Monday, September 1, 2008

4. So should the established religion seeking the origin of life be disestablished?

As a journalist, I have no origins theory to advance; I am chiefly interested in the way popular science media tell the story, as received from the high priests of origins science. For example, which statements are attacked, and which ones are defended? Which ones are assumed to be the view of all reasonable people? Where is a second opinion sought, and where is it apparently superfluous? What motivates the conviction that an origin of life "with no divine intervention" will definitely be found - logic, evidence, or emotion? Is it possible to disentangle these elements?

Is direct divine action is required for the origin of life? As I have suggested earlier, the main question is not whether or not that is true. No, the question is, if the evidence points to that explanation as correct, can it be accepted? If the reason it cannot be accepted is that the search must continue until a solution "with no divine intervention" is found, then surely the real purpose of origin of life studies is to establish, at taxpayer expense, a religious proposition, a sort of no-God religion.

I don't think that public funding of faith-based initiatives is unreasonable. Indeed, it is often a wise use of tax funds. For example, I would far rather fund an experienced Salvation Army officer to find druggies under bridges than a newly graduated social worker whose head has been stuffed with leftist blather. And stuffed by a prof who - you can be pretty sure in today's intellectual climate - is never challenged, mid-blather, by cold, nasty reality. So, in principle, neither the fact that origin of life research is a religious quest nor the fact that it is the quest of a secular humanist type of religion disqualifies it.

However, a problem does arise when government funds one religion at the expense of another. If government is going to fund researchers to seek an origin of life that does not include God, as traditionally understood, then it had better also fund researchers who are not committed to that view as well. The evidence suggests that some design is required for life to get started, and if - after all this time and so many exploded scenarios - that fact can't even be rationally discussed, public funding of origin of life research means public funding of a religion - and not an especially rationally based one either.

Return to top: Introduction: Why should the search for Darwin's "warm little puddle" be publicly funded?