Despite it’s antiquity and the recycled, warmed-over arguments, we just can’t seem to get away from the science vs. religion debate. Here is a trailer for a new film (documentary?) in which Richard Dawkins and another guy go around the country talking about how awesome science is and, as a corollary, how illogical and silly religion must be…
It seems that neither religious folks nor science folks (or, more accurately, people who have traded faith in a higher power for faith in the scientific method) can get away from this unnecessarily binary view of the search for truth. We’ve been doing it a couple of hundred years and many on both sides seem unable to find a bridge. Even the most crusty scientist should be able to admit that science cannot tell us everything – especially the deep questions, the questions about being, about why (which are much more interesting to me than the “how?” questions on which these debates so often focus). And for Christians – here I must admit no faculty for speaking as a general “religious” person as if such a category existed – we have no need to fear science. The search for truth is ultimately a search for the One who is the way, truth, and life. Many scientists of the early modern period understood their work as seeking to understand God’s ordering of the universe. There is no reason science should not still be viewed as such a helpful discipline. In our day, few have bridged the gap between legitimate science and faithful Christianity. One who has done it well is Alister McGrath, and we should hope that his tribe increases.
I hope that the brilliant Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart takes the time to review this film. He has been one of the most vociferous interlocutors with the whole “New Atheism” phenomenon, and his critiques are withering. Take, for instance, this bit from a First Things piece:
“What I find chiefly offensive about them is not that they are skeptics or atheists; rather, it is that they are not skeptics at all and have purchased their atheism cheaply, with the sort of boorish arrogance that might make a man believe himself a great strategist because his tanks overwhelmed a town of unarmed peasants, or a great lover because he can afford the price of admission to a brothel.”
Such words can only be written by someone who has taken the time to read, appreciate, and understand that which he critiques. One can only hope that the evangelically-inclined atheists will one day stop navel-gazing enough to actually encounter faith with honesty and integrity. We should hope for the same among believers, for we have nothing to fear.
For now, here is a good, civil dialogue between Rowan Williams, the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal and Chief Inquisitor of the New Atheists, Richard Dawkins. It’s worth your time, regardless of where you fall in these debates: