You may be wondering what origins has to do with philosophy. In a word, everything. How we define Science and limit its domain within the Natural Sciences are issues and questions for the Philosophy of Science.
You may be surprised to discover that if you were to look up the definition of Science in a Merriam-Webster Dictionary that the science of theology would precede any definition referring to natural science.
1: the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
2 a: a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study <the science of theology> b: something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge <have it down to a science>
3 a: knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b: such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : natural science.
The Natural Sciences (and the domain of this website) are limited to the study of things that are - by definition - natural. No eternal creator or intelligent designer need apply.
The logic is simple, however occasionally obfuscated.
1. The natural sciences have nothing to say about God.
2. Darwin developed a Theory of Evolution (aka a Theory of Unintellgent Design) to show that the Hypothesis of Intelligent Design was unnecessary.
3. Therefore, God does not exist and did not play a role in the origin of anything (except for maybe the origin of the entire universe including all space-time, matter, and energy, but don't let this bother you - it's just a little detail).
4. Therefore, (and we really mean it this time), contrary to our first premise, Science has proven that God does not exist and, furthermore, He cannot exist without violating the separation of Church and State. Trust me; you'll learn this in science class later if the ACLU or the National Center for the Indoctrination of Scientism don't get to you first.
"But wait," a student might object, "if we eliminate Intelligent Design by definition, then we must conclude that the origin of everything in the universe was the result of Unintelligent Design. We don't even need any data. Everything else is ruled out by definition. But definitions aren't scientific. You can write them down, crumple them up, and stuff them into a test tube, but you can't test them.
If we can't test a Theory of Unintelligent Design (e.g. Darwinian evolution) and we don't need any data, why do we call it scientific? If it walks like a dogma and barks like a dogma, maybe it is a dogma. Anyway, how can the origin of Nature itself possibly be explained by Natural Laws which can only describe Nature after it already exists? How could Natural Laws exist prior to Nature without a Natural Law Giver? It seems to me that either God always existed - that Creation preceded evolution - or that the universe has always existed. And it's not looking very good for an eternal universe (or multiverse, for that matter). Besides, if this is a public school then there ought not to be any taxation without representation of both theistic and atheistic-naturalistic viewpoints."
The student would have a point or two. Hopefully, he wouldn't have a lawyer for a father.
Perhaps the best way around the problem is to take an agnostic position on the question of origins, admit that God may have played a role at least once (i.e. the singularity at the origin of space-time, matter, and energy) and proceed with the empirical and historical possibilities from there.
What might the possibilities be from an agnostic point of view?
1. Natural processes might be sufficient to account for the origin of life in all of its disparity and diversity.
2. Natural processes might be insufficient to account for the origin of life in all of its disparity and diversity.
3. Natural processes might exist that would inhibit the origin of life from occurring naturally (thus accounting for Biogenesis) and/or inhibit major evolutionary change from occurring on a gradual step-by-step basis (thus accounting for macrostasis and the preservation of body plans with a Theory of Conservation).
The best way we have of discovering scientifically which of these possibilities most accurately describes how our universe actually functions is to critically examine the data - beginning with the evidence
from Physics (to understand the Laws and initial conditions necessary for chemicals to exist)
to Chemistry (to understand the basic building blocks of life and the irreducible complexity of even the simplest form of life)
to Paleontology (to gain a better understanding of the actual history of the disparity and diversity of life)
to Biology (to gain an understanding of the "ordinary rules of stability" and question whether or not there are natural limits to biological change).
You are free to roam about the universe. Enjoy your journey.
"For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
God and the Astronomers
Michael Ruse, professor of zoology and philosophy, University of Guelph; transcript of the speech given at the 1993 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] February 13/93 at which he assures his audience:
"I'm no less an evolutionist now that I ever was."
Ruse nevertheless explained that he had given fresh consideration to Phillip Johnson's thesis that Ruse himself, as
"an evolutionist, is metaphysically based at some level just as much as ...some creationist...And to a certain extent, I must confess, in the ten years since I performed, or I appeared, in the creationism trial in Arkansas, I must say that I've been coming to this kind of position myself.....I mean I realize that when one is dealing with people, say, at the school level, or these sorts of things, certain sorts of arguments are appropriate. But those of us who are academics, or for other reasons pulling back and trying to think about these things, I think that we should recognize, both historically and perhaps philosophically, certainly that the science side has certain metaphysical assumptions built into doing science, which---it may not be a good thing to admit in a court of law---but I think that in honesty that we should recognize, and that we should be thinking about some of these sorts of things."
"...And certainly, there's no doubt about it, that in the past, and I think also in the present, for many evolutionists, evolution has functioned as something with elements which are, let us say, akin to being a secular religion ... And it seems to me very clear that at some very basic level, evolution as a scientific theory makes a commitment to a kind of naturalism, namely, that at some level one is going to exclude miracles and these sorts of things come what may."
AAAS Symposium: "The New Antievolutionism," February 13, 1993, Boston, MA
National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709
"The point, however, is that the doctrine of evolution has swept the world, not on the strength of its scientific merits, but precisely in its capacity as a Gnostic myth. It affirms, in effect, that living beings created themselves, which is, in essence, a metaphysical claim.... Thus, in the final analysis, evolutionism is in truth a metaphysical doctrine decked out in scientific garb."
Teilhardism and the New Religion
"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."
"Billions and Billions of Demons"
Is either Philosophy and Theology a part of science?
What are the Natural Sciences?
Can one do an experiment on the definition of the Natural Sciences?
Is the definition of the Natural Sciences scientific or philosophical?
Why is there something rather than nothing?
What is more rational to beleieve:that God always existed or that physical reality always existed? Why?
Is it possible that God created everything?
Is it possible that natural processes might exists that would account for the Law of Biogenesis (that life only proceeds from pre-existing life?
Is it possible that natural selection might inhibit major evolutionary change by eliminating useless incipient and transitional stages?
Is evolution more probable in a theistic or an atheistic universe?
What is the opposite of Intelligent Design: Evolution or Unintelligent Design?
What is the opposite of Evolution: Creation or Conservation (stasis)?
Can time be infinite in the past?
Why can't physical reality be infinite in time or space?
If there are an infinite number of universes and an infinite amount of time, would there exist at least one universe where the Chicago Cubs won each and every World Series? Greater than one? How many? If less than an infinite number, how close do you live to St. Louis?
What is Materialism or Naturalism or Physicalism?
Who put the material in Materialism?
Is it more reasonable to believe that absolutely everything arose from absolutely nothing with absolutely no plan and absolutely no pupose or that the rationality of the universe was the result of a rational Creator?
Would God have created the universe without a plan or purpose?
What role do we play in that purpose?