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Tue Mar 6, 2012, 03:49 PM

Opening Ourselves by Opening the Science-Religion Debate

Paul Wallace
Posted: 03/ 6/2012 12:18 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-wallace/opening-ourselves-by-opening-the-science-religion-debate_b_1311008.html

Oxford biologist and noted atheist Richard Dawkins recently sat down with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and had a nice chat about science, human origins and God. It was an entirely civil affair. Because Williams does not object to evolution, there was real agreement between them on a number of issues.

But their essential difference surfaced right at the end. At issue was the origin of the universe and the possibility, put forward by some physicists, that the universe arose out of nothing and has evolved on its own ever since. With this idea in mind, Dawkins said to Williams, "What I can't understand is why you can't see is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why you would want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God."

Williams agreed with the elegance bit but added, "I think you put your finger on one of the things that does seriously divide us. .... I'm not talking about God as an extra who you can shoehorn into that. That's just not how I see it." To which Dawkins replied emphatically, "That is exactly how I see it."

The debate, if it could properly be called that, therefore shone a light on the God question as the great divider. And that question is not whether God exists or doesn't exist, but what kind of God it is that exists or doesn't exist.

more at link

15 replies, 1680 views

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply Opening Ourselves by Opening the Science-Religion Debate (Original post)
cbayer Mar 2012 OP
socialindependocrat Mar 2012 #1
cbayer Mar 2012 #2
cleanhippie Mar 2012 #14
FarCenter Mar 2012 #3
longship Mar 2012 #4
edhopper Mar 2012 #5
Angry Dragon Mar 2012 #6
socialindependocrat Mar 2012 #15
ellisonz Mar 2012 #7
Silent3 Mar 2012 #9
ellisonz Mar 2012 #10
Silent3 Mar 2012 #11
ellisonz Mar 2012 #12
Silent3 Mar 2012 #13
Silent3 Mar 2012 #8

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Mar 6, 2012, 04:09 PM

1. The truth is what is...

Meaning: If there is a God and evolution is also true

then

the facts that are brought out by both sides will mesh and become one and the same.

If they don't mesh and support each other then, someone has their facts mixed up.

One should not fear the truth because it is what is.

The only thing you have to fear is being proven wrong.
And, even then, you should revel in knowing the truth.

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Response to socialindependocrat (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 6, 2012, 04:24 PM

2. Nicely said and consistent with the author's basic conclusions, imo.

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Response to socialindependocrat (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 03:29 PM

14. Agreed. Now if religion would just produce some facts...

We can get on with the meshing.

I won't hold my breath waiting on those facts.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Mar 6, 2012, 04:26 PM

3. The key paragraph appears to be:

There is a way to release the science-religion debate from this static and deadening opposition, and Williams' remark about not "shoehorning God in" is suggestive of it. That way is to take seriously the notion that God, if God is real in any way at all, cannot be confined by any conceptual space. God is in no way, and can be in no way, "in addition to" anything. Instead, God must be, in the words of theologian Kathryn Turner, "beyond kinds." Put another way, God is not subject to our notions of similarity and difference, or even to our idea of existence.

Which seems to beg the question and the following thoughts in the article don't actually offer much of a solution.

My own viewis that there are a variety of god concepts:
1. god is the creator and sustainer of the universe, but doesn't tinker with it.
2. god also actually "runs" the universe, and is aware of its operation and of humans in it who are at least partially the object of creation (as well as of the presence of angels, devils, saints, etc. as well as beings on other planets, etc.?)
3. god does the above, plus provides moral laws for humans, perceives sins, and acknowledges prayer, confession, repentance, and sacrifice.
4. god also provides souls to humans at birth or before, tracks their development or degeneration, and determines the disposition of souls after the death of the body.
5. god also resurrects the body after death, possibly after passing judgement on the world and all its inhabitants.

A scientist can probably buy into a level 1 god, since the distinction between the universe and univers+god is rather slight. As you go down the list towards the full Christian/Muslim God the level of plausibility decreases very significantly.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #3)

Tue Mar 6, 2012, 04:49 PM

4. There are more to that list

6. god who gave birth to jesus (who apparently founded the US)

7. all people who accept Jesus must be Repiblicans.

8. the god which thinks women who take estrogen pills are sluts and prostitutes (along with those who don't take such pills)

9. god who will send anybody to eternal torment in hell who doesn't agree totally with every single one of these points.

