Update: Eric MacDonald deals with Part 2 of Wilkinson’s essay at Choice in Dying.
I really don’t understand why BioLogos spends so much time attacking me and my new partner in crime, Eric MacDonald. We’re hardly big-draw bloggers like P.Z. (though I bow before Eric’s superior knowledge of theology and philosophy), and our audience is largely the choir. Or at least so I think. But they continue, and Loren Wilkinson has now put up the second section of his critique, “One world: science and Christianity in respectful dialogue. Part II: A response to Denis Alexander, Jerry Coyne, and Eric MacDonald.”
Wilkinson’s point is strange: there are not two nonoverlapping magisteria, as Steve Gould and many accommodationists have maintained, but just a single magisterium—one way of knowing—that encompasses both science and religion. I’ll call it Science, Truth, and Faith United (STFU).
Does this mark a sea change in accommodationism, in which their long-beloved NOMA philosophy—the idea that science and faith deal with completely different issues using different “tools”—is rejected in favor of a new philosophy of COMA (“Completely Overlapping Magisteria”)? So it seems:
Both science and theology are interpretations of texts, and neither can confidently be elevated as “eternal infallible truths.” The “texts” themselves have a more exalted status.
This is one world in which we live: an elusive, tantalizing, terrifying and beautiful world of facts, always humanly, humbly grasped. I honor Denis Alexander’s “white paper” working at bringing some parts of that world together (though I disagree with his main conclusion), as I honor Jerry Coyne and Eric MacDonald in their criticism of it. But I beg them (and all of us) to move away from the language of scorn and derision and at least grant the possibility that the worlds of science and the worlds of religion are ultimately one world, not two.
I’m sorry, but I don’t see a good reason to engage in “respectful dialogue” with Christianity, any more than I can engage in respectful dialogue with astrology or homeopathy. After all, there is empirical evidence supporting the claims of science; there is none for the major claims of Christianity. Why can’t BioLogos understand this difference?
I don’t want to waste more time discussing Wilkinson’s screed. The only good thing about it is that Templeton is wasting its dough paying someone to go after us. But it is amusing to see how many fallacies you can spot in bits like the following:
MacDonald sums up the [anti-accomodationist] attitude by saying that when Alexander tries to speak of Biblical truths as though they were in some way parallel to scientific truths he is not really saying anything at all but “merely making marks on paper.”
Such language reflects and reinforces the old “warfare” image of the relationship between Christianity and science. And perhaps that image would be appropriate if in fact science did deal only with the world of uninterpreted facts, and Christianity only with leaps of faith, dogmatic pronouncements, and endlessly flexible interpretations. Then the scientist and the Christian would live in separate worlds indeed, and there would be no possibility of “integration”. However, Coyne and MacDonald (along with Christians equally dismissive of science) have to deal with two awkward and intertwined facts (“a data set”). On the one hand, a very great many Christians (like Alexander himself) are good scientists. On the other hand, the statements of all scientists (including those, like Coyne, who make their public statements within the faith position of a-theism), stand, without acknowledging it, on a great mountain of belief, authority, and passion, the very things which they decry in religion.
In claiming that, in the end, science is just another form of religion, BioLogos is coming perilously close to the position of traditional creationists. But Wilkinson and his sponsors should think carefully before adopting COMA as their official position, because I’m pretty sure that scientists—even Christian ones—aren’t going to buy it.
66 thoughts on “More Templeton-funded nonsense”
Well, I’ve already said my piece.
You have a gift for acronyms.
Science, Truth and Faith United = STFU. That is a keeper. Jerry, I have always thought highly of you but now you are officially amazing.
Dr.Coyne, that acronym is, indeed, a keeper.
May I improvise?
“bioLogos, STFU, GTFO”
Oh.. Ooh, GTFO = gotta tellya folks openly.
Mix n match acronyms to taste. 🙂
Well, there’s the problem right there. The poor sob thinks that science is what was lectured to him in grade school. And, apparently, his school was so bass-ackwards that they didn’t even have a lab section.
