Krauss attacks accommodationism in the Wall Street Journal

In the WSJ — of all places — we find physicist Lawrence Krauss attacking the compatibility of science and faith.

Though the scientific process may be compatible with the vague idea of some relaxed deity who merely established the universe and let it proceed from there, it is in fact rationally incompatible with the detailed tenets of most of the world’s organized religions. As Sam Harris recently wrote in a letter responding to the Nature editorial that called him an “atheist absolutist,” a “reconciliation between science and Christianity would mean squaring physics, chemistry, biology, and a basic understanding of probabilistic reasoning with a raft of patently ridiculous, Iron Age convictions.”

This editorial stemmed from Krauss’s participation in the World Science Festival, where he was on a panel with two religious scientists, Kenneth Miller and Guy Consolmagno. (I turned down an offer to join this panel because the Festival was funded by the John Templeton Foundation. I still don’t regret it.)  When challenged about the so-called “truths” of their faiths, both Miler and Consolmagno — who works for the Vatican — apparently maintained that the virgin birth of Jesus was only a metaphor:

When I confronted my two Catholic colleagues on the panel with the apparent miracle of the virgin birth and asked how they could reconcile this with basic biology, I was ultimately told that perhaps this biblical claim merely meant to emphasize what an important event the birth was. Neither came to the explicit defense of what is undeniably one of the central tenets of Catholic theology.

Well, so much for the “truth” of that claim! I look forward to their assertion that the Resurrection was also a metaphor. (By the way, how do they know that the virgin birth was only a metphor but that Jesus was really, actually, the son of God?)

And Krauss’s finale:

Science is only truly consistent with an atheistic worldview with regards to the claimed miracles of the gods of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Moreover, the true believers in each of these faiths are atheists regarding the specific sacred tenets of all other faiths. Christianity rejects the proposition that the Quran contains the infallible words of the creator of the universe. Muslims and Jews reject the divinity of Jesus.

So while scientific rationality does not require atheism, it is by no means irrational to use it as the basis for arguing against the existence of God, and thus to conclude that claimed miracles like the virgin birth are incompatible with our scientific understanding of nature.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that these issues are not purely academic. The current crisis in Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma.

Perhaps the most important contribution an honest assessment of the incompatibility between science and religious doctrine can provide is to make it starkly clear that in human affairs — as well as in the rest of the physical world — reason is the better guide.

You said it!  Krauss’s piece, by the way, begins with a great quote from the evolutionary geneticist J. B. S. Haldane:

My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.

– J.B.S. Haldane

It’s encouraging that a mainline newpaper — especially a conservative one — will publish a piece like this. Dare we hope that the “new atheism” is having an effect?

54 Comments

  1. Hempenstein
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Bravo! It’ll be interesting to see what letters to their editor this draws out.

  2. NewEnglandBob
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    You can see some comments right on the WSJ website and it is not pretty at all. I expected better from those readers but they trot out their ignorance and the same old tired arguments that have been soundly refuted.

  3. Posted June 26, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I thought it was cool this morning when I went to a blog entitled “why evolution is true”, and found a post about evo-psych. That was sweet.

  4. Posted June 26, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Haldane:

    “I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.”

    Put otherwise: we are being cognitively irresponsible if we appeal to anything but empirical justifications when deciding factual questions, including the existence of the supernatural. This is why the NSCE’s Faith Project is counterproductive in memeing science – it suggests that Hess, Miller, Collins et al. might be onto something real in their religion.

    • articulett
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. And I greatly admire the writings you’ve contributed to this “debate”.

      It’s dishonest to promote superstitious thinking by pretending that there are “special” ways of obtaining “higher truths”.

  5. SLC
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    And of course Prof. Coynes’ favorite sparring partner, Chris Mooney, puts a somewhat different spin on Prof. Krausses’article.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/06/26/lawrence-krauss-on-sciencereligion/

    • Badger3k
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      It’s all about how you frame it, you understand. Anything can be framed to support your point of view, if you are dishonest enough, or so enamored of your own viewpoint…or have a financial stake in a particular view.

  6. giotto
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    We cannot emphasize enough the key point in that Haldane quote:
    That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course….

    I haven’t encountered many among the accommodationist crowd who are able (or perhaps willing) to see that if a willful supernatural entity intervenes in the natural world, there can be no science, for we can never know which events are the result of natural “law” or predictable natural processes, and which are the result of divine intervention.

