Wednesday, May 13, 2009

There is Hope

Back to this month's Scientific American: where evolutionist Lynn Margulis makes the bold claim that evolution explains human nature "Quite well." I guess we shouldn't be looking for measured scientific assessments from people who believe evolution is a fact. Margulis makes reference to the famous Wilberforce-Huxley debate, which reminded me that this is a topic that can help to highlight the religion in science (though Margulis has no such intention, of course). Even the Wikipedia site understands:

Though the debate is frequently depicted as a clash between religion and science, a case could be made for saying that for the many clerics in the audience, the underlying conflict was between traditional Anglicanism (Wilberforce) and liberal Anglicanism (Essays and Reviews). Many of the opponents of Darwin's theory were respected men of science: Owen was one of the most influential British biologists of his generation; Adam Sedgwick was a leading geologist; Wilberforce was a Fellow of the Royal Society (though at that time about half of the Fellows were well-placed amateurs).

Or as historian John Hedley Brooke comments:

The image of a head-on conflict between science and the Anglican Church also turns out to be simplistic. How, for example do we account for the following fact recorded in Leonard Huxley's Life of his father? Close to a group of Huxley's sympathisers had been "one of the few men among the audience already in Holy orders, who joined in – and indeed led – the cheers for the Darwinians." [click: "A legend in need of revision?"]

There is hope.