Closing our religion news coverage for the week, we have Steve Pinker on faitheism.
Readers may remember Pinker from this:
A truly ethical bioethics should not bog down research in red tape, moratoria, or threats of prosecution based on nebulous but sweeping principles such as “dignity,” “sacredness,” or “social justice.” …
Here he is on the dangers of “faitheism” (a Jerry Coyne coinage):
The backlash against the New Atheists has given rise to a new consensus among faith-friendly intellectuals, and their counterattack is remarkably consistent across critics with little else in common. The new atheists are too shrill and militant, they say, and just as extreme as the fundamentalists they criticize. They are preaching to the choir, and only driving moderates into the arms of religion. People will never be disabused of their religious beliefs, and perhaps they should not be, because societies need unifying creeds to promote altruism and social cohesion. Anyway, most people treat religious doctrine allegorically rather than literally, and even if they do treat it literally, it’s not these folk beliefs that serious thinkers should engage with, but rather the sophisticated versions of religion worked out by erudite theologians.
Unbelievably, Pinker goes on to say re Coyne’s new book, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible,
There’s another reason that Coyne’s characterization of science is far from vacuous: it admits of no syncretism, hybrid, or other mongrel with religious faith. This intransigence is not a quibble over the meaning of the word ‘science’; it’s a statement of how people with any appreciation of the value of science ought to fix their beliefs. They should treat all claims with skepticism, and provisionally accept only those that are warranted by arguments and evidence that anyone can recognize. They should not accept claims on the grounds of revelation, doctrine, authority, tribal solidarity, subjective appeal, or no reason at all — that is, on faith.
This from the man who has advanced the notion of our brains being shaped for fitness, not for truth. In any event, there is now hardly anything left of Darwinism but its followers’ faith.
Pinker misses in the book the shrill tone Coyne adopts on his blog. Well, can’t have everything.
See also: Talk to the fossils: Let’s see what they say back
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