Martin Rees is the President of the Royal Society in the UK. This is a position of enormous influence. When Rees speaks you can assume that he is representing the position of the Royal Society, or at least it's leaders.
Martin Rees was recently interviewed by The Independent [Martin Rees: 'We shouldn't attach any weight to what Hawking says about god'].
He is equally scathing about Hawking's more recent comments about there being no need for God in order to explain creation. "Stephen Hawking is a remarkable person whom I've know for 40 years and for that reason any oracular statement he makes gets exaggerated publicity. I know Stephen Hawking well enough to know that he has read very little philosophy and even less theology, so I don't think we should attach any weight to his views on this topic," he said.I don't have time for a detailed explanation of this particular accommodationist position so I'll just note a few points.
Unlike many of the Fellows of the Royal Society he has presided over in the past five years, Lord Rees is not a militant atheist who goes out of his way to insult people of belief – Richard Dawkins once called him "a compliant quisling" for his tolerance of religion.
"I would support peaceful co-existence between religion and science because they concern different domains," Lord Rees said. "Anyone who takes theology seriously knows that it's not a matter of using it to explain things that scientists are mystified by."
His next popular science book is about these things that science still cannot explain, such as the origin of life on Earth and the scientific nature of human consciousness. This, he insisted, is what science is really about, and why it has the power to touch everyone of every culture.
- Hawking said there's no need for God but his views can be dismissed because (unlike Martin Rees?) he's not an expert on philosophy and theology.
- Rees does not go out of his way to insult people of belief. Good for him. Neither do lots of atheists, including Stephen Hawking. What's the point? Sounds to me like Dawkins might have been correct.
- Did Martin Rees just go out of his way to insult atheists like Stephen Hawking? I guess atheists don't deserve the same kid-gloves treatment that we owe to theists.
- Religion and science concern different domains. So they do. Religion is firmly planted in the domain of mythology and superstition. What does that prove?
- Martin Rees is an astronomer. He's writing a book about the origin of life and human consciousness. I wonder if we should bother paying any attention to this book since he's not an expert in biology?
[Photo Credit: BBC]