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Humans need mind and soul

Don Rogers

One friend for life is a cardiologist in Santa Cruz, Calif. We worked together a quarter of a century ago on a wildland firefighting crew of 20 called the Los Prietos Hotshots, sharing our best and worst sides as human beings. We found the women who would be our wives to this day at about the same time. But not before we were young single men occasionally on the prowl in Santa Barbara.We each moved on far beyond the fire world, pushed in part by knee injuries. I like to remind him that in a way he owes his career as a doctor to me and my weak arm at shortstop. He blew his knee out during a crew softball game trying to take the extra base on me. We argue to this day over whether he was safe or out. Trust me. I threw him out. It was meant to be.He went back to school and became a doctor. There were other big changes, too. My beer-drinking, astrology-studying buddy went Baptist on me a long time ago. Yep, born-again, Jesus is The Answer, full faith and hallelujah. Never again could I sucker him into inebriation with the low aim of beating him in chess. I couldn’t beat him sober, ever. But drunk, well, I had a chance. Sly devil that I was, I liked to push my advantage. Plus, the beer and conversation were always great.So now one of my best friends is a Bible-thumper, and he’s not the only one. Well, bless him. I’m not churchy in the least myself, but I’ve never had issues with my devout friends. The mystery is deep enough that I don’t believe any of us has the answers. To put this another way, their guesses are at least as good as mine.I think of my friend while this silly cul-de-sac in the culture war that pits evolution against “intelligent design” plays out. It wouldn’t be a big deal if religion weren’t trying to dictate public education in some places. But it is, and so it is.Church has always been part of state, even with our noble efforts to separate it for the benefit of democracy. And Christians seeking to infuse governance with their principles have large influence in each major party. The turn-the-other-cheekers seem to collect among the Democrats, and the fire-and-brimstone types certainly are having their way in the Republican Party. The point is, though, both parties are chock full of the faithful.There is no one party of “values” and another that’s godless. People of faith vote and fill both the liberal and conservative political philosophies. They fill the ranks of pacifists against any hint of violence and the warriors taking the path of a modern Crusades, given our liberation arguments of late for Iraq.The politically conservative Christians have the upper hand for the moment. I think they are overplaying that hand when it comes to the relative few of them trying to infect science education with their religious beliefs.Here my cardiologist friend and I find a meeting of minds. There’s him, basically scientist and practicing Christian. And there’s me, neither scientifically minded nor bound to scripture, any scripture.We both believe in evolution. And we both believe there’s something more. Something intelligent that designed all this, and for a purpose. Neither of us sees a conflict in these views, either. Nor should we.Evolution is merely the mechanics, not the thing of itself. The mystery of sentience and existence remains whole. Science, as you know, is a discipline, a way of exploring the known world. It operates on observation of what is observable, and forms conclusions. The reality is that evolution is a pretty darn strong conclusion, like the earth is round and circles the sun. But lesser souls in the Church punished some who dared express the simple astronomical truth, and we’ll have to ride through this bit of foolishness now.Funny, one of Christianity’s blessings was its early encouragement of science to explore and better understand God’s wonders. There were some rocky patches through history, to be sure, but it’s clear to me this is the right path. There’s no need or calling for religion and science to exclude the other. Science shows us many doors. Religion, or if you prefer, spirituality, guides our decisions about which ones to open. There’s a brain and heart relationship here. As a species we’ll need plenty of both to thrive well into the future.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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