Science has fuck-all to do with interpreting texts. Real science is about writing the texts — and then editing the texts when they’re inevitably demonstrated worng.
Religion is about blind acceptance of “revealed” dogma. Science is about observation and replication. The dude don’t get it, and thinks both are dogma chases.
Oh — and he really wouldn’t like what a real scientist would do with the Bible. A scientist would start at the beginning, attempt to replicate the observation represented by the fourth word, fail to do so, attempt to replicate the observation represented by the fifth word, fail again, and so on. After making it through the entire work and failing to replicate any but the most trivial and banal of claims, the scientist would hand the book to colleagues in the fields of literature, anthropology, and psychopathology. And they’d have a field day with it!
By advocating the notion that the real world is simply a “text”, Wilkinson shows just how deeply he is infected with the language, if not conceptual framework, of relativism.
It is completely bizarre to me that the religious are trying to salvage some sort of intellectual respectability by retreating to relativism, for what else is religion if not a claim of absolute Truth?
Yep. It’s not very far off from AiG’s “We all use the same evidence, we just start with different assumptions” shtick.
If the world is a “text” and all scientists do is offer one “interpretation,” then surely other interpretations are equally valid. It’s complete relativism. Oh, and of course it also elevates their sacred text (the bible) to the status of a brute fact on a par with reality. Everything is a “text” that needs interpretation. The fossil record, Genesis, it all qualifies as “knowledge.”
STFU! Good one.
Now, I think that is exactly what the bio-illogicals should do. Seriously, the “scientists rely on faith” crap again? I wondering how much money it takes for someone to keep saying something so boring.
If Science were another faith, then why is it Biologos has such trouble when we speak our “faith” as openly as they speak theirs?
If only religionists were as private with their magical beliefs as they want all other religions to be. But the Biologos folks want their brand of Christianity to be treated special and will complain about tone if it’s not. They are unwilling to understand why, from a scientific perspective, their supernatural beliefs are just as unworthy of respect as the myths they reject.
Biologos uses science to lend an air or respectability to their incoherent dogma so that it will seem more “sciency” (and thus truer) than other religions. Rather than demanding respect for their magical beliefs, maybe they ought to learn to keep their magical beliefs (and the special pleading that goes with such beliefs) to themselves. Otherwise, they ought to expect that we atheists will get louder as we inoculates others against the COMA virus. I think the C in this case may mean Francis Collins brand of “Christianity”.
Honestly, I think it’s time for me to start hectoring the Templeton people for a STFU grant so I can be a BioIllogical contributor.
I could write their stuff better than they can.
In the end, it’s nothing more than a demand that you shut up. If you were to somehow agree to accede to their demands, there would be another, then another, then another. Until you’re required to assert the “truth” of the bible and the absolute verity of the New Testament myths.
They want you to believe in Hercules. Unreservedly.
Never back down, never surrender. Your (our, if I may be so bold) position has been hard won and has come at the cost of real lives. And yet they would have us lick the hand of the inquisitor even as he adds one more shackle to our fetters.
Pehaps Acommodationism is basically theology by another name: “apologetics”, maybe. Accommodationists don’t want to throw out religion, because, deep down, they either believe it or would like to believe it. So we have what is really the theologian’s tactic of trying to make the facts fit the belief. They’ll keep on trying, convinced that sooner or later they’ll come up with an unanswerable argument. And as you say, Jerry, they don’t understand the fundamentally different way of looking at the world that science represents. The problem is that ultimately it isn’t about rational arguments but about numbers. People like Craig, for example, want to sway people’s opinions. Truth doesn’t matter, as long as so many people are persuaded to believe in the religious “truth” that scientists are overwhelmed and reduced to puppets providing the goods and services that modern religious people have come to expect, regardless of the physical principles that make those provisions possible.
