CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

  photo inherit_the_wind5B15D_zpsf85e0617.jpg
 from 1960 Hollywood version of Inherit the wind: 
three of my favorite actors:Harry Morgan in background.
 Spencer Tracy as the Clarence Darrow figure 
(Henry Drummond) and Frederick March as the 
William Jennings Bryan figure (Matthew Harrison Brady).

Mano Singham writes a guest editorial for The Chronicle of Higher Education, "The New War Between Science and Religion." Singham has some academic credentials, he is director of the University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education and an adjunct associate professor of physics at Case Western Reserve University. His article bemoans the fact that The Academy of Sciences is openly making room for religion and accepting the existence of religion as a domain beyond the level of scientific investigation:

The former group, known as accommodationists, seeks to carve out areas of knowledge that are off-limits to science, arguing that certain fundamental features of the world—such as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and the origin of the universe—allow for God to act in ways that cannot be detected using the methods of science. Some accommodationists, including Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, suggest that there are deeply mysterious, spiritual domains of human experience, such as morality, mind, and consciousness, for which only religion can provide deep insights.
Prestigious organizations like the National Academy of Sciences have come down squarely on the side of the accommodationists. On March 25, the NAS let the John Templeton Foundation use its venue to announce that the biologist (and accommodationist) Francisco Ayala had been awarded its Templeton Prize, with the NAS president himself, Ralph Cicerone, having nominated him. The foundation has in recent years awarded its prize to scientists and philosophers who are accommodationists, though it used to give it to more overtly religious figures, like Mother Teresa and Billy Graham. Critics are disturbed at the NAS's so closely identifying itself with the accommodationist position. As the physicist Sean Carroll said, "Templeton has a fairly overt agenda that some scientists are comfortable with, but very many are not. In my opinion, for a prestigious scientific organization to work with them sends the wrong message."
....Just a couple of problems with this take on things. First of all labels those who are wise enough to understand that more forms of knowledge exist than just scientific knowledge as "accommodation" is like accepting the Marxist label of all those who have not joined the party was "obstructionist" or the label of all those who dont' want to do it Stalin's way (which means other communists) as "revisionists." Who are these guys accommodating? The enemy of course. Just in using the term this self professed "new atheist" has drawn the battle lines. What's pathetic is the fact that he's not describing a new war he's describing a new peace, but clearly he doesn't want peace. It seems that the world of science has reaches a point where they are willing to accept religion as an area beyond their domain and to strike up a new peaceful co-existence. But the new atheist can't have this. Religion is the enemy it must vanquished and driven out of existence. Any attempt at understanding is mere accommodation, selling out. His rationale:

