Clay Shirky used to think that science and religion were compatible. That doesn't mean all religious beliefs, of course, because some of them like Young Earth Creationism are not compatible with science. He has changed his mind ... [Religion and Science].
Since we couldn't rely on the literal truth of the Bible, we needed a fallback position to guide our views on religion and science. That position was what I'll call the Doctrine of Joint Belief: "Noted Scientist X has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Therefore, religion and science are compatible." (Substitute deity to taste.) You can still see this argument today, where the beliefs of Francis Collins or Freeman Dyson, both accomplished scientists, are held up as evidence of such compatibility.Read the rest of the article to find out why the "Doctrine of Joint Belief" is not based on logic.
Belief in compatibility is different from belief in God. Even after I stopped believing, I thought religious dogma, though incorrect, was not directly incompatible with science (a view sketched out by Stephen Gould as "non-overlapping magisteria".) I've now changed my mind, for the obvious reason: I was wrong. The idea that religious scientists prove that religion and science are compatible is ridiculous, and I'm embarrassed that I ever believed it. Having believed for so long, however, I understand its attraction, and its fatal weaknesses.
In the war between "arrogant" atheists and accommodationist atheists (formerly called "appeasers"), Clay Shirky has shifted sides.
Saying that the mental lives of a Francis Collins or a Freeman Dyson prove that religion and science are compatible is like saying that the sex lives of Bill Clinton or Ted Haggard prove that marriage and adultery are compatible. The people we need to watch out for in this part of the debate aren't the fundamentalists, they're the moderates, the ones who think that if religious belief is made metaphorical enough, incompatibility with science can be waved away. It can't be, and we need to say so, especially to the people like me, before I changed my mind.