of life, destructive of other lives at the expense of suffering in them,
and, sad as it may seem to us, suffering in proportion as they are lives high in
life’s scale. The example taken is a fair sample of almost countless many.5
Even if there is a fascinating ingenuity to such phenomena, it seems silly to
attribute it to a beneficent divine designer. Darwin himself was led to reject the idea of
divine design, at least in the biological world, after learning about such indecencies as
ichneumon wasps laying their eggs inside living caterpillars so that their larvae will
have fresh meat rather than decaying flesh upon which to nourish themselves. Those of
us who take the idea of a good and powerful creator seriously must also wonder if
there is anything in such performances that theology could possibly illuminate. What
holy message can we wrest from the book of nature as we read about fluke worms and
ichneumon wasps?
For centuries religions and theologies have been explaining suffering without the
benefit of Darwinian expertise. They have been persuasive to most people not only
because their sacred stories seem to account quite satisfactorily for the origin of
suffering, but even more because they offer hope of release from it. Religious salvation,
although it means much more than final release from suffering, means at least that
much. Religions generally encourage people to trust that in the end all tears will be
wiped away and pain and death will be no more. But now that evolutionary biology has
graced us with an elegant “naturalistic” answer to the question of why suffering occurs
in sentient life, what are we to do with all the convoluted but apparently healing and
adaptive perspectives of our religions? After Darwin, can religious myths about the
origin and end of suffering have either explanatory power or salvific efficacy?
Any plausible theological response to suffering cannot simply overlook
ichneumon wasps, fluke worms and countless other instances of nature’s indifference
to suffering. Clearly the natural world has never been a paradise, contrary to what a
literal reading of Genesis may suggest. The emergence and evolution of life have been
rather messy. As we now realize, suffering, death and mass extinctions have been
constitutive of, and not just accidental to, the ongoing creation of life on earth.
Religious belief encourages people to hope that “alas far off” all tears will be wiped
away and death will be no more.’ And for people of faith it should not be a terribly
uncomfortable doctrinal stretch to extend such extravagant hopes, as Buddhism does,
to the release of all life from suffering. But our theologies, with only a few exceptions,
generally avoid the issue of why God’s universe would be the theater of so much
evolutionary struggle, travail and death in the first place. Theology still needs to
consider in depth what biology tells us about God, sin, evil, redemption and especially
the meaning of suffering. And it needs to ask more sincerely than ever whether a purely
naturalist – and that means evolutionary – understanding is not the best answer to the
question of why life brings so much suffering.
The question “why suffering?” is irrepressible, and, along with the prospect of
death, it has been the main stimulus to the countless stories about the origin and end
of evil that humans have been telling one another for thousands of years. Myths about
how suffering came about have provided reassurance that life is not absurd. And
religious conjectures about how suffering can be redeemed have carved out the
spiritual space in which most peoples have lived, hoped and aspired to ethical
goodness. Is it wise, then, to ignore these venerable accounts, as naturalism would
propose? Or can we repossess them, even after Darwin, as a great treasury of wisdom
deserving of ever deeper exploration? Whatever answer one gives, it is at least
necessary to admit that none of the ancient myths of evil and suffering said anything
about evolution. That they did not do so is entirely forgiveable, of course, but it is no
mark of theological courage that so many religious thinkers even today still touch only
lightly on Darwin’s science if they mention it at all.
