New Duane Jeffery article
Duane Jeffery, BYU professor of zoology, in an article yesterday in The Daily Herald takes a lesson out of the history books to help us get a better picture of the dangerous ground biblical literalists are walking on.
Decades ago it was popular in both science and religion to ponder the merits of something called the "universal ether."Jeffery recommends a book, The History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, by Andrew Dixon White, available on Amazon.com and online. He summarizes White’s ideas on the conflict of the Bible and science with,
This was supposed to be a marvelous something that filled the entire universe, necessary to carry radiation from the sun to heat the earth, etc.
Numerous religionists asserted that the ether was the method by which God kept in contact with his creations; it was allegedly the medium of the Holy Spirit.
Here in Utah those latter ideas were propounded by both prominent scientists and leading churchmen. Though universal ether is no longer so taught, there is a message here that is directly relevant to our present society.
The intent was not only to relate religious matters to then-current secular concepts but also to use the prestige of science to validate religious doctrine. And that is precisely the intent of the "Intelligent Design" (ID) movement today. So, before we Utahns get overly wrapped up in ID, we'll do well to reflect on some history.
Eventually the concept of universal ether was disproven and discarded. And where did that leave the argument for deity? Compromised, frankly, and the credibility of those who taught the relationship clearly damaged. Employing science to validate one's religious views was shown to be quite unwise. Let's learn from that; isn't that a major reason to study history?
White's thesis was that science and religion did not have to be enemies; it was the arguments of theology and scriptural (mis)interpretation, not scripture or religion themselves, that generated conflict. Multitudinous biblical interpretations fiercely defended in earlier times are laughable today.Science and the Bible get along just fine, but science and certain interpretations of the Bible don’t. We Bible believers need to realize that when we perceive a conflict between the Bible and science it is most likely our all too human interpretation that science is in conflict with, not the Bible itself.
We all recognize that science changes and matures; too often we are loathe to recognize that religion evolves also and that our descendants will be bemused by many ideas that presently we consider immutable.