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Atheists are wrong to claim science and religion are incompatible, Church of England says - Comments

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 1 by Carl Sai Baba

Let's not get too worked up over this one. It's not the dumbest thing the church has ever said by a long shot.

EDIT:
I am going to have to retract that. Promoting religious foolishness as a peer to scientific study may not be the most shocking, most insulting, most dangerous, or even the most wrong thing they have ever said, but maybe it really is the dumbest.

In my opinion, geocentrism was the most wrong thing ever espoused, particularly when measured by either mass or volume, but it didn't have that inherent stupidity displayed above.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 03:41:00 UTC | #441008

Butler's Avatar Comment 2 by Butler

Well, nothing new here. The usual claims that "religion explains things science cannot" without stating WHAT things, the usual "science doesn't know everything, therefore God". Quite tepid really.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 03:43:00 UTC | #441009

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 3 by Shuggy

Ironical they do this on the same day we hear a man is forbidden to greet people at the door of a church because he doesn't believe every word of the Hebrew scriptures ("Old Testament")!

He said that belief in the invisible subatomic particles of quantum physics requires just as great a leap of faith as belief in God.

“If believing that isn’t faith I don’t know what is and I don’t think that we need to be defensive about ours,” the bishop said.

But our belief in those particles is very conditional indeed, and directly proportional to the evidence. (It'd be hard to take a computer seriously without being pretty sure of electrons.) Some of them we're not sure about at all. Contrast this with the certainties Anglicans are expected to swallow. And shouldn't the liberal ones be calling for a rewrite of the Nicene Creed, which has some pretty "naive theology"?

... religion can explain areas of existence that science cannot.
Fascinating. Do tell. And which religion?

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 03:44:00 UTC | #441010

helen sotiriadis's Avatar Comment 4 by helen sotiriadis

theists: cornered and squirming.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 03:54:00 UTC | #441011

Monkey Man's Avatar Comment 5 by Monkey Man

I wonder how many of the 241 who voted in favor actually believe this logical fallacy 100%

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 03:59:00 UTC | #441012

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 6 by mirandaceleste

Blah blah blah blah blah


Peter Capon, a lay member of Synod from Manchester diocese who tabled the Private Member’s Motion on the compatibility of science and religious belief, said that Christians believe the world exists because of the will of God whereas atheists consider this to be a “complete delusion”.


That's because it is a "complete delusion"


"We wish to refute the perception that you have to choose between science and faith.


If we're talking in terms of epistemology, you certainly do have to choose. Of course it's:


perfectly possible to believe in God and Darwin's theory of evolution


but that's completely beside the point. I don't understand why that's so hard to understand.


"We wish to refute the crude caricature of faith, as being blind and irrational, propagated by some atheist scientists."


Ah, yes, just keep telling yourself that you're ever so wise and rational, that science in itself is a religion of sorts, and that your religion is just a "different way of knowing," etc. etc.

Blah blah blah times infinity
Ugh.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 04:22:00 UTC | #441015

chewedbarber's Avatar Comment 7 by chewedbarber

This is excellent news. It is a capitulation to science. –just keep working

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 04:30:00 UTC | #441017

Quine's Avatar Comment 8 by Quine

RightWingAtheist, thanks for that retraction; else you would have to defend things like:

She said: "However close to the truth scientific and mathematical theory brings us, it remains an approximation.

"There are degrees of accuracy it cannot achieve. Somewhere in the remaining mystery is God."
Which is pure "god-of-the-gaps."

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 04:31:00 UTC | #441018

CCochran's Avatar Comment 9 by CCochran

The fact is that what science doesn't explain today, it will tomorrow.(metaphorically of course) Science is a means of exploring our universe, saying that science doesn't explain something is like saying the bible didn't explain something while it was being written.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 04:58:00 UTC | #441020

nairbe's Avatar Comment 10 by nairbe

Their at it again, self justification. Never seems to amaze me the lengths they will go to.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 05:18:00 UTC | #441021

King of NH's Avatar Comment 11 by King of NH

But they are delusional. Either they know this and they're lying (probably lying so well, they believe themselves) or they are suffering some form of mental illness: they are self deluded or just deluded.

What really irritates me is their claim, though. They say that religion deals with "other questions." What other questions? What is the method by which you answer those questions, and then verify the answers? To what level of certainty can one expect the "inerrant word of God" to be?

I don't have a problem with the idea that there is a god so much as the lazy, dishonest, and self aggrandizing methods used to make such a conclusion. If science were to discover a god, that is, if there was sufficient independently verifiable, testable, falsifiable, and logical evidence that there was a god, I would have no choice but to say, "Oh, well, there we are then, aren't we?"