I have often been puzzled about the degree to which religious propagandists are prepared to lie: surely this would be condradictory to their beliefs? But I now think that the point is simply to win, at whatever cost. For these people, truth doesn’t matter. It is belief that must, at any cost and all costs, survive. Hidden behind this must surely be the personal agenda of individuals trying to defend the world-view on which their own emotional security depends.
There is another, contributary, side: the fact that as animals we try to get through our lives with as little information as possible. Having spent the years of our childhood “learning” the world, it is very hard work to be made to think about more-or-less everything. It is actually easier to fight the enemy of our precious illusions than to make the effort to rethink the world. We can rely on our acquired data-base, augmenting it from time to time, and use all our despicable human cunning to vanquish the destroyer of dreams – truth itself, and all who stand for it.
It is apologetics, but that specific trait goes deeper.
It is ancestral in agnostics, who can claim that there is no evidence for or against gods, or no way to get evidence, despite there is no evidence for gods and plenty of evidence for (dysteleological) physicalism which is how physicists like Sean Carroll call it. (It is an appropriate upgrade in modernization and preciseness of what philosophers used to call “materialism”.)
Now, as you say, accommodationists have “a belief in belief”. So they take the NOMA claim that agnostics may use and put it to work. Not on theology but on “theology of theology” or meta-theology.
Of course recursion of belief remains belief, so it trivially implodes on previous theology anyway. Unfortunately for accommodationists this is as they say on the result of their game: “no dice”.
So the biologists here should answer, but I don’t think there is any such fact.
What can be observed is that animals (or plants or prokaryotes) can get by with little and/or otherwise imprecise information. That is because evolved traits may use contingency, interlocking complexity, and what not, to extract functionality without any target to do so.
But that is a quite different proposal than minimizing information, and in fact orthogonal to it. There are animals (and plants and prokaryotes) that get through their lives with much less neuronal processing (say) than we do.
The argumentation of that last paragraph is not clear to me, so I’m not exactly sure what you are saying at this point. But if you are claiming that knowledge, such as science, is a “destroyer of dreams” it is to all accounts wrong. Science and technology has allowed us to realize old dreams, which I would argue fulfill them and not destroy them, and to make up new ones.
Humans have become emancipated on skin color in US and have visited the Moon! That was each a “dream” that were unprecedented, consistent with or enabled by science, and was done “not because they are easy, but because … that challenge is one that we are willing to accept”.
There is a t-shirt reading:
“Science flies you to the Moon
Religion flies you into buildings”
What is information processing rate of the human brain? 10 to the 23rd power, “transactions” per second. We take in tons and tons (obviously of information, but evolution has created a marvelous, effortless “dump” (continuously) of all data superfluous to survival, procreation, and the compulsion to stay alive.
Depends, information is relative to a system.
If we look at information needed to describe all the activity, it is quite a lot, spike trains et cetera traveling in highly connected networks.
But of for the brain relevant information, not so much as you say, most is superfluous and contingent on what already happened in the environment. The brain is to all observation efficient in dumping irrelevant information and keeping the relevant information in symbolic form (or an equivalent encoding). For example, the vision system seems to have a frame rate of ~ a few Hz and the actual information of the visual field gets concentrated to a few bits as it is transmitted further into the brain.
Actually I think you have brought up another way that the “minimum information” claim fails on. What information are we considering here, the initial amount may be staggering!?
“and use all our despicable human cunning to vanquish the destroyer of dreams – truth itself, and all who stand for it.”
Perhaps I’ve been a bit elliptical. I was referring to those who have some investment – perhaps emotional, perhaps power-based – in holding onto illusions (“dreams”) which are antithetical to science. I do not think that that is to ALL accounts wrong, seeing as I am talking about the people who seem to feel that they stand to lose.
“the fact that as animals we try to get through our lives with as little information as possible.”
