Friday, August 24, 2007

Sam Harris Gets It Right (Again)

Sam Harris has a letter in this week's Natrue where he takes the editors to task for their accommodationist approach to the fight between rationalism and superstition [Scientists should unite against threat from religion].

The immediate object of Harris' letter is a recent commentary praising Islam as an "intrinsically rational world view" that is "perfectly in harmony with scientific naturalism." Harris points out the fallacy of such a position then goes on to raise questions about a review of Francis Collin's book The Language of God. According to Harris, the review, entitled "Building Bridges," ...
... represents another instance of high-minded squeamishness in addressing the incompatibility of faith and reason. Nature praises Collins, a devout Christian, for engaging "with people of faith to explore how science — both in its mode of thought and its results — is consistent with their religious beliefs".
I agree with Harris that the Theistic Evolution version of Christianity promoted by Collins is not compatible with reason and science. I agree with Harris that Nature should be ashamed of itself for suggesting otherwise. This is an area where the editors of Nature should either avoid comment or, preferably, defend science.

Harris closes his letter with a nice jab.
There are bridges and there are gangplanks, and it is the business of journals such as Nature to know the difference.

1 comment :

  1. Shermer gets it wrong

    Michael Shermer has used his column in the September issue of Scientific American to post "an open letter to Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens". It is the usual BS about how "militant" atheists should just shut up. I found the closing paragraph to be quite startling:

    Rational atheism values the truths of science and the power of reason, but the principle of freedom stands above both science and religion.

    Shermer is stating his position that scientific truth should be subservient to ideology. It does not matter that the ideology he holds is generally considered to be good, nor that it is one I may agree with; truth should not be subordinate to any ideology, and I am very much suprised to find a columnist for Scientific American declaring otherwise.