I’ve had to resort to name-calling, simply because I cannot abide Andrew Brown any longer. Someone wrote last week that without blockheads like him, we atheist bloggers wouldn’t have anything to write about, and that’s largely true. But can’t we at least get something interesting out of our opponents? Is it too much to expect the faitheists to have their own Hitchens, somebody with erudition, wit, a sharp tongue? Instead, we get Andrew Brown, who’s about as interesting (and cogent) as a stale matzo.
In this week’s Comment is Free column, Brown discusses “Are science and atheism compatible?” His piece was inspired by a recent vote of the Synod of the Church of England that science and God are compatible (the vote was 241-2, by the way, a masterpiece of reconciling the irreconcilable by fiat). But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what Brown is trying to say. I’ve struggled through this column several times, and can’t find a coherent discussion of the question at issue. Here’s the ending:
Nor has the decline of religious belief, in those countries where it has declined, resulted in a growth of scientific knowledge. If anything, the two have declined together. This is distressing for the atheists who believe that science and religion are natural enemies, contending for our hearts and understandings, but it makes perfect sense. Some religious doctrines are untrue, but when you abolish them, you need not thereby add to the world’s stock of truth. You could just add to the variety of its lies.
Science and organised traditional religion have to some extent the same enemies. Both rely for their influence on society on trust in authority and that is rapidly eroding. This is obvious in the case of religion, but we can see from the progress of climate change denialism how helpless scientists are against the same kind of jeering and suspicious anti-intellectualism that some of them direct at religion.
Is he trying to say that scientific knowledge is actually DECLINING in countries like Sweden and Denmark? Or anywhere else? Is his thesis that if science and religion are opponents, you’d predict that as religion declined, science would grow (this is, by the way, exactly what is happening)?
And what does the growth of climate-change denialism have to do with the compatibility of atheism and science? What sort of “anti-intellectualism” has atheism directed toward religion? It seems to me that atheism has launched straight intellectual attacks at religion—attacks based on rationality and evidence. Where is the evidence for miracles? How do we know that Mohamed was God’s prophet and Jesus was not? How, exactly, can a benevolent God allow innocent people to experience evil? Those are intellectually-motivated questions.
In his hatred of atheism, Brown seems to have degenerated into mindless brain-dump gibbering, flailing about randomly like a jerk with a wet towel in the locker room. He is beneath contempt, and, from now on, beneath notice.