PZ Myers has a post about the people who are obsessed with making science out to be the accommodating factor for religion. It simply isn’t true and I want to emphasis an important point; this can’t be repeated enough.
Funny thing is, in those situations (as well as in the classroom) I just focus on telling the story of the evidence. That is our strength, right? I don’t have to announce that the Book of Genesis is wrong and silly, but I also don’t have to go out of my way to tell them some pretty excuse to allow them to continue to believe in talking snakes. And if I’m asked, I tell them straightforwardly that literal religious accounts are falsified by the evidence.
The most important (implicit) point here, I think, is that science is not approached from a theistic or atheistic point of view. Of course, it best supports an atheistic view point (with at least a worthwhile case being made for a deistic view), but that doesn’t mean that atheism is assumed in science. It simply isn’t. Science influences our philosophies and religions; it should never be the other way around. The only philosophy that should influence science is the one that says evidence matters above all else. Of course, that can be applied to just about anything. The big difference between science and “just about anything” is that scientists actually do apply that philosophy.
It is interesting. I think a lot of people recognize that no philosophy is more important than that one. That’s why creationists are always trying to claim the prestige of science. First it started with the de facto assumption that science supported particular gods. Then it moved to the term “creation science”. When that failed, “intelligent design” was introduced (or rather, reintroduced – it’s just a rehashing of Paley’s Watchmaker). Now there’s a mesh of ID and out-and-out lying. Creationists want science to support their inane views because they know the very word “science” lends credit to any idea. BS diet pills, penis extension pills/creams, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and other kooks/kook companies will always slap “clinically proven” or talk about the “science” of their fields because they realize the exact same thing.
But the creationists are fundamentally flawed. They don’t actually follow any evidence. Most creationists either have no college education or have no education in biology. They can’t follow the evidence because they don’t understand the evidence. Wholly, it’s frustrating. Every week I gain a new detail in one of my biology courses, I recognize that it would make absolutely no sense without evolution. That paper by Theodosius Dobzhansky titled “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” held only a rhetorical position in my mind many years ago. As I’ve grown to better appreciate the immensity of the evidence for evolution, I find myself saying it with meaning at least once a week.
And here’s the big kicker. My atheism hasn’t once influenced any of my thoughts on evolution. It doesn’t work that way. Evolution influences my atheism (though doesn’t force it). Imagine for a moment an experiment. Let’s take the Lenski experiments. Can anyone name me the point where atheism or theism influenced anything here? It isn’t possible. Why? Because science is not approached from those point of views. How could Lenksi? “Well, God must exist, so my result must reflect that. Instead of describing just my scientific methods, I will attribute any results to prayer.” Reversing that for an atheistic point of view is equally non-sensical.
Science should never be harmed for the sake of a point of view. It is the best representation of the truth that is available to anyone. Purely for that reason – that it is true – it should be held in regard far above any theisms or lack thereof.