    The problem is that Christian dogma requires a Christian to believe in an interventionist god. It is one of the few things all Christians need to believe… So, yeah, the virgin birth and the resurrection are a bit problematic to a Christian who claims a scientific worldview.

    I commend Krauss for being careful to note that the problem is not with religion but with certain religions. I’ve seen too many scientists or atheists speak carelessly about religion, as though it were a monolithic entity, or even an entity at all.

    • Posted June 26, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      haven’t encountered many among the accommodationist crowd who are able (or perhaps willing) to see that if a willful supernatural entity intervenes in the natural world, there can be no science, for we can never know which events are the result of natural “law” or predictable natural processes, and which are the result of divine intervention.

      Perhaps if we aren’t “able” or “willing” to see your hobby horse in the same light you do, the problem isn’t with our vision. Have you checked the teeth?

      Is it possible that science could continue under the assumption that what it observes represents natural law, unless there is a strong reason to believe God would need to intervene in a particular event?

      Does it occur to you that the Lord might not need to turn *every* water molecule in the universe into wine – that maybe a single demonstration would suit him just fine?

      • Posted June 26, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        I think Haldane understood the problem with your viewpoint. He does science, starting with the assumption of no miracles. He then decides for the sake of some real or perceived consistency, to broaden the assumption of no miracles to all of reality. Which is fine. But, while the assumption in science has paid dividends – the assumption for reality doesn’t do anything but circumvent the need for a more robust naturalistic world-view that doesn’t rely on mere assumption.

    • MadScientist
      Posted June 27, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      But divine intervention *does* occur – for example, “cold fusion”. No one else has been able to reproduce the claims, therefore the results must have been influenced by divine intervention.

  7. Posted June 26, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I believe it was Dawkins who said that Darwin made it possible, for the first time, to be an intellectually satisfied atheist. My own suspicion is that he jumped the gun just a bit. After Darwin, it would still be possible to believe that souls exist, but that they have little observable effect. I was reluctant to let go of the idea of an immortal soul because of the subjective experience of consciousness, which seemed to be somehow more than materialism could explain.

    But modern cognitive neuroscience removes any necessity to postulate a soul to explain the subjective experience of consciousness. The fundamental, bedrock hypothesis of any religious system, that a non-material soul exists, becomes superfluous.

    • Kriptic
      Posted June 27, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      If you’re right and intentionality is therefore an illusion, that suggests that our perceptions are essentially in error 24/7, since we constantly sense ourselves pondering questions as if we have real choices to make (in the sense of being able to do otherwise) and then making them. If our senses are so constantly and consistently flawed, isn’t science — utterly dependent as it is upon our perceptions — incoherent?

  8. giotto
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Does it occur to you that the Lord might not need to turn *every* water molecule in the universe into wine

    I’m not concerned with turning water into wine. Nor am I concerned with the Buddha creating a golden bridge from nothing. Rather, we might talk about turning water into oxygen and hydrogen. If I put two electrodes in water, generating hydrogen and oxygen, what can we learn if the bubbles produced might be the work of divine intervention? We only understand the process because at some time in the past scientists decided this was the result of natural processes and not the result of a god who gets a kick out of making bubbles.

    Is it possible that science could continue under the assumption that what it observes represents natural law, unless there is a strong reason to believe God would need to intervene in a particular event?

    What would constitute “strong reason”? How are we to determine if a phenomenon is the result of divine intervention or not? How do we know when a pharmaceutical agent (say, in a drug study)is efficacious and when a patient’s recovery is due to prayer and divine intervention? If god is intervening we have an epistemological dead end.

    • Posted June 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      I’m assuming that by “we”, you mean – “they”… those who manage to not assume that every event we witness is a miracle, and that science can proceed.

      How are we to determine if a phenomenon is the result of divine intervention or not? How do we know when a pharmaceutical agent (say, in a drug study)is efficacious and when a patient’s recovery is due to prayer and divine intervention?

      If there is a problem with the experiment, i.e. contamination of the samples, or Divine Meddling, the correct use of controls should reveal that there is a problem of some sort. I doubt that any believers in a truthful God think that he will decide to undermine the proper use of controls so as to cause a scientists to reach the wrong conclusion.

