Brian Boyko, a candidate for Texas state representative, recently posted an article on his website entitled “Why Are Some Hell-Bent On Teaching Intelligent Design?”. A self-described “geek,” Boyko criticizes people of “faith” for interfering with “science” instruction. He makes some interesting points that I believe represent the arguments of many people who believe the universe came into being without a Creator.
I interact with Boyko’s post as a fellow “geek,” with over two decades of software engineering experience. I affirm and share his desire to look at the world through a pragmatic lens informed by experience in the world of high technology.
We find these questions at the heart of the debate over the teaching of origins: Who has the power to define the vocabulary? Who gets to decide what certain words mean?
For example, see how Boyko uses the words “scientific,” “evolution,” and “evidence”:
The problem is, within any scientific body of merit, evolution is not under controversy. Certainly the methods by which evolution manifests can be; but to say that evolution isn’t real is to be blind to the mountains of evidence that support the theory; while “intelligent design,” or “creationism” isn’t supported by any scientific evidence at all.
The dictionary definition of “scientific” cites the word “empirical” as a synonym, which means “based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”
By that definition, any truly “scientific” evidence for “evolution” is limited to the micro-evolution we can observe in creatures who adapt to changes in their environment. Verifiable “mountains of evidence” do show that both plants and animals respond to significant environmental stresses by either producing offspring more suited to the different environment, or by dying off.
In contrast, Boyko’s use the word “evolution” asserts that everything in the universe came to be without a Creator’s involvement cannot be described with the same meaning of “scientific”, since nobody has observed that process, nor does any evidence for that exist. Instead, that theory of origins stems from a statement of faith like this: “Since micro-evolution is true, spontaneous generation of new species with no designer must also be true. There is no need for a Creator.”
I think a more appropriate synonym for the word “scientific” as it is used by Boyko is the word “orthodox”. While they often criticize organized religion, those who call their view of origins “scientific” actually behave as an organized religion themselves. They have statements of faith that define what is orthodox or heretical. They include a priesthood with ecclesiastical hierarchies like peer-reviewed journals and college tenure systems. While they ridicule theistic people for insisting that their faith inform how they teach their children about origins, their view is really a competing system of faith. It is a faith without a Creator.
The debate over the teaching of origins is not “religion vs. science.” It is “religion vs. religion.” It is a battle of priesthoods. The atheistic, secular humanistic priesthood is currently winning the day in most of public education. They have stolen the word “science” and redefined it according to their orthodoxy. Their statement of faith forbids mention of a Creator, since it is unorthodox to them. They fight heretics by insulting their intelligence (no intelligent person could look at the “evidence” and think there was a Designer, right?), ridiculing them as old-fashioned, out of touch, or not enlightened.
Imagine this: a PhD Astrophysicist who is also a Bible-believing Christian applies to be a professor at UCLA. She wants to teach her view that the organization of the galaxies points overwhelmingly to an Intelligent Designer. Will she be hired? No way! Why? While they’ll say she is “unscientific,” the truth is that she is unorthodox to them. Her views are heretical in their faith system. She will be rejected for exactly the same reason that an atheist would not be hired to teach a New Testament class at Liberty University—non-conformance to the statement of faith.
Further on, Boyko asserts:
Let’s be frank for a second: Faith is a powerful motivator. It is very hard to convince someone that they’re wrong on the facts when they believe it is a moral duty to insist their side is right.
I couldn’t agree more. The irony is that while those in the atheistic origins camp deny they are operating in faith, this statement applies directly to them. Their naturalistic faith insists that since we understand small things, the big things will be explained the same way. Since they have figured out many things about how life works, they believe they’ll eventually solve every other mystery without need of a Creator. What a leap of faith!
Because to a believer, faith is a virtue. Indeed, the highest virtue. And evolution may not challenge God’s throne, but it challenges a highly held belief that God created man as the apex of life on Earth. To suggest that man holds no special place amongst the beasts—that our rationality was not the spark of divine creation but the machinations of blind terrestrial navigation belies the idea that God places us first among all his creations.
Is it verifiable, with empirical, observable evidence that “man holds no special place amongst the beasts”? Of course not. This view is another article of atheistic faith. The place and value of mankind in the world are religious ideas, theistic or not.
This quote underscores the problem that creationists have with godless teaching of origins in public classrooms. A faith position is being advocated, one that makes a religious claim about mankind’s “place amongst the beasts.” No real observable science teaches this; it’s a doctrine of secular humanism. (Observable evidence actually leans towards mankind’s superiority. What other species is having this debate?) By capturing the language of the debate, calling their faith “science” and heretics “unintelligent,” they change the playing field and convince lawmakers to establish their religion under their redefined meaning of “science.”
Here’s how real science becomes secular humanistic faith. First, an actual fact is observed, such as the discovery of fossilized animal bones. These bones are brought to the PhD university priests—I mean, scientists—and their story of faith is overlaid on the discovery. They explain how these bones show that this animal evolved from other bones we’ve found that are millions of years older. Observable? Nope. Scientific? Not by the word’s real definition. Faith? Absolutely.
Boyko ended his post with the testimony he gave to the Texas State Board of Education. He argues that since theological concepts transcend human reason, they don’t belong in the science classroom. He invokes St. Aquinas to make a pious-sounding argument, that it is beneath us to assert there is a Creator in our teaching of origins:
And to attempt to force the Divine—which transcends reason—into the small confines of reason alone, not only makes a general mess of Science, but also diminishes the Divine. To lower the supernal to the study of the terrestrial is, well, blasphemous.
So, if you see evidence of design in creation and say there is a Creator, you are blaspheming? This is quite a stretch, one that has nothing to do with the teaching of origins. The idea that evidence of design in the world points to the existence of a Designer is not above human reason—it is actually very reasonable. It is only blasphemy to claim there is a Creator through the lens of an atheist’s statement of faith.
If you really are going to limit science to that which is observable, then you have to expunge the science curriculum of your religion too: no more hiding behind millions of years, no more contrived stories of unobserved spontaneous transformations of one species into another, no more assertions that men are no different than monkeys. Stop redefining words to make your religion sound secular. It’s faith, a godless faith, and it doesn’t belong in the classroom.
It’s time for the debate over origins to be honestly framed for what it is: a battle between religions. People who see evidence for the Designer must not surrender the vocabulary of words like “science,” “evolution,” and “evidence.” Let’s show the establishment of secular humanistic religion for what it is: an unconstitutional infringement on the freedom of every American for the purposes of indoctrinating the next generation into secular humanistic faith.