Karl Giberson offers up the usual cliches of the genre in in this essay for Salon. Those mean ol’ atheists are trying to make a religion out of science, but savvy clear thinkers like him see the problems with that little project. Blah blah blah.
P.Z. has already spanked Giberson in this post. Nonetheless, there was one paragraph that really caught my eye:
In order for many of us to truly feel at home in the universe so grandly described by science, that science needs to coexist as peacefully as possible with the creation stories of our religious traditions. I share with Myers, Dawkins and Weinberg the conviction that we are the product of cosmic and biological evolution, that Einstein and Darwin got it right. But I want to believe that, through the eyes of my faith, this is how God created the world and that God cares about that world. Does this belief, shared by so many of our species, make me dangerous?
I can just picture some young-Earth creationist reading this with a smirk. “You see!” he will say. “You compromise the faith, cede to science the right to answer the grand questions of human origins, and then act surprised when they still don’t want you. Serves. You. Right.”
Seriously, the desperation here is palpable. Theistic evolutionists have made great concessions to achieve their reconciliation of Christianity with evolution. Perspicuity of scripture? Gone. Natural theology? Pointless. Argument from Design? Fuhgeddabout it. The sort of beliefs that are justified by evidence and defended rationally are granted to science. Religious beliefs are justified by recourse to ill-defined “eyes of faith” and the desire of believers to feel at home in the universe (whatever that means). They’ve conceded about ninety percent of the territory on which science and religion clash. But still a lot of scientists won’t even give them that last ten percent. How frustrating that must be for them.
As for whether these views make him dangerous, that’s hard to say. People holding private religous beliefs that help them make sense of the universe, or that provide emotional sustenance to get through the trials of life? Doesn’t worry me in the slightest. If that’s what religious belief were generally about, no one would be writing scathing denunciations of it. The trouble is that religious belief so rarely manages to remain a private affair. A desire to foist ones beliefs on others seems a central part of the enterprise. And to the extent that even very moderate forms of faith provide cover for the more ambitious type, yes, it is dangerous.
For more on the wit and wisdom of Karl Giberson, see my review of his recent book Saving Darwin.