Picking Battles

From Ian Sample’s Guardian interview with Sir Martin Rees, who lately was awarded the Templeton Prize:

IS: What do you make of the approach to science and religion issues taken by Richard Dawkins and those of his ilk?

MR: I won’t comment on him, but I’m not allergic to religion. I would say two things. One is that I think all of us are concerned about fanaticism and fundamentalism and we need all the allies we can muster against it. And I would see Rowan Williams et al as being on our side. I admire them more than want to rubbish them. Another point is if you are teaching Muslim sixth formers in a school and you tell them they can’t have their God and Darwin, there is a risk they will choose their God and be lost to science. So those are two respects where I would disagree with the emphasis of the professional atheists, as it were.

My questions: if they would choose religious belief over evidence and reasoned argument, aren’t they already lost to science? What benefit accrues to science if people who would make such a choice believe it not to be necessary? Particularly as analysis quickly reveals that to be nonsense – the fork is very real and cannot be honestly avoided.

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4 Responses to “Picking Battles”

  1. I guess he’s saying middle/lowbrow is better than no-brow.

    • Adapting the message to fit the audience is not only antithetical to scientific inquiry, it’s something religion is very, very good at.

      So it’s worse than attacking religion’s strengths with science’s weaknesses: it’s attacking religion’s strength’s with science’s fatal flaw.

      It's like giving Superman a suit of Kryptonite armor to fight Lex Luthor.

  2. Chris T Says:

    Whether or not Muslims accept evolution is really not the thing I would most worry about when it comes to fundamentalism.

    • The fact that he’s from the UK might have something to do with his choice of example.

      If he were from the US, he might have said something about its various forms of Christian fundamentalism instead.

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