UPDATES: I now have Mooney’s whole article, and reader stvs has published it below in a comment. It’s even worse than I thought, with Mooney dragooning both Darwin and E. O. Wilson as models of “spiritual” scientists. There is absolutely no doubt, unless you’re obtuse, that the purpose of Mooney’s piece is to show the commonality of scientists and religious people—as both are “spiritual”—and thereby make common cause of the two magisteria. Just look at the title of the piece: “The born-again scientist: spirituality comes to the lab.”
What a smarmy and intellectually dishonest piece of accommodationist tripe, relying as it does on conflating two completely disparate notions of “spirituality”! Can we agree, then, that when we get all emotional about a piece of music or a novel or a nebula, or experience wonder at the products of natural selection—that we give these emotions a name different from “sprituality”? That just confuses the diverse meanings of the term (which was Mooney’s intent) and gives ammunition to acoommodationists.
Over at Pharyngula you can read P. Z.’s take on Mooney’s article.
Meanwhile, after the negative reaction Mooney has added this comment to his post:
Wow my Playboy piece is becoming quite the Rorschach. I may have to say more about this.
Please, Chris, spare us. It’s just like the lad to avoid substantive discussion by simply characterizing his posts as “Rorschach tests“ of where his readers stand.
I must say, the intellectual dishonesty and relentless self promotion of the site and the authors’ books, combined with Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s tendency to ban readers who disagree with them even mildly, have really hurt The Intersection. Comments have fallen to only one or two (sometimes none) per post. Do the authors even realize why this has happened? The only time there are more than a couple of comments is when Mooney engages in atheist-baiting; and so, I expect, we’ll see more of that.
Oh dear God, the lad has no sense of decency, at long last. Over at The Intersection, Chris Mooney touts a piece he wrote for the latest Playboy, and provides an excerpt. Characteristically, he’s flogging “spirituality” as a framing device to show that religion and science have stuff in common after all. The excerpt:
But can scientists who say they are awestruck by nature and moved by their research really relate to more traditional religious experiences, a la those reported by saints? Aren’t “awe” and “wonder” nondescript notions that add emotional embroidery to the brute facts of the universe? Perhaps not. Feelings of awe, wonder and mystery recur in the context of human quests for deeper understanding or revelation. In his 1917 work The Idea of the Holy, German theologian Rudolph Otto singled out a sense of awe as a key characteristic of our encounters with what he termed the “numinous”–an overwhelming power or presence beyond ourselves.
Science can unleash this feeling too. Just sit in a darkened room and look at nebulae pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, as University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank describes doing in his book The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate. “Scientists are not the only ones who catch their collective breath before these pictures,” he writes. “The momentary hush and the gasp that follow are involuntary.”
A love of nebulae, ergo Jesus. Perhaps a reader with access to Playboy (and who will admit it) can flesh out the rest of this piece, which according to Mooney appears on p. 168 of the January, 2011 issue.
For the nonce, this seems just another cheap attempt of Mooney to show that science and faith must be compatible companions, since they both seek the numinous.
2011 has barely begun, but this brand of intellectual dishonesty is already upon us.