Monday, September 24, 2007

Scientists on Religion

Last night I read an article in Scientific American called, “Should Science Speak to Faith: Two Prominent Defenders of Science Exchange their Views on how Scientists Ought to Approach Religion and its Followers” (July, 2007). That was the wrong title. It should have been called, “How Science Can Put Ignorant Theists (mainly Christians) in Their Place: Two Defenders of Science Discuss Their Respective Strategies.”

The first defender, Lawrence M. Krauss, a leading American physicist, suggested that scientists have to woo their dissenters and reach out to those who (ignorantly) believe in such foolish myths as god. At one point he actually put those who believe in God in the same category as those who believe in flying saucers! His strategy for wooing us? Don’t outright condemn them, just help them to see that their beliefs are irrational and guide them into a more general belief in God. In other words, tolerate them as long as they don’t actually believe the specifics of what they believe.

The second defender, Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, was not so gracious. He argued that “tough love” and confrontation are what is in order. Here a couple of quotes from him: “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that)” (90).

Then, responding to some comments Kraus made about Carl Sagan, Dawkins remarked, “Was Carl Sagan a religious man? He was so much more. He left behind the petty, parochial, medieval world of the conventionally religious; left the theologians, priests and mullahs wallowing in their small-minded spiritual poverty. He left them behind because he had so much more to be religious about. They have their Bronze Age myths, medieval superstitions and childish wishful thinking. He had the universe” (91).

Actually, Mr. Dawkins, we have the God who holds the entire universe in the palm of his hands, who created all things, who rules over religion and science, and to whom Carl Sagan and you and I will one day give an account of our lives.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).


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