I shall propose in this chapter, then, that it is entirely appropriate to keep telling
the old stories about the origin and end of suffering, but that our religions and
theologies should not recite them any longer as though Darwin never lived and
evolution never happened. Evolutionary biology clearly requires the widening of
theological reflection so as to take into account the enormous breadth and depth of
nonhuman pain and the unfinished character of the universe. Even if theology is a
reasonable alternative to naturalism it must not be seen as an alternative to good
To the evolutionary naturalist, religious stories about suffering lack the explanatory
economy of evolutionary science, so they will be of little interest to the intellectually
enlightened. Any supernormal accounts of human suffering, indeed the whole panoply
of religious mythology and doctrine, appear to the naturalist to be at best nothing
more than empty, though perhaps occasionally heartwarming, illusion. This
impression applies especially to “theodicy.” Broadly speaking, any attempt to
understand or explain suffering may be called a theodicy. In theistic contexts theodicy
is the theoretical attempt to “justify” the existence of God given the facts of evil and
suffering. If God is all-good and all-powerful, then God must be able and willing to
prevent life’s suffering. But suffering exists. Why? Theodicy is the branch of theology
that tries to answer this question. Many theodicies are highly philosophical, and their
rarefied speculation does little or nothing to remove actual suffering. For that reason
today the whole business of theodicy often seems useless even to the devout. Yet
finding an answer to the question of suffering is an irrepressible concern of most
people, so any intelligible explanation of suffering can be a kind of theodicy.7 Even
Darwinism itself now functions, at least for scientific naturalists, as an ultimate
answer to the ancient question of how to locate and understand the fact of suffering.
Evolutionary theory, in fact, is satisfying to so many people today because it
proposes in effect to have found a “theodicy” that surpasses all previous ones in
clarity and simplicity. For many thoughtful people, Darwinism, employed as a kind of
Occam’s razor, has made the ideas of God, sin, punishment, demons – and perhaps
even human guilt – worthless as far as the understanding of suffering is concerned.
Nobody pretends that Darwinism can wipe away all tears and do away with death. To
those who find evolutionary accounts of suffering sufficient the universe still remains
pointless, and hope for redemption an idle dream. But the price of surrendering
religious hope seems well worth the intellectual luminosity that Darwinism brings to
an issue that has befuddled humanity for so many centuries.
Nevertheless, religious theodicies still persist, and Darwinism is having a tough
time dislodging the venerable sources of comfort.’ Is this persistence of religion simply
due to recalcitrant human irrationality and poor science education? Or to an all too
human refusal to grow up and face reality? Whatever the answer, Darwinian
naturalism, with its promise to provide a complete explanation of life,9 is now obliged
to account not only for suffering but also for the tenacity with which most people still
adhere to allegedly obsolete religious and theological myths about suffering. If the
Darwinian answer to the question of suffering is so easy to understand, then why do
religious myths and theodicies still captivate the minds of most people, including
many who are scientifically educated and fully up to date with evolutionary biology?
A simplistic Darwinism might reply that religious myths of suffering still have an
adaptive function.1° Religions trick people into believing that their lives are
worthwhile. Religion promotes gene survival, and that is why God will not go away for
good. Religion, according to at least some Darwinian naturalists, is in fact a “noble
lie,” but it is still adaptive. Its illusory projections help to keep individuals and
communities together so as to allow their genes to get into future generations.
Recognizing the evolutionary effectiveness of religion, some disciples of Darwin even
propose that we should never let the deceptions of religion die out completely, lest our
species perish from having abandoned one of its most adaptive inventions.11
However, a more chastened Darwinism now admits that religious theodicies may
not necessarily be adaptive per se. Rather, religious ideas and aspirations are only
“parasitic” upon cerebral modules which themselves can be accounted for in terms of
evolutionary adaptation originally for other purposes than that of providing religious
consolation. This hypothesis modifies earlier and cruder Darwinian interpretations of
religion’s persistence. It concedes that humans will always have a propensity for
religion as long as they continue to carry around the same kind of brains that our
ancestors acquired during the Pleistocene period. Pascal Boyer and Scott Atran, for
example, find the roots of our “counterfactual” religious ideation not so much in
culture as in the kinds of hominid brains that became adept at “agent detection,”
starting several million years ago.12 Ideas about invisible supernatural beings, Atran
claims, “are, in part, byproducts of a naturally selected cognitive mechanism for
detecting agents – such as predators, protectors and prey – and for dealing rapidly and
economically with stimulus situations involving people and animals. ,13 Such
mechanisms are ready-made for the religious enterprise of looking for unseen deities
to soothe our suffering.