      Yes, God could conceivably need to miracle somebody who is undergoing experimental therapy. Then again, being omniscient & omnipotent, he could probably arrange to have someone else selected for the experimental program instead so he could miracle this fellow without screwing up the doctors.

      I think anti-theists must believe that theists believe that God is malicious.

      I will say, if it helps at all, that yes – Loki or some other type of malicious/trickster God would be quite incompatible with science.

      I imagine we can at least agree on that.

    • Posted June 26, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      If I put two electrodes in water, generating hydrogen and oxygen, what can we learn if the bubbles produced might be the work of divine intervention? We only understand the process because at some time in the past scientists decided this was the result of natural processes and not the result of a god who gets a kick out of making bubbles.

      This, by the way, is a good way to illustrate what I mean about controls. No one believes in the kind of God you are talking about.

      It would be an interesting exercise to follow the train of thought of someone who did… but someone who just believes in regular old God would surely notice that the bubbles proceed only when the current is present, and therefore it would occur to them to think of the wires as an explanation before they thought of God as an explanation – a fact they would be able to quickly confirm.

      Ever read anything about Joseph Priestley?

      • mk
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        No one believes in the kind of God you are talking about.

        Uh… yes they do.

      • Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        Alright, no one that I have met (living in the Bible Belt) believes in a frivolous God who is anything approaching the type of character who might “just get a kick out of making bubbles”.

        Sure, probably there is somebody out there who does. But I don’t think this discussion is really about them.

      • mk
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Oh… is this a discussion about that “more sophisticated” notion of a god?

      • Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        No… this is the regular kind.. i.e. – not Loki – not some capricious and frivolous cartoon whose chief concern with the universe and humans is jerking the chains of anyone wearing a white coat. Or blowing bubbles. In other words, the regular God that Billy Graham and the Pope believe in… hold the straw stuffing and the overalls.

      • giotto
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        Oh… is this a discussion about that “more sophisticated” notion of a god?

        Yes, not the god who put dinosaur bones in the ground to test our faith. But I understand your confusion, mk. There are so many gods proposed, and even the Christians have numerous versions (I went to a Baptist revival once; their god was NOT the god of my parent’s Methodist church.) It is difficult to know which god is being discussed, and even more difficult to know why someone might choose one over another.

      • Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        I’ve gone to literally hundreds of Southern Baptist services not just one revival… I grew up in a very religious Southern Baptist family.

        Yes, the Southern Baptist God is quite different from a non-evangelical Methodist (I forget which synods fall under this category) God.

        But, I have yet to find a single individual who thinks God put dinosaur bones there to fool us. I’ve heard second hand accounts of such… but never met anyone who copped to such a fabulous notion.

        Granted, most of the Southern Baptists I know are creationists, and have some fabulous ideas about how the flood laid out the fossil record and how scientists are too stupid to figure that out. And I’m glad that we have people like Glen Morton and Keith (not Ken) Miller who are credible evangelical witnesses on behalf of science to help correct the views of such folks. They don’t particularly trust the testimony of atheists. But religious scientists are sometimes able to get through to them. For that, I’m grateful.

      • mk
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        No… this is the regular kind.. i.e. – not Loki – not some capricious and frivolous cartoon whose chief concern with the universe and humans is jerking the chains of anyone wearing a white coat. Or blowing bubbles. In other words, the regular God that Billy Graham and the Pope believe in… hold the straw stuffing and the overalls.

        So… the god Billy Graham and the Pope believe in is not a capricious, frivolous cartoon? Heh-heh-heh. Good one!

      • Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        He may be a cartoon… and you may even find him capricious or frivolous… but he isn’t the capricious, frivolous cartoon that giotto is drawing.

      • mk
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        How very sophisticated.

  9. Posted June 26, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Worth pointing out while I’m at it, the reason a lot of evangelicals wouldn’t believe an atheist if he told them the sky is blue is that they perceive, rightly or wrongly, that atheistic scientists aren’t interested in promoting good science. They perceive, rightly or wrongly, that all that matters to atheistic scientists is criticizing religion and advancing atheism.

    • Loc
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      ‘rightly or wrongly’

      Are you having a difficult time differentiating between the two in the circumstance that you laid out? This is more comical than your previous statements painting a picture of the typical god.