Perhaps I speak only for myself. But it seems to me they think that when atheists attack religion, we are attacking the end product: God. What they do not seem to realize is that we are attacking the foundation of religion: the idea that one can know a truth independent of shared reality. I don't care if there is or is not a god, though I'm pretty certain there is not. What I do care about is religion pretending to be a useful method of thought. It is not. If I am wrong, then it should be easy enough to derive a valid and true claim, using only religion and not science, that can then be tested for accuracy.

Tell me, priests, ministers, rabbis, clerics, and shaman, what can we expect of H1N1 next season?

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 05:22:00 UTC | #441022

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 12 by quarecuss

"The bishop [of Southwark], who is best known for finding himself with a head injury after becoming lost on the way home from a Christmas party at the Irish Embassy, is to retire next month."

Well there ye have it! Wild Irish night and look what happens! Them feckin atheists!

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 06:05:00 UTC | #441023

Paine's Avatar Comment 13 by Paine

religion can explain areas of existence that science cannot.


This might sound really dumb, but what the hell is an 'area of existence' ?

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 06:05:00 UTC | #441024

cornbread_r2's Avatar Comment 14 by cornbread_r2

However he conceded that Christians have sometimes been “caught” on the wrong side of arguments by doubting scientific evidence, such as the fact that the Earth is not flat and revolves around the Sun.


I LOLed

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 06:08:00 UTC | #441025

mmurray's Avatar Comment 15 by mmurray

She said: "However close to the truth scientific and mathematical theory brings us, it remains an approximation.

"There are degrees of accuracy it cannot achieve. Somewhere in the remaining mystery is God."


To borrow from a book I am reading the difference between the theoretical and experimental values of the magnetic moment of the electron is within 10^10. This is like calculating the distance from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower with an accuracy of a millimeter. Their God is small and getting smaller.


Religion can explain areas of existence that science cannot.


Like what is the purpose of existence and why are we here I assume. Except they can't because the minute you press them on the detail like `ok so why does God make earthquakes' they retreat to it God's plan being a mystery you can't understand.

I was however interested to see


... some Christians are sceptical about science because it represents “... [deleted] ... capitulation to western culture”


Man the barricades comrades! Seriously what is their opposition to western culture?

Michael

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 06:15:00 UTC | #441026

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 16 by Alovrin

The bishop, who is best known for finding himself with a head injury after becoming lost on the way home from a Christmas party at the Irish Embassy, is to retire next month.


Thats fucking hilarious "best known" for "finding himself" OMFG with a "head injury" haha lucky he was looking for himself innit.
And got "lost" this is hysterical "on the way home from a christmas party" and get this "at the Irish Embassy"
Oh the poor Irish they didnt deserve that.

Why oh why is this sentence even in the article?
Hope the bish has better luck in retirement.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 06:44:00 UTC | #441027

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 17 by huzonfurst

Shuggy #3: "ironical"? - must be a britishism.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 07:03:00 UTC | #441029

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 18 by Shuggy

17. Comment #460733 by huzonfurst on February 13, 2010

Shuggy #3: "ironical"? - must be a britishism.
I assume you're not wishing I'd said "ironic" (I tend to confine "ironic" to speech).

Fowler condemns this usage of "irony (of fate)" as hackneyed, but I think it's accurate enough for this forum. When one lot of churchpeople is condemning our theology as naive, and another lot is taking the HS("OT"*) literally, what do Americans call it?

*I have a Jewish friend who objects strongly to "Old Testament" for being so Christianly POVed.

Sat, 13 Feb 2010 08:03:00 UTC | #441032

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 19 by Shuggy

So let's see. If religion and science are compatible, these Anglicans have given up on

  • The seven-day Creation
  • The Flood
  • The Burning Bush
  • The parting of the Red Sea
  • The various HS("OT") miracles, like Elijah's raising fire on the altar.
  • Jonah and the whale
  • The Virgin Birth
  • Jesus' miracles, except those with naturalistic explanations
  • The raising of the dead at the Crucifixion (they hardly ever talk about that one)
  • The Resurrection
  • Penetecost
  • The Ascension
  • Paul's Road to Damascus experienceSo what does that leave?
  • The Crucifixion
    And for Jesus' crucifixion to be any different from anyone else's (such as Spartacus'), you need to believe in substitionary atonement, which is a damnable doctrine.

