Jesus Gets Reluctant Acceptance in Science
When it comes to scientific respectability, materialists have no prior claim.
The knee-jerk reaction of administrators at NASA’s Johnson Space Center was that “Jesus” was a bad word. When a Christian club, in existence since 2001, used the Lord’s name in an announcement on the space center’s newsletter, officials balked at a possible violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, and told them they couldn’t speak the unutterable word. Only under legal pressure did they back down, the Gospel Herald reported last month. This was a victory against “religious discrimination,” the article said, but it left unsaid what kind of clientele the “Praise and Worship Club” has. Presumably some members are scientists, engineers and various other intelligent people.
Once again, a psychological study reported in Science Daily presumes to portray religion as a figment of our brains. But this time, there were interesting admissions in the story, some shocking. Here’s one: “Atheists, the researchers found, are most closely aligned with psychopaths–not killers, but the vast majority of psychopaths classified as such due to their lack of empathy for others.” The point being made is that religion tends to be on the emotional/prosocial side of the brain, while science is on the analytical/logical side. The two oppose one another, psychologists from Case Western Reserve University and Babson College argue; different people suppress one or the other.
Clashes between the use of faith vs. scientific evidence to explain the world around us dates back centuries and is perhaps most visible today in the arguments between evolution and creationism.
Uncharacteristically, these psychologists do not try to portray the analytical brain as better than the empathic brain, in spite of their contention that religious people suppress critical thinking and are not as smart. The best brain has a balance of both empathy and analytical thought, they feel.
Friedman said, “Having empathy doesn’t mean you necessarily have anti-scientific beliefs. Instead, our results suggest that if we only emphasize analytic reasoning and scientific beliefs, as the New Atheist movement suggests, then we are compromising our ability to cultivate a different type of thinking, namely social/moral insight.”
Indeed, they point out, many great scientists were (and are) religious. “You can be religious and be a very good scientist,” one said, pointing to the fact that 90% of Nobel laureates professed some religious viewpoint. Not only that, suppressing empathy can yield very bad science.
“Although it is simply a distortion of history to pin all conflict on religion,” [Tony] Jack said. “Non-religious political movements, such as fascism and communism, and quasi-scientific movements, such as eugenics, have also done great harm.”
Nevertheless, the researchers accept the NOMA dichotomy of Stephen Jay Gould that science and religion inhabit separate spheres (non-overlapping magisteria).
Stephen Jones and Carolyn Leicht make the claim on The Conversation that people opposed to evolution are not necessarily ignorant about it. They also deny the NOMA view of Gould.
But another way to look at the subject is to consider why people believe what they do. When we do this, we discover that the supposed conflict between science and religion is nowhere near as clear cut as some might assume.
Historically, “the ‘conflict thesis’ arose in part from the desire to create a separate professional sphere of science, independent of the clerical elites who controlled universities and schools,” they say. That was a political and social trend, not an outcome of scientific progress. These days, poll questions seem geared to create conflict, to “create creationists” by posing science and religion as opposites.
Jones and Leicht seek “good debate” over issues of science religion, getting rid of stereotypes.
For example, psychological research has shown that being exposed to stereotypes about Christians being “bad at science” actually causes academically able religious students to underperform. Such findings give good reason to treat this subject with greater care than we do currently.
Nevertheless, they do not question evolution. The challenge they see is how to help Christians learn to accept it.
We’re glad these people are moderating their positions about Christians somewhat, not assuming they are dumb or anti-science, not assuming materialist scientists are faultless, not seeing science and religion as polar opposites. But there are still two glaring flaws in their thinking. One is the failure to recognize the utter dependence of science on faith. Materialistic science is inherently contradictory. What is thought? What is consciousness? What is logic? Science needs these, but materialism cannot account for them. To get by, materialists plagiarize Christian assumptions about reality.
The other flaw is subtle elitism. Psychologists like Jones and Leicht continue to imagine themselves above the fray, standing over “religious” people as if they are untouched by ideology. They have the Yoda Complex; a kinder, gentler one than Dawkins, perhaps, but a Yoda Complex nonetheless. If they really respected science, they would analyze themselves. They would doubt their objectivity about religion. Dr. Jack, Dr. Jones, Dr. Leicht, do you respect empirical evidence? How about going to a local Bible church this Easter and analyzing the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection? NASA admins at Johnson, how about joining praise and worship for your Creator, instead of praising Darwin? Why not?
It’s sad that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is even more godless than Johnson Space Center. Bible study groups exist but cannot advertise in the JPL newsletter. They tend to meet secretly, sharing their meetings by word of mouth. Try to share evidence on intelligent design with co-workers, and you could be fired for “pushing religion.” But got a gay group? Oh, JPL will rush to promote your meetings! Woe unto you scientists and materialists, hypocrites.