The assertions you’re about to read aren’t new. I hesitate to publish accommodationist arguments with which we’re all familiar, but on the other hand they give us insight into the minds of the faithful. And isn’t that what accommodationists are always urging us to obtain? I submit for your approval some excerpts from a new BioLogos essay, “The science and religion relationship” by geologist Peter Doumit.
Divine revelation comes in two forms: the Word of God (including both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition) and the Work of God (including the natural, physical world and the laws that govern it). Both are equally valid forms of truth, as they stem from the same Source. And since truth can never contradict truth, a truth revealed in one cannot ever be in conflict with a truth revealed in the other.
Tell that to creationists! The idea that the Bible and science simply can’t conflict has spawned two centuries of desperate and inconclusive Biblical exegesis.
The same holds true, of course [i.e., this is what God wants], to that which shines its light and reveals the Word of God: His Church. It is the Church that provides important guidance as to the meaning of Scripture, objective truths unknowable by reason alone (like the mystery of the Trinity, for example), and moral certitude despite winds of change in cultural attitude and behavior.
Note that interpretation of Scripture is to be left to the Church, which will reveal not just truths, but objective truths.
In my online Merriam-Webster, “objective” means “of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind.” Alternatively, it means “perceptible to persons other than the affected individual.” Objective truths would then seem to be truths that aren’t subjective, experiential ones, but truths grasped by all observers. Clearly, no religious “truth” can be objective.
By using the word “objective,” Doumit tries to put religious truths on the same plane as scientific truths. Of course anybody with a modicum of neurons knows that this is bogus: only one form of truth is “perceptible to all observers.” But Doumit hopes we won’t notice.
Putting this all together, then, we can see that science and religion are never really completely divorced from one another, but rather serve complementary roles. Science, guided in the moral spirit of the Church, provides us with answers to “how?” questions: How does gravity work? How does a baby progress from a zygote to a fetus? How can we better improve the quality of human life? As noted in one of the Spiderman movies, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Such is the case especially with science. Science is an incredibly powerful tool, but if that power is left to its own devices without a moral compass, it is an evil, fatal, and disastrous weapon that advances the most horrific violations to human dignity and worth (see modern China, eugenics, Nazi Germany, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung for a few examples).
Note that he imputes the horrors of these regimes not to the dictators themselves, or to their minions, but to science itself. And how on earth did the horrors of Mao or Stalin reflect the “power of science left to its own devices”?
Religion, on the other hand, aided by scientific and historical evidence, is able to provide us with the answers to our existential “why?” questions: Why am I here? Why is there something rather than nothing? Like science, religion without a rational basis can also be an extremely dangerous weapon primed for atrocities (see 9/11, David Koresh, and the Heaven’s Gate cult, for example).
Used in their appropriate roles, science and religion give us the complete set of tools for understanding and interpreting the Work and Word of God.
I invite Dr. Doumit, then, to give me the objective answers to those “why” questions, since, according to him, the answers are already in hand. I’d also like to know why those answers are the right ones, while answers held by people of other faiths are not. I’m dying to know whether Jesus really was the son of God, born of a virgin, and really came back to life after three days. And tell me why the Jews and Muslims are wrong on these points.
Doumit won’t answer, of course, but if he did we’d see some spectacular theological waffling. I suspect it would involve Clintonian redefinitions of the words “know,” “truth,” and “objective.”
How do these people live with themselves? Religion poisons everything—including reason.
UPDATE: Over at EvolutionBlog, Jason Rosenhouse has his own take on Doumit’s piece, including this gem:
When atheists suggest that we should stick with what works (science and reason) and eschew what has consistently failed (faith), it is thought to be an occasion for scolding and condescension. But when people like Doumit arrogantly and baselessly declare the findings of their religion (and only their religion) to be a valid form of truth, they are not similarly lectured. In fact, it is considered poor form to criticize them, since they are at least on the right side of the evolution issue.