Skip to comments.Breaking the Cease-Fire Between Science and Religion
Posted on 07/09/2009 6:45:37 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator
What is portrayed as the debate between religion and science feels increasingly like watching the very bitter dissolution of a doomed marriage. The relationship started out all roses and kisses, proceeded to doubts and regrets, then fights and silences, a mutually agreed separation, and finally to curses and maledictions: I wish you were dead!
In a recent Wall Street Journal opinion article, cosmologist Lawrence Krauss declared the inconsistency of belief in an activist god with modern science. Krausss essay was the latest eruption of a vituperative argument going on in the scientific community over accommodationism.
Accommodationists hold that even atheists should present science to the public as an intellectual activity compatible with religion. Critics of this position include those like University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne, who lashes out at the accommodationists because, as he wrote in an essay in The New Republic, a true harmony between science and religion requires either doing away with most peoples religion and replacing it with a watered-down deism, or polluting science with unnecessary, untestable, and unreasonable spiritual claims.
On the accommodationist side, there are forlorn figures like science journalist Chris Mooney. In a new book, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future (Basic Books), Mooney chides popular blogger and University of Minnesota biologist P.Z. Myers, an ebullient atheist, for publicly desecrating a Catholic communion wafer an incredibly destructive and unnecessary act, Mooney complains, exacerbating tension between the scientific community and many American Christians.
Anti-accommodationists like bestselling atheist biologist Richard Dawkins, meanwhile, charge the accommodationists with hypocrisy. Says Dawkins in a recent documentary, They are mostly atheists, but they are wanting to desperately wanting to be friendly to mainstream, sensible religious people. And the way you do that is to tell them that theres no incompatibility between science and religion. The debate seems to come down to whether religious people are potentially useful idiots, or simply idiots.
Of course, it wasnt always like this. The origins of modern science, from about 1300 onward, were overwhelmingly religious. Isaac Newton regarded the universe as a cryptogram set by the Almighty, in John Maynard Keyness phrase. Scientists from Copernicus to Kepler, Boyle, Linnaeus, Faraday, Kelvin and Rutherford all sought to understand God through His creation. Because nature was the product of a mind acting freely, it made sense to them to try to understand that mind through its actions.
In his new book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne), my Discovery Institute colleague Stephen Meyer writes about his days as a Ph.D student at Cambridge University, contemplating the entrance to the great Cavendish Laboratory where Watson and Crick elucidated the structure of DNAs double helix. In 1871, Christian physicist James Clark Maxwell had instructed that the great door be ennobled by an inscription in Latin from the book of Psalms: Great are the works of the Lord, sought out by all who take pleasure therein.
On a crash course with this tradition, however, was the Enlightenment narrative, with its insistence that science is destined to push religion to the margins of intellectual life. A turning point came with the triumph of Darwins evolutionary theory, purposefully excluding God, over the evolutionary thinking of Darwins contemporaries, including such scientific allies as Charles Lyell, Asa Gray and Alfred Russel Wallace, who saw a role for divine creativity in lifes history. In another new book, The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin (Regnery), Benjamin Wiker tells this story well. With Darwins victory, envisioning a universe without design or purpose, God seemed on the way to being banished from scientific thought.
Over the ensuing century and a half, tension built as the logical consequences for religion became harder to deny. Yet a détente was generally upheld. In 1999, Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould summed up its terms as a kind of truce under the acronym NOMA, or Non-overlapping magisteria.
In this view, science and religion occupy totally separate realms of inquiry. Science is about facts, about reality, while religion is about values. Religion should be respected if it makes no claim to describe anything real and agrees not to challenge any idea accepted by most scientists.
Yet even the terms of NOMA are now being withdrawn. Today in academia, a believer like Evangelical Christian genome scientist Francis Collins, or like Catholic biologist Kenneth Miller at Brown University, can count on being ridiculed by the anti-accommodationists. In academia, where reputation is everything, you would not want to be an ambitious young scientist in their mold.
