North Western Winds

Contemplating it all from the great Pacific Northwest

Religious romance with Chemistry?

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Ignatius Insight is carrying an interview with Dr. Benjamin Wiker, who is promoting a new book titled A Meaningful World. Wiker makes some very insightful remarks in this exchange, which I’ve bolded for readers in a hurry (C) (TM). He is evenhanded, pointing to common errors on both sides of this tangled dispute.

This faith vs. reason simplifiction has to be overcome; it would change our society in a myriad of ways.

Perhaps that’s the fear, hm?

Dr. Wiker: I have read Dawkins’ God Delusion. I always find that reading Dawkins actually strengthens my faith. He’s a very good writer, and picking through and finding the fallacies in his arguments is good intellectual exercise. But that having been said, I found his arguments against the existence of God to be howlingly weak. You are a senior fellow of Discovery Institute, which is known for arguing for “intelligent design” (ID). What is the most misunderstood aspect of the ID movement? What is its biggest challenge or weakness?

Dr. Wiker: The problem with ID movement has from the outside, is that there really is a conspiracy to paint them as fundamentalists with Ph.D.’s. Secular intellectuals can deal with challenges to Darwinism when they come from fundamentalism. But ID folk have Ph.D.’s in every intellectual area, from biology, physics, and chemistry, to literature, philosophy, and theology. But to make their case, secular intellectuals (and hence the media) continue to tar ID with the fundamentalist brush.

I think the biggest weakness – which we address in our book – is that the ID movement has tended to grant too much to Darwinists. To be exact, they tend to assume the same mechanistic account of nature as the proper battle ground. So, we think the biggest challenge is for the ID movement to go beyond mechanism to a more sophisticated natural philosophy. Why does my copy of A Meaningful World have a periodic table in it? Don’t you know how much I dislike chemistry? Is that some sort of marketing ploy?

Dr. Wiker: In regard to chemistry, we have presented what might be called the “romance of chemistry,” the story of the slow but fascinating discovery of the chemical elements, and in particular, of their place on the Periodic Table of Elements. Our larger point, which we make through this historical treatment of scientific discovery, is that the genius of the many scientists who contributed to the discovery of this masterpiece–the Periodic Table–is only possible because nature itself seems to be quite ingeniously ordered, not just in itself, but ingeniously ordered for our discovery.

We are making much the same that Pope Benedict XVI recently did about the Logos of the Creator being manifest in creation, and in fact, being that which makes scientific discovery possible. So, as a good Catholic, you are therefore obliged not only to like chemistry, but to be absolutely romantic about it!


Written by Curt

December 5, 2006 at 9:32 pm

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