Saturday, February 9, 2013

Inadvertent Revelations from Concilium

     "The new atheists have failed to refute God, for one cannot prove the falseness of belief in God based on any particular scientific result. Science is simply not about God, one way or another - this is the point that both the new atheists and Intelligent Design theorists have failed to appreciate This is why they are both appear as strangely symmetrical positions, warring fundamentalisms engaged in a carefully choreographed dance that is based, in the end, on false assumptions."

The above excerpt is from a piece by Philip Clayton that appeared in the 2010 4th quarter edition of Concilium: International Review of Theology. It is not only fairly representative of his entire piece but also of the contents of the whole issue. It is chock full of ignorance, bias, false equivalence, and plain old bull shit. Most of it is rehashed nonsense. The paragraph opens with the notion that the burden of proof should rest solely on atheists. Why? Personally, I think atheists should provide reasons but the main focus should not be on us. We are not the ones making exceptional claims. It should also be noted that Clayton, like so many others, uses the term "new atheist" as if it is a synonym for contemporary atheist and has any real validity as a label without ever explaining why it should be seen as such.

One of the most amusing implications is his inadvertent admission that God is not real. It is rather indirect but it is there. In trying to claim that "Science is simply not about God" he implies that God is not part of our reality. Science, after all, is all about studying what the universe contains and  how it works. The only possible way God can be left out of that even indirectly is if God in fact does not exist. I've heard numerous other theologians and apologists make similar attempts at insulating the God concept from Science by claiming God is outside time and space or that God is beyond our sense of reality/existence. The result is the same. By definition such claims would have to mean God is not real. How can anything be outside "reality" and still be "real"? It can't.

He also makes a few false equivalents. The "new atheists" are not a mirror image of Intelligent Design proponents any more than they are of fundamentalists. Clayton never provides anything resemble proof of this comparison. He relies on numerous myths and stereotypes that are informed only by his own biases and those of like-minded faux-scholars. He also never clearly lays out or proves that atheists make "assumptions" at even the same level as theists. Throughout the piece Clayton makes use of a variety of assumptions without ever acknowledging that he has done so. His approach to the burden of proof is a good example but far from the only instance.

Concentrated bullshit is an apt description of his ludicrously named article, "Why Theism Must Evolve in the Age of Science." His view on theism are rather standard fare. Many of the ideas he puts forth have been around for at least a century. His grasp on even basic concepts and methods related to science is weak. If this is the best contemporary theistic scholars can do perhaps there is hope that religion will fade away.

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