Paul Wallace (who?) is declaring victory in the conflict between science and religion, with the most specious reasoning. His big general argument is that the New Atheists are old.
This year has marked, I believe, the beginning of the end of the war between science and religion. Creationism cannot last. The New Atheists are now old (or departed).
That little dig about “departed” atheists is, clearly enough, a rather nasty reference to Christopher Hitchens, and the link goes to a religious argument about whether he’s in hell or not. It is revealing that these Christians can’t even try to make a rational argument without playing ghoul. But it’s also wrong; as an activist in the atheist movement for about 15+ years, what has been most notable to me is how much younger the movement gets every year. As has been pointed out many times, the fastest growing segment of the religious question is the Nones, who reject the whole mess.
After that little falsehood, Wallace’s arguments disintegrate rapidly. His sole tactic is to list 10 people, marginal or tangential to the whole movement on either side, and point and say, “Look! They don’t hate religion! Therefore, we’re winning.” It’s a pathetic and irrational effort. Here is his list of the Big 10 reconciling science and religion.
10. Karl Giberson, science & religion writer and former physicist, for reminding evangelicals that science is not the enemy
Right. The Karl Giberson who was squeezed out of the website he cofounded, as Biologos cozies up to fundagelical literalists? It seems to me that the real lesson here is that the evangelicals are reminding Giberson that science is the enemy.
9. Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China, former Governor of Utah, candidate for the 2012 Republican nomination for president, for decoupling conservative politics and creationism
Huntsman was the only Republican candidate for president to speak out for the scientific views on evolution and global warming. He also doesn’t stand a prayer of getting the nomination. His position is a confirmation that the Christian majority hates science. And mormons.
8. Jon Stewart, political satirist, for shining light on American Atheists’ frivolous lawsuit against the inclusion of the Ground Zero cross in the 9/11 memorial museum
I wasn’t that enthusiastic myself, but I don’t think it was frivolous. I think the “ground zero cross” highlights the stupidity of Christianity — to think, they found two metal bars that had been welded at right angles to one another in some wreckage!
7. Nidhal Guessoum, astrophysicist, for reminding us that, in the minds of nearly 1.6 billion people, “science and religion” does not mean “science and Christianity”
Somehow, the fact that they found a guy who favors good science, and is also a member of a religion that has discouraged science to the point that only 10-20% of its members accept evolution (which Wallace comes right out and admits), is regarded as a victory for religion? So to some people, “science and religion” means “science and Islam”, and the overwhelming majority of them detest science.
6. Jack Templeton, surgeon, president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation, for bringing science into the church
Hmmm. Reactionary fundamentalist Christian who donates substantial sums of money to defeat gay marriage initiatives and also strains to coopt science to support his religious beliefs is supposed to be an example of religion and science finding a middle ground? It looks more like moral and scientific bankruptcy to me. He’s a guy trying to bring the church into science, not vice versa.
5. Chris Stedman, interfaith activist and super-swell atheist guy, for decoupling atheism from science, and for being the face of a kinder, gentler atheism
Fuck “kinder, gentler atheism”. Finding one smiley apologist for faith who is too craven to confront the real lies of religion does not convince me that the New Atheism is in decline at all. These pandering compromisers will always be popular with the subset of the population that dreads rocking the boat…and they’ll always be the ones fighting against change and for the status quo.
4. Rachel Held Evans, author, speaker, blogger, for making science & religion her thing, but not her main thing
Who? Wallace seems impressed that Evans is not a biblical literalist. So? That’s been common for quite some time.
3. All Those People Who Are Not Backing the Ark Park, for keeping the sure-to-be-divisive Ark Encounter from its scheduled August groundbreaking
What? The majority of Christians in Kentucky are in favor of the nonsensical giant ark, and somehow this tells Wallace that religion and science are reconciled?
2. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, for reminding us that being ethical does not depend on belief in a personal God—nor, particularly, on science
I have never been sympathetic to the Dalai Lama. Sure, he smiles a lot — that seems to be the sole criterion for thinking he’s a hero of religion — but he represents a misogynistic, theocratic tyranny that wants to get back in power in the homeland of Tibet. Charismatic tyrants may be one kind of religious ideal, but not mine.
1. Terrence Malick, filmmaker, for reminding us that art may be the most compelling way to reconcile science & religion
Haven’t seen his movie. Not really interested in seeing it, either. I don’t think an art-house movie represents the state of religion in this country, and especially since Wallace mainly seems to like it for its biblical roots, it’s not exactly a slice of scientific thought, either.
That’s it. That’s Wallace’s great groundswell of pro-religious, pro-science belief that is sweeping the country — 10 marginal characters who meet Wallace’s criterion of being nice and non-confrontational. I’m sorry, but cherry-picking the population for the wimpiest set of useless apologists (or twisting their positions to hide their actual agendas) is not very impressive.
Although I did think it entirely appropriate to see Stedman and Templeton on the same list. Both are playing exactly the same game from different sides of the playing field.