Blog Archives

Flotsam and jetsam (9/9)

Flotsam and jetsam (8/19)

Inferior minds are causing the divide between religion and science

According to Marylinne Robinson, the war between religion and science has been caused by inferior minds on both sides. Robinson made this argument during her recent guest appearance on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, in which they discussed her new book The Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self and the growing divide between religion and science. Robinson argues (correctly) that this is a relatively recent development and she also argues that good science and good religion should be seen as partners rather than competitors.

And, since she’s a Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, it should come as no surprise that the interview came with some great lines. My favorites were:

  • “I don’t think that it’s scientific to proceed from the study of ants to a conclusion about the nature of the cosmos.”
  • “It’s the quality of the science and the quality of religion that determines the nature of the conversation.”
  • And, in a line that only she could pull off successfully, “The gladiators for both sides are, I think, inferior representatives of both sides.”

The one criticism I have is that she referred at one point to the idea that both science and religion press beyond the borders of knowledge and that this is where there is room for the two to meet. At the very least this seems to continue the framework of consigning religion to the realm of “whatever can’t be addressed by science.” That puts science in the driver’s seat and has led to the steady marginalization of religion over the last couple of centuries.

Overall, though, this is a great interview and well worth investing five minutes on.

Update: PZ Myers offers a response to this interview from a secular perspective. He sums it up as “Jon Stewart, you let me down.” The comments on this one are worth perusing if you can stand it for more than a few minutes. They give good insight into how a whole spectrum of society thinks about religion and science issues. (HT)

Flotsam and jetsam (7/9)

The creation debate continues, and continues, and…

It never stops, does  it? The most recent hurrah developed around Al Mohler’s speech at this year’s Ligonier conference, “Why Does the Universe Look So Old?“, in which he unsurprisingly argues for a young earth, 24-hour day view of creation. Apparently he sees this as the only view that takes scripture seriously – i.e. it doesn’t try to “bend” scripture to fit science or cultural preconceptions.

The folks over at BioLogos responded by initiating a discussion on the subject, one that has generated quite a bit of comment so far.

  • Karl Giberson offered three questions that he would like to see Mohler respond to in more depth. Actually, this felt like one of those posts where the “questions” are really a platform for pointing out where you think the other person is wrong. But, it was still interesting.
  • Today, Peter Enns weighed in arguing that both the new atheists and the traditional creationists make the mistake of viewing Scripture as claiming to be scientifically accurate. Instead, he contends that we need to see them as ancient “fictional” narratives about who created everything, rather than “scientific” accounts of how they were created.

No wanting to be left out of the discussion, Scot McKnight offers some thoughts of his own. He’s particularly concerned about the tenor of Mohler’s speech, criticizing him for making this a battle rather than a conversation.

And, on a related note, Huffpo’s new Religion and Science discussion continues with Clay Naff’s rather unhelpful post arguing that we need to reject both the traditional view of an all-powerful God creating the universe (in any way), or the growingly popular secular notion that ours is just one of many possible universes. Instead, he argues that he most intellectually viable position is that a limited being created everything through an evolutionary process.

Flotsam and jetsam (6/27)

  • InternetMonk has weighed in on the the recent discussions regarding BioLogos and evolution. He argues that we should affirm the overall mission of BioLogos regardless of whether we should agree with their stance. And he takes Al Mohler, John MacArthur, and Phil Johnson to task for what he thinks is a reactionary and unnecessarily polemical response to BioLogos
  • Brian posted a couple of good quotes from Forsyth and Warfield on why academic study should be viewed as a spiritual practice.
  • Richard Beck has a post on George MacDonald’s view of justice, hell, and the atonement, and why MacDonald’s argument convinced him to be a universalist. I may post a more extended reflection on this one later if I get some time.
  • Apparently Kevin Costner’s oil cleanup idea wasn’t as much of a joke as it sounded at first.
  • And, the 2010 Lotus Award winners (science fiction) have been announced. I haven’t read any of these yet. Has anyone else?

Flotsam and jetsam (6/24)