Well, whatever. We are animals, we can’t afford to run the processing apparatus at full stretch every minute, we tend to rely on what we learn, and as long as the immediate surroundings don’t look too different from what we have learnt to expect, we’re content to just run along. Having to work at it is a problem. We’d rather not have to bother, unless an emergency absolutely forces us to do something immediately (global warming?). And we do tend to get rather het up and resentful when our cosy assumptions are challenged.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t see a good reason to engage in “respectful dialogue” with Christianity, any more than I can engage in respectful dialogue with astrology or homeopathy. After all, there is empirical evidence supporting the claims of science; there is none for the major claims of Christianity. Why can’t BioLogos understand this difference?”
To tweak the original: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his faith depends upon his not understanding it.”
Even more so when he imagines himself saved for that faith (and damned if he loses it).
“You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.”
NOMA has never been enthusiastically accepted by the religious. Francis Collins was clear about that in the introduction to his last book where he called it too limiting on religion. It is, however, a tool of accomodationists like the NCSE, where it is used exclusively as a way of trying to frighten philosphical naturalists off religions lawn (never the corollary).
By the way, I wouldn’t call Biologos or the Templeton’s “accomodationists”. They may buy one every now and then but they are not accomodationists themselves.
COMA (aptly named) would be the equivalent of infusing thallium nitrate with breakfast tea while being asked to ignore the ensuing nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, shallow breathing, seizures, confusion, and abnormal skin color.
Well done, since the pathology seems to be comorbid with severe head trauma.
But I believe we have to suggest a new coma scale, since the patient’s diagnose scatter between grades. “Does not open eyes” grades a 1, but “Incomprehensible sounds” grades a 2, and “Abnormal flexion to painful stimuli” (hand wringing when criticized) grades a 3.
How about a Coyne COMA Scale? On the CCS the three main bio-logos accommodationist responses would grade consistent 1 for COMA/NOMA. (It is the same pathology really.)
What do the New Accommodationists think about Loren Wikinson? Is he helping?
Both science and theology are interpretations of texts
Oooooh, this PC I’m typing on here is the product of text interpretation! Now I know.
I wonder if text interpretation can also cure my cold. What text would I have to read?
“How to make and use a guillotine”?
If so, perhaps also some christian text, I hear they are filled with medical methods interpretations like that.
How is it respectful dialogue when one party assumes that the other is condemned to eternal torment for disagreeing with it? I’m certain that Mr. Wilkinson would object to the assertion, but I’m just as certain that he will not, because he cannot, refute it. Come on, Loren, say it: Hell is something some ancients made up. But he can’t, because the belief that those who hear the gospel and reject it are condemned is as intrinsic to Christianity as the Resurrection.
Wilkinson and his droogs want to ignore – no doubt because they find it embarrassing – this aspect of their faith, even though it is central to Christianity as experienced by most believers. Being heartbroken for family and friends who have died before being saved is part of what it means to grow up Christian.
Wilkinson’s piece is the sort of thing that gives sophistry a bad name.
Well, since the sophists promised to help the student to make the weaker argument seem the sronger, do you think that Wilkinson got his money’s worth?
Professor Coyne, are you aware that the text of this blog post is misformatted? This is what it looks like on my machine: http://i.imgur.com/pwPeC.jpg
The jarring indentation of “But Wilkinson…” is caused by the presence of two spaces after a period. It happens elsewhere in this post (“Why can’t Biologos…”), and indeed throughout the blog.
WordPress software assumes one space after a period, as is the correct practice. Two spaces is wrong; see this recent Slate article: http://www.slate.com/id/2281146
I was all ready to reject creationism but then it occurred to me, can I trust an obstinate double-spacer?
This site is perfectly formatted on my machine…
But good time to bring up the religion of typography!
Ever notice how religious people always frame these conflicts as if they are a new phenomenon? We’re perpetually at step one. Wilkinson is begging us to merely grant the possibility that religion and science are not in conflict. Of course, most of us have done that long ago, then studied the issue carefully and concluded that the conflict is very real and the worldviews of science and faith are not compatible. We’re way past where Wilkinson is “begging” us to be. It’s like the creationists who insist scientists haven’t properly considered the evidence for creationism, even though the creationists haven’t had anything new to say in decades.
