Religion and Science: The Non Debate

There is an interesting conversation developing on The Intersection (What Should Science Organizations Say About Religion? Answer: A Lot) to which this is my response:

The conversation you have modeled here (people talking past each other … see the original post) is very close to what actually happens in an NCSE like conversation, except that someone following the NCSE approach (as I usually do in this context) also mentions that for most religions this is not an issue, etc. etc. (I usually throw in a few quotes from this or that pope).

And, noting that many religious people have no problem with evolution, and that people are complex thinking beings who can often hold viewpoints that at some level are incompatible and other levels not, are both things I’ve seen new atheists say (including PZ Myers himself!)

All of which leads me to conclude that most of us are not that far from each other on what we are saying and thinking most of the time.

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    January 19, 2010

    As someone poited out over there at the Intersection Zoo (monkey house). Mooney’s argument is nothing but a straw man argument. He characterizes the positions he does not not like with contemptible lunacy.

  2. #2 mk
    January 19, 2010

    Exactly right NEBob.

    The thing I am having difficulty wrapping my head around is the fact that so many take Mooney seriously anymore. Even before he hitched his cart to the Framing Lunacy with Matt Nisbett he was a major league lightweight. Through all of this I feel he has done nothing to change that and in fact makes it worse by claiming things that are unproven or things that–when examined closely–the evidence suggests just the opposite. (such as the “New Atheists” tactics hurting public-scientific understanding. Wrong!)

    Watching a gnat like that trying to admonish academic and scientific heavyweights like Dawkins, Hitchens and Coyne is simply laughable. In my book, he is a nothing; a cypher.

  3. #3 Charles
    January 19, 2010

    I find the argument by CM & SK problematic.
    What if, in their short dialogue, we substituted evolution with astronomy, and religion with astrology? The absurdity of the argument would be obvious.

    It’s one thing to be pragmatic, but I think it’s quite another to accommodate religious views that have no basis in science.

    When I read Ken Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God, I was struck by the unfounded speculation about the unverifiable possibility that God could influence genetic mutations on the level of quantum indeterminacy.It’s nothing but mysterious hand-waving.

    I also found Francis Collins’ views that our moral sense is exempt from evolutionary processes, because, in his view, this moral sense comes through our souls, which are given to us by God.

    It’s when these Theistic Evolutionists begin to explain the theistic part of their views that things start to take a weird turn.

    And frankly, this speculation about quantum indeterminacy and our moral sense is treading awfully close to scientific territory, if indeed it hasn’t already crossed the border.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    January 19, 2010

    Charles, good points, but it is not about arguing the legitimacy of religion. It is about arguing about the legitimacy of the Establishment clause.

    Getting religions christians to accept the first amendment is like getting pacifistic liberals to accept the second amendment. Doable, important, and a matter of getting people to “go along”

    Guns still kill people and Jesus Christ is still a fictional character.

  5. #5 Kate
    January 19, 2010

    Thanks for saying this. I didn’t have the energy to do it at the Intersection. It is an annoying straw person argument, and kind of a non-issue.

  6. #6 frustrated
    January 19, 2010

    Greg,

    There are many religious Christians who care passionately about seperation of church and state. The nutjobs of the religious right do not represent the views of most American christians.

    I get that you don’t like us. But there are a pretty decent number of religious Christians who are pro-science and appreciate the seperation of church and state, and vote democratic.

    You would skewer anyone else on this blog who make such sweeping and nonfact based assertions about any other group.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    January 19, 2010

    Frustrated: I know. We do not differ in our position on this. Many religious people including religious Christians have no problem whatsoever with evolution being taught in school, with science being unaffected by religious views, etc. That is my point. You may have read it wrong.

    Some of my best friends are religious Christians, by the way.

  8. #8 Devin Ford
    January 19, 2010

    Its always fun talking about religion in the realm of science! But think about it, having the science foundations claim their religious would (as it would seem) be nothing more then an advertising gimick.

