Monday, September 18, 2006


Scientific Scripture

Okay, this is officially weird.

An atheist authors an article in a science magazine lecturing believers on what counts as good theology.

As people who pay any attention to me (a small but select group -- selected for what, I won't say) will know, I am no believer myself but am willing to extend respect to other people's beliefs if those beliefs and their holders will extend the same respect to everyone else. But that sort of precludes my telling them, unasked, what they should believe.

But that is just what Michael Shermer seems to be attempting in a Scientific American article. Under headings such as, "Evolution fits well with good theology" and "Creationism is bad theology;" Shermer makes arguments that he could possibly consider good theology but which might strike theists as something else. Some of it teeters close to sophistry intended merely to give a faint gloss of theology to naturalistic theories. This section, for example, is likely to be particularly galling to Christians of more than just the conservative kind:

Evolution explains original sin and the Christian model of human nature. As a social primate, we evolved within-group amity and between-group enmity. By nature, then, we are cooperative and competitive, altruistic and selfish, greedy and generous, peaceful and bellicose; in short, good and evil. Moral codes and a society based on the rule of law are necessary to accentuate the positive and attenuate the negative sides of our evolved nature.

Not only is the moral sense of God reduced only to an acquiescence in the practical, but He is, as atheists so often say, rendered unnecessary. Why wouldn't a theist feel that this was the real subtext of Shermer's article and that he is not being above board?

Shermer may be honestly trying to offer good advice but I can't help but think this is the wrong person in the wrong place with the wrong message.

Well said.
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