Challenging Nature

Among books by skeptically minded scientists, here's another one that is worth attention: Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life by Lee M. Silver, a molecular biologist.Challenging Nature starts out with a defense of scientific materialism. It's not hugely in depth, but it's a nice survey. I was particularly interested in seeing how he presented a point of view much influenced by molecular biology: how routinely dealing with life as a physical, … [Read more...]

“The Devoted Student”

Interesting op-ed in The New York Times: "The Devoted Student" by Mark C. Taylor.He observes that fundamentalists have become more agressive in his (and other) classrooms. Fair enough, though those of us who are science (rather than humanities) faculty probably could have told him that having to deal with fundamentalists in the form of creationists is not really a new challenge. What is curious, though, is his swiping at "secular dogmatists," presumably in some hamhanded attempt to be … [Read more...]

The Politics of Science and Religion

Partly because Richard Dawkins has recently come out with a book strongly attacking religion, it seems there's a political debate going on among nonbelievers interested in science-and-religion issues. Dawkins expresses disdain for the "Neville Chamberlain school" of defenders of evolution who take a liberal compatibilist view and deny any conflict between science and religion. By and large, however, nonbelieving scientists tend to shy away from being too public with views that suggest science … [Read more...]

From Doug Krueger: Reply to Steve Hays

Doug Krueger submitted the following reply to Steve Hays. The selection from Parsons says:"In conclusion, we have seen that there are a great number of practical difficulties in confirming the occurrence of an apparent miracle. Even if these difficulties are overcome, however, we have seen that there are no grounds for considering any event to be scientifically inexplicable...In sum, we have no good grounds for thinking that any event is a miracle."Stating that there are "a great number of … [Read more...]

From Keith Parsons: Response to Steve Hays

Steve Hays asks whether atheists contradict themselves, saying, first, that no evidence would convince them of a miracle, and, second, that God is to blame for doubters' lack of belief because he could have performed spectacular public miracles that would have convinced anybody and everybody. If I declare that nothing will convince me that a miracle has occurred, then surely it is inconsistent and unfair then to chide God for failing to deliver one. So, which is it? Will atheists concede that, … [Read more...]

Another Gay Evangelical Minister

Just over a month ago New Life mega-evangelical Ted Haggard was outed by his gay lover. Now another evangelical preacher has resigned after being confronted by church elders. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in tony Englewood, Colorado recorded a taped confession that was played last Sunday for the 2,100 member congregation. According to the Reuters story and the Denver Post, Barnes was outed when an anonymous tipster told church leaders that he heard someone threaten "to go public with the names of … [Read more...]

Religion and Demographic Trends

I've lately been coming across many demographic arguments suggesting that religion is gaining ground and nonbelief is declining. It seems to be a conservative talking point lately, and I've even come across some "heh heh we're winning because we're outbreeding the infidels" crowing among intelligent design proponents, such as this post by Denyse O'Leary.There are some serious arguments to this effect as well. Eric Kaufmann, for example, argues that European secularization is bound to be … [Read more...]

Religion and the Human Prospect

I recently read Alexander Saxton's Religion and the Human Prospect. Very interesting. I think anyone interested in ambitious, grand-scale thinking about religion will enjoy it.As a science-type who likes to wade into humanities territory when I think I can get away with it, I especially liked this book. Saxton is an historian who takes natural science seriously and tries to construct his theory of religion in a way that is aware of current thinking on the psychological and evolutionary basis of … [Read more...]