    Consider two ice cream trucks coming down a single street. A group of kids at the corner in which their both heading, one may scream “I have the creamiest around! here!” (Or, I believe in religion! Here!)

    Those who study science for a living are wasting time if they are also religious. Their opposites, and sure you can get them to work together, (im sure “god” and the “devil” could work together sometime as well) but look at all the time you have wasted. That time could have gone for science alone, making a lot more improvements in this area.

  9. #9 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    January 19, 2010

    Frustrated, beyond Greg’s joke about “some of my best friends,” it’s definitely not a matter of not liking Christians. It is more important that you understand that we non-accommodations actually respect your intelligence much more that Chris Mooney does, and don’t think that we should be patronizing you with assurances that you can remain religious and still accept the science.

    We would rather treat you as adults rather than as children, and when we discuss evolution to talk about the exciting science of it rather than spend half of the time telling you it is “okay” to be religious and accept the facts of evolution.

    I maintain my friendships with Christians by being honest with them.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    January 19, 2010

    It wasn’t a joke!

  11. #11 Crudely Wrott
    January 19, 2010

    Religion talks, Science walks, Humanity rocks.

    And old men chuckle good naturedly as they see the world change before their eyes. Ok, some old men chuckle . . .

  12. #12 sinned34
    January 19, 2010

    Some of my best friends are religious Christians, by the way.

    Yeah, but do you let them use your bathroom?

  13. #13 bo moore
    January 19, 2010

    “The supernatural realm is a product of the human brain. It exists nowhere else. It is our mistaken belief in the supernatural as the source of reality that causes us to create havoc in the natural world. The brain does not create reality; it creates ideas about reality, most of which are innacurate.” from WHO DO I THINK I AM? Dexa! Dog Books.

    Science and religion cannot be smooshed together. They are entirely separate mental products. Supernatural thinking is about overthrowing nature and in fact is a denial of physical reality. The ease with which (some scientists) can hold both to be true just proves that ideas are not “things”.

  14. #14 Katharine
    January 19, 2010

    “I get that you don’t like us. But there are a pretty decent number of religious Christians who are pro-science and appreciate the seperation of church and state, and vote democratic.”

    This has been addressed already.

    I think the point is that the NAS and NCSE are taking positions that aren’t borne out by science or logical thought, and therefore are anathema to their mission.

  15. #15 Charles Evo
    January 20, 2010

    “…but it is not about arguing the legitimacy of religion. It is about arguing about the legitimacy of the Establishment clause.”

    Legally, yes. But scientifically and philosophically, no.

    Perhaps you’re focusing on the Evangelicals, while I’m thinking about the liberal Christians.

    One group wants to pummel the 1st amendment, and one doesn’t. OK

  16. #16 DuWayne
    January 20, 2010

    Not really interested in commenting over there – I am not particularly interested in frequenting The Intersection.

    I think it is an interesting hypothetical conversation they created. A rather problematic one as well. Chris has a profoundly ignorant perception of what religious people actually think about these issues.

    The likelihood that someone who comes from a dogmatic position that evolution is evil, is going to ask a science organization about it with anything but nefarious intent is absurd. While there are definitely people in that category who are potentially open to accepting evolution, they are far more likely to look for what actual Christians who accept evolution have to say about it.

    Put simply, such people could generally care less what science has to say about religion – they are more interested in what religion has to say about science.

  17. #17 Paul
    January 20, 2010

    Chris has a profoundly ignorant perception of what religious people actually think about these issues.

    After several months of having this and similar flaws in his argument pointed out, it’s not ignorance. It’s wilful delusion at best.

  18. #18 Joyce Carter
    July 5, 2010

    I can’t wait till Jesus comes back and rocks your world!

  19. #19 Joyce Carter
    July 5, 2010

    Oh, and one other thing, some of you are so book smart that your stupid, so sorry for all of you. Wake up before you miss
    out on eternity with Christ.

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2010

    Joyce, given your first comment, I have to ask: Do you honestly think that Jesus make your second comment?

    I don’t think so. I think it is possible that you are not a very good Christian. Please bring this up during your next confession.

