Victor Stenger posted a new essay for the Huffington Post entitled Science and Spirituality. Actually, I’m not sure it is an essay and I am not sure why that title was chosen, as the posting reads like a series of loosely connected Gnu talking points. Perhaps he had a HuffPo quota to fill and had to phone this one in with the same old rehash of whining and chest-thumping that characterizes Gnu thinking. Ah, but the last portion it worthy of comment.
But when surveys ask moderate Christians what they really believe, they all say that evolution is God-guided. Well that’s not Darwinian evolution. That’s intelligent design. There’s no guidance in Darwinian evolution. It’s all accident and natural selection. In particular, and this is what is unacceptable to all Christians and just about every other religion: humanity is an accident. Start up life on Earth all over again and humans would not evolve.
Why is it so important for Stenger to believe humanity is an accident? Does science also insist we refer to the Sun as an accident? If a tornado forms in Kansas, are we supposed to refer to it as an accident? When one cell divides into two daughter cells, are we supposed to refer to them as accidents?
It would seem to me that Stenger wants us to refer to humanity, and not stars, tornados, and new cells, as an accident because he doesn’t like the idea of God-guided evolution. Of course he doesn’t. He’s a Gnu!
But that’s not his point, you say. His problem is that God-guided evolution is not science. Yeah, but so what? Even if God did guide evolution, there is no reason to think that science could detect this. In other words, if God did indeed guide evolution such that humanity is not an accident, it is likely that science would still refer to humanity as an accident. After all, according to Stenger himself, the way to detect God in science is through the god-of-gaps approach. So can someone explain how God guiding evolution entails that we would uncover an unexplainable gap? Can someone confirm that gaps, as evidence of God, are allowed in science?
And then there is this gem:
And this is why science and religion are forever incompatible. They have totally opposing views of the world and the role that humans play in that world.
Okay, the whole incompatibility argument is looking more like a desperate attempt to paint targets around the arrow. For now we have a new reason for incompatibility that amounts to a “this is why” they are “forever incompatible.” The new reason is that science is supposed to be a worldview – a view of the world and the ROLE of humans. Role?? Oh, please. Science is not a worldview. Science is a tool. Stenger is simply confusing science with scientism and metaphysics. He is confusing a method with a perspective. His incompatibility argument is rooted in incoherent confusion.
What is it about Gnu atheism that it can turn a respected scientist into a man who comes across as being scientifically illiterate? A man who doesn’t understand what science is? If you came across some anonymous person on the internet who insisted that the god-of-the-gaps approach be used in science and that science teaches us what our role in the world is, would you really think the person was a scientist?