Memo to the all religious: We HAVE considered your claims, probably more deeply than you have. We reject them not because we haven’t considered them, but because we have.
Here is why I think science is so awesome, besides the not trivial fact that it works.
Ultimately science relies on testing, and when you do that you do not only put your (theory’s) neck out. But you compare it against some null hypothesis, it is a competition for relative “fitness” (productivity).
It is indeed a non starter to claim that possibilities for alternate explanations aren’t considered, because then it wouldn’t be, well, science. More to the point, likelihoods are considered. And this is where known myths comes up short, it is likely they are just that and they are unlikely to explain facts.
That double whammy, of reasonable doubt being factual considerations and rejected beyond reasonable doubt (as regard creationism et cetera) should be enough for any “reasonable” person.
Unfortunately we have BioLogos and Wilkinson instead. Who deserves scorn and derision besides the tangible fact that they are embarrassingly wrong.
It would appear to me that BioLogos is shifting its course – time will tell. If any of you are close to Boulder, next Monday night at 7 in Chemistry 140, there will be a discussion and open forum re “Can the Gospels Be Trusted?” Should be interesting.
“COMA” and “STFU” should definitely stick, like “Gnu” has. 😀
We’re hardly big-draw bloggers like P.Z.
Well neither was PZ at the beginning; it took time. They are betting that you will become big-draw bloggers like PZ.
They’re also helping them become big-time bloggers. Or, in Jerry’s case, a big-time Webmaster.
Personally, I think WEIT is just about the right size. More importantly, the S/N ratio is superlative. PZ’s posts are fantastic, but I don’t even bother with the comments on Pharyngula any more; they’re too predictable and too short on substance. And there’re too damn many of them!
Here, people take Jerry’s posts as a theme to riff off of. Many comments are as insightful, original, and as full of content as Jerry’s own original posts. Tangents are common and interesting. Offhand, I can’t think of any other ‘Net-based discussion where that’s the case.
Once upon a time, USENET was like that, and even for a while after the Eternal September for those who had a good killfile. Sadly, not any more.
“USENET”? Geez, Ben, are you like 87?
(…he asks, while sheepishly acknowledging many many hours spent posting long screeds on comp.ai.philosophy…)
Nah, though sometimes it feels like it.
That was actually the year I started college….
Hell, back in those days, USENET only occasionally got routed over the Internet. And the Internet wasn’t that big of a thing, at least not on our campus; BITNET was where the action was at, with LISTSERV being the dominant discussion medium.
Am I dating myself, or what?
Agreed. Much as I still like Pharyngula, it turned to a black hole for my blog time to reasonably analyze a thread. I had to cut out cold to not have people thinking I still could devote time to consider each and every comment for thread value.
[Of course, coming in fresh you could always join the emoting crowd. Maybe that is why FSM invented handles!?]
I started reading blogs back in the day. What happened to Pharyngula happened to Eschaton years before.
I find “Pissing up a rope” to be a very handy phrase in English.
“Offhand, I can’t think of any other ‘Net-based discussion where that’s the case.”
Oh yeah? I can! My place! I just say a few words and let the commenters provide all the interesting stuff.
Re Pharyngula: no one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.
(-Church of Yogi)
COMA has been their main position all along, hasn’t it? Ayala was pushing it relentlessly in the aftermath of his Tmpltn prize. I said at the time that it was in tension with NOMA and that it’s odd that a lot of accommodationists oscillate between the two without noticing that they contradict each other. At least I think I said that – I said something like it.
Wow, that Eric MacDonald is hard to read. A sample sentence: “Wilkinson thinks, for no very plausible reason, except perhaps that we see no reason to privilege Christian texts — or, in other words, to believe that the Christian scriptures are grounded in something that stands chance of being (in some sense of ‘objective’) “objectively” out there – that Coyne and I are positivists, and that positivism is — or, rather, was — a “paradigm” that flourished briefly almost a hundred years ago, but has now been thoroughly discredited.”