      • Posted June 26, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        I’m reporting the suspicions expressed by others. I’d like to think they are wrong… and have historically throught so.. PZ and company certainly spend as much time adding reasons for suspicion as they might dispelling them.

      • Posted June 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        I’ll say this much – I’d like to read Jerry’s book. By all accounts it is good and topical. But, if I were the least bit religious and curious about the subject.. and if I decided to read the blog for a while before deciding whether to buy the book… I would probably conclude based on the blog that it would just be about atheism, and would probably skip it – since my interest would be in whether & why evolution was true.

      • Loc
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Reread your initial response to my inquiry and get back with me. I have no idea where you stand.

      • mk
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        smijer cannot commit. Plain and simple, it would reveal too much. He’s clearly embarrassed by his latent religiosity.

      • articulett
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        PZ, Coyne, et. al. are just being honest.

        I suspect they’ve been far more successful in creating critical thinkers then the accomodationists.

        In any case, it sounds like you (smijer) are telling Coyne to “play nice” because that will make more theists open to his book. You underestimate the power of being provocative, I suspect. And you don’t have the statistics to back up your implications anyhow.

        If people are actually eager to learn the facts, they are available. If, instead, they are eager to shore up their beliefs, then we can send them to the likes of Collins or Miller with the hope that the facts don’t impede on their fragile beliefs too much.

        The truth doesn’t care whether we believe it or not. And it is not our fault if peoples early brainwashing conflicts with their ability to understand the facts. The apologists can kiss as much theist ass as they like, but to try to manipulate their more honest counterparts into doing the same is smarmy.

        Grown ups can handle the facts unfiltered through gobbledy good and Jesus-speak. If they can’t, then no amount of ass kissing is likely to change that fact… it only makes people feel more entitled to respect for having faith. And this is a respect they do not deserve. Their faith deserves the same respect that they give conflicting faiths.

        I don’t think faith deserves any respect at all frankly. And I don’t think Coyne, PZ, nor Dawkins have to care about the fragile feelings of those who malign them at every opportunity to keep their favorite delusion alive. After all, the facts are on their side. They are the ones speaking the truth. And, from my perspective, it looks like they are far more successful in teaching others about evolution. I suspect they are also responsible for innoculating many young minds against the mind viruses that have been passed down through generations. I doubt their critics can claim the same.

    • Posted June 27, 2009 at 5:15 am | Permalink

      Reread your initial response to my inquiry and get back with me. I have no idea where you stand.

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding your question. In the most general of terms, I’m an atheist, a philosophical naturalist, a unitarian universalist, a non-scientist with a lay interest in the subject, and an accommodationist.

      I try to give good reasons for each whenever the topic is under discussion, but it isn’t always well received.

      I’ll say plainly what I hinted in my circumlocution above: Certain anti-accommodationists give the impression, strongly, that they get their kicks out of sneering at religion. This is a turnoff for me personally (to the point that I don’t even read PZ any more)… And, I imagine it contributes to the impression among evangelicals that atheist scientists care about the atheism, not the science. I used to believe firmly that this impression was false, but even to me, the kind of statements I see from certain anti-accommodationists have made me wonder if maybe theists who think this are closer than I thought to the truth. However that impression is given, by carelessness or because there is truth to it, it stands to leave anti-accommodationists preaching to the choir. I’m hopeful that people won’t get the impression that *all* scientists are this way and tune out the subject completely.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted June 27, 2009 at 5:39 am | Permalink

        re. “I’ll say this much – I’d like to read Jerry’s book.” from your comment above.

        Why are you even here if you haven’t read it? Please go find a copy somewhere – buy it or get it from a library, and read it.

      • Posted June 27, 2009 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        I certainly will read it. I don’t have a sense of urgency about it, because I have a pretty good grasp already about why evolution is true, and I have a stack of books on my bedside table already. I’m here because I hoped to read more from Jerry C about evolution… I am still hanging around, because no one has made me feel unwelcome, and it is a chance to make accommodationist arguments against what I feel to be errors in anti-accommodationist arguments.

      • Loc
        Posted June 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        smijer,

        I think I have a parcel of what you’re trying to say, however I adamantly disagree. The way science is practiced demands atheism, as the quote by Haldane above demonstrates. So your friends are partially correct in maintaining a thought that scientists are concerned with atheism during the practice of science. However, the conclusions they draw remain fundamentally incorrect – the sky is indeed blue.