    Thank you very much, that is all.

  21. #21 Joyce Carter
    July 5, 2010

    No Greg, Jesus didn’t make my second comment,I did.
    That comment is accurate and to the point,as I am pointing out a truth to several people, not attacking anyone and I believe Jesus would be OK with it. I am actually a work in progress
    in the Christian department, not where I want to be yet but definitely headed in the right direction.And finally Greg,
    Christians don’t go to confession,Catholics do.
    Read Titus 3:3-10
    I used to think like you, I’m so thankful that God never gave up on me, He is waiting on you too. :)

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2010

    Joyce, you missed my point, but that was probably because I made a typo. What I meant to say was that Jesus would not be the sort of jerk you are being, as exemplified in your second comment. If he existed. Which is questionable.

    Christians don’t go to confession,Catholics do.

    This tells me that you don’t count Catholics as Christians. Is that what you are saying here? A number of people might object to this.

    I used to think like you, I’m so thankful that God never gave up on me, He is waiting on you too. :)

    I love you, Joyce, and always will, as I love all of my fellow humans. Some day, when you get over this Jesus thing, perhaps you will learn to love your fellow men and women as well.

    And yes, as you say, you are rather a piece of work. But I still love you.

  23. #23 Joyce Carter
    July 6, 2010

    Didn’t miss the point at all, just took advantage of the typo.
    Not very often I can get one over on a Harvard man.
    You are spoken like a true liberal, just because I don’t agree with you I am a jerk…..whatever. LOL Where in the world did you get that I don’t view Catholics as Christians?
    You said “Please bring this up during your next confession” and I said “Christians don’t go to confession,Catholics do”. FYI Greg this is a factual statement not a judgmental or hateful one as you are trying to imply.You see Catholics make it a practice to go to church and go into a confessional stall and ask a priest to intercede for them to ask Jesus for forgiveness, while Christians simply go straight to the source, it’s called prayer. A Christian is someone who ask’s Jesus into their heart, admit,believe,confess then repent and make every effort to live according to His teachings. While we’re on the subject God was never a young child, Jesus was. God just always was, remember He is the Creator of everything!!!!
    Read John 1:1-13. You also might enjoy Josh McDowell’s “The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict.” Where did you get the idea that I don’t care about people? I actually prayed for you after your last posting Greg, I didn’t do that because I’m hateful but rather because I do care very much about people and their eternal life.I will never “get over this Jesus thing” I’m committed to the very end.:) And Greg really, for a Havard man you sure are having a hard time understanding very simple and basic words, I didn’t say I was a “piece of work” I said I was a work in progress.Well, I hope that clears everything up, for such a smart guy you sure are having a tough time understanding
    me.I went back and read your last posting again and I have to say I’m just not feeling the love! Praying for you again Greg. Blessings!!

  24. #24 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2010

    Joyce: You are spoken like a true liberal, just because I don’t agree with you I am a jerk

    Ah, Joyce, you were the one calling people jerks. Please get your facts straight, or at least, don’t tell lies. Telling a lie is a sin.

    Perhaps when you sober up in the morning you can re-examine your comments here and take note of how thoroughly you are embarrassing yourself.

  25. #25 Joyce Carter
    July 6, 2010

    Really,please highlight and point out where I called anyone a jerk. Lol
    FYI I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Havard man.
    I just love a good debate with a smart Havard grad. I promise you I am in no way, shape or form
    embarrassed, as I am in good standing with the God of the universe. One day Greg the very rocks
    will cry out and if you don’t know Jesus, you will be crying with them! All the Havard degrees won’t mean a thing, God is not impressed. By the way did I mention I noticed you went to Harvard.
    You are a tough one Havard man, but I will pray for you anyway. Good Night.

  26. #26 Wowbagger
    July 6, 2010

    You are a tough one Havard man, but I will pray for you anyway.

    Why don’t you do a voodoo dance while you’re at it? It’d be about as likely to make a difference.

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2010

    Joyce, you are starting to get stalky and threatening. It is now time for you to stop.