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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Choosing Not to Choose

The Ottawa Citizen has an editorial about science and religion in today's newspaper, taking the position that "people shouldn't be dismissed as unreasonable if they choose both." The editorial praises the approach of Francisco Ayala, an evolutionary biologist and geneticist, former Dominican priest, and author of the new book Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion, who promotes the idea that belief in evolution is compatible with belief in God. At the same time, it criticizes the "new atheists"—calling Richard Dawkins out by name—for a somewhat arrogant and "not terribly subtle or nuanced" approach. "By setting religion and science against each other, like two opposing teams, the atheists make it difficult for some religious people to accept scientific processes. It's as though believers are being asked to choose between, say, God or evolution. No wonder some believers then twist their minds in knots to find new ways of explaining how the physical world works," says the paper.
"In the end," the editorial concludes, "individuals make sense of the universe in their own way. We read about science and philosophy and religion. We discuss ideas. We believe in things that, for whatever reason, appeal to us. We dismiss things that don't. And sometimes, when given two choices, we find a way that allows us to choose both. That's doesn't make us delusional or dishonest, just human." —Heather Wax