  10. Joshua Slocum
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m delighted, but astonished, to see Lawrence Krauss write* this. The last piece I read from him on this topic was on the Edge site, and it contained this quote:

    There is too much ink spent worrying about this question. Religion is simply irrelevant to science, and whether or not science contradicts religion may be of interest to theologians but it simply doesn’t matter to scientists. What matters are the important questions science is dealing with, from the origin and future of the universe to the origin and future of life.

    Source here .

    Incidentally, Krauss wrote this in response to Coyne’s “Seeing and Believing” piece in The New Republic. I was really disappointed in that response posted on Edge. Krauss seemed to suggest there was really no problem, no conflict, “nothing to see here.” I’m glad he’s given this topic some more thought, I just wonder what changed?

    * to articulett – I almost wrote “right” again, and immediately thought of you!

    • articulett
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      (flattered)

      Yeah, Krauss seemed like one of the accomodationists to me in one of Beyond Belief videos. I was quite excited to read his evolution of thought on this subject in the WSJ.

      (Also, I notice that the infamous John Kwok his typing away madly at Mooney’s site on this subject.)

  11. tomh
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Great article. But the WSJ must have the most ignorant bunch of commenters on the net. More than one referred to Michael Behe as an ultimate authority on biology.

    • Loc
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t agree more. What is it about the right that leads to their inability to form coherent arguments? I am eager to conclude that it is their religious persuasions that lead to this, but I would probably be wrong for doing so.

      • articulett
        Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it’s a tough question… are the illogical more drawn to religion or does religion cause a person to think illogically?

        There really is no logical reason to believe in one or some invisible undetectable entities while rejecting others, so the only thing believers have left is to complain about the atheist tone and lie to themselves as to what this “debate” is really about. They are afraid of losing “faith” as they’ve been indoctrinated to believe it’s necessary for salvation. In essence, science is a threat to this imagined salvation. Most believers have invested a lot years in shoring up their beliefs and spreading them to others to aid this process.

        People are glad to use science to disprove beliefs that conflict with their own, but they do not want to view their own faith through the same lens.
        Reading the reaction to the WSJ article makes me think that Krauss has poked a necessary nerve in the faithful. Growing pains are hard, but we cannot continue to new minds with old lies.

        We must treat religion the same way we treat all superstitions. To not do so is unfair to future generations in my opinion.

  12. Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    The current crisis in Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma.

    This seems a rather weak and dubious point to me – isn’t the issue here gov’t repression following a (at least perceived, in my understanding very likely) stolen election? In this case we’re talking about a theocracy founded in an Islamic Revolution, but in other circumstances we might be talking about a Marxist revolution or nationalistic revolution or . . .

    • articulett
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      No… because you can overthrow a government… but in the Islam world, you are defying god if you overthrow the Supreme Ruler. It’s like overthrowing the Pope. In the brainwashed mind of the faithful, being unpatriotic is the same as blasphemy.

      And Krauss is right. When it comes to solving the worlds problems, reason is immensely preferable to religion.

      I’ve seen Krauss argue your side of the fence before, but it seem his views have evolved since then. Might I suggest that your mind may be causing you to mitigate the correlation between faith and human suffering while exaggerating faults in the godless. I think this is part of the “faith in faith” meme that religions have been very successful in promoting.

      If a person believes that their salvation depends on following gods will, then they can be readily manipulated by those who can convince him that they know what god wants. What wouldn’t you do if you truly believed your eternity depended on it?

      • Posted June 27, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        I definitely agree that reason’s a lot more helpful than religion, and I’m not sure why my mind would be so invested in exaggerating faults in me and and my fellow atheists (although I guess one can be a self-hating atheist, esp. given the heavy social investment in “faith in faith.” But – well, you’re not wrong, exactly and hardline pro-regime clerics certainly have been making just those kind of arguments against the protestors (Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami has screeched that “: “Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction)”. It’s just that I don’t see how what’s going on looks all that different from brutal crackdowns in any number of countries. At most the lies they use are a bit more effective than the (equally irrational, and often pretty theistic-seeming, to be fair) ones used by the others, but . . .

