Edward O. Wilson Discusses Science and Religion

When I was about sixteen years old, I read Edward O. Wilson’s Consilience — a book that confirmed and reaffirmed many of my views on science, as well as inspired me to look through entirely new keyholes. New Scientist recently published an excerpt from an essay Wilson wrote in an edition of four books by Darwin. Do read my following excerpt, and by all means read the full article — Wilson certainly knows his way around science (and words).

The essay touches on three world views; religious views, political behaviorism and scientific humanism. The last reflecting my own — based on the notion that we are biological machines. Perhaps well described as thinking meat, which is incidentally the title of the blog through which I came across Wilson’s article. (And indeed a blog that’s been ever gaining my favor since I started reading.)

[...] Many who accept the fact of evolution cannot, however, on religious grounds, accept the operation of blind chance and the absence of divine purpose implicit in natural selection. They support the alternative explanation of intelligent design. The reasoning they offer is not based on evidence but on the lack of it. The formulation of intelligent design is a default argument advanced in support of a non sequitur. It is in essence the following: there are some phenomena that have not yet been explained and that (most importantly) the critics personally cannot imagine being explained; therefore there must be a supernatural designer at work. The designer is seldom specified, but in the canon of intelligent design it is most certainly not Satan and his angels, nor any god or gods conspicuously different from those accepted in the believer’s faith. [Read the full article]

Wilson also mentions that further discoveries in science (specifically, biology) will continue to widen the gap between science- and religion based world views, and that the two will never be reconciled. I fear he’s right.

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