Church holds out its hand to Darwinism but gets smacked by Nobel laureates

I doubt if the inventor of all that we do here Tim Berners-Lee will have the Church of England in mind as he enters the debate on “real science.” He says the internet needs to find a way to help people separate rumour from science and supports the idea of a “certificate of trustworthiness “ for websites that distribute information. He’s worried about people like the prophets of doom when the Hadron collider was switched on last week. Into the increasingly furious dispute between rationalism and religion angels fear to tread but not the dear old C of E. As the world of science prepares to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’, the Church is devoting a section of its website to a sympathetic account of the relationship of faith to science. And what thanks does it get? An attack from the Mail on Sunday for “apologising” to Darwin and a big row inside the most august science body the Royal Society, as two Nobel prize winners have demanded that the Royal Society sack its education director, Professor Rev Michael Reiss, whom I defended last week.

The unfortunate Reiss, a minister as well as a scientist is being hammered for suggesting that questions about creationism should be answered in science class – if that’s where pupils put the question. As we’ve made clear he specifically denied that creationism and evolution should be taught equally.
According to the bishop of Swindon a pro-Darwin biologist by training interviewed in the BBC’s Today programme, the debate over creationism has become confrontational because evolution equals atheism in America where as we know Christian fundamentalism has been on the rise partly as a response to the Islamist variety. The Cof E wants to remind people that not all Christians are fundamentalists. Seems like a good idea, and yes, it’s also an attempt to ensure that mainstream churches don’t get further marginalised. Faith and rationalism are not in the same category and attempts to confuse them can only end in grief.

  • therapistfinder

    religion is bad it should be banned

  • There is an interesting paradox in the CofE trying to promote their soft and cuddly selves while there are elements within that church who are not willing to engage in informed debate of any kind. The CofE exists within the general Christian congregation, which encompasses the softer versions and the religious extremists (I hate the term fundamentalists).

    There is no place for religion in schools, let alone the bunkum of creationism/intelligent design. I sometimes wonder how many Nobel Laureates/peer-reviewed scientists/experiemental and theoretical geologists, biologists and physicists have to debunk the rubbish of creationism/intelligent design/anti-Darwinism before the religiuos extremists and their cuddly Anglican brethern finally realise they are talking and promoting ignorance.

    Perhaps there is a psychologist willing to research this? “Critical Mass in Extreme Religion: Statistical examination of the tipping point when the quantity of scientific evidence is sufficient to convince even the stupidest extremist”

    As Sir Richard Attenborough has stated he is worried that so much time is being wasted dealing with the mis-guided, ignorant, that it is affecting science. There is sufficient evidence without trying to cope with those who say that no matter how much evidence there is, it will not be enough because their book of the Sky Fairy is different

  • Listening to the Today interview, the Bishop made an interesting point by refuting the false «polarisation» between religion and science. Is there a place for them two to meet?

  • There may be a place for them to meet, but it must not be in school.
    I also don’t know how it can be described as a false polarisation. One is from a book of Middle Eastern tales, which has disputed historical credibility, the other is subjected to interrogation through experiments and theories to achieve greater understanding of the world and the universe…

  • pauljames


    It seems that the COE and Prof. Reiss seek to promote a form of “Non overlaping Magisteria” as in
    “the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty).” Stephen Jay Gould
    The proplem with this approach is
    “It is not true that (most) religions do not make claims about the natural world. Besides the tens of millions of people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, the Bible was never meant as a book of metaphors. It is read that way by enlightened Christians today precisely because of the long battle between science and religion, with the latter constantly on the losing side. Second, it is not true that religion is the only, or even a viable, quest for ethics. In fact, it is not a quest at all, since it is based on arbitrary sets of rules and on the enforcement of dogmas. Philosophy, using the tools of logic and informed by the discoveries of science, seems to me a much better candidate for that magisterium.”Massimo Pigliucci

  • abucs

    ………”Faith and rationalism are not in the same category and attempts to confuse them can only end in grief”.

    Well rationalism is a process that starts from certain assumptions. And you have to have faith in those assumptions.

    If you assume that 1 plus 1 is 3, then it is entirely rational to say 2 plus 2 is 6.

    Everyone needs to thoroughly investigate their initial assumptions that they have faith in, and the first step is to be aware of the faith in your own assumptions.

    Otherwise sentences like the above can be said without realising how ambiguous and meaningless it really is.

    I would also repeat Darwin’s suggestion in the epigram from Francis Bacon that begins The Origin of Species.

    “Let no man out of a weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficiency in both.”

  • Sam Graham

    It is always amazing the pathetic levels of intolerance of anyone who sniffs of having any religious convictions. We are constantly reminded here by the atheist fundamentalists that ID and Creationism are not science and no reputable scientist believes in them. We respond by pointing out the evidence of intimidation and illiberal intolerance of Creation/ID scientists by the rationalistic “hitlers” who control tenure and funding bodies. So today we have more primary evidence of this ongoing systematic intimidation of Theists by evolutionist fundamentalists.

    It is somewhat ironic that so many here try to use the argument that the universe is not designed, which begs the obvious question: How do you know? It also implies that the claimant actually can recognise evidence of design and has some scientific “apparatus” for applying to this methodology. So far, none of the ID haters will provide this because they know that when they do so they will find the apparatus applied to the natural world and they have a problematic set of conclusions.

    Instead they cowardly retreat to throwing out cliques such as “God of the gaps.” Dawkins and Hitchens run behind the fallacious argument of regression “then who designed the Designer?” Of course they are never pulled up on this by the compliant media acolytes who fawn over them in interviews as their statement reveals that they do recognise design in the universe and believe they have a methodology for doing so. It also reveals their puerile philosophy as anyone with a modicum of sense knows that the designer does not need designed as of right and it makes perfect logic to argue that the One who created time and space at the beginning of the universe is ergo outside of time and ergo has no beginning and ergo needs no designer or creator!!

    All readers – please engage brain before responding to this thread and stop plagarising the statements of unreliable “experts” who cannot even get the basics right.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Religion must stay 300 yards away fromscience at all times.