Thursday, September 16, 2010

Get the Popcorn!

 
According to Wikipedia, Karl Giberson (right), "... holds two Bachelor's degrees from the Eastern Nazarene College, and both a Master's degree and PhD from Rice University." He teaches courses on religion and science at Eastern Nazarene College.

He also writes articles defending religion. His latest appears on the BioLogos website [Doing Battle with Jerry Coyne’s Army of Straw Men]. The purpose of that posting is to take on Jerry Coyne of Why Evolution Is True. Jerry Coyne, as most of you know, is one of those atheists who dares to challenge theists, even moderate ones. Coyne is definitely not an accommodationist.

Apparently Coyne and the other vocal atheists (I am one) are insufficiently versed in the subtleties of religion and science and Karl Giberson is going to set us straight in a series of upcoming postings. (You'll need several bags of popcorn to watch this.) Like many before him, Giberson is going to try and prove that the vocal atheists are attacking strawman versions of religion and not the really good stuff that intelligent people believe in. Have we heard this before? [The Emperor's New Clothes and the Courtier's Reply] [On the Existence of God and the Coutier's Reply]

Here's what Giberson finds most objectionable.
Some of the arguments I want to examine include:

1. The tendency of the New Atheists to lambast laypeople who acquired some wrong ideas in Sunday School studying religion, but to let them off the hook for the wrong ideas about science they acquired in the public schools. Most Americans spend way more time studying science in school than they do studying religion in church. So why is “religion” to blame for bad religious ideas but science gets off the hook for dumb science ideas?
Speaking of strawmen, has anyone ever met a New Atheist like this? All the New Atheists with a science background (e.g., Jerry Coyne) are vigorous opponents of bad science. Some of us have reserved our harshest criticism for those who don't understand science, especially those theists who claim that religion doesn't conflict with science.
2. In our debate on USA Today, Jerry Coyne contrasted the complicated theological doctrine of the incarnation—the most mysterious idea in all of theology—to the function of penicillin—one of the best-understood ideas in biology. This is not an appropriate juxtaposition at all.
Shame on you Jerry Coyne! That's not an appropriate comparison at all. The appropriate response to a theist who raises "the complicated theological doctrine of incarnation" is, "Who the fu heck cares!" First theists need to establish that God exists and only then can they advance arguments about how their god behaves. The argument with atheists is about the existence of God, not incarnation. Atheists don't give a damn about incarnation, or original sin, or how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin. Show me the fairies.
3. The phrase “philosophical consistency” is tossed around like it represents some simple set of rules that allow us to see how religion is cheating. If only it were that simple. Science all by itself has issues with philosophical consistency that Coyne apparently doesn’t see because, if I may hazard a guess, he hasn’t spent a lot of time wrestling with the deeper issues of science.
Oh Boy! This is going to be fun. Apparently science is just as philosophically inconsistent as religion! Can't wait to find out about that.

Stay tuned folks.


4 comments :

  1. Yes, I am looking for some entertainment from Karl.

    I look at this in perspective. If BioLogos is to succeed in bridging the differences, it has to be respected by those on the religious side. So I see this "debate" as a performance intended to build that respect. I doubt that Karl expects to persuade Jerry or you (or me).

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  2. He seems a glutton for punishment. You'd think he'd learned his lesson after embarrassing himself with Coyne before.
    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/gibersonia-whos-befouling-the-sandbox

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  3. the complicated theological doctrine of the incarnation—the most mysterious idea in all of theology

    Is it? So it's more complicated than, say, the Trinity?

    and why is so much of theology complicated? Could it be because the simple explanations put forward in the past were obviously wrong? As our knowledge base grows, sophistry has to keep reaching news heights of complexity to avoid giving up the basic theistic conclusions it starts from.

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  4. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says,

    and why is so much of theology complicated? Could it be because the simple explanations put forward in the past were obviously wrong? As our knowledge base grows, sophistry has to keep reaching news heights of complexity to avoid giving up the basic theistic conclusions it starts from.

    Yes. I think you've figured it out.

    Most of the Christians in my neighborhood believe in Jesus, the Holy Ghost, God, Satan, and several Angels like Gabriel and Michael. Mary is also very godlike.

    Yet they insist that their religion is monotheistic.

    Go figure.

    It requires a very sophisticated theologian to explain this properly. My neighbors don't care. They continue to pray to Mary and Saint Christopher.

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