Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Times and Seasons comment about BYU biology and doctrine

Two paragraphs over at Times and Seasons about BYU science and doctrine recently caught my attention, see Ben's comment here.

"For now, let me just explicitly challenge one cluster of points. Dave, you say that 'the flourishing science departments at BYU make it clear the Church does not oppose science or endorse the false science-religion conflict thesis.' There are several problems with this statement. First, the presence or absence of X, Y, or Z, at BYU tells us very little about the relationship between X, Y, and Z, and church doctrine. The fact that a certain BYU professor merrily teaches repugnant, racist ideas for years, for instance, in no way implies that the church endorses those ideas. Similarly, a course on Marxist, or Platonic, or Buddhist thought, in no way implies that the church endorses Marxist or Platonic or Buddhist ideas or teachings. The fact that caffeinated sodas are or are not available in BYU vending machines or eateries says nothing reliable about the church position on caffeinated soda.

"Second, the fact (which I embrace as a fact) that the church does not regard science as opposed to religion does not imply a position regarding any particular scientific claim. Science as an activity is a matter of forming, testing, and criticizing theories, so endorsing science as an activity is just as much an endorsement of challenging theories as it is of maintaining them. The fact that BYU has a flourishing physics department does not mean that when someone claims to have achieved cold fusion, the church believes in cold fusion. The fact that BYU scientists achieve professional success in atmospheric science does not imply that the church takes any position for or against theories of global warming or climate change. And the presence of a flourishing biology department does not imply anything about the relationship between evolutionary theory and theology."

Here are a couple of my own posts on related topics:

1. May 23, 2008, BYU evolution courses overrated, and

2, Oct. 11, 2010, Darwin and cola drinks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that BYU has a flourishing science department in any discipline means it is behaving as a university. If it were to stop encouraging thought and investigation into a particular area, say evolution, then it would no longer be a university and become a seminary. It is a credit to the university and to the its governing officers that students are encouraged to pursue all areas of interest unencumbered by baggage of any kind, even a perceived conflict with their faith.

8/27/2013 06:50:00 AM  

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