A Response to David Barash’s ‘God, Darwin and My Biology Class’

by Tim Foutz

Tim Foutz is Ratio Christi’s Chapter Director at the University of Washington, where evolutionary biologist David P. Barash is a professor of psychology. The New York Times featured Barash’s article “God, Darwin and My Biology Class” on September 27, 2014. With the annual “International Darwin Day” coming up on February 12, 2015, Foutz, who also has years of teaching experience and an M.A. in apologetics from Biola University, writes his observations on the article:

As I read “God, Darwin and My Biology Class” by David Barash, I had the picture in my mind of a kindly father sitting down with his son to explain the facts of life. The young lad has heard things that have brought uncomfortable questions into his mind. It would be irresponsible for Dad to ignore these questions and so he sits the boy down to have “The Talk.” Of course, for Dr. Barash and his students, “The Talk” is not about sex, it’s about “evolution and religion, and how they get along. More to the point, how they don’t.” In his estimation there is no real compatibility between science and faith.

In fact, Professor Barash completely rejects Stephen Jay Gould’s idea of “nonoverlapping magisteria (NOMA).” Dr. Gould recognized two domains of teaching authority which he calls magisteria (from the Latin for “teacher.”) “The net of science covers the empirical universe…The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value.”1 These realms could enjoy a benign coexistence, and only rarely bump into each other, but Dr. Barash feels strongly that Gould “was misrepresenting both science and religion.”

Nevertheless, NOMA is being accepted by more and more people in the scientific community. For example, the National Center for Science Education is at least willing to give approval to the idea that God used natural selection to produce his creation. Dr. Barash would be willing to adopt that idea, but “as evolutionary science has progressed, the available space for religious faith has narrowed.” Science has demolished the pillars upon which religion stands and so, in his mind, religion is no longer a viable option.

I appreciate the fact that Professor Barash feels compelled to speak the truth to his students. As a teacher for sixteen years I occasionally had to risk making my students feel uncomfortable as I introduced a new thought to them. There is something particularly rewarding about presenting truth humbly and passionately to those who are willing to receive it. But I don’t believe Dr. Barash is telling his students the whole story. I would like to challenge the tenets of “The Talk” on four key points and then conclude with a few of my own…

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A Response to David Barash’s ‘God, Darwin and My Biology Class’ | Ratio Christi