(1) It’s not that hard to read. (2) To have found that sentence, you will have read the whole post and so will know that it isn’t a “sample sentence”.
I find Eric MacDonald’s writing to be exceptionally clear, even after I’ve been playing a game where I take a drink every time a BioLogos writer uses the word scorn. (Fortunately, only three shots for Wilkinson’s latest.)
“Both science and theology are interpretations of texts.”
Dear theologians, science is not about scientific texts but about reality, because, in contrast to you, the scientists have a reality they can examine.
I think Wilkinson was referring scitntific observations and/or data as a “text”, not the written texts that contain the interpretations thereof. The former (in his view) seem to be holy texts, while it’s the latter he’s equating with the interpretations of holy texts. Or at least that’s how I read it.
Let me try that again (typing while in the after-effects of chemo isn’t easy):
I think Wilkinson was referring scientific observations and/or raw data as a “text”, not the written articles and textbooks that contain interpretations thereof. The former (in his view) seem to be the equivalent of scriptural texts and subjective ‘spiritual’ experiences, while it’s the latter he’s equating with interpretations of holy texts. Or at least that’s how I read it.
Chemo?! I didn’t know that. Sorry.
“the statements of all scientists … stand, without acknowledging it, on a great mountain of belief, authority, and passion”
I would replace belief and authority with logic and evidence. Passion I agree on.
Every atheist dealing with Christianity and Islam should read Walter Burkhardt’s Greek Religion. You can follow the whole millenial procession from the ancient Indo-Europeans in the mists of time through the Mycenaeans through Homeric religion through the rise of Hellenic philosophy, the influence of the Near East on the Greeks and the rise of the Mystery Cults.
The book leaves off just as the early Christians arrived in Greece as documented in the Book of Acts. And the thing is, in the 1st c. AD, this shit was totally cutting edge. It was both mythologically and historically consistent with what was known. Christianity, in the first c. AD, had no conflicts with the best history and science of the day. I mean, y’all really need to read the Gospel of John in the context of Platonic dialogues. It’s some sophisticated shit, c. 140 A.D.
Now, it’s been 2,000 years or so, and the old Indo-European monotheistic cults just can’t swing anymore under the weight of modern science. Mormonism is pulling up the rear, and Scientology, like it or not, is in the foreguard.
My big fear is that there is some latter-day Jesus/Buddha/Mohammed about to spring some crazy shit on the world that is nonetheless consistent with what we know. How do you fight that?
I think it is a bit unfortunate to club Buddha into that group. Buddha never claimed to have any special connections to a supreme being of some kind, and was completely indifferent to the question of existence of a personal god. For him, the important thing seems to have been the realization that, to put it simply, “life is hard”, and so it would be better if people helped each other instead of indulging in rituals. In his last sermon, he is said to have emphasised that he was just an ordinary man, who had to suffer disease and death just like any one else. Another sermon I like most is the so called Kalama Sutta, which goes in this vein*:
Surprising, isn’t it?
Of course, his followers made sure they would have none of that. Buddhism split shortly after his death into two sects, with a majority proclaiming Buddha divine, in contrast to what he had taught them. The ritualistic Vedic religion prevalent in India at the time followed its usual tactics by declaring him a god too. They couldn’t defeat Buddha when he was alive, but they did when he was dead by declaring him divine.
Even today, many “Buddhists” try to fight with the intrinsic rationalism in Buddha’s teachings: here is an example. It is so sadly ironic that a man who fought all his life against religious dogmatism was made into a god himself after his death.
*Translation from http://oaks.nvg.org/kalama.html
I forgot to put the link to the example of how the Kalama Sutta is twisted by “believers” these days: here it is.
Why would that interpretation of a mythical text be better than, say, christian interpretations of their mythical texts?
Or are you perhaps claiming that Buddha was an actual existing person? What would be the evidence for that, “his life” was written many generations (and a long distance away) after the purported fact as in all other religions? (Actually more generations than the corresponding Jesus myth, ~ 400 years vs ~ 200 years.)
