The “Understanding Evolution” website, run jointly by UC Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), is a good place for the layperson to get information about evolution. In December it won a prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for its quality as an online resource.
It’s too bad, then, that it engages in theology as well as science. If you go to the page titled “Misconceptions about evolution and the mechanism of evolution,” you’ll see that one of the “misconceptions” is this:
“Evolution and religion are incompatible.”
Religion and science (evolution) are very different things. In science, only natural causes are used to explain natural phenomena, while religion deals with beliefs that are beyond the natural world.
The misconception that one always has to choose between science and religion is incorrect. Of course, some religious beliefs explicitly contradict science (e.g., the belief that the world and all life on it was created in six literal days); however, most religious groups have no conflict with the theory of evolution or other scientific findings. In fact, many religious people, including theologians, feel that a deeper understanding of nature actually enriches their faith. Moreover, in the scientific community there are thousands of scientists who are devoutly religious and also accept evolution.
For concise statements from many religious organizations regarding evolution, see Voices for Evolution on the NCSE Web site.
(Note how much space is given to NOMA-ish “compatibility” as opposed to to those pesky creationists.)
Isn’t the flat assertion that faith/science incompatibility is a “misconception” really a statement not about science, but about theology and philosophy?
It’s funny: many evolutionary biologists don’t see the incompatibility between science and religion as a misconception at all. They see it as a view that’s more consistent—and justifiable—than accommodationism. Sadly, the website doesn’t deem that view worth mentioning.
This pervasive pandering to religion on websites supposedly about science—and the deliberate distortion of the views of scientists—is starting to anger me. The NCSE doesn’t really care whether it throws us atheists under the bus, because they take our support for granted.