Intro to evolution, intelligent design, and the harmony of science and religion
Atheism, and the related agnosticism, are often painted with a broad brush, which obscures their nuances. Not all forms of atheism are the same. It seemed worthwhile to take a closer look, and rather than doing that abstractly, I decided to take a look at the atheism/agnosticism of three well-known scientists, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, and Carl Sagan. Gould and Dawkins are specialists in evolution science.
As I started working on an article about Gould, I quickly realized that I needed a basic understanding of the Theory of Evolution, about which I was woefully uninformed and generally uninterested. Although I knew that the relationship between evolution and religion was somewhat contentious, a deeper dive quickly showed that it was here, more than any other, that the boundaries between science and religion most clearly collided. I found that subject fascinating and nuanced, and an excellent arena for examining the Baha'i Principle of the Harmony of Science and Religion. Some, and apparently a relatively small but very vocal minority in both areas (science and religion), see evolution and religion to be in irreconcilable conflict - a take no prisoners fight to the death.
Therefore I've decided to write a series of posts about the relationship between evolution and religion, the content of said series not being clear in my mind because I'm learning something new and developing a deeper understanding every day. Therefore I am unable to make a pedantic presentation, and will be using a "shotgun" approach. They will be unified by the underlying theme of resolution of the perceived conflict using the principle of the harmony of science and religion, but could well appear to be disjointed at first glance. I won't be posting on the science of religion, except for an introductory post outlining the barest of basics. The details, what I like to call the "messy bits", aren't necessary for following the main theme, and are well outside my area of competence as well.
My first post, which will follow later today, will be on Stephen Jay Gould. I started and basically finished it before doing the deeper investigation described above. I'm not entirely satisfied with it, but think that it is probably "good enough". We used to have a poster on the wall when I worked for an engineering consulting firm, which said, "There comes a time in the life of every project where you have to shoot the engineers and started construction." The same applied to writers, I think - one can revise and add to one's writing for ever, because it's almost impossible to completely exhaust any subject, so there comes a time when one must simply say "good enough", and "put it out there".
As a side note, there seems to be an informal rule that when writing about a subject, authors should avoid using the first person: I think, I believe, I found, etc. The "rule" says to use either the passive voice (it is hope, it is believed, and that sort of thing) or an impersonal voice (the author hopes, the author believe, and so on). Both forms, it seems to me, attempt to emphasize an objectivity that is not entirely present, or in other words, downplay the element of subjectivity that is always there. Someone hopes, someone believes - that someone is me. So I'm going to use an informal, conversational style: I believe, I hope, I think.
I hope that you find the series enlightening and enjoyable. Thank you for reading.