It is so sadly ironic that a religious reification was made into a “non-god” person.
“Or are you perhaps claiming that Buddha was an actual existing person?”
Yes, I am, because there is sound historic and archaeological basis for at least the fact he lived. And where do you get the figure of ~400 years? There are historical records(on so called Ashokan edicts) by the emperor Ashoka(who at that point ruled most of India) converting to Buddhism and giving up war around 250 BC, while the accepted date for Buddha’s death is roughly 400 BC.
And why would you assume, again, that he claimed he was god, when the available records from around his time suggest he didn’t, and when even his recorded teachings contradict the beliefs of his “followers” on this point?
And by the way, to put things in context, Buddha was not doing anything “novel”. Atheism and agnosticism was relatively quite common in the Indian subcontinent around that time. Around the same time as Buddha, another person called Mahavira founded a “religion” called Jainism which originally had atheism as a basic premise. Both Buddha and Mahavira were contemporaries of the so called lokayats, who were a very materialistic group of people.
And I must emphasize that when I say “Buddha”, I mean Siddhartha Gautama, the historical person, not the mythical/supernatural paraphernalia of “Buddhahood” and what not that has been made around him.
Perhaps that is what you were referring too?
the worlds of science and the worlds of religion are ultimately one world
And perhaps that image would be appropriate if in fact science did deal only with the world of uninterpreted facts, and Christianity only with leaps of faith, dogmatic pronouncements, and endlessly flexible interpretations.
Yeah we already know science doesn’t deal with only uninterpreted facts, and Christianity only with leaps of faith etc. The fallacies abound with these guys. Except they’re, like, really verbose and long-winded fallacies. Lol.
Both science and theology are interpretations of texts,
Good grief, there is no fallacy too low for these folks. I would say “no sophism to low”, but they don’t even rise to the level of sophistry.
“BioLogos is coming perilously close to the position of traditional creationists.”
The “positivist poison” rhetoric strongly reminds me of the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document, which referred to a desire to overthrow methodological naturalism in science.
My comment at BioLogos got moderated; I hope no one minds if I leave a copy here for the record.
qbsmd – #48918
January 24th 2011
Darrel Falk (for BioLogos) – #48799
“Now, atheists, if you want to comment on this site, please get down to the task of helping Christians understand the value and trustworthiness of science.”
I’m glad you asked. Let’s start by defining the problem as the consensus of the scientific community and literal interpretations of the bible making contradictory truth claims. The gnu atheists find a conflict between a broader interpretation of science and religion more generally, but set that aside for a moment. The gnu atheist proposed solution is to try to reduce the influence of Christianity generally, thus shifting Overton windows and reducing biblical literalism. Naturally, this sounds futile because it involves getting people to change their deeply held beliefs. The BioLogos proposed solution is to try to reinterpret Christian theology in a way that doesn’t conflict with any element of the consensus of the scientific community, and then attempt to convert people to that new theology. Naturally, this sounds futile because it involves getting people to change their deeply held beliefs.
Gnu atheists criticize the BioLogos project to create a new theology because that theology is still subject to the broader conflict I mentioned previously. It shouldn’t be news to anyone that atheists think your religion is wrong; that’s basically true by definition. And arguing against any form of Christianity, including yours, is directly related to the gnu atheist project of reducing the influence of Christianity. I don’t understand why BioLogos spends so much effort responding to gnu atheists. That does not follow directly from trying to “help Christians understand the value and trustworthiness of science”. In fact, having atheists argue with you could give you added credibility with such Christians. Trying to convince the leaders of conservative Christian sects to respect your theology, and not preach against science, would directly relate to your goal. I suggest directing more effort there. And wish you luck with it, as I’m sure you’ll need it.
Anyone in the UK might be interested in the new head of the Royal Society on ‘Horizon’ Monday 9pm –
Why science is under attack…