October 12, 2007

Letter to the Editor

Science and religion not at odds

As a Unitarian Universalist, I read Kyle Lee’s religious take (“Dawkins’s Militant Atheism Delusional,” 9/10/07) on Richard Dawkins’s speech with great interest. While personally more concerned with how one’s religion affects one’s actions than on arguing with either Lee or Dawkins on whether there is a real being behind that belief, the scientist in me compels me to respond to some problems with Lee’s article.

He is right in saying that science cannot absolutely prove or disprove the existence of God. As a biology major in his fourth year, I am sure Lee knows that science cannot prove many things. It can instead provide insight on what is the most likely truth and how relatively unlikely competing ideas might be.

Despite his education, Lee asserts an “unmistakable conclusion” that cells were designed by God. However, continually advancing scientific research shows plausible ways for cells to develop from the organization of non-living chemicals. Lee further states agreement with one scientific process—evolution from one living thing to the next, but disregards the science supporting a process that may have led up to that evolution without evidence or explanation for the discrepancy. Additionally, his assertion lacks some religious merit, since not all faiths assume the hand of a god in making life.

Lee’s call for students to rise up against Dawkins’s statements and “firmly assert the existence of God” is especially disconcerting. First, it violates his own statement that God cannot be proven. His God and my God are matters of faith. Secondly, while a somewhat understandable reaction given Dawkins’s strong language, Lee’s similarly severe words are not constructive in advancing the dialogue between science and religion. Rather than fighting between the two, we can use religious ideas to help us peaceably navigate this world, even as we use science to more fully understand it.

Kyle Gracey

Masters in Public Policy ’09