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← [Update 5 Nov -Q&A added to “The Video”]The video! (Jerry Coyne & John Haught)

Mark Jones's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Mark Jones

I think Haught's talk is fine in certain respects. He presents well and actually lays out why the scientific and theological views of the cosmos are in conflict. That part to me is very clear. Obviously, the theobabble I find unintelligible (self-emptying kenosis?), but that's his exposition of the theological view, and one could hardly expect anyone with a non-theistic view to take that seriously. But we can recognise that Haught does take it seriously, and allow for it when examining his world view.

The fatal problem, for me, is that he doesn't present any good arguments for his world view. His 'answer' to the incompatibility he clearly sees between the two disciplines comes over as pure hand-waving - he asserts evolution and self transcendence are different views of the same thing, and God is pulling us toward some transcendent necessarily mysterious future. This doesn't address the key incompatibility science points to; the lack of evidence for any guiding ultimate purpose in the cosmos - the scientific facts do not support the mind-first view even if one posits a God 'pulling us' into the future. I'm sure an argument could be developed to support his view (although I don't see that one could work) but he doesn't present one. And he says that the 'only evidence' for faith is the awareness of being carried away by 'something very large, very important, of ultimate value'. But how can he check that he is not in error? He can't, without science, and science doesn't support his revelation. If he wants to assert that the awareness of being carried away by 'something very large, very important, of ultimate value' is evidence for faith, I can equally assert it's evidence for neurotransmitters resulting from billions of years of evolution. In fact, I have more evidence for my assertion than he does his.

So, in this respect, I think his talk actually leads us to find science and religion more likely to be incompatible than compatible. I discuss it more here.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 11:44:48 UTC | #886794