Re: Response to Howard on Tillich & Bultmann

From: Ted Davis (
Date: Wed May 21 2003 - 12:00:08 EDT

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    I thank Howard for the frank and open discussion of his changing theological
    position, the outline of which he shared privately with me a couple of years
    ago. It would obviously be inappropriate for me to comment in any way on
    his own religious story, insofar as it is his own religious story.

    I do think it appropriate, however, for me to comment on his final words:

    But it is not science, by itself, that moves me away
    from traditional supernaturalism toward naturalistic theism. It is the way
    that naturalistic theism rings true to the whole of my life experience
    attracts me to it.

    I am not asking for anyone on this list to agree with my choice. The
    point is that my choice is one that goes far beyond science. To tie in
    my opening question, SCIENCE does not deserve either the credit or blame
    my choice.


    Once again, I commend Howard for doing what he has always done:
    coourageously and honestly stating what he believes, and why he believes it.
     My comment is, speaking as an historian of religion and science, that it is
    almost always a larger human story, not directly involving science, that
    provides the reasons why individual scientists change their religious
    beliefs--and I mean "change" to include (1) conversion to religion, (2) loss
    of religious faith, or (3) redefinition of one's religious understanding
    without necessarily loss of faith. The historical stereotype, according to
    which science leads people to lose faith, does hold in some cases. But it
    usually doesn't. Science is typically a rather minor factor. Darwin, e.g.,
    probably lost his theism following the deaths of his father and favorite
    daughter, not following his visit to the Galapagos or his reading of Thomas


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