Unworshipful Darwinism.

Author:Charlesworth, William R.
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

In "Believing in Evolution" (Public Square, May), Richard John Neuhaus reminds us of the persistent controversy between evolutionary theory and intelligent design. As a behavioral scientist, I use evolutionary theory as a conceptual tool to do research into human nature; as a Christian, I pray as a way to thank and honor God. Despite the arguments of Richard Dawkins and some Christian fundamentalists, I can't find any reason to reject either religion or evolutionary science. Of course, it is possible I am a very slow learner or delusional. If so, I hope such traits are not easy to prove empirically.

I address evolutionary arguments here because I know them better than intelligent-design arguments. So far evolutionary theory is holding up very well in specific areas such as the origins of human anatomy and physiology, and some basic human behaviors. More complex human features such as higher cognitive functioning (mathematics, language, artistic creativity, religion) are another matter For example: evolutionary psychologists (for whom the uniqueness of humans is a myth) are scrambling to show that evolutionary theory can account for the origins of such high-order features. They do this mainly by showing cognitive similarities between humans and other species (Darwin's great hope). So far, they are partly successful, but the cognitions they deal with are pretty rudimentary (for example, knowledge of kinship and dominance hierarchies, some language skills, and tool-using).

The complex abstract thinking that characterizes philosophy, science, and theology is...

To continue reading