Quote of the Day

December 24, 2011 • 2:16 pm

This comes from the new book Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? (Oxford University Press, 2011), a 77-page series of exchanges between philosopher Dan Dennett and philosopher/theologian Alvin Plantinga.  It’s a short read, but there are some good bits, especially when Dennett asks Plantinga to justify why the supernatural being who created and drove the process of evolution couldn’t have been Superman instead of God.  You can also see how Plantinga claims that the conflict is not between science and religion, but between science and naturalism (don’t get me started on that).

At any rate, here’s Dan’s take on accommodationism from page 50.  Needless to say, I agree with him:

When [Steve] Gould, or more recently Michael Ruse, and Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, insist that there really is no necessary conflict between evolutionary biology and religion (properly understood), they persuade few devout Christians and Muslims. Plantinga speaks for the unpersuaded who know full well there is a conflict.  In fact, my disapproval of the NOMA gambit [Gould’s idea of “nonoverlapping magisteria”] grows out of the worry that these attempts by well-meaning scientific diplomats do more harm than good, unwittingly convincing many laypeople that scientists will lie through their teeth to get evolution taught in the schools.  Much better, in my opinion, is to say yes, there is a conflict, and once again, science wins (contra Plantinga).

Ponder how many accommodationists say that there is no conflict when they believe otherwise in their hearts.  After all, many of them (including the three named by Dan) are atheists.  The NOMA/compatibility position is not something that many accommodationists believe fervently, but simply a political tactic.  And religious people, though often deluded, are not stupid.

16 thoughts on “Quote of the Day

  1. I used to use the NOMA argument, it was a lie I never believed a word of it, I only said it to get a job as a science tutor to a family of missionaries while I was in Taiwan. It didn’t work, they knew there was a conflict and they didn’t want an atheist teaching their kids.

  2. And what’s more the idea of the supernatural is incoherent. The natural is what exists in the universe, the supernatural by definition doesn’t exist!!

  3. It’s so obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that there is a conflict, that I’m not sure what motivates accomodationists to say otherwise.

    When science has answered practically every question we can come up with about the nature of physical reality, and the gaps are no longer wide enough to squeeze God through, what will they do then?

  4. And religious people, though often deluded, are not stupid.

    Well, some of them are; I would guess about half of religious people have below average intelligence. I presume you meant to say that religion is not a guarantee of stupidity, or somehting like that.

    1. I would add that ignorance is also a factor. A lot of them might be reasonably intelligent, but have been sequestered from real science due to homeschooling and whatnot.

  5. the conflict is not between science and religion, but between science and naturalism

    And .. according to the Christmas ‘homily’ the Pope just delivered, we also “must dismount from the high horse of our ‘enlightened’ reason” and “strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped” (Wait, is he preaching Buddhism here?)

    And this all to get closer to a ‘humble God’.
    God is HUMBLE??? Quick, get the guy a Bible before he makes an ever bigger fool of himself!

    (Oh, and btw, it hasn’t escaped the Pope’s sharp observation, that today (!!!) Christmas has become slightly commercial! The man is a genius! Such a Sherlock Holmes)

    This guy is SO removed from reality .. it’s just plain ..well.. unbelievable.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/24/world/europe/vatican-pope-christmas/

  6. Much better, in my opinion, is to say yes, there is a conflict, and once again, science wins (contra Plantinga).

    Easy for most of us to say. Actually, essential for most of us to say. But I find it difficult to disdain NCSE’s brand of accommodation. I don’t envy them that battle, and I won’t ask them to cede it as a matter of principle.

  7. I understand NOMA with respect to science, but its position on morality is very strange. Why should we simply accept that morals belong in the religious magisterium, as NOMA (and religion) state? Why would religion be more competent to speak about morals (or anything, really) than about science? It’s beyond me.

  8. Maybe this question has already been addressed in a previous post (?), but I wonder:

    to what extent is the NOMA position, as well as flirtations between accomodationists and otherwise legitimate scientific organizations, an effort to maintain popular support and government funding for scientific research?

    I’m not saying that I agree with NOMA and accomodationists (i don’t). But in a country where perhaps a majority of people believe in magical invisible fairies that make bipolar ping-pong wars in our heads, perhaps these two mistaken positions serve some sort of greater purpose.

  9. Atheists who dishonestly tell Christians their cult does not conflict with science are no better than the Bible thumpers they suck up to. These atheist wimps are responsible for the world’s out of control religious stupidity and religious violence.

    Christian science deniers are uneducated morons but they can recognize a liar when they see one. Honesty is very important to me so I tell Christians 21st century science, especially evolutionary biology, has made their magic god fairy and their dead Jeebus, which always were childish idiotic fantasies, completely unnecessary. I tell them their death cult will go extinct because science education will kill it.

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