Prof. Denis Lamoureux
EDMONTON — Evolution is the scientific theory that natural processes over billions of years produced all living organisms, including humans. Creationism is the belief that the world is the product of a Creator.
"Is there a middle-ground position that can accept both Christianity and science?" asked Prof. Denis Lamoureux, lecturing in a Sept. 29 talk at the University of Alberta.
Lamoureux said moving past the evolution vs. creation debate is essential. The problem stems from dividing the issue into two simple positions, either following science or following religion. Since there are many in-between positions, looking past this false dichotomy is necessary to move towards a solution.
"I am arguing for one point and one point only: to move beyond the black-and-white, either/or approach to creation and evolution."
With three doctoral degrees in dentistry, theology and biology, Lamoureux epitomizes the merging of science and religion prevalent over the past 15 years. He is an associate professor of science and religion at St. Joseph's College.
"Scientists are still keeping the faith. Forty per cent of practising U.S. scientists believe in a personal God and that he answers prayers," said Lamoureux. More educational institutions are seeking a reconciliation between science and religion.
A standard argument on the origin of life might focus on evolution, humanist ethics and no God. At its extreme is scientism or a secular worldview.
An example of an atheistic evolutionist is Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, outspoken atheist and critic of religion. He believes atheism is the logical extension of evolution and that religion is incompatible with science.
On the other end of the spectrum is the viewpoint of fundamentalist Christianity, which is based on the belief that creation took six days as outlined in Genesis.
Henry Morris upheld the young earth creationist position. He advocated creationism, flood geology and that the Bible contains all of the basic tenets of science. He even wrote that evolutionism was satanic and responsible for racism, abortion and a decline in morality.
Creationists tend to believe that the world has a plan and a purpose. Evolutionists tend to equate science with dysteleology, the belief that the world has no plan and purpose.
Lamoureux used the term "conflation" to describe this sloppy blending of distinct ideas into one simple idea.
"Most people are conflating evolution with dysteleology, but it doesn't have to be that way. Evolution is God's natural process by which he creates all forms of life," he said.
Science is based on observations, experiments, theories and laws. Religion and philosophy are based on ultimate beliefs. On the path between science and religion are intuition, faith and reason.
To understand Genesis or any ancient text, he said, realize that the descriptions were put into terms that people of the time could understand. The focus of creation should be on the idea that God created, not how God created.
"The real message of faith is that Jesus is Lord," explained Lamoureux. Faith, not science, is the stuff that changes people's lives.
"We are made in the image and likeness of God. Because of sin, God judges us. Start there and this changes your whole worldview. Whether God created fishes on Day 6 or Day 5 is immaterial."