I’m sure that, like the readers of Oliver Twist who couldn’t wait for each month’s installment, you’ve all been anticipating the latest addition to Karl Giberson’s obsessive multipart critique of my views. He’s now up to part four. This time he faults my failure to engage his points. (I plead not guilty.) He also says that I’ve misrepresented the views he set out in a HuffPo piece, a piece in which he claimed that the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” could be taken as “evidence that there is something out there.” Giberson says that he didn’t necessarily mean that that “something out there” was God.
At no point did I suggest that the transcendent mystery of mathematics was grounded in God. In fact, I intentionally quoted from three mathematical physicists who had no conventional religious beliefs to make my point: . .
Oh for crying out loud! Of course he meant God; he knows it and we all know it. After all, the title of his HuffPo piece was “Mathematics and the religious impulse,” and it contains statements like these:
When it comes to science and religion, I think the onus is on the religious believer to justify the existence of religion. .
. . .So why religion?
I want to offer, by way of a short parable, a partial explanation for the religious impulse and why so many of us are driven to embrace realities that go beyond what science can establish with clarity. . .
. . . But those that understand the eternal mystery best impulsively lean over the railing into the abyss because they know in their bones that there is something out there. Whether they encounter something depends on factors that elude many of their less imaginative peers. This is a deeply religious impulse: one that goes beyond science, but not one without motivation.
“Transcendent mystery” is a code word for “God” in precisely the same way that “states’ rights” used to be code words for “segregation.”
Giberson is a professor of physics at Eastern Nazarene College, and by his own admission a deeply religious man. Nearly all of his blog posts address the BioLogos mission of reconciling science and God—his own Christianity in particular. (They worry a lot, over at BioLogos, about whether Adam and Eve were real people.) If he didn’t mean religion, what did he mean?
Finally, he wonders why I called him Uncle Karl, and some of his supporters claim that the term “uncle” was mockery. That’s certainly not true. I called him “Uncle Karl” because he was avuncular and seemed like a pretty nice guy, almost like a religious teddy bear. I sort of liked him!
But I don’t any more: he seems muddled and even mean-spirited. From now on he’s “Dr. Karl.”