Another epiphany, but perhaps not a dumb one

So just so you’ll know, I love libraries. I loooove them. I feel calmer when I’m at a library, and I feel calmer when I’m headed for a library. When I get irritated about paying taxes, I think about libraries. This may make me a nut, but the smell of a library book has always been like smelling salts, or fine wine, to me.

Having said that, the Minneapolis Public Library rocks. I’m thinking of the downtown location, because the building was just finished in 2006 (I think) and it’s such an improvement over the old 1960s building that I don’t care when it was built.

Anyhoo, today I was perusing the new books section and I found a book called The Dawkins Delusion? It’s all about “atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the devine.” Which, I must say, is awesome. I have a friend who is an atheist, but she just kind of doesn’t believe in God and doesn’t feel the need to form societies or write books about how dumb people who believe in God really are. Unlike Richard Dawkins. I posted about The God Delusion once before, noting that he had managed to annoy me within 20 pages, despite the fact that I wasn’t disposed to dismiss his atheist arguments out of hand.

Well. Within a page of The Dawkins Delusion, I had had an epiphany.

So I was born in 1969. So I was only conscious and aware, probably, as of 1974 or 1975. And in The Dawkins Delusion, the introduction mentiosn that in the 1960s, some (many? whatever) people believed that science was going to replace God.  “Back in the 1960s, we were told that religion was fading away, to be replaced by a secular word,” write authors Alister McGrath and Hoanna Collicutt McGrath.


See, here’s the deal. As the child of agnostics and the 1970s, I never heard this sort of thing. Granted, I heard more about science than about religion, but I never heard that science was “replacing” religion. I heard that science was making discoveries, and that religion had made mistakes, but I never heard “screw religion, it isn’t worth bupkis.”

It occurs to me, see, that I might be a member of the first generation to get that science and religion don’t have to be enemies. While older folks might hear a lot of scientific and religious arguemtns in those terms, I just don’t, and I’m guessing that people my age and younger don’t either. At least, not necessarily. I don’t require religion to take a back seat, or science to rule the world. I want to know which is more reliable for one question or another, but I don’t see either as “fading away” or “taking over the world.”

Are there other people who see it this way? If so, why do we constantly hear about how science has failed us all? Science can’t do everything, but it’s the reason we have penicillin, after all. And religion can’t do everything, but hello, the Ten Commandments come in pretty handy from time to time. Why don’t those of us who don’t see the need for a mortal conflict between science and religion speak up more often?


1 Response to “Another epiphany, but perhaps not a dumb one”

  1. 1 Isaac February 15, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    > “I was perusing the new books section and I found a book called The Dawkins Delusion?”

    Be sure to compare what McGrath claims Dawkins says with what Dawkins says:

    1) “Thomas Aquinas … Dawkins misunderstands an a posteriori demonstration of the coherence of faith and observation to be an a priori proof of faith…” p. 26

    Reference 14 – God Delusion pp. 77-79

    Dawkins clearly writes “Thomas Aquinas’ five are a posteriori arguments, relying upon inspection of the world.” p. 80 – so how can McGrath honestly claim Dawkins misunderstood that very thing?

    2) ‘… Dawkins then weakens his argument by suggesting that all religious people try to stop scientists from exploring those gaps: “one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.”‘ pp. 29-30

    Reference 24 – God Delusion p. 126

    Dawkins clearly writes “In this respect, science finds itself in alliance with sophisticated theologians like Bonhoeffer, united against the common enemies of naive, populist theology and the gap theology of intelligent design.” p. 127 – so how can McGrath honestly claim Dawkins’ comment is about all religious people?

    3) “When Dyson commented that he was a Christian who wasn’t particularly interested in the doctrine of the Trinity, Dawkins insisted that this meant that Dyson wasn’t a Christian at all.” pp. 44-45

    Reference 19 – God Delusion p. 152

    McGrath snipped off a rather important part of Dyson’s comment. According to Dawkins, Dyson said: “I … do not care much about the doctrine of the Trinity or the historical truth of the gospels.” p. 152

    Dawkins would not be alone in being puzzled that someone who doesn’t care about the historical truth of the resurrection claimed to be a Christian. (Why has McGrath hid that from his readers?)

    4) “… the TV series The Root of All Evil? … Dawkins sought out religious extremists who advocated violence in the name of religion, or were aggressively antiscientific in their outlook. No representative figures were included or considered.” p. 51

    Alister McGrath himself was not only considered but filmed for that TV series!

    Dawkins has previously stated that leading UK religious figures were invited to take part:

    “We did invite the Archbishop of Canterbury – and the Chief Rabbi and the Archbishop of Westminster – to be interviewed. All declined, no doubt for good reasons.”
    “Diary – Richard Dawkins”, New Statesman, Published 30 January 2006

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