24 June, 2012


1 June 2012

"There is something dishonestly self-serving in the tactic of claiming that all religious beliefs are outside the domain of science. On the one hand, miracle stories and the promise of life after death are used to impress simple people, win converts, and swell congregations. It is precisely their scientific power that gives these stories their popular appeal. But at the same time it is considered below the belt to subject the same stories to the ordinary rigors of scientific criticism: these are religious matters and therefore outside the domain of science. But you cannot have it both ways. At least, religious theorists and apologists should not be allowed to get away with having it both ways."

-When Religion Steps on Science's Turf by Richard Dawkins

I quote:

"In point of fact, the scientific and religious domains do overlap to a considerable extent, as Richard Dawkins made clear in his rebuttal to Gould. A universe that did have a supernatural component would be fundamentally different from one that did not, and whether it did or did not would clearly be a question of great scientific import.'

'Furthermore, as Dawkins points out, religions do make factual claims that are amenable to scientific investigation. For example, Christian claims about the Virgin Birth, the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Resurrection of Jesus, and the survival of human souls after death are all claims of a scientific nature. ‘Either Jesus had a corporeal father or he didn’t,’ Dawkins writes. ‘This is not a question of ‘values’ or ‘morals,’ it is a question of sober fact.’ "

- James Lett


James Lett concludes the aforesaid scholarly piece thus:

"There can be no reconciliation between science and religion because the two approaches are antithetical to one another. It is impossible to conduct a rational dialogue with people who insist upon basing their position upon irrational arguments. Consider the question of moral principles, for example. Those who are religiously inclined believe (incorrectly) that principles of morality derive from divine law and divine revelation; those who are scientifically informed believe (correctly) that principles of morality derive from human nature and human reasoning. It is logically impossible to reconcile these beliefs, and that means there’s no possibility of any genuine progress in a dialogue between science and religion.

Steven Weinberg makes this point eloquently: ‘I am all in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, but not a constructive dialogue. One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment’ (Steven Weinberg, ‘A Designer Universe?’, The New York Review of Books vol. XLVI, no. 16 [October 21, 1999], pp. 46-68)

While one is not preaching atheism, one certainly cannot preclude any angle from consideration. And, personally, I do not posit transition to rationality and modernity necessarily in opposition to atheism.

If practical pathways proceed from ideological considerations how can one can ignore them for a meaningful discussion?

Anyway, all of us are free to continue to offer practical pathways for public consideration on these pages. I for one would be more than willing to deliberate them, with or without philosophical underpinnings.

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