Miley Cyrus has weighed in on the science & religion debate and found herself in trouble with her fans over comments by theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss which she posted on her Twitter account:

You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, all the things that matter for evolution) weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in stars. So forget Jesus. Stars died so you can live.

She later deleted the offending tweet but the tweet illustrates one of the misunderstandings of the science vs religion debate: that understanding the way something works eliminates the need for a designer. This is known as a category mistake: a semantic or ontological error in which “things of one kind are presented as if they belonged to another”.

Miley has confuses mechanism with agency. In this case, the nature of stars and their role in the universe (mechanism) has lead Miley to conclude there is no need for a designer/creator (agency). It would be like saying that because we understand how an aeroplane flies (mechanism) means we don’t need the Wright brothers (agency).

The question Miley and her 5 million Twitter followers need to grapple with is not how the physical universe came together, though that is important, but which worldview – naturalism or theism – is best supported by the evidence. The origin of the universe – the ‘beginning of time’ – is a foundational part of this debate. Where Miley is with these questions is, to be fair, unclear from this particular tweet.

One thing is clear – science, Miley Cyrus and the Bible all agree that we are dust:

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

But we are so much more than dust:

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” Genesis 1:26

Our capacity for intellect, morality and love are unique to humanity, and as far as we know, this planet. We ought to be reminded of our peculiar human dusty-ness from time to time, lest we become too arrogant about our place in the universe or on Twitter.