In response to this Darwinian debunking of religion and theodicy, I believe
theology would be well advised to make two moves. First, it must undertake a thorough
critique of the naturalist conviction that Darwinism provides an exhaustive and
adequate explanation of the suffering of sentient life. The Darwinian naturalist’s
virtual claim to complete and final understanding of suffering in evolutionary terms,
after all, is an exceptionally audacious one. If justifiable, it would bring down the
entire classical edifice of ethics, religion and theology. However, just as the Darwinian
naturalist’s claim to be able to explain critical intelligence and moral responsibility
fully in evolutionary terms has proven to be inflated and even self-subverting, so also
the belief that Darwinism can at last make suffering fully intelligible will also prove to
be groundless. It is groundless, as I will show, because of its failure to understand
fully the intimate connection between suffering and the more mysterious fact of
subjectivity that is required to register both pain and pleasure.
The second theological move, however, is to attend carefully to the evolutionary
accounts of the suffering involved in pre-human and nonhuman forms of sentient life.
Without embracing scientific naturalism, theologians can still accept the discoveries
of evolutionary science, one of which is that suffering occurs much more extensively in
nonhuman life than religions had previously noticed. My proposal is that by looking
closely at evolution, theology may be aroused to find fresh and profound meaning in
many of the classical religious myths and teachings about suffering. What follows can
be no more than a sketch of the two theological assignments I have just laid out.
Can Darwinism fully explain the suffering of sentient life?
Scientists are not yet close to understanding the origin of life on Earth, but in the
notion of adaptive fitness Darwinian biologists can claim at least to have found a
powerful explanation of life’s morphological diversity. Moreover, the notion of
evolutionary adaptation can also at least partly explain why life became sentient to
the point of suffering. The capacity to have feelings, both physical and affective, has
given complex organisms an adaptive advantage over those not so endowed. And even
though the capacity for suffering is as imperfectly developed as other evolutionary
adaptations, it can often signal quite accurately just when an organism is in danger,
allow it to move out of harm’s way, and thus promote the cause of survival and
reproduction. To the Darwinian naturalist, adaptive fitness is the ultimate reason why
suffering occurs. Of course, the degree of intensity of suffering by sentient beings is
often out of proportion to the minimum that would be adaptive (as Darwin himself
noted, but to the pure naturalist this surplus is simply another indication of the
universe’s fundamental impersonality.
Nevertheless, one may still wonder whether Darwinian naturalism accounts fully
for the emergence of either sentience or suffering. For there can be no suffering without
sentience, and there can be no sentience without subjects able to experience either
pain or pleasure. So any attempt to naturalize suffering in a complete way will sooner
or later bump into the fact of subjectivity. And for the naturalist program to claim final
victory science must be able to show why there are any subjects at all. Yet, as previous
chapters have shown time and again, scientific method lacks both the rich empiricism
and the layered explanation essential to take the fact of subjectivity fully into account.
By virtue of its own methodological self-restriction, science, including biology, has no
cognitive access to those centers of feeling or awareness that we intuitively recognize
as subjects. Here is another point at which scientific method is not nearly as
empirically open as its practitioners generally assume. It leaves out any consideration
of the inner worlds of living, experiencing centers, confining itself impersonally to
what is objectively or publicly accessible. The organic interiority without which
neither sentience nor suffering could purchase a foothold in this world necessarily
eludes objectifying inquiry. It follows that if science, including Darwinian biology,
cannot comprehend the subjectivity that underlies sentience and suffering, then
evolutionary naturalism – which takes biological science as ultimate explanation cannot plausibly claim to encompass or explain the totality of organic beings as such.
This limitation applies especially to critical intelligence, but by analogy it
extends across the board to all kinds and shades of subjectivity, anywhere in the
universe. Even the most rudimentary instances of subjectivity already place the
universe at least partly beyond the boundary of what can be captured cognitionally by
conventional scientific method.14 Annoyed at nature’s resistance at this point to
complete …
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