  • Sat, 13 Feb 2010 08:18:00 UTC | #441035

    mmurray's Avatar Comment 20 by mmurray

    And for Jesus' crucifixion to be any different from anyone else's (such as Spartacus'),


    Actually it's possible both are rumours. I think historians think that Spartacus died in battle. Mind you some 6000 slaves were crucified after they were defeated. That always made me wonder what was so special about Jesus'.

    Michael

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 08:34:00 UTC | #441036

    Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 21 by Jos Gibbons

    I don’t know whether Beckford is giving the Synod’s statements the emphasis they desired; for all I know, they were angrier with creationism than they were with atheism. However, I’m giving Beckford the benefit of the doubt – something I seldom do with journalists who write articles about things like this – for two reasons. Firstly, religion is rubbish enough the Synod most probably hate atheism more than creationism. (For starters, at least creationists believe in a god – indeed, more or less the same god as the Church of England professes.) Secondly, Beckford didn’t take sides, except in one way (for which I do criticise him) – he only quoted one side of the debate. Admittedly that is quite bad, but I admit that I would have been more annoyed if he had explicitly weighed in on their side. Now on to my analysis of the article: all of the things I say are about the people/groups quoted rather than Beckford. I apologise for its length, but I needed to respond to just about every line; what’s more, their errors were so concise that a well–explained riposte takes significantly longer.

    Atheists are wrong to claim science and religion are incompatible
    That’s an exaggeration of what any of us have said.

    Militant atheists are wrong to claim that science and religion are incompatible, members of the Church of England’s governing body said.
    Do these people have a problem with non–militant atheists? Because if so, they may be relieved to realise that’s basically all of us. For starters, our methods are non–violent: we prefer to use those things which are on our side, like arguments or the law (where it is secular, or affords us opportunities to make it so). What exactly would we have to do to NOT be militant? My guess is, shut up. Mind you, Bertrand Russell wasn’t called militant. Maybe the sorts of people who invent these terrible memes didn’t exist in his day; it takes an enormous level of dishonesty, as well as virtually no sense of personal guilt.

