science versus religion

After reading both Times magazine and MacLeans from the week before last (Nov. 13, 2006), I want to post some thoughts on the increasingly heated debate between science and religion. We can feel some of the heat between a scientist who is also an atheist (Dawkins) and a scientist who is also a Christian (Collins) in both these articles. Although Christians have rightly been accused of arrogant hatred towards atheists or even people of other faiths, I don t think this excuses the arrogant hatred of Dawkins towards people of faith. When the issue arises concerning Collins difficulty being accepted even among some Christians, fundamentalists mostly, Dawkins says, he d just save himself an awful lot of trouble if he just simply ceased to give them the time of day. Why bother with these clowns? Oh ya, now THAT S helpful! Collins responds in a more humane way: Richard, I think we don t do a service to dialogue between science and faith to characterize sincere people by calling them names. That inspires an even more dug-in position. Atheists sometimes come across as a bit arrogant in this regard, and characterizing faith as something only an idiot would attach themselves to is not likely to help your case (Time). Because Dawkins quotes another atheistic scientist, Sam Harris, as support in his book The God Delusion, he comes into the picture. Harris says of Collins book, The Language of God: To say that he fails at his task does not quite get at the inadequacy of his efforts. He fails the way a surgeon would fail if he attempted to operate using only his toes. His failure is predictable, spectacular and vile. Where does this vilification end? Because Harris (one among many atheist scientists) questions Collins credentials as a scientist because he is a Christian, Collins feels the squeeze is getting worse from both sides: I hear louder and shriller claims from atheistic scientists and ever stronger reactions from religious people (MacLeans). MacLeans says that Dawkins book is a full-bore assault on all forms of religious belief as the root of (virtually) all evil . Dawkins believes all believers are sinister and a menace to humankind. And they are child abusers to boot, because they raise their children religiously, just as they too were raised (and abused) as children (MacLeans). I hear a whistle blowin . It s comin round the bend! Collins is not well received or respected among scientists who are atheists, nor among Christian scientists who are fundamentalists. He is considered a moderate , which I think is a poor label that conjures up ideas of weak conformist . I don t think Collins conforms to try to appease both sides. I think he is a serious geneticist as well as a serious Christian who can live comfortably and inquisitively in these two worlds. He himself says, over more than a quarter-century as a scientist and a believer, I find absolutely nothing in conflict between agreeing with (Dawkins) in practically all of his conclusions about the natural world, and also saying that I am still able to accept and embrace the possibility that there are answers that science isn t able to provide about the natural world the questions about why instead of the questions about the how. I find many of those answers in the spiritual realm. That in no way compromises my ability to think rigorously as a scientist (MacLeans). Hello people! Aren t we seeing what s happening? It isn t the issues that are the issues, but rather the hatred behind our attitudes toward others. Can t we see that it is disdain towards a person that leads to murder, not that person s thought-patterns? Can we stop this train before it leads to persecution of a newer kind?

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