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Science, religion, wise to talk … or not, maybe …


In “Science and religion are wise to talk”, a letter to Nature, UK Christian Darwinists Denis Alexander and Bob White explain,

As far as the mingling of scientific and religious language is concerned, we agree that this is a justifiable concern. In the United Kingdom, the Faraday Institute (our institution) is well known for its criticism of both creationism and intelligent design. Attempts to introduce theological language into the practice of science is as damaging for theology as it is for science. Each academic discipline has its own specialized language and its own criteria for justifying its claims; mixing them only creates confusion.However, we disagree with the scientists you cite who oppose any kind of interdisciplinary engagement between science and religion, or who maintain that they are in conflict. (Nature, 471, 166 (10 March 2011) | doi:10.1038/471166b)

Thought, on hearing the good word above:  A widely used phrase like “conflict (or no conflict) between science and religion” is meaningless absent details about what science and whose religion.

For example, if someone, using advanced neuroscience, can exquisitely target and destroy brain areas so that people cannot form concepts that might include dissent from the government – and the Catholic Church opposes it? Is that a “conflict between science and religion”?

What if representatives of another religion come along and say, “Yes, this is wonderful, now there will be no more infidels and no more disobedience to the great prophet. It fits our theology because we don’t believe in free will anyway.” So that is “no conflict between science and religion”?

Must be. That’s pretty much how the debate on using stem cells from abandoned embryos has been understood.

Anyway, physicist David Tyler offers an interesting comment here:

There are important issues to address relating to the philosophy of science and this requires a consideration of atheism, materialism and naturalism at the same metaphysical level as theism and deism. If “friendly dialogue” is possible between these ‘worldview’ perspectives, then it will be an important step in the right direction.

Trouble is, friendly dialogue may not be possible. What kind of friendly dialogue would I, as a Christian, have or want with Brain Man?

In general, in my experience, “conflict between science and religion” almost always amounts to “conflict between Darwinists (whatever their advertised piety) and anyone who knows that there is derisorily little evidence for Darwinism and talks about it.”


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