Is “religion” compatible with science?

In recent comments to a prior post, my friend Mike once again raised the issue of whether religion was compatible with science (or vice versa).  With incredibly perfect timing, Bradley Monton (who I have identified in the past as one of my favorite atheists for his very open and honest views) authored a post that is right on point, Bias in academia.  The post is relevant on 2 fronts: First, it addresses the issue of “bias in academia” (obviously a very appropriate title), this time referring to philosophy as opposed to science.  His brief comments on this issue speak for themselves, so I suggest you head over there (when you’re done here) and read them.

Monton’s post was motivated by the introduction to a live-blog review of a debate between atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett, known for his pro-evolution, anti-religion views, and Alvin Plantinga, a well-known Christian philosopher who the author identifies as “one of the finest epistemologists of the last fifty years and one of the finest philosophers of religion since the Medieval period.”  At the debate, Plantinga presented a paper on the issue of whether theism was compatible with science. Dennett was there to respond.

I was pleased that Plantinga opened by stating that Theism is not incompatible with science, it is incompatible with naturalism, a point that I’ve raised (it’s always nice to know that you agree with really smart guys).  And, Dennett, for the most part, agreed.  Of note, Dennett said:

  • Evolution is compatible with theism
  • We don’t have to have a conception of randomness that is incompatible with theism
  • The theistic hypothesis can’t be refuted
  • Contemporary evolutionary theory can’t rule out ID

Dennett appears to have behaved exactly like I would have expected him to, and in keeping with much of the science v religion debate that I’ve seen.  Overall, he failed to address most of Plantinga’s points, and resorted to ridicule and insults (the comments tended to agree with the reviewer’s assessment).  It makes you wonder why he even bothered to show up, except that it did illustrate the current state of the science v religion debate.

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