The “science-and-faith-are-friends” articles just keep on coming as religious people try to neuter the discipline most dangerous to their faith. Here’s one more. I don’t want to dissect it in extenso, but I’ll call it to your attention. Matthew Reisz, a features writer for the Times Higher Education, has written “The Dogma Delusion,” a long analysis of the science-faith “war.”
It’s wearingly familiar, and pretty much biased against atheists. While a few token atheists appear, like Peter Atkins and Steven Weinberg, Reisz quickly shoots them down:
“You clearly can be a scientist and have religious beliefs,” Peter Atkins, professor of chemistry at the University of Oxford, once conceded. “But I don’t think you can be a real scientist in the deepest sense of the word because they are such alien categories of knowledge.”
This view would, of course, demote Isaac Newton, to name but one, from the ranks of “real scientists”. Is such a “conflict model” either accurate or helpful?
Reiz devotes far more space to the lucubrations of Elaine Ecklund (reprinting without criticism her misleading take on her own survey data), David Wilkinson, a religious physicist at Durham University, and Karl Giberson of BioLogos, who gets the lion’s share of the space and comments. Atheists are decried again for their theological ignorance. Reisz even raises the charge of scientism (“But is it really the job of chemists to pronounce on whether love exists, or any wonder that such ‘scientism’ alienates many readers?”).
The quality of Reisz’s “analysis” can be roughly seen by these two paragraphs, meant to underscore the importance of faith:
So, many people devote their lives to scientific work but still find – more or less comfortable – ways of combining [their science] with their religious beliefs and practices. Yet this also implies something else. “Arik” [an atheist physicist in a U.S. university] may despise religion, but by the sheer law of averages, progress within his discipline, and probably within his department, depends on collaboration between religious, agnostic and atheist scientists.
Science and religion also seem to have rubbed along well during one of the golden ages of scientific discovery. Peter Harrison is Andreas Idreos professor of science and religion at the University of Oxford. Much of his research has focused on the 17th century, when, he says, “virtually all the key natural philosophers (early scientists) were religious believers. Some were clearly motivated by religious considerations – notably Johannes Kepler and Robert Boyle – although different individuals had different motivations. Most, however, thought that religious beliefs were consistent with their scientific findings, and indeed that religious beliefs and science were mutually reinforcing.”
In the end, Reisz—as did Ecklund in a recent piece—calls for a greater presence of religion in “secular” college campuses, enabling everyone to study theology so that we can have a “wider conversation.”
I’m not sure if Times Higher Ed sees this as an opinion piece or a news piece, but it’s certainly not the latter. It’s terribly biased towards accommodationists, and quotes atheists only so their ideas can be dismissed.
The number of these types of articles is increasing, and believe me, it’s no fun to do exegesis on the same old arguments. But I think we need to keep them on our radar screen, for, as accommodationists always emphasize, we need to know the quirks and wiles of our opponents.