Darwin succeeded where others before him had failed in part because he offered the first truly scientific (i.e., purely materialistic and therefore testable) theory to explain the history of life. He permanently changed the terms on which theories in biology would be acceptable as science. Yet few of Darwin’s contemporaries or those who followed truly internalized Darwinism into a coherent and consistent world view. Materialistic science is vastly more important to modern society than it was in Darwin’s time, yet scientists and non-scientists alike still struggle to fully reconcile materialistic science with their personal and social search for meaning in life. On the one hand, proponents of intelligent design have declared their intention to overthrow “materialism and its cultural legacies”, which presumably would include not just Darwinism but also everything from agriculture to modern medicine. On the other, many mainstream scientists – both those who claim to be religious and those who do not – have attempted to reconcile their scientific pursuits with their non-scientific personal philosophies. Can one simultaneously hold two mutually exclusive philosophies of reality – one materialistic and the other not? If so, how? And does doing so make one intellectually dishonest? Is it possible to construct a logically consistent world view that fully accommodates meaningful religious belief with materialistic science?
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CU Center for Astrobiology