Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Does Science Make God Obselete?

The John Templeton Foundation hosts a debate between leading philosphers, scientists and theologians called Does Science Make Belief in God Obselete? Dr. Steven Pinker starts it off with the following idea:

Traditionally, a belief in God was attractive because it promised to explain the deepest puzzles about origins. Where did the world come from? What is the basis of life? How can the mind arise from the body? Why should anyone be moral?

Yet over the millennia, there has been an inexorable trend: the deeper we probe these questions, and the more we learn about the world in which we live, the less reason there is to believe in God.

This assumes that the observable defines the whole of reality, an argument made by Friedrich Schleiermacher and is currently reflected in the notion of "philosophical naturalism." Cardinal Christof Schönborn parries thus:

In our innermost being, we moderns remain unsatisfied. Sooner or later we face an existential crisis, and recognize in our lives something broken, disordered, in need of redemption. The fact that we can recognize disorder, brokenness, and sin means that they occur within a larger framework of order, beauty, and goodness, or else in principle we could not recognize them as such. Yet brokenness and disorder are painfully present, and the human soul by its nature seeks something more, a deeper happiness, a lasting good. Consideration of the order and beauty in nature can lead us to a Something, the "god of the philosophers," but consideration of our incompleteness leads us beyond, in search of a Someone who is the Good of us all. Science will never make that quest obsolete.

There are many more editorials, including those of Michael Shermer, Christopher Hitchens and Kenneth Miller. Read 'em all!


  1. James,

    So glad to have found your website (via comments you left over at Beyond the Firmament).

    I am currently reading Dawkins' The God Delusion (as well as Alister McGrath's answer, The Dawkin's Delusion). Dawkins should be required reading by all believers; and McGrath should be required reading by all atheists!

    I will soon be reviewing both books on my blog, OutsideTheBox. Meanwhle, I look forward to visiting your site regularly!

  2. Thanks, Cliff. One of these days, I will work up the nerve to read The God Delusion and the new book by Chris Hitchens. Right now, I am waiting for Your Inner Fish to arrive!

  3. I assure you that you have nothing to fear in reading Dawkins. I am sure you will find, as I do, that almost all of his arguments will be wide of the mark with respect to your (and my) brand of theism and Christian Faith. Some of his arguments are straw man. Many others are waged against a fundamentalism into which you do not fit. You will mostly find yourself nodding in agreement. His worn our probability argument betrays his unsophisticated understanding of our view of God. And his "moderates validate fundamentalists" argument can be easily turned back upon his own "moderate" atheism. I'll explain further in my review.

  4. Sorry, Cliff, if you get the message that a comment was rejected. I already posted it and for some reason, Blogger didn't catch that.