Converting an Accomodationist

In the previous posting, we discovered a mystery – Richard Dawkins has teamed up with Lawrence Krauss, a vocal accomodationist, to make a movie about science and religion.  Why would Dawkins seek to elevate an accomodationist?  Why would Krauss team up with someone who misrepresents science?  After all, Krauss said he “totally disagreed” with Dawkins approach, finding it to be “dangerous.”  What’s more, Krauss said “it is vitally important not to needlessly offend certain religious sensibilities in one’s writing.”  If it’s so “vitally important” to him, why does he help Dawkins with his anti-religious propaganda?

Perhaps Lawrence Krauss has had a change of heart and has become radicalized by the Gnus.  Let’s trace his changing position over a relatively short period of time.



In 2005, Krauss writes a letter to the Pope that gets him attention from the NYT and even gets him on TV.  Krauss tells the Pope that it is “an affront to science” to insist that evolution implies the non-existence of God and praises the Catholic Church for teaching that science and religion are compatible.

In 2006, he expands on his letter and tells us he has been “arguing that science and religion were compatible.” In fact, he cites very powerful arguments that neuter the “science is incompatible with religion” claim, while also criticizing Dawkins.

In January 2009, Jerry Coyne is peddling his notion that evolution and religion cannot be reconciled.  Krauss responded as follows:

There is too much ink spent worrying about this question. Religion is simply irrelevant to science, and whether or not science contradicts religion may be of interest to theologians but it simply doesn’t matter to scientists. What matters are the important questions science is dealing with, from the origin and future of the universe to the origin and future of life.

All this talk about science and religion gives the wrong impression, as it suggests reconciling them or not reconciling them is a big issue… it isn’t. As I once put it to theologians at a meeting at the Vatican: theologians have to listen to scientists, because if they want to try to create a consistent theology (and while I have opinions about whether this is possible, but my opinions about this are neither particularly important nor informed) they at least need to know how the world works. But scientists don’t have to listen to theologians, because it has no effect whatsoever on the scientific process.

But then six months later, Krauss undergoes a radical conversion.  He writes an article for the Wall Street Journal that excites Jerry Coyne.

Coyne trumpets it on his blog with an entry entitled “Krauss Attacks Accommodationism In The Wall Street Journal.”  And introduces it like this:

In the WSJ — of all places — we find physicist Lawrence Krauss attacking the compatibility of science and faith.

Krauss, the man who wrote the Pope to tell him, “Scientists have been pleased to see a convergence between the views of the Catholic Church and the scientific community on these issues, in particular on the compatibility between the results of scientific investigation and Church theology” four years later tells the readers of the WSJ:

Though the scientific process may be compatible with the vague idea of some relaxed deity who merely established the universe and let it proceed from there, it is in fact rationally incompatible with the detailed tenets of most of the world’s organized religions. As Sam Harris recently wrote in a letter responding to the Nature editorial that called him an “atheist absolutist,” a “reconciliation between science and Christianity would mean squaring physics, chemistry, biology, and a basic understanding of probabilistic reasoning with a raft of patently ridiculous, Iron Age convictions.”

So Krauss has gone from Pope-writing hardcore accomodationist to a Harris-quoting hardcore Gnu in the space of only three years.

People, of course, are free to change their minds.  But nowhere in his WSJ article does Krauss talk about his previous letter to the Pope and the fact he was an accomodationist.  Krauss never explains why his mind has changed.  He never explains what is wrong with the very arguments he made in 2006.  He could have told a powerful conversion story but instead he just tossed them away and started to defend and mimic Dawkins et al.  From out of nowhere.

This is intriguing because the arguments Krauss made in 2006 defeat his 2009 arguments.  He has gone from a position of nuance and intellectual sophistication to a position of fundamentalism.

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5 Responses to Converting an Accomodationist

  1. Meh, follow the money. It’s all about the booksales for these people. If they actually cared about finding out what kind of effects religion has on people 2 hours on would suffice.

  2. Rock says:

    I think its unfortunate that Mike Gene has allowed himself to be distracted from his intriguing front-loading theory to engage in the quixotic quest to save the world from atheism. I don’t think his correspondents should encourage this misguided messianism. (Bilbo? Et tu Bilbo!) I don’t mean to be glib; but if two opportunities were presented to me, one, to make possibly a fundamental contribution to our understanding of life and two, to argue endlessly w/fools, I would choose the former. In the wisdom of my mother, speaking for God as she always does (LOL), there are only two people one never argues with: Those who are right and those who are fools.

    I don’t think even God himself shares Mike Gene’s motivation or concern. God doesn’t argue with fools so why should I? I think God, like about everyone else, would feel happy to be rid of fools. And if it makes God himself happy it will be true. The world will be rid of its fools. Is that too harsh a judgment? It’s not my judgment. Shouldn’t we do something to try to rescue fools from their fate? No. If the grace of God himself does not suffice then what can I do?! Argue?!

    Obviously, I’m not an “accomodationist.” LOL (Trying to be topical.)

  3. eveysolara says:

    Hi my name is sirwritesalot, I write about things that interest me. Sometimes other people like what I write sometimes they don’t. But feel free to to try to b illy me into writing about what interests you.

    Hat tip to Rock

  4. eveysolara says:

    b illy = bully my iPhone is my enemy

  5. Another Steve says:

    Methinks Krauss is still an accommodationist; now, he’s accommodating to Dawkins.

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