John Pieret quotes a religious apologist, about which I am rather conflicted:
For a Christian, when science is allowed to be neutral on the subject of God, science can only bolster faith. In contrast, and I imagine without realizing it, ID proponents have become professional Doubting Thomases, funded by Doubting Thomas Institutes. When advocates of ID use the vocabulary of science to argue for God’s presence in cellular machinery or in the fossil record, they too poke their fingers through Jesus’ hands. In so doing, ID vitiates faith.
This is the conundrum we face when we get a thoughtful Christian on our side, more or less. It’s great to see them criticizing ID advocates, and pointing out their bad theology; I wouldn’t mind seeing the Discovery Institute’s influence diminish. The problem, though, is that the paragraph above says good things about ID to my mind. Doubt is a wonderful thing, skepticism is a useful tool, and I think the story of Doubting Thomas is a great example, not a caution—if a guy I’d seen die in some grisly fashion showed up at my house, I wouldn’t stop with just checking his wounds, I’d be quizzing him to find out if he really was who he claimed to be while I was driving him to the hospital for a much more thorough examination. And if he tried to tell me, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”, I’d just reply “Blessed are the chumps? No way, pal, I want blood samples and an MRI.”
The real problem with the ID advocates is that they aren’t actually Doubting Thomases: they go through the motions, putting on a show of skepticism, while believing without question. If they poked a finger into the wound and found spirit gum and stage blood, they’d announce that they had scientific proof of a resurrection.
So when people claim that ID is conceding the inferiority of faith, I agree completely with them. When they act as if this is an unfortunate outcome, they lose me. ID’s failing is that it hasn’t gone far enough, and I won’t be praising or encouraging people who take a step further back and retreat into the acceptance of ignorance as a virtue. The story of Doubting Thomas makes clear that “faith” is nothing but a synonym for credulity and the avoidance of knowledge.
There’s another John with an interesting post on religion that is a bit weird from my perspective. Wilkins makes a series of suggestions on how conflicted Christian parents should raise their kids. It’s very subversive, I’m afraid, because it’s exactly how this confident atheist raised his kids, and I suspect it’s how that incorrigible agnostic raises his kids—it’s a recipe for undermining religiosity. It’s great! Even if it doesn’t produce atheists and agnostics, at worst it’s going to produce sensible Christians who don’t treat their faith as a tool for magical thinking, indoctrination, and eradicating thought.
That also means it’s a doomed strategy. The people who need John’s suggestions most, the Bible-thumpers and lunatics of the Religious Right, are going to rightly see that it teaches tolerance as a tool of the godless. Sorry, John, your prescription is far too optimistic—it’s only going to appeal to the ones who already practice it. It needs more dire threats, scapegoats, and self-righteousness if it’s going to become popular.