I was looking for a Hallmark card with that on the cover (and also, preferably, a sad-eyed puppy dog) to send to Josh Rosenau and Chris Mooney, but they didn’t have one, so I had to settle for a blog post. Here’s the sad puppy, at least.
Oh, Internet, you are like a giant greeting card store that is always well-stocked with lovely cliches.
What seems to have scrambled their brains is that Richard Dawkins said, in an interview for Newsweek, that “there are many intelligent evolutionary scientists who also believe in God” and accepts that “there is that compatibility”. Shock! He must have changed his mind! He’s coming around to thinking like an accommodationist!
Actually, I suspect the damage must have occurred earlier, caused by all that masturbatory wacking away at a straw man. The real shock to both of them ought to be that they haven’t been paying any attention to what all these New Atheists have been saying all along. Dawkins didn’t say anything at all different from what we’ve all been saying all along — his position is practically the party line among the New Atheists.
For instance, Jerry Coyne was very clear:
First of all, nobody doubts that science and religion are compatible in the trivial sense that someone can be a scientist and be religious at the same time. That only shows one’s ability to hold two dissimilar approaches to the world simultaneously in one’s own mind. As I’ve said umpteen times before, you could say that being a Christian is compatible with being a murderer because a lot of murderers are Christians. Yet Mooney, and Scott, make this argument, and Mooney touts it as “powerful.”
It isn’t. This is not what we mean when we say science and faith are incompatible. Got it, folks?? Let’s not hear the “there-are-religious-scientists” argument any more. It’s trivial, and insulting to anyone who can think.
I have now discovered that I was trying to make the same points Lawrence Krauss is doing in the Wall Street Journal: religion is wrong. It’s a set of answers, and worse, a set of procedures, that don’t work. That’s the root of our argument that religion is incompatible with science.
That word, “incompatibility”, is a problem, though. The uniform response we always get when we say that is “Hey! I’m a Christian, and I’m a scientist, therefore they can’t be incompatible!” Alexander was no exception, and said basically the same thing right away. It’s an irrelevant point; it assumes that a person can’t possibly hold two incompatible ideas at once. We know that is not true. We have complicated and imperfect brains, and even the most brilliant person on earth is not going to be perfectly consistent. When we talk about incompatibility, we have to also specify what purposes are in conflict, and show that the patterns of behavior have different results.
It’s a shame. We’ve been writing this stuff repeatedly for so long, and these critics have failed to pay any attention. It’s as if rational discussion doesn’t sink into their heads. It makes me sad. We need another sad puppy; maybe they’ll notice that.
With some obvious exasperation, Jerry Coyne has also revisited this clueless distortion of our position, and best of all, since we were all together in Los Angeles this weekend, he got Richard Dawkins to testify.
All I was saying is that it is possible for a human mind to accommodate both evolution and religion because F. Collins’s mind seems to manage the feat (along with lots of vicars and bishops and rabbis). I also needed to make the point that TGSOE [The Greatest Show on Earth] is not the same book as TGD [The God Delusion] because many interviewers who are supposed to be interviewing me about TGSOE have simply ignored it and gone right back to assuming that it is the same book as TGD.
Despite all this clarity from our camp, Mooney still doesn’t get it. He now has an article in the Huffington Post (booooo) in which, even though he has read Richard Dawkins’ unambiguous statement that he was simply stating the position that he has held all along, Mooney has to continue to fellate his strawman some more.
And that makes puppies cry.
And worse, Mooney draws a ridiculously untenable conclusion: that Dawkins is backpeddling and regrets the association of evolution and atheism.
In other words, Dawkins appears to be grappling with a communication problem. Linking together atheist advocacy and the defense of evolution, as he has done so prominently, poses a pretty big problem when you hit the US media with a new book on the latter. After writing a million-selling atheist “consciousness-raiser” and “come-out-of-the-closet” book, is it at all surprising that Dawkins now finds his evolution book being prominently linked to atheism in the media mind?
Jebus. Guess what? Dawkins is as adamant an atheist as ever. That’s just wishful thinking on Mooney’s part. More puppies for delusional journalists!