Divine revelation comes in two forms: the Word of God (including both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition) and the Work of God (including the natural, physical world and the laws that govern it). Both are equally valid forms of truth, as they stem from the same Source. And since truth can never contradict truth, a truth revealed in one cannot ever be in conflict with a truth revealed in the other. Once this is fundamentally understood, fear about science overthrowing religion becomes obsolete, and science has a moral compass guiding discovery and innovation. (Emphasis in original.)
Hence the title of the post.
Doumit’s statement is absurd on its face, but it becomes positively offensive when you realize that by “Sacred Scripture” he means the Bible, and by “Sacred Tradition” he means the teachings of the Catholic Church. How does a sensible person come to believe anything remotely like this?
There is something deeply lazy and insulting about Doumit’s assertion. Science has proven its validity by granting us enormous control over nature. What does revelation offer to compare? He tells us that science and scripture cannot ever conflict. In saying this he expects us to believe, absurdly, that the Biblical text is infinitely malleable. He seeks a place at the table for his own preferred religion not on the basis of proven success, but on … what basis exactly?
For centuries virtually everyone who read the Bible came away thinking that the Earth was young, that Adam and Eve were real people, that species were fixed, that Noah’s flood and the Tower of Babel were real, and that the Sun orbited the Earth. Are we really to believe they all just misunderstood the meaning of the text? If Sacred Scripture is that confusing, then in what sense is it a valid form of truth?
Jerry has already said most of what needs saying regarding this essay. Mostly though I was reminded of something I read in MIchael Ruse’s book Can a Darwinian be a Christian? He quotes Daniel Dennett, from Darwin’s Dangerous Idea:
I know it passes in polite company to let people have it both ways, and under most circumstances I wholeheartedly cooperate with this benign arrangement. But we’re seriously trying to get at the truth here, and if you think that this common but unspoken understanding about faith is anything better than socially useful obfuscation to avoid mutual embarrassment and loss of face, you have either seen much more deeply into this issue than any philosopher ever has (for none has ever come up with a good defense of this) or you are kidding yourself.
It is hard to imagine anything more sensible than that, but Ruse believes Dennett needs a lecture about modesty.
Picking up on an argument made in the last chapter, notwithstanding the significance of reason, this century’s findings in science and mathematics must surely have infused people with a little modesty about their ability to peer into the nature of ultimate reality.
But precisely because you (as a Darwinian) are working within the world as you can know it, you ought to show a little modesty about your limitations.
It is simply extraordinary. Are we seriously to believe that it is people like Dennett, or atheists generally, who are the ones speaking with unwarranted certainty about the nature of ultimate reality? When atheists suggest that we should stick with what works (science and reason) and eschew what has consistently failed (faith), it is thought to be an occasion for scolding and condescension. But when people like Doumit arrogantly and baselessly declare the findings of their religion (and only their religion) to be a valid form of truth, they are not similarly lectured. In fact, it is considered poor form to criticize them, since they are at least on the right side of the evolution issue.