Disco ‘Tute Fails Some More

The latest new project by the Disco Tute’s Center for
the Renewal of Science and Culture is
faithandevolution.org.

Evidently the new creationists are feeling threatened not only by their
traditional enemy, outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers,
but by people like Ken Miller and Francis Collins, who are not only
outspoken devout theists, but are also respected biologists who aren’t
shy about pointing out that ID is a load of dingo’s kidneys.

The
About” page says:

According to noted biologist Richard Dawkins, Darwinian evolution makes it possible to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist. According to Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, evolution is perfectly compatible with his Christian faith. Who is right? And why does it matter? This website is designed to help you find out.

Which leads me to wonder whether they’re being disingenuous as usual, or
whether they’re so stupid as to miss the point that Dawkins’s and
Collins’s views don’t conflict with each other?

Positive Atheism gives a
fuller version
of Dawkins’s “intellectually fulfilled atheist” quotation:

An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume:
“I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that
God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody
comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position,
though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied,
and that although atheism might have been logically tenable
before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled
atheist.

— Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, page 6

I think that’s pretty clear: you can be an atheist without
understanding how life evolves. But the theory of evolution answers one
nagging question.

I don’t have a similar quotation summarizing Collins’s views, but
judging by the jacket blurb of The Language of God, it
seems clear that he’s able to reconcile Christianity with evolution.

It seems pretty clear to me that the two are orthogonal to each other.
If you’re an atheist, science can help answer questions; if you’re a
Christian and like being one, that doesn’t mean you have to reject
science. Understanding evolution allows you to go either way.
So the DI’s site is setting up a conflict where none exists.

Stupid, ignorant, or deceptive? Hm, tough choice.

(Update, May 29: Fixed thinko.)

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4 Responses to Disco ‘Tute Fails Some More

  1. Eamon Knight says:

    It seems pretty clear to me that the two are orthogonal to each other. If you’re an atheist, science can help answer questions; if you’re a Christian and like being one, that doesn’t mean you have to reject science. Understanding evolution allows you to go either way. So the DI’s site is setting up a conflict where none exists.

    Larry Moran would disagree with you on that😉 (which is not to imply that I completely agree with Larry — I think he’s simplistic at times). In any case, IIRC Collins is on record as asserting that God is necessary to explain the existence of morality, which by my definition puts him conceptually on the creationist side of the line (not that they want him, nor he them). This is in contrast to Ken Miller who AFAIK does not try to use God as an explanation of anything.

    Like

  2. arensb says:

    Eamon Knight:
    Oh, I don’t disagree with the broader assertion that science and religion are at odds with each other. Nor do I disagree with the assertion that understanding of evolution erodes religion. All I’m saying is that these two specific positions are not opposed to each other: in essence, Dawkins is saying “understanding evolution makes it easier to be an atheist”, and Miller and Collins are saying “understanding evolution doesn’t have to make you an atheist.”

    Like

  3. Eamon Knight says:

    Let me be a little clearer: contra (if I understand him correctly) Larry, I would say that evolution presents no specific problem to religion that science in general does not also present.

    Like

  4. arensb says:

    Well, evolution tends to be a bit more personal, what with the whole “you are Bonzo the chimp’s cousin” thing. And I think that Dennett argued in Darwin’s Dangeroous Idea that natural selection is particularly corrosive of religion. But on the whole, yeah, I think I agree with you.

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