Today's Science Hates Faith
There are individual scientists who believe in God, but their institutions ridicule any and all forms of “faith.”
Don’t take our word for it. Here is how leading journals and scientific representatives characterize any view that does not emanate from the halls of Big Science.
The reaction was predictable. Nature allowed Kathryn Pritchard, a member of the Archbishops’ Council for the Church of England, to express her view that “Religion and science can have a true dialogue.” It didn’t matter to readers that the dialogue is all one-way, as she describes it (i.e., scientists inform believers how and what to think). When letters to the editor came in, sparks flew. “With the rise of religious fundamentalism worldwide and the expansion of education in ‘faith’ schools, I consider that promoting the idea that religion and science have some kind of equivalence risks making societies more divisive and backward-looking,” one wrote, with other commenters chiming in. “Religion fulfills a basic human need, and so has evolved and survived through the ages despite all the progress science has made in explaining the world.” Too bad believers don’t understand how Charles Darwin rendered their religion an artifact of natural selection.
Big Science can appear tolerant in one sense. As long as a formerly religious person shows a bona-fide conversion to Darwinism, then a few lingering feelings of nostalgia can be overlooked. Current Biology interviewed paleo-entomologist Michael Engel, who grew up in a religious home. Asked about his views on the “faith vs science debate” (note the wording), Engel replied,
As the son of a minister, I’ve met people on diverse fronts in the discussion of faith and reason. This ‘debate’ has been paramount, and brought Kansas to the national stage, albeit not necessarily for flattering reasons. Politicians and fundamentalists on each extreme stir discord, each with their own ulterior agenda, and from this foment there appears a stark dichotomy and a war for the minds and souls of those residing between the poles. … Faith is not science, and so should not be covered in such curricula, just as the experimental method should not form the basis for theological inquiry. Both should be taught within their own context, and approached openly by those of either persuasion. Science is a communal effort which organizes and grows knowledge through evidentiary observation, testable explanations, and rational predictions. Scientific conclusions should not be rooted in faith. Faith is personal and while precepts may be shared, it remains fiercely individual and need not rely upon an impartial adjudication of evidence….
His view is like the NOMA position advocated by the late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould: each view has its own place. Faith is OK for making you feel good in times of crisis, but don’t pretend it has anything to say about the real world. Materialists can tolerate that. Just admit that faith is a product of evolution.
What really makes Big Science erupt with indignation is any request for a seat at the table of knowledge by a “religious” person who doubts Darwin. That is intolerable. And to really fan the flames, let that person suggest that schools should be free to question the adequacy of Darwinian evolution. Evolution News & Views shares one recent reaction when Darwinist Michael Zimmerman suspected (incorrectly) that the Bearded Buddha might be questioned in Texas science standards. “The creationists are back in Texas attacking high quality science education,” he says, and off he goes on his tirade against the bogeymen.
A favorite tactic against “religion” is the Yoda complex. The materialist imagines himself on a higher plane of consciousness, looking down on the “people of faith,” using quasi-scientific theories to explain how the peons evolved their backward religious beliefs. In Science, Carter T. Butts portrays “those who reject evolutionary theory” as stuck in some kind of evolutionary backwater, tossed to and fro by conflicting thoughts between the facts they know from science and the faith in their religion. He uses mathematical models to explain their cognitive dissonance. Another, more subtle example was published in PLoS One, titled, “Collective Dynamics of Belief Evolution under Cognitive Coherence and Social Conformity.” The authors portray beliefs as things that evolve like any other natural phenomenon: e.g., “Each individual is endowed with a network of interacting beliefs that evolves through interaction with other individuals in a social network.” One can only wonder if they ever considered their own beliefs in this paper as reducible to such network interactions.
In some circles, Big Science is softening its stance on religion. Pritchard’s article in Nature is one example. Materialists don’t want to position themselves as bigots. This is seen in PhysOrg‘s report about a study that found “Most British scientists … feel Richard Dawkins’ work misrepresents science.” It’s not that they feel Dawkins is wrong. They just don’t care for his combative style: insulting and deriding religious people on his crusade to promote atheism. That’s not politically expedient. You can hate religion; just don’t look hateful. “The best science communication does not begin with insults and arrogance,” says David Johnson, co-author of the study. “It encourages curiosity, open-mindedness and appreciation for” –what? religion? faith? philosophy? No; appreciation for “science.”
And that’s the point. Science must dominate. Be nice to religious people, but don’t listen to them. Don’t take their views seriously. Communication is good, as along as it is one-way, from scientist to person of “faith.” Encourage religious people to convert to Darwinism. Maybe, with carrots instead of sticks, they will mend their ways.
By now, regular readers know how to respond. They know it’s a false dichotomy to characterize individuals as “scientists” vs. “people of faith.” Everyone is a person of faith! Don’t let the atheists define the debate in those terms. Atheists have lots of faith – in fact, much more faith than average churchgoers. Not only do they have faith in their perceptions and powers of reason, they have faith that the universe is comprehensible. They have faith in induction (a questionable premise, philosophically). They have faith that the laws of logic are reliable. They have faith in folk psychology. They have faith that they can communicate with other members of Homo sapiens who will understand them, and whose responses indicate they have minds similar to their own.
Atheists have so much faith, in fact, that it is tantamount to belief in magic. They believe that universes and living things can just pop into existence, showing exquisite fine-tuning, without mind or plan. Contrary to all reason and mathematical probability, they believe that atoms organized themselves into proteins, DNA and cells. And talk about cognitive dissonance: they deny anything beyond matter and energy, yet rely on immaterial realities of consciousness, intentionality, and reason. They have no reason to believe in reason if they are materialists. They depend on moral values like honesty that cannot be reduced to atoms and forces. They are supernaturalists in spite of themselves!
So please, don’t let atheistic materialists set the table their way. They stole the table and the silverware from creationists. If they had to set their own table, they would be sitting on dirt, or hanging in the air. Everyone belongs to “people of faith,” but some believe in absurd, self-refuting faiths, like materialism. We need to reason with such people. Help lead them from absurd faith to reasonable faith. Like Tim Standish says at the end of Illustra’s new film Origin, “There is nothing magical about living things. I’m a scientist. I don’t really believe in magic. I believe in mechanisms and causes that are sufficient to achieve the phenomena that I observe. Intelligence is sufficient. Intelligence is necessary. Therefore, intelligence is the conclusion that I come to.”