This is despite the fact that both men strenuously deny that there can be any empirical evidence of Gods creativity in nature. Still faithful to NOMA, they affirm that the history of life could have produced intelligent creatures very different from human beings for God to enter into a relationship with. Perhaps a big-brained dinosaur, or a mollusk with exceptional mental capabilities, as Miller has speculated, surrendering the basic Judeo-Christian belief that the human face and body mysteriously reflect the image of a non-corporeal God.
That may sound as if weve come to a final parting of the ways between science and religion. However, it all depends on what you have in mind when you speak of science.
Must religion indeed accommodate any scientific idea even if the idea is wrong, even if its bad science, ideologically motivated in its origins, intended to explain nature specifically with the view of keeping God out? If thats what science requires, then of course there can be no reconciliation.
But remember alongside the secular Enlightenment view of science, there runs a parallel tradition, seeking to explain nature without preconceptions, secular or otherwise. That way of thinking still exists among individual scientists, though it is in need of a good revival. With that tradition older, grander, more open-minded, even more enlightened, you could say there is no need for a truce with faith, no need for a separation, no need for a divorce.
David Klinghoffer, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, writes the Kingdom of Priests blog at Beliefnet.
Hey, I noticed the Biblical symbolism that you built into your home page.
The angel wings with the death skulls is a nice representation of demonic angels.
And did you know that Mary Magdalene had 7 demons cast out by Christ? Quite appropriate for your choice of music.
Gotta run. Catch you later.
Cute, glad you like my friend’s band. FYI, they pulled that symbol off a Japanese Anime cartoon.. so much for reading so much into things.
I'm still waiting to hear from steve-b as to which claim David makes is factually untrue. Apparently he has a strange definition of "twaddle."
But then, what can you do with someone who reduces morality to social utilitarianism and "rational self-interest" without recognizing the Theonomic, cultic aspect behind all morality and ethics?
Yes, 153 is an important Biblical number because the fish that are caught represent Gentile 'sons of god' that will be brought into the Kingdom of God by the gospel. It is the numerical value of the term 'sons of god' in Hebrew and is important for that reason.
But all that is between you and God.. for folks on a forum, it is just an indicator on how seriously to take your posts in the future."
And all that is between you and God as well.. and thanks for letting me know that you have been appointed the final arbiter of the value of posts for the forum.
Interesting that you think it cute and that you think I like your friend's band.
Don't know how you reached those conclusions, but I'd say it is completely consistent with the images displayed by your friends, denying the existence of evidence for God in nature and denying the importance of Biblical numbers for understanding Christianity.
I suppose the thinking that anything displayed in Japanese Anime is therefore harmless is consistent with those thought patterns too.
And on what basis should we take your word on it as authoritative?
How do YOU know that God doesn't look like us physically?
Or... how do you KNOW that God doesn't look like us physically?
I always find it amusing and ironic, that evos pitch a fit about Christians making statements about God and then going on to declare that Christians are wrong but THEY know for sure what God meant when He said things.
It's interesting how evos are so adamant about Christians being wrong about Scripture, and then turn around and expect others to take THEIR interpretation as the final word.
It’s so much more fun to post without reading first....
Two, I can't believe there are Christians who are SO ARROGANT as to assume the Almighty Creator looks like a human being! Most BIBLICALLY EDUCATED Christians recognize that the passages quoted refer to spiritual nature, NOT physical.
For cryin’ out loud; our Lord said “I am the bread of life..”; do you therefore say that Christ was saying he is a loaf of bread?????!!
Number one, what part of Darwinism do you disagree with? I take offense that you imply metmom said you were!
"Two, I can't believe there are Christians who are SO ARROGANT as to assume the Almighty Creator looks like a human being!"
Two, I can't believe there are Christians who are SO ARROGANT as to assume the Almighty Creator doesn't look like a human being!
"Most BIBLICALLY EDUCATED Christians recognize that the passages quoted refer to spiritual nature, NOT physical."
Appeal to argumentum ad populum NOTED!
"For cryin out loud; our Lord said I am the bread of life..; do you therefore say that Christ was saying he is a loaf of bread?????!!"
For cryin' out loud! Our Lord said, "I am the bread of life..."; NOT "I am a loaf of bread"! Do you therefore say that when Christ said, "No one comes to the Father but by me..." that people can get to the Father by getting by Christ?
What he [GD] said.