Accommodationists will do almost anything to avoid admitting that there’s a conflict between science and faith. For instance, the Galileo episode, which clearly involves someone being punished for contravening religious authority and scripture, is often fobbed off as merely a political dispute, an internecine squabble between religious authorities, or the wrath of a satirized Pope. It’s always “much more complicated than a conflict between science and faith.” And so the real conflict gets buried in sociological and political nuance.
But sometimes it’s not more complicated—as in the case of creationist opposition to evolution. Creationist attempts to teach Genesis in public school biology classes clearly represent a conflict between Christianity and science.
Or do they? Not according to accommodationist Audrey Chapman, who has found a way to pretend that this, too, isn’t really a “conflict.” As she notes (reference below):
“Nor can the twentieth-century controversy between strict creationists and evolutionists be reduced to the scenario of conservative Christians opposing science. Instead, the creationists, some of whom are scientists themselves, specifically oppose the social, moral, and theological implications of human evolution.”*
Now there’s a distinction without a difference! (Chapman, once associated with the egregiously accommodationist Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion of the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS], is now a bioethicist at the University of Connecticut.)
Did you see this part: “The creationists, some of whom are scientists themselves”? No real scientist can be a creationist; that phrase is there to buttress the pretense that the conflict is bogus.
The book from which this quote was taken, which includes essays by theologians and reputable scientists, strongly espouses a “dialogue” between science and faith. But what would be the purpose of that? The only thing science can contribute to faith is the overthrowing of its tenets. On the other hand, religion has nothing—I repeat, nothing—to contribute to science. Nous n’avons pas besoin de cette hypothèse! Calls for such dialogue are invariably meant to give unwarranted credibility to religion. Looks good on the c.v. for faith, not so good on the c.v. for science. What we need is not dialogue, but a monologue, one in which religion remains silent while science tells it that there’s no evidence for its claims.
Speaking at another AAAS conference (the organization always has a goddy-coddling symposium at their annual meeting), Steven Weinberg refused to endorse such a concordat:
In an e-mail message from the American Association for the Advancement of Science I learned that the aim of this conference is to have a constructive dialogue between science and religion. I am all in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, but not a constructive dialogue. One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment.
*The quote comes from p. 506 of Chapman, A. R.. 2004. Evolution and the science and religion dialogue. (Pp 4-23 in Miller, J. B. [ed] 2004. The Epic of Evolution: Science and Religion in Dialogue). The book gives the proceedings of a meeting held at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago under the aegis of the AAAS, and funded largely by (who else?) the Templeton foundation.