Those of us who disagree—sometimes called "new atheists"—point out that historically, the scope of science has always expanded, steadily replacing supernatural explanations with scientific ones. Science will continue this inexorable march, making it highly likely that the accommodationists' strategy will fail. After all, there is no evidence that consciousness and mind arise from anything other than the workings of the physical brain, and so those phenomena are well within the scope of scientific investigation. What's more, because the powerful appeal of religion comes precisely from its claims that the deity intervenes in the physical world, in response to prayers and such, religious claims, too, fall well within the domain of science. The only deity that science can say nothing about is a deity who does nothing at all.
....In the first line we can see the problem, the typical atheist understanding of religion ideas as "explanations." everything is science to the worshipers of scinece (scientism) the only possible form of knowledge is scientific knowledge; thus they can't see understanding supernatural as experience they see it as an attempt to explain natural phenomena. If that were the case it would make sense to see science as constantly expanding and taking over the real of SN. But the fact is the term SN was not invented as an expatiation but as a reference to an experience.[1] It is about the experience known as "mystical" which more often than not is understood as an experience of divine presence. The fact of it is he sees science as constantly expanding and taking away all the territory and crowding out the SN because he doesn't see the SN as having any basis in reality becuase it's not derived by means that he and his side control. That can't acknowledge any basis to it because to do so they would have to accept the notion of the validity of other forms of knowledge. He here pulls a bait and switch:
....In setting up a straw man argument he quotes what he terms a spurious argument" by NAS, the arguemnt is "many scientists and theologians have written about how one can accept both." But then in answering the argument he reduces it to "But the fact that some scientists are religious is not evidence of the compatibility of science and religion." That wasn't the argument, the argument was that both scientists and Theologians write about how both can fit together. So it's not just an argument by association that he reduces it to, but that intellectual content goes into proving the compatibility, a content that he doesn't even acknowledge let alone try to answer. He says: "As Michael Shermer, founder and editor of Skeptic magazine, says in his book Why People Believe Weird Things (A.W.H. Freeman/Owl Book, 2002), 'Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.'" That's just a means of dismissing the intellectual content without examining it. Some atheist guy says "this this stuff is no good but smart people are adept at making it seem good," so that means I don't have to investigate it now. That does not relieve us of the responsibility to investigate the contest becuase it totally side steps the issue "if they are smart why do they believe it in the first place?" Besides all of that why should we allow the atheist to set the definition and tell us "this is wired stuff." He wants 3% of the world population to tell 90% "your ideas are the wired stuff." Not by any stretch of the imagination can this be possible.
....Religion is a hell of a lot more than just an intellectual proposition. It's a way of life, it's culture, it's all our most cherished aspirations, self understanding, and sense of meaning in reality. Putting God concept in the "wired" category is reducing God to the status of being a thing in the universe. It's making God out to be just another thing added to the universe. A single piece of baggage that can be ejected as easily. That's necessary for the reductionist who has to see all reality as being one thing,that one thing is him, what he can control with his mind,[2] or what he gains the illusion of controlling because he's rented out his brain to the thought police to be used as they see fit, thus making him a small part of the controlling apparatus of all human thinking and understanding. The idea that this evil enemy that made him the ting he hates most (himself) is a real damper on this single reality that blows his illusion of control. Why should we assume that the standard is the atheist view so that departure from it is the "wired idea?" If the New atheist are as brilliant as they want to believe they are how do we know they aren't the "smart people who believe wired things?" Why Should we allow them to set the agenda? Especially when their views are represented by 3% of the population and belief in God is represented by 90%?[3]
....He spends the rest of the time trying to draw analogies between the Scopes Trial and the new situation. That's just circular reasoning because it assumes the standard is already set as the new atheist's view point and all opposition to that view is relegated to the category of "wired stuff" and put in with Scope's view. The problem is Scopes was a creations and we are not talking we are talking about scientists. We are not talking about just scientists who believe in God we are talking about both scientists who are willing to accept that belief can be a both valid and beyond scientific scope even if they don't believe in God, and Theologians and other believers who accept the value of science but still understand their faith as compatible with that value. To the New Atheists they are accommodating the enemy but to the rest of us they are the normal people because they represent over 90% of everyone. In that we also see another value to the concept of scientists who believe in God, not just that they do, not just that there's a content they have to talk about, not just that they are smart and they believe in something, but that they don't accept New Atheism as the standard of human rationality. They don't want to set the bar according to New Atheist ideology and the represent the majority of the scientific community (if the NAS is really the great hallmark of science that atheist have argued in the past that it is). It seems in reality that there's a new peaceful co-existence bewteen  science and religion not a new war. New Atheists want to go back and fight the old war again, re-living a victory they can't match now, trying to pretend that all religious belief is on a par with the Mathew Brady character form Inherit the Wind.


 [1] My article on the truemenaing of supernature has appeared both in this blog (see "the Original Christian Concept of the Supernatural,"August 15,2012 URL: ) and on my webstie The Religious A prori. URL:
[2]Richard H. Jones, Reductionism: Analysis and the Fullness of Reality. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Presses, 2000, 39. Google books online preview:
[3] Metacrock, "How Many Atheists Are there?" Doxa: Christian Thought in the 21st Century, Online Resource, URL:


I see this very similarly to the way I see evolution vs. creationism.

On one side (the pro-evolution side) you have people of all religious beliefs and persuasions, and people of no faith at all. On the other side, you have a very specific set of people following a very specific ideology.

As it is with this debate, on the side of the accommodationists, you have people of all religious beliefs, and none at all. On the other side, you have a very specific set of people following a very specific ideology.

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