Re: [asa] Lawrence Krauss Defends New Atheism

From: Nucacids <>
Date: Fri Jun 26 2009 - 16:52:38 EDT

Hi Ted,

> 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.

I thought you might find this to be of interest. I have a old genetics
textbook from 1935 (The Principle of Heredity, Laurence Snyder). The text
has a whole chapter on eugenics and ends with some discussion problems.
Here is problem #7:

"The Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal..." Discuss this statement from
the genetic standpoint."


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>; "Nucacids" <>
Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Lawrence Krauss Defends New Atheism

>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" <> 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.
> Mike


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Received on Fri Jun 26 16:53:07 2009

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