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This letter is based on the book of Dr. Francisco J. Ayala, former Roman Catholic Priest, research biologist and winner of the 2010 Templeton Prize. (The Templeton Prize is awarded to, “a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.”) In his book, “Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion,” Ayala describes the theory of evolution as helping explain how evil can exist with a good and omnipotent God. Ayala writes that there can be no conflict between science and religion as they are completely different things. Scientists deal with the physical world, theologians with the spiritual world. Of course, in American media, charlatans make fortunes by fueling the controversy with their messages of hate.
Ayala points out that ID, the Intelligent Design of the Creationists, is actually Imperfect Design and he devotes several chapters detailing such perceived errors. Evolution takes God off the hook for the Imperfect designs. For example, he cites the millions of miscarriages and babies born with birth defects each year as evidence of imperfect design through evolution rather than intelligent design through divine intervention.
Recently MIT bio-engineers swapped out the genes of the Ralstonia eutropha bacteria so that it can create isobutanol — an alcohol that can blend with or replace gasoline. My buddy, Jim Sawicki, will be pleased to learn that Canadian and Australian researchers created transgenic corn that can synthesize alpha-L-iduronidase useful for treating mucopolysaccharidosis, a disease that causes progressive damage to the brain. I hope it reaches Jim in time, or is it too late? How long before the bio-engineers swap out the genes of humans? Are they playing God or just improving on natural selection?
I doubt that many Christians have a problem reconciling their faith with modern science. Christian denominations such as the Presbyterians, the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics, as well as various Jewish organizations, have more or less indicated science is here to stay. St. Augustine believed that science and creation stories are irrelevant when it comes to matters of faith. To St. Augustine the important question is how one pleases God. No one, including modern cosmologists, is ever going to figure out how the universe came into being.
The two creation stories in Genesis, as well as those in Second Isaiah and in the gospel of John differ, but their meaning is clear, there is one God who created heaven and earth. There is nothing in science that contradicts this conclusion.
The proper role of 21st century Christians is not to fight with science, but to guide it. Modern Christians should preach that technology be used for the betterment of mankind, not its destruction.