He starts his piece with things I can agree with ...
The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.Emphasis added for the parts that are most agreeable. Not everything in those paragraphs are quite right in my mind, but the overall gist of it is good. Hints of the late Stephen J. Gould.
People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us. At the same time, reason itself cannot answer every question. Faith seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly, not less. Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose. More than that, faith — not science — can help us understand the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love. Faith and science should go together, not be driven apart.
Here is where Brownback begins to go wrong.
The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.First he misuses the word "materialistic." Brownback's choice of materialistic brings the negative connotation of over-consumption, when in fact evolution is materialistic in the sense of "made of matter." Second evolution is not believed to be deterministic, but as he states later the product of random chance. The view of deterministic evolution, similar to Lamarckian evolution is no longer held. Science does not believe that we are evolving to a predetermined endpoint. Nor does science have anything to say about an "intelligent guiding force" Science only deals with materialistic things. Next Brownback deploys the "intelligent design"/creationist favorite "[t]here is no one single theory of evolution" Only problem is he uses a very poor example. The differences between classical Darwinian evolution and punctuated equilibrium (looks like he didn't read Gould's natural history papers all the carefully) deal with temporal differences. Both assume that evolution is the product of random mutations and selection. Classical Darwinian evolution sees evolution as a slow, steady process with little to no acceleration or deceleration. Punctuated equilibrium, however describes evolution as a process that shows periods of relatively little evolution (not no evolution) followed by periods of rapid evolution in a cyclical fashion. Why evolutionary pressures create periods of rapid evolution is under debate but usually major global climate changes such as warming periods, increases in atmospheric oxygen, meteor and volcanic based atmospheric changes. Many times these periods of rapid evolution immediately follow periods of rapid extinction, where new pressures are found and new niches are available. With global warming and mass extinctions happening right now we may be due very soon (on the geological scale, not in the anyone alive now will see it scale).
There is no one single theory of evolution, as proponents of punctuated equilibrium and classical Darwinism continue to feud today. Many questions raised by evolutionary theory — like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations — go beyond empirical science and are better addressed in the realm of philosophy or theology.
Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species. Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him. It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.
Biologists will have their debates about man’s origins, but people of faith can also bring a great deal to the table. For this reason, I oppose the exclusion of either faith or reason from the discussion. An attempt by either to seek a monopoly on these questions would be wrong-headed. As science continues to explore the details of man’s origin, faith can do its part as well. The fundamental question for me is how these theories affect our understanding of the human person.
So bold is agree and italics is disagree in the passage above.
Creation of the universe does have its place in discussion of "human person." And Brownback is right when he states that it is a question of philosophy. He is being deceptive when he states that "I oppose the exclusion of either faith or reason from the discussion" implying that reason and faith go together but reason and science do not, which I think he has almost exactly backwards.
Discussion of the human person is not exclusively a question of science. But if it is going to be discussed it needs to be done in the philosophy and religion NOT in science classes where it does not belong. This goes for our schools and our society at large.
But the worst of it is ...
Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.So if the science agrees with his faith then it is good and if it disagrees with his faith then it is the evil work of atheists and needs to be discarded!?! That is the Sen. Brownback I am used to. Way to finish up and kill all credibility. I was getting scared that he made a bit of sense there for a minute.
And that concludes my longest post ever.
UPDATE: Sad, but true. It only took me minutes to find a rebuttal of Brownback way better than mine. Read Prof. Coyne's smackdown of Brownback. Expect more posts from his new-to-me blog in the future.