    General Synod heard that public figures such as Professor Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, use a “crude caricature” of faith to depict worshippers as “blind” and “irrational”.
    ”Heard that” makes it sound like it’s a proven fact. In fact, it is nothing of the kind. Not one of the people who have accused RD of exaggerating how dumb religion is have even tried to prove it exceeds what he actually said of it in its qualities. It’s very simple: do you believe in supernatural things? Yes. Do you have evidence? No. Well, that’s irrational then. (Evidence is a requirement for belief in natural things too, but I wanted a brief label for the postulated entities they really shouldn’t be postulating.)
    Clergy and lay members of the Church said it was perfectly possible to believe in God and Darwin's theory of evolution
    So did RD
    and said that religion can explain areas of existence that science cannot
    Cannot what? “Explain”? The fallacy of linguistic ambiguity involves conflating multiple meanings of a term. Sometimes, it is possible within grammar to avoid repeating a word. That ability has been exploited here, but it only fuel’s the fallacy’s power. We need to spell it out more to see what’s wrong here. “Religion can explain1 things science cannot explain2”. Explain1 and explain2 both require a claim be made, but the crucial difference is that explain2 requires evidence to back it up, and evidence1 merely requires making up any old rubbish. (And yes – if it’s not supported by evidence, then it’s as bad as any alternative, and therefore is rubbish in the truest sense of the word.)
    But they warned against treating the Bible as a scientific textbook, and claimed the “naivety” of some creationists can damage the standing of Christians who work in science and provide ammunition to their enemies
    Notice there are no atheists who, in their willingness to junk mainstream science so as to strengthen their atheism, do disservice to atheists’ claim to have views that are supported by science. Therefore, atheism is MORE compatible with science than is Christianity, even if Christianity is somewhat compatible. Indeed, while no–one seriously claims either to be 100 % incompatible with science, there are plenty of gradations. What percentage of Americans are Christians? At least 75. What percentage of the American scientists in the National Academy of Sciences are Christian? All believers in god collectively are only 7, so Christians can only be less numerous. There are few social phenomena that are less compatible in statistical terms like these than science and Christianity.
    Peter Capon ... said that Christians believe the world exists because of the will of God whereas atheists consider this to be a “complete delusion”.
    It’s either true or it’s false. It is believed to be true by the Christians, not to mention many others. This belief is either supported by evidence or it is not. All we say is it is not. Why do these people spend so much time using the most emotive possible descriptions of our positions? It’s because they’re not interested in proving us wrong by providing some evidence. They just want to play the hurt feelings card.
    We wish to refute the idea promoted by atheist scientists that science is on the side of the atheist in answering these sorts of questions. We wish to refute the perception that you have to choose between science and faith. We wish to refute the crude caricature of faith, as being blind and irrational, propagated by some atheist scientists.
    It is of course unnecessary to add that the first of these positions is promoted, specifically, by atheist scientists. What is worthy of note is just how many scientists that is, and how high they are in prestige. For ordinary American scientists it’s about half of them, but in the aforesaid academy it’s an overwhelming majority, and for Nobel Prize winners – whether American or otherwise – it’s pretty much all of them. While you may not have to choose between science and faith, you certainly have to choose between always being rational and at least sometimes being irrational; and, while I agree this does not amount to the same dilemma as the one Capon wishes to refute, he should be talking to the creationists at least as much as he is to the atheists. The worst consequence of atheists exaggerating the incompatibility of science and religion – which I don’t think they do, although what they are misrepresented as saying does – would be their maintaining their faithlessness, which is harmless. But creationists’ worries about choosing between science and faith lead them to reject facts no–one should (that’s an understatement), and to propagate lies, misinformation and all manner of evils throughout the education system and the general populace. It can ruin an entire country’s long term scientific hopes. As for this “crude caricature” nonsense, I’ve already dealt with that.
    [Capon rejects the idea] science can answer every question, insisting that some insights into questions of existence go beyond scientific explanation.
    Name me one example of a question to which we can know we have found a true answer, but by use of a method other than science, but not by the use of science. The point is not whether science can answer everything: it’s whether anything else can answer ANYTHING. It is worth bearing in mind that, just because A cannot answer X, says nothing about whether B can answer X (except to indicate that X is difficult, which if anything would suggest B cannot answer X either). Yet these people, who expect to be taken seriously in debate, literally use the “A can’t so B can” line of reasoning, or at least the “A can’t so B isn’t a crock” line.
    [Capon admitted] some Christians are sceptical about science because it represents “atheistic modernism and capitulation to western culture”.
    Since when do Christians mind western culture? Given its obsession with money, perhaps they should, in the light of what Jesus said on the topic – but they do not.
    Rejecting ... science does nothing to support those Christians who are scientists in their vocation or strengthen the Christian voice in the scientific area. Nor does it help the Christian who is a science student in school, college or university or encourage their faith in a great Creator.
    Like I said before, atheists don’t have this problem. And by the way, a lack of a Christian voice in science and a lack of encouragement of Christian faith by science are not bad things. Science shouldn’t have voices like that; it should just do science. Nor should it encourage anything it doesn’t actually support with the evidence it has found.
    Sargent ... said: "However close to the truth scientific and mathematical theory brings us, it remains an approximation. There are degrees of accuracy it cannot achieve. Somewhere in the remaining mystery is God."
    The god of the gaps is a terrible fallacy, to the point where even mainstream theologians such as Dietrich Bonheoffer have denounced it, but this is easily the worst of the main examples of it I have seen. What gap has she chosen here? Scientific approximations. Oh, I see. So which orders in perturbation theory involve divine intervention? (I’ll give you a clue: there is an nth order for all positive integers n, but we have already tested the first few, only to discover their predictions are accurate. Perhaps a physics expert like Steve Zara can tell me what the smallest possible answer could be. My guess is 4th.) That Taylor series have infinitely many terms does not give evidence of the supernatural; that would mean a synthetic truth would be supported by an a priori fact.
    [Butler said] belief in the invisible subatomic particles of quantum physics requires just as great a leap of faith as belief in God. “If believing that isn’t faith I don’t know what is and I don’t think that we need to be defensive about ours,” the bishop said.
    The mathematical predictions of models containing subatomic particles are at once contrary to anything we would otherwise expect and tested with literally trillions (or is it now quadrillions? Again, Steve or an expert might know) of pieces of experimental data. These data are so numerous they will either provide evidence for such particles better than the evidence for just about anything else ever claimed, or decisively count against them. They have in fact done the former. If anything is NOT faith, this is it. He could not have chosen a worse comparison between his religious beliefs and another topic in terms of how much supporting evidence exists, and therefore the contrast in terms of how much faith if any is involved.
    Friday's motion, calling on bishops to improve public understanding of the idea that the claims of science and belief in God are compatible, was passed overwhelmingly with 241 voting in favour and only two against, with two abstentions.
    The 4 people who weren’t cowardly enough to say what they have to in order to avoid making their faith looking like a joke in the scientifically enlightened 21st century are the ones who interest me.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 09:15:00 UTC | #441040

    HungryDuff's Avatar Comment 22 by HungryDuff

    Here we go again, the Church wanting their cake and eating it. As many people have said this is a logical fallacy. You either believe that we came from Adam and Eve, which is totally incompatible with Darwinian Evolution, or you believe in Evolution which is totally incompatible with the Bible; they can’t have it both ways. Now, if the Church is saying that they accept evolution, they are admitting that Adam and Eve and original sin are all bollocks. If you take away Adam and Eve, no original sin, which begs the question, why the feck did God send himself/Jesus to atone for a sin which was never committed in the first place. I say again to any CofE people reading this; you can’t have it both ways.

