Science and Faith in The Wall St. Journal; “Collision” Now Available

It’s encouraging (to me, at least) to find well-known media outlets giving voice to ideas and arguments that we’ve offered here at ESI. Regular readers of this blog will recognize that we’ve often addressed the charges of those who would claim that science necessitates the marginalization or abandonment of religious faith. And in his latest column for the Wall St. Journal, William McGurn touches on a couple of important points related to this many-faceted discussion. One example:

In 1997, for example, an International Academy of Humanism statement in defense of human cloning—whose signatories included scientists such as E.O. Wilson, Francis Crick and Richard Dawkins—went out of its way to attack the special dignity of human beings. “Humanity’s rich repertoire of thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and hopes seems to arise from electrochemical brain processes, not from an immaterial soul that operates in ways no instrument can discover.” They concluded “it would be a tragedy if ancient theological scruples should lead to a Luddite rejection of cloning.”

Here’s the problem: Almost no one really believes this. Not, at least, when it comes to how we behave. And the dichotomy between scientific theory and human action may itself have something to tell us about truth.

That’s not to deny electrochemical brain processes and the like. It is to say that much as we may assent to the idea that we are but matter in motion, seldom do we act that way. We love. We fight. We distinguish between the good and noble and the bad and base. More than just religion, our literature and our politics and our music resonate precisely because they speak to these things.

This isn’t an exhaustive presentation of an argument by any means, but McGurn is here hitting on one of the more important questions that need to be addressed in the debate.

On a related note, the film Collision, a documentary of the debate and relationship between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, is now available for purchase. The question at issue: “Is Christianity good for the world?” I haven’t yet seen the film, but I just ordered a copy. From the extended preview that I have seen and what I know about the principles involved it should be well worth watching. An outspoken contributor to various periodicals and an author of a handful of books, Hitchens is a prominent figure in a group of public intellectuals commonly referred to as the “New Atheists.” Wilson is a pastor of Christ Church in Idaho and Senior Fellow in Theology at New St. Andrews College. From what I understand, the two men have significant personal regard for one another, despite being diametrically opposed on the question of Christianity.

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