Re: [asa] Lawrence Krauss Defends New Atheism

From: Ted Davis <TDavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Fri Jun 26 2009 - 11:22:35 EDT

I am not surprised that Consolmagno did not make a more robust reply, but
only b/c I am generally not impressed with the depth of his thought on
science & religion. His latest book is not worth reading, frankly. His
heart is in the right place, but his head lags behind, to put it bluntly.

It could well be the case, however, that the response(s) given by Miller
and Consolmagno were initial responses that could have been amplified in
helpful ways -- had time allowed -- and that time did not allow, as the
conversation moved quickly in other directions. That type of thing tends to
happen in this type of an event.

Neither Miller nor Consolmagno is a heavyweight, IMO, in terms of dealing
with a range of serious questions about science & religion. (This is also
true for nearly everyone in the world who is interested in those questions,
including most ASA members, so don't take this as a slam on either of them.)
 Most IDists are not heavyweights, either -- just as Dawkins is no
heavyweight on these issues, as list members have often noted. The same
goes for Larry Krauss.

The standard atheist line on this type of thing seems to be based, not so
much on the content and claims of specific sciences, but on the attitude of
scepticism that has always been associated with science (I don't think that
this is something that originated in the 19th century with Darwin, e.g.).
In other words, to be a true scientist, you can't believe any of these
stories about miracles or the supernatural. Well, it's one thing to say
that we can't construct genuinely scientific accounts of genuine miracles --
let's face it, we can't -- but it's another thing entirely to say ipso facto
that no such accounts could possibly ever be genuine. And, that's the type
of response that Miller and Consolmagno apparently did not make, at that
time and place. Whether they might have done so at another time and place,
I don't know. But, a heavyweight on these issues would get to the heart of
the matter quickly, and they probably didn't.

Had Krauss been on a panel with someone like (say) George Murphy or John
Polkinghorne or Alister McGrath or Bill Craig, or even Ian Hutchinson (who
does not write very much about this, but who thinks very clearly about such
things), the response(s) would have been quite different.

I do wonder, whether Sam Harris or Larry Krauss ever asks whether the US
declaration of independence, with its "Iron Age convictions" about the
created order, expressed in Enlightenment language, is "incompatible" with
science. Certainly genetics flatly contradicts the view that "all men are
created equal". Manifestly, we are not, if science is all that we can know
or say about that. Yet, I suspect somehow, that both Harris and Krauss ever
bothered to think about that -- no more than they ever think about religion
in a serious way at all.

Had I been on that panel, however, Krauss would at least have been asked
about that. But, I don't write popular books about science and religion (I
lack the time, or else I'd have to stop writing scholarship about science
and religion), such as those by Miller and Consolmagno, so I don't get
invitations to be on such panels.

Ted

>>> "Nucacids" <nucacids@wowway.com> 6/26/2009 10:43 AM >>>
Excerpt From God and Science Don't Mix by Lawrence Krauss:

Though the scientific process may be compatible with the vague idea of some
relaxed deity who merely established the universe and let it proceed from
there, it is in fact rationally incompatible with the detailed tenets of
most of the world's organized religions. As Sam Harris recently wrote in a
letter responding to the Nature editorial that called him an "atheist
absolutist," a "reconciliation between science and Christianity would mean
squaring physics, chemistry, biology, and a basic understanding of
probabilistic reasoning with a raft of patently ridiculous, Iron Age
convictions."

When I confronted my two Catholic colleagues on the panel with the apparent
miracle of the virgin birth and asked how they could reconcile this with
basic biology, I was ultimately told that perhaps this biblical claim merely
meant to emphasize what an important event the birth was. Neither came to
the explicit defense of what is undeniably one of the central tenets of
Catholic theology.

Science is only truly consistent with an atheistic worldview with regards
to the claimed miracles of the gods of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Moreover, the true believers in each of these faiths are atheists regarding
the specific sacred tenets of all other faiths. Christianity rejects the
proposition that the Quran contains the infallible words of the creator of
the universe. Muslims and Jews reject the divinity of Jesus.

So while scientific rationality does not require atheism, it is by no means
irrational to use it as the basis for arguing against the existence of God,
and thus to conclude that claimed miracles like the virgin birth are
incompatible with our scientific understanding of nature.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597314928257169.html

Mike

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Received on Fri Jun 26 11:23:27 2009

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