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 Faith and Reason

In its issue no. 134 (1992), the journal, Faith and Reason, published from Manchester College, Oxford (England), brought out an article titled, ‘The Relationship between Faith and Reason’, by Dr Paul Badham. Paul Badham is a Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. David’s College, Lampeter, in the University of Wales. His paper in this issue had been presented at a Conference of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow in November 1991.

Professor Badham’s paper can indeed be called thought-provoking, and as such, is worth reading, but he has made certain points with which I do not agree. He states that philosophical certainty should not be confused with religious certitude. He writes: As a philosopher of religion I feel compelled to acknowledge that faith could never be placed on the same level of certainty as scientific knowledge’ (p. 6). On the contrary, I feel that faith and belief can be placed on the same level of certainty as scientific theory. At least, in the twentieth century there is no real difference between the two.

Knowledge is composed of two kinds of things, Bertrand Russell puts it, knowledge of things and knowledge of truths. This dichotomy exists in religion as well as in science. For instance, to the scientist who regards biological evolution as a scientific fact, there are two aspects to be considered. One is related to the organic part of species and the other relates to the law of evolution which is inherently and covertly operative in the continuing process of change among the species.

When an evolutionist studies the outward physical appearance of species, he may be said to be studying ‘things’. Whereas when he studies the law of evolution, he deals with that aspect of the subject which is termed the study or knowledge of truths.’

Every evolutionist knows that a basic difference between the two aspects. As far as the study of things or the phenomena of evolution is concerned, direct evidence is available. For instance, because the study of fossils found in various layers of the earth’s crust is possible at the level of observation, working hypothesis may be based thereon.

On the contrary, as far as facts about the law of evolution are concerned, due to the impossibility of objective observation, direct argument world’s strength, skill, beauty is not possible. For instance, the concept of sudden mutations in the organs is entirely based on assumptions rather than on direct observation. In the case of mutations, external changes are observable, but the cause, that is, the law of nature, is totally unobservable. That is why all the evolutionists make use of indirect argument, which in logic is known as inferential argument.

The concept of mutation forms the basis of the theory of evolution. However there are two aspects to the matter. One comes under observation, but the second part is totally unobservable. It is only by making use of the principle of inference that this second part of evolution may be included in the theory of evolution.

It is a commonplace that all the offspring of men or animals are not uniform. Differences of one kind or another are to be found. In modern times this biological phenomenon has been scientifically studied. These studies have revealed spontaneous changes suddenly produced in the fetus in the mother’s womb. It is these changes that are responsible for the differences between children of the same parents.

These differences between offsprings are observable. But the philosophy of evolution subsequently formed on the basis of this observation is totally unobservable and is based only on inferential argument. That is to say that the ‘things’ of evolution are observable, while the ‘truths’ inferred from observation are unobservable.

Now, what the evolutionist does is put a goat at one end and a giraffe at the other. Then taking some middle specimens of the fossils he forms a theory that the neck of one of the offspring of the earlier generation of the goat was somewhat taller. Then when this particular offspring with the taller neck gave birth, this tallness for generations over millions of years ultimately converted the initial goat with a taller neck into a species like the giraffe in its advanced stage. Charles Darwin writes of this change in his book The Origin of Species: "…it seems to me almost certain that an ordinary hoofed quadruped might be converted into a giraffe" (p. 169).

In this case, the existence of differences between the various offspring of a goat is itself a known fact. But the accumulation of this difference, generation after generation, over millions of years resulting in a new species known as ‘giraffe’ is wholly unobservable and unrepeatable. This conclusion has been inferred from observation only; the whole process of mutation developing into a new species has never come under our direct observation.