  13. argus
    Posted June 27, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    But the virgin birth of Jesus is probably the only article of Catholic faith that is actually possible. A virgin woman injected semen with a thin needle through her hymen would get pregnant, yet remain a virgin until giving birth.

    • articulett
      Posted June 27, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Heck, she could use a turkey baster.

      But it wouldn’t be magical divine godly DNA doing the inseminating. Jesus (if he existed) had a Y chromosome that certainly must have come from a material entity. Fact: Humans cannot make more male humans without the input of a (necesssarily) material Y chromosome.

      A virgin can be inseminated… a virgin cannot give birth to a male without having a y-bearing spermatazoa involved.

      • MadScientist
        Posted June 27, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

        Don’t you accept that God was following the Good Book and guiding Mary with his “rod and his staff”? It’s one of the core beliefs of the catholic church. There are even numerous contemporary examples of clergy honoring the tradition of guiding little children with their rod and staff – apparently they are emulating god and that must be why the church does its best to protect such clergy.

  14. MadScientist
    Posted June 27, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    First there was Creationism, then came that oxymoron “Intelligent Design” which is simply creationism in another box.

    Now “accommodationism” comes along and it is simply religious apologetics by a different name. It is utterly ridiculous that science in general should be asked to accept that religion has a valid way of “discovering truths” as religions are wont to claim. Refuting the religious claims seems futile; when you point out actual facts which are relevant in debunking a religious claim, they come up with a non-sequitur and strut about thinking they’re so clever. That is nothing new; we see that type of (excuse the word) “thought” throughout recorded history, from the ancient Greeks through Augustine, Aquinas (and numerous others), the kabalists and so on. In reality it is not thought at all but mere confirmation bias pretending to be legitimate thought.

    I’ve also noticed that many religious apologists just love S.J. Gould’s NOMA and claim that it is a vindication of their legitimacy – then they go further and try to use it as an excuse to impose religion upon science. Others reject NOMA (which I believe is the sensible thing to do)but they have their own contorted reasons, not based on logical thought, for rejecting it.

  15. Posted June 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi nice website.

    Check this site :http://guide-spirituel.blogspot.com

    Amazing videos of true miracles.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted July 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      No, Anulee, there is nothing there but fake and malicious videos for ignorant and gullible people with overactive imaginations and/or wishes to see patterns where none exist.

  16. Lawrence Krauss
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I saw some comments on the ‘evolution’ of my thought. I don’t think my thought has changed that much..
    I still stand by the statement:
    “Religion is simply irrelevant to science, and whether or not science contradicts religion may be of interest to theologians but it simply doesn’t matter to scientists. What matters are the important questions science is dealing with, from the origin and future of the universe to the origin and future of life.”

    The contradictions I talked about in my WSJ piece ARE irrelevant to me as a scientist because I just don’t think about religion at all as a scientist.. but I was not writing for scientists..

    • articulett
      Posted July 1, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      That comment was from me, and I may have misperceived something you said or confused you with someone else. In any case, I loved your piece in the WSJ.

  17. Jimbo
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Krauss (for whom I have great respect) has come a long way from his pathetic NOMA argument at EDGE (see http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/coyne09/coyne09_index.html) that Sam Harris ripped him a new one (same source). He has locked arms with Dawkins and Harris and is now a real strong voice against the insanity of religious muddy logic. Keep it up fellas!

    • Jimbo
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Whoops. Sorry, I just read the whole thread including Krauss’s own hand (thanks mate). Whily Krauss’s quote is true–that religion has no bearing on the practice of science–my reading of that paragraph was also a little broader (like articulett), that science does also deal with issues larger than say cosmology–what if the “important questions” science engages are morality or informing public policy? (Harris’s raison d’etre). Perhaps Krauss’s use of ‘science’ was restricted to his own field but I see it as much broader and its collision with religious thought is of paramount importance–not in the practice of science but with regard to teaching evolution in American schools, debates about life (abortion/
      euthanasia), etc.


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  1. [...] Krauss’s essay resulted in various blog responses and long comment threads here, here, and here, among other [...]

  2. [...] Furthermore, Mooney has made a big point of the issue of compatibility between science and religion, a false one in my opinion, based on the notion that there are people who engage in both.  Well, yeah.  Since when has an individual believing in two different things at the same time been proof of logical compatibility?  The answer is never.  Lawrence Krauss is totally right on this one. [...]

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