Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Why Darwin and religion will never get on

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

The very cool Jerry Coyne (he's a proper scientist and he can write beautifully) has a wonderful, long review essay in The New Republic that very carefully and meticulously goes through the arguments for why evolution and religion are or could be compatible - as made in two recent books by scientist believers Karl Giberson and Kenneth Miller - before reaching the only conclusion that seems really tenable: "Attempts to reconcile God and evolution keep rolling off the intellectual assembly line. It never stops, because the reconciliation never works."

[Find out why Jerry Coyne thinks Darwin would have enjoyed Woody Allen's Sleeper]

6 comments:

JB said...

Darwin and Religion get along just fine. Religion learns and grows with new information and technology just as all long lived aspects of society does.

You will notice that to support the preconception, or should I say pre-misconception, that Darwin or Science and Religion are at odds, the writer has to carefully define religion into a narrow and archaic definition.

If the object is to spread information learned from science then rejecting those who, like Einstein, have no problem with Darwin and Religion does not advance the cause. Rejecting a persons own definition, (religion like culture is personal), is not only disrespectful it is counter-productive.

If the only purpose is to fight and insult, then the New Atheists are on the right track.

Recently archaic religions, like the current variant of Islam and archaic aspects of religion, like Fundamentalism, have been increasing in popularity. This is not a bad thing for the New Atheists since it appears the fight and the insult is their objective, not educating or advancing human causes.

If Atheists would accept the fact that most "Christians" have moved on from the medieval definition of religion, Church and God then Atheists could contribute to society in a much more positive way. A modern Christian accepts all aspects of science. After all it is a system put in place by earlier Christians.

The Fundamentalists will call such Christians atheists but the New Atheists have no place for anyone who are not rabidly anti-religious or rabid anti-church. Modern Christians represent an evolution of religion that Atheists should support if they are truly atheist rather than just anti-religion.

There is a God, it isn't a medieval God, it's a personal God who by medieval definition just happens to not be a God at all.

Atheists should accept that and help those within religious groups that accepted it a long time ago. More progress would then be made against the fundamentalism that threatens all religions and even the Western world.

Anonymous said...

An awful lot of atheists should this and atheists should that in your mini-polemic waffling there JB. And throwing in a couple of "New Atheist" references is passe, please, we are so over that one.

If I were forced to choose the bests bit I'd vote for:-

"If Atheists would accept the fact that most "Christians" have moved on from the medieval definition of religion, Church and God then Atheists could contribute to society in a much more positive way. A modern Christian accepts all aspects of science. After all it is a system put in place by earlier Christians."

How daft is the whole of that paragraph, let me count the ways... but since it's beddy byes time, I'll just smile and ignore your whinging about disrepectful NAs and insulting NAs while stating we don't contribute positively to society. I won't cancel my direct debits to charities, or stop my volunteering activities, or tell my neighbours to bugger off just yet (despite one being a ...gasp....CREATIONIST! (I know, I must move one of these days, they bring the tone of the neighbourhood right down.) And I'll move right on past the Christians inventing science, my beauty sleep is more important and enjoyable that your self-delusions.

Thanks for the laugh! I'm off to wipe all that rabid froth off my salivating mouth.
B

Anonymous said...

Oh my, you are from Alabama JB! That explains everything! Mystery solved.

AT said...

Not sure this is a great post - to say God and religion are irreconcilable is a wilful simplification. Coyne's a great and persuasive writer but he's barking up the wrong tree.

And why is the first person to try to engage with the subject from the other side a frothing Alabaman? He may not be a great communicator, but that's no reason to drag Alabama into this.

Anonymous said...

The froth was my own AT, since the Alabaman was referring to rabid New Atheists. He made lots of sweeping generalisations so I thought I'd play along. Is that ok?

AT said...

Oh it's a fact that he's a dick. I was playing for Alabama on that post, not JB. Alabama always gets a bad rap, when actually everyone should visit http://www.alabama.travel/ at least once.