Update: Welcome Digg visitors. For more of my posts on Science (including my Science and Faith series), go here.Interested in my take on atheism? Then try here. For my comments about the experience of being dugg, so here.
Eric Michael Johnson is a primatologist and endocrinologist completing a PhD at Duke University, and he blogs at the Primate Diaries. He has two recent posts that are worth reading. First, some provocative humor:
Fundamentalists: believe 2+2 =5 because It Is Written. Somewhere. They have a lot of trouble on their tax returns.
"Moderate" believers: live their lives on the basis that 2+2=4. but go regularly to church to be told that 2+2 once made 5, or will one day make 5, or in a very real and spiritual sense should make 5.
"Moderate" atheists: know that 2+2 =4 but think it impolite to say so too loudly as people who think 2+2=5 might be offended.
"Militant" atheists: "Oh for pity's sake. HERE. Two pebbles. Two more pebbles. FOUR pebbles. What is WRONG with you people?"
Next, some more serious, but equally provocative thoughts on faith and reason:
Allow me to lay it out in a more nuanced fashion. It is my view that religion and science are incompatible in a very specific and important way. I say this as someone who previously drank the Kool-Aid and spent countless hours studying what was described to me as the Holy Spirit. I have been confirmed in the Lutheran tradition and have recited the Nicene Creed so often throughout my life that, as an adult, I no longer paid any attention to what the words were saying.
. . .
Faith, as Gary Whittenberger discusses in the latest issue of Skeptic, has multiple common uses.“Faith” may refer to a religion or worldview, as in “My faith is Islam.” It may refer to an attitude of trust or confidence, as in “I have faith in my physician.” Or it may refer to believing propositions without evidence or out of proportion to the available evidence.
It is this latter use of faith that is incompatible with science.
. . .
Yes, religion is incompatible with science. This doesn't mean, of course, that religious people are incapable of doing science. Far from it. There are certain questions that don't probe too deeply into the foundations of a person's faith and they have no problem employing their reason to its fullest in those cases. But when reason starts to get uncomfortably close (as it has for Francis Collins, Deepak Chopra and Michael Behe) well, that's when the desperate appeal to fuzzy thinking becomes apparent. Because the assumption of God is so obvious to them (and I'm sure they feel it powerfully) the evidence suggesting that evolution follows natural mechanisms and has no need of a supernatural intelligence must therefore be wrong. They'll bend over backwards trying to rationalize irrationality.
So for those of you who grew up being taught that 2+2=5 but are now feeling like you've been hoodwinked, don't be afraid to say so. There's a growing number of people who understand where you're coming from. It can be a scary thing to let go of but, I can assure you, the confidence that comes with intellectual honesty and reason is far more rewarding than empty promises based on an unseen faith. I should know, I was bad at math most of my life and I just couldn't make sense of my calculations. I don't have that problem anymore.
Read it all here
As I have said in other posts (such as this one, this one and this one), I don't think that this really reflects what we mean by faith--the Christian faith relies on factually verifiable statements of historical fact that a Christian should be willing to put to empirical test. And on the basic issue of a belief in a creating God, as I have posted before (here and here), I think that there is a reasoned and rational case for such a faith. Faith is not contrary to reason or science. Rather, faith can be reasoned, and it comes into play when science (or history or any other empirical discipline) has had its say.