Wednesday, September 21, 2016

An Anglican says that science and religion don't conflict

Are you surprised to hear a religious person say that science and religion are not in conflict? Of course you aren't. That's just what you expect religious people to say.

Why in the world would Nature publish an article where an Anglican makes such a claim? [See Religion and science can have a true dialogue] And why in the world should its readers pay any attention at all to the nonsensical first paragraphs ...
I work for the Archbishops’ Council in the Church of England, and this summer I did something that many people would think is impossible. I sat in a dark lecture theatre engrossed in a computationally generated 3D journey through the Universe. Virtual stars whizzed past and seemed narrowly to miss colliding with my head as we accelerated through galaxies and past exploding stars. I listened to cosmologists speak on research into dark matter, particle physics, the rate at which the growth of the Universe is accelerating and the possibi­lity of multi­verses. I asked questions and they responded.

According to the popular narrative on the relationship between science and religion, this event should not have happened. The entire audience was made up of bishops and church leaders. Science and faith, we are constantly told, are in conflict and have little in common.
Really? What "popular narrative" says that Anglican church leaders can't learn about science? What "popular narrative" says that Anglicans cannot accept the findings of physics and cosmology? Who says that?

The problem here is not the ridiculous false claim but the fact that it's published in a leading science journal. I'm not aware of any Nature articles on the conflict between science and religion and the claim that belief in god(s) is not compatible with a scientific way of knowing. Why is Nature getting involved in this debate and why is it taking sides?

Read Jerry Coyne's take on this article at: Fulsome accommodationism in the journal Nature.1

1. Keep in mind that Jerry uses the word "accommodationist" to mean anyone, atheist or theist, who thinks that science and religion are compatible. In its original sense, the word "accommodationist" referred only to those people who Dawkins referred to as "Neville Chamberlain evolutionists." These appeasers were atheists who argued that science and religion are compatible. Only atheists can be accomodationists according to this original definition—they one I still adhere to. I don't think it's noteworthy that religious people try to make science and religion compatible.


  1. I guess Coyne uses the term "accommodationist" to refer to people who understand and accept the conclusions of science, but try to reconcile these with religious faith. This is distinct from most creationists, who also say science and religion are compatible, but only because they claim science supports creationism.

  2. Aha. Indeed nATURE is addressing it because they see the origin contention as part of their mandate. they picked sides and want religion and science to be compatible.
    I have been "reading" Stephen Gould/s big essay, forget the name, on evolution. I was very surprised how much, dedicated, he was to having peace between evolution acceptance and religion. Thats why, I think, he invented the concept "different magistrium" (help).
    He was flattering of religious reality, unrelated to belief, and did not want any sense of a war between Church and science.
    I was very surprised.
    Its not about science verses church.
    its about certain conclusions in origin science verses Genesis, and/or God.
    Creationism takes on errors in origin subjects and presents its own ideas.
    We not only do science but a wee bit better.
    ID/YEC is the modern revolution.
    NATURE , like everyone, is aware of this revolution.
    They don't like the SCIENCE DISPROVES GOD/religion trench.

  3. ID/YEC is the modern "revolution"

    That's the oddest spelling of "mythology" I've ever seen.

  4. Its a common misconception to argue that there is a battle between science and religion, and that both are incompatible.

    There is a battle between world views. Between naturalism, and creationism / Intelligent design, where on the one side its proposed that merely natural , nonguided , non intelligent mechanisms are the best explanation as cause of the physical world and its phenomenas, and on the other side where a conscient, intelligent being by his will and his power created the physical universe.

    While the theory of intelligent design restricts intself to claim only a intelligent agency, without identify it, in order to keep it scientific, ( signs of acting intelligence can be detected and identified , and it can be explored if these signs exist in nature ) creationism goes a step further, and points to a specific God ( depending on what religion the proponent adheres to ), but since these are untestable hypotheses, they do not belong to scientific, but religious claims.

    1. That's a couple interesting admissions you make there, Otangelo. First, you oppose "creationism/intelligent design" to naturalism. The ID creationists will not be too happy with that, as they insist that "intelligent design" does not require the existence of supernatural beings. Secondly, when you write "creationism/intelligent design", you inadvertently acknowledge that the two are just forms of the same thing, despite your repeated denial that this is the case. (Which you continue in the 2nd paragraph of your post. Too late, though. You've already let the truth slip.)

    2. Lutesuite, I really hate to disagree. The odious OG has, in this case, successfully maintained the purely semantic distinction between ID and creationism.

      He's also not entirely wrong to claim that, theoretically, "signs of acting intelligence can be detected and identified, and it can be explored if these signs exist in nature" although we know that ID/creationist efforts to see such signs are in fact examples of pareidolia.

      I think that although OG is deeply wrong, I also think that his words in this comment skirt the edges of falseness without falling in. I suspect this is part of his strategy: get us reflexively arguing with everything he says so he can hold up examples to argue that we're wrong all the time when usually we're right.

    3. So, Otangelo, if you were told of a process that can solve a problem by trying all possible solutions and throwing out the ones that don't work, would you call that a crude form of "intelligence"?

  5. lutesuite

    i did not write ID creationism. I wrote ID/creationism. They are in the same camp because both infer a creator / Intelligent designer. While ID does NOT try to identify the designer, creationism usually is based on a religious book, and makes metaphysical claims that cannot scientifically tested.

    lutesuite, i thought you knew that by now.


    1. I did not write ID creationism. I wrote ID/creationism. They are in the same camp because both infer a creator / Intelligent designer.

      Exactly. You just go on and keep contradicting yourself. It's very amusing.

    2. I'm still interested to hear how ID and creationism could be two separate things, when "Of Pandas and People" could be changed from a creationist book to an ID book merely by (trying to) replace the term "creationsts" with "design proponents." (And we all know how that worked out, don't we?)

  6. The question is indeed why Kathryn Pritchard is given space in Nature. The only reason I can see is that she is writing about the wholesale victory of science.
    Part of the 'world view' item is a description of a conference where science was presented to an audience of church (Church of England) leaders, to get them somewhat up to date. Another part is that scientists are going to educate parsons and congregations about science. The word 'dialogue' is in the title of the piece, nowhere else. What we hear about is a monologue, from science to church. Nothing about a church that has a meaningful input to science, but about science that gets accepted by the church.

    1. if she wants churches to educate about science(educate about certain conclusions) then why doesn't she suggest NATURE readership be educated by creationism??
      Equal time.

  7. I have heard it said that Nature receives funding from Templeton. If this is true it might explain their involvement in this nonsense