    What the feck is a militant Atheist? I’m sure these people have a word factory coming up with ridiculous titles to give to people who don’t believe in bull sh*t.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 09:26:00 UTC | #441042

    epeeist's Avatar Comment 23 by epeeist

    Comment #460746 by HungryDuff

    Here we go again, the Church wanting their cake and eating it. As many people have said this is a logical fallacy. You either believe that we came from Adam and Eve, which is totally incompatible with Darwinian Evolution, or you believe in Evolution which is totally incompatible with the Bible; they can’t have it both ways.
    Yes they can. If something in the bible conflicts with established science it isn't false, it is "metaphorical".

    So, Adam and Eve didn't exist but the story is "symbolic" of the "Fall".

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 09:45:00 UTC | #441043

    theolgit's Avatar Comment 24 by theolgit

    What exactly is a militant atheist?

    So mainstream Christians have a problem with creationists because they take the bible literally. It seems to me that you believe the scriptures as written or you make it up as you go along.

    There are areas which science cannot explain but religion can, yeh right god did it. It is possible to believe in evolution and god, it is also possible to believe in evolution and fairies, so what.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 09:56:00 UTC | #441044

    Aztek's Avatar Comment 25 by Aztek

    Sure they are compatible...in your own little head, if you allow yourself to be intellectually dishonest, completely ignorant to facts, and manage to rationalize to yourself all the contradictions arising between your faith and observations of reality.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 10:28:00 UTC | #441047

    kscally's Avatar Comment 26 by kscally

    Lt Cdr Philippa Sargent's remark that:"Somewhere in the remaining mystery is God." has exactly the same effect as: "Somewhere in the remaining mystery is Gezornenplatz" or any other meaning free word word you care to shove in.

    Meanwhile, the Bishop of Southwark's comment, that belief in the invisible subatomic particles of quantum physics requires just as great a leap of faith as belief in God, should surely entitle a few senior scientists to automatic seats in the House of Lords.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 10:30:00 UTC | #441048

    flying goose's Avatar Comment 27 by flying goose

    Here we go again, the Church wanting their cake and eating it. As many people have said this is a logical fallacy. You either believe that we came from Adam and Eve, which is totally incompatible with Darwinian Evolution, or you believe in Evolution which is totally incompatible with the Bible; they can’t have it both ways.


    Sorry I can't let you get away with that. Given Gen 1 is is incompatible with Gen 2 (Look at the chronology, the ill disguised join of the redactor, the different vocab etc). Our disbelief in both has nothing very much to do with evolution or Darwin and far more to do with the work of the Higher Critics whose work can be traced back as far a Erasmus in the 1500's although it really took in the 1700s. Darwin did give the whole thing a kick start again.

    So much of this debate is framed and viewed through the argument between certain forms of North American Protestantism. Well America is not the World, it is not even all of the west.


    The science religion incompatiblity has very little to do with the bible, The gods of the bible could be just as capricious and violent as nature sometimes seems to be.

    The real incompatibilty is between the good and almighty God most Anglican Christian believe in and the world that evolution reveals is that God is supposed to have created. That process requires an awful lot of suffering. Nature red in tooth and claw so to speak.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 10:50:00 UTC | #441049

    flying goose's Avatar Comment 28 by flying goose

    The Bishop of Southwark does have a Doctorate in electronics, which would suggest some understanding of the science he speaks of. I am not sure I agree with his philosophical point but then I have no knowledge of the science in this area.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 10:56:00 UTC | #441050

    Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 29 by Mr Blue Sky

    On a brighter note... it seems to distance them a little further from the catholics and evangelicals which must serve to dilute the overall church of christianity. If we could encourage more use of scientific knowledge and promote stem cell research within their leadership perhaps in bite sized chunks we will surely continue to eliminate the few remaining gaps their little god is said to fill.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 10:57:00 UTC | #441051

    the great teapot's Avatar Comment 30 by the great teapot

    One can be a scientist and believe in a possibility that there is a God. But they are compelled to admit it is blind faith. Unless they have some real evidence that they are hiding from us to keep heaven a little less cluttered.

    Sat, 13 Feb 2010 10:58:00 UTC | #441052