Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good Point

Link:

Religious Fundamentalism Is Pro-Science

That's the empirical finding of a study released by Baylor University, and I think it provides a useful antidote to the kind of nonsense found in the Slate article I linked below from Christopher Hitchens. This argument is made so frequently and lazily that it's surprising how decisively it can be discredited by a single survey. I'm here using "fundamentalism" in the sense a secularist like Hitchens would, to refer to any evangelical Christian with a predilection for invoking supernaturalism - I realize most evangelicals no longer find the word helpful.

A bit of careful reflections reveals why this is true. In order to have a theology that revolves around the exceptionalism of supernatural acts, one needs a strong conception of the sturdiness of naturalism in the absence of divine agency. If weird stuff happens all the time, then it's not nearly so remarkable when God does weird stuff too. So Protestant evangelicals, far from being credulous rubes ready to believe in ghosts, telekinesis, seances, astrology, and other assorted nonsense, are in fact highly critical and selective as believers only in a bare minimum of trancendent phenomena that explicity involve displays of divine power.

Labels like "anti-science" seem downright nonsensical when applied without specificity to a given debate. A Christian who questions evolution isn't necessarily inclined to also question the validity of atomic theory, or Newtonian mechanics, or statistical thermodynamics. To the contrary, most Christians who express distaste for evolutionary biology are quite quick to contrast the poor quality of Darwinian dogma with the experimental groundedness of other fields of science. You can object that this is done in a biased way, or otherwise done poorly. But that doesn't alter the fact that, if every American knew approximately as much about science as Michael Behe, then the scientific literacy of the country would on average be vastly improved and surely not degraded.

3 comments:

Jorgon Gorgon said...

"To the contrary, most Christians who express distaste for evolutionary biology are quite quick to contrast the poor quality of Darwinian dogma with the experimental groundedness of other fields of science"

Which only shows their utter ignorance of the field. And bringing Behe in does not help much: he has demonstrated, repeatedly, his ignorance of subjects outside his narrow field specifically, and of the general philosophy of science, generally.

Plastic Yank said...

Post proof or retract, Jorgon.

Hospitaller said...

Which only shows their utter ignorance of the field. And bringing Behe in does not help much: he has demonstrated, repeatedly, his ignorance of subjects outside his narrow field specifically, and of the general philosophy of science, generally.

And this makes him different from Richard Dawkins how...? ;)