Karen Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun, was asked to write an article about evolution for The Wall Street Journal. They also asked a scientist [Man vs. God]
We commissioned Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to respond independently to the question "Where does evolution leave God?" Neither knew what the other would say. Here are the results.Most us have heard what Dawkins has to say, so let's concentrate on Karen Armstrong's defense of religion in the light of modern science. She starts off with ...
Richard Dawkins has been right all along, of course—at least in one important respect. Evolution has indeed dealt a blow to the idea of a benign creator, literally conceived. It tells us that there is no Intelligence controlling the cosmos, and that life itself is the result of a blind process of natural selection, in which innumerable species failed to survive. The fossil record reveals a natural history of pain, death and racial extinction, so if there was a divine plan, it was cruel, callously prodigal and wasteful. Human beings were not the pinnacle of a purposeful creation; like everything else, they evolved by trial and error and God had no direct hand in their making. No wonder so many fundamentalist Christians find their faith shaken to the core.That seems to be the inescapable conclusion. Religious people who want to accept science have no choice but to fall back on a wishy-washy kind of religion where God plays no direct role and life has no purpose.
What kind of religion is that? Well, you'll have to read the rest of her article in order to appreciate the kind of mental gymnastics required to "evolve" a "modern" religion that doesn't conflict with science. Here's a taste ...
The best theology is a spiritual exercise, akin to poetry. Religion is not an exact science but a kind of art form that, like music or painting, introduces us to a mode of knowledge that is different from the purely rational and which cannot easily be put into words. At its best, it holds us in an attitude of wonder, which is, perhaps, not unlike the awe that Mr. Dawkins experiences—and has helped me to appreciate —when he contemplates the marvels of natural selection.This is typical of so-called "modern" and "sophisticated" theology. It's so "sophisticated," in fact, that the only people who understand it are those who practice it. Those people are completely incapable of explaining their version of spiritualism and mysticism to the rest of us because it's a very personal feeling. It's that feeling you get when you appreciate natural beauty or the awesome knowledge that comes from science.
Problem is, Richard Dawkins also has that feeling, and so do I. If the "God" feeling is indistinguishable from that of atheists then what's the point? Why not just cut out the middle man?
[Photo Credit: Reuters]
It seems like I'm not the only one who recognizes a vacuum when I see one.
Jerry Coyne: Dawkins 17, Armstrong 0
PZ Myers: Saving gods by making them even emptier of meaning