10. etc., etc., blah, blah, blah

It's all disgusting if you ask me.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Mar 6, 2012, 05:24 PM

5. William's wants to see a God

that is integral to the Universe. Not shoehorned in. I assume he means that say while evolution for instance, is the way life forms it's diversity, it was God who arranged things (or guides it ) that way. But there is no need for God in the equation. He can only be shoehorned or added superfluously on top of a concept where he is not necessary.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Mar 6, 2012, 11:42 PM

6. If a god or gods created the universe

then science is just the study of gods' creation

religion is just saying you have it all figured out

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #6)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 05:46 PM

15. Or religion says you have faith in God for the things you haven't figured out

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Wed Mar 7, 2012, 12:35 AM

7. Key Point

"And nothing is more offensive to the modern mind than the idea of any kind of permanent, in-principle ignorance."

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #7)

Wed Mar 7, 2012, 08:48 AM

9. Accepting ignorance is key to scientific thinking, not offensive to it

Last edited Thu Mar 8, 2012, 09:12 AM - Edit history (1)

The problem with "in-principle ignorance" is that wherever one postulates that this ignorance exists, one postulates an area where no one, scientist or non-scientist, can have anything meaningful or worthwhile to say.

If "in-principle ignorance" is truly ignorance, it's an impediment to further understanding, a cliff you fall off if you try to go further, it's not a gateway to knowledge or to greater understanding - knowledge and understanding aren't ignorance.

If someone claims that the God they believe is a God "beyond kinds", a God that can't be defined, a God that can't even be said to "exist" by a human understanding of existence, then do they even know what they're going on about when they talk about this God? If they pray to this God or "have faith" in this God or take comfort from this God aren't they contradicting what they've said about this God?

The unknowable God is used to deflect criticism and skepticism. Once the coast is clear, a more knowable God comes out of the closet.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #9)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 03:46 AM

10. You don't know anymore than anyone else. Just accept it. n/t

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 09:11 AM

11. Where do I indicate otherwise?

Last edited Thu Mar 8, 2012, 10:26 AM - Edit history (1)

At least if you're talking about "ultimate questions"?

Besides, many of us know more than others of us on some subjects. Plenty of people know way, way more sports trivia than I do. I know more about certain areas of software engineering than most people.

When you say, "You don't know anymore than anyone else. Just accept it.", I don't think the motivation behind that comment has anything to do with what I claim to know anyway -- which is precious little. What I think is going on is special pleading that you get at least 50/50 odds from me for your "God did it!" explanation, because somehow I'm not showing proper appreciation for my own lack of knowledge if I don't give you more credit for your evidence-free answers possibly being right.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #11)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 12:35 PM

12. There is pretty good evidence for not-knowing.

Asking for some respect in regards to this question is hardly deflecting skepticism, it's asking for sincerity.

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #12)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 01:44 PM

13. You aren't asking for respect for a question...

Last edited Sun Mar 11, 2012, 12:40 PM - Edit history (1)

...you're asking respect for an answer. Please don't pretend otherwise. You aren't asking "Could there be a God who created life, the universe, and everything?", you're saying that you believe in such a God, and that this answer is perfectly good for you because no one can prove you wrong.

No, I do not respect the lame "You can't prove me wrong!" defense, nor the oft-associated demand that skeptics supposedly must provide alternatives (other than the "not-knowing" you keep claiming to value) in order to justify their doubts about someone else's poorly supported answer.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Wed Mar 7, 2012, 08:25 AM

8. Much like the "Refuse to Even Consider It" article posted from HuffPo a few days ago...

...here is yet another article by an author who can't seem to grasp that many atheists have and do consider ideas beyond their straw man version of atheism.

One of the HuffPo comments on the article says pretty well what I want to say here, and it echoes things I've said here many times before:

The problem with your view is that it makes God a non-factor. If you believe in that kind of God, it cannot really affect your life in any way. A God that is not like us, or anything we can imagine, or anything that exists, or even existence itself, is not a God that would hand down commandments, entomb himself in a human body to die on a cross, or insert himself into our daily lives. He is not love; he is not just or jealous. Living with that belief is, in practical terms, absolutely no different than living as an atheist. If that's the way you want to go, I'm fine with that, as an atheist. I think the churches may have a problem, though; a personal God is the key to the collection plate.

- Kenneth Knapp III

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