This is a good example of passive-aggressive Christianity, or should I say faux-friendly Christianity:
Not so friendly inside! It’s hilarious, and the fun starts on the second page of the text:
p. 10 Many educated people have no doubt that faith is irreconcilable with science. For instance, Jerry Coyne, an evolutionist at the University of Chicago believes that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution has demolished the idea of God once and for all. Contemporary best-selling authors Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett, known as the “New Atheists,” agree. If you are a scientist, they declare, you cannot honestly believe in God. . . Faith is a mere fiction and theology a waste of time.¹
Footnote 1, gives, as a reference for my views, Why Evolution is True. Unfortunately, the ideas attributed to me don’t appear in that book, which mentions religion only tangentially, and not as Haught says.
p. 41: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Jerry Coyne, E. O. Wilson, Stephen Jay Gould, and many other evolutionists spoil the credibility of Darwin’s good science when they unwisely alloy evolutionary biology with a materialistic worldview. They thus distort the true nature of science by wrapping Darwin’s discoveries snugly in the belief system we are calling “evolutionary naturalism.” They contaminate Darwin’s science by imposing on it an extraneous ideology. In doing so they unnecessarily make Darwin’s neutral scientific findings theologically unacceptable on any terms.
What? Darwin arrived at his theory via a materialistic worldview and, throughout The Origin, repeatedly shows that the facts of biology and geology refute creationist claims. Darwin’s findings are hardly neutral with respect to materialism, which, by the way, is not an ideology but a practice derived from the experience of seeing that it works. It’s like calling plumbing an “ideology.
pp 101-102: Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, whose faith in evolutionary naturalism has no limits, will continue to remind us that the high degree of accident and blind necessity in biological evolution renders the emergence of mind nothing but a fluke of nature. (Why he puts so much trust in his own mind, therefore, remains a mystery.)
Facepalm again. Natural selection, my dear Dr. Haught, is not either “accident or blind necessity”: it is the concatenation of mutations (which might be conceived of as accidents) and the nonrandom disposition of those mutations based on their contribution to reproduction.
Further, I’m not sure what he means by “blind necessity.” As for mind being nothing but a fluke of nature, well, that’s probably true, at least the human mind, since I don’t see our evolution as inevitable (it may have depended on mutations that are based on quantum effects). As for trusting my own mind, well, I’ve been able to do that pretty well doing that in the past sixty-odd years. So experience tells me that my mind’s apprehensions are pretty trustworthy. I’m still healthy, have good friends, good food, and other things, many of which are the products of science—i.e., trusting other peoples’ minds. And my mind has also been valuable in helping me detect terrible arguments based on wish-thinking alone, such as those appearing between the covers of your book. I trust my own mind because, by and large, it’s proven trustworthy. Contrast that with the pronouncements of your own Catholic faith, which are not only unsubstantiated, but have led to terrible evils in the world. (When, by the way, are you, Dr. Haught, going to decry the child rape endemic in your church? And what happened to limbo, Hell, Noah’s Flood, and Adam and Eve? How trustworthy were the minds of the Church fathers?)
Haught appears to have been taken in by the specious arguments of Alvin Plantinga, who claims that evolution alone could never have given us minds that perceive the truth. To these dudes, such accurate perception requires the sensus divinitatus given us by the Christian God (Lord knows how the Aztecs were able to function!).
p. 157: Cosmic pessimists clearly show that they too trust the capacity of their own minds to reach these exquisite goals [finding intelligibility and truth]. All you have to do is read books by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Denneett, and Jerry Coyne to sense the enormous degree of confidence they have in their own cognitional performance. And yet, if the universe that gave birth to their minds is essentially mindless (and hence pointless), as they claim, then they have no good reason to trust these same minds.
Well, how about if those minds have repeatedly led us to results that seem correct? After all, if a dog gets petted by his owner every time they meet, the dog comes to like the owner and expect the petting. Doesn’t he have a good reason to trust his owner? Did God also give dogs a “sensus canis“?
What a muddle this argument is! First of all, our minds aren’t absolutely reliable: we are victims of all sorts of optical, emotional, and cognitive illusions. (And metaphysical ones, I might add, such as Catholicism.) Second, natural selection is a good way of evolving = the ability to find out true things about the universe that impinge on our reproduction and survival. Third, science is just a refinement of the normal way we find truth in our own lives, like why the toilet isn’t flushing or the car won’t start. And we have other people’s minds that can cross-check each other and help us learn, and learning itself is of course a product of natural selection. Those who didn’t learn how to deal with new circumstances didn’t survive. Rationality is itself an adaptation, and that, combined with learning, gives us a pretty good toolkit to find out about the universe. In contrast, religion has given us no useful way to find out what’s true about the universe, and has in fact repeatedly misled us. That’s why science has, over and over again, corrected the “truths” produced by religious minds.
Arguing that our ability to rely on our imperfect faculties to find truth is a proof of God seems to me a piece of extraordinary delusion and stupidity.
But Haught is right about one thing: I do think that theology is a waste of time. It involves people with brains, such as Haught, sitting around and rationalizing or explicating about “truths” for which there is not the slightest bit of evidence. It’s a discipline without a subject, and a vast diversion of human thought from more productive activities. What Haught could have accomplished had he been, say, a doctor or a scientist instead of an apologist who gets paid enormous sums of money to gull the public into thinking that there’s a Vast Loving Depth behind the universe!