Ruse: Christianity and science (1)

Over Christmas I had to prepare a review of a book for Evangelical Quarterly by philosopher of religion and author of numerous books on science, Michael Ruse. It’s called Science and Spirituality: making room for Faith in an Age of Science.

I won’t replicate the review here, but want to focus on some of the more provocative ideas Ruse suggests: provocative for both atheists and Christians that is. His argument is for the coexistence of Christianity (not spirituality as the title implies) and science – that they can exist together with integrity. So he draws fire from both ends of the spectrum

So here are a couple of starters for ten:

1) Science is utterly incompatible with creationism

= 6 day creation,  a young earth a few thousand years old. Such claims do not belong to traditional Christianity which has always said truth cannot be opposed to truth.

And here’s a pretty good put down:

‘Creationism, so-called, is an idiosyncratic legacy of nineteenth-century, American evangelical Protestantism.’ (8).

2) The dismissals of religion by many heavyweights of modern science (examples below) are ill founded.

Science has limits and these thinkers have transgressed them in their confident dismissals of the silliness, backwardness and unreasonableness of ‘religion’ – as well as often placing unwarrented faith in the ability of science to explain everything.

Ruse quotes among others major scientists: Nobel Prize winner for Physics, Steven Weinberg (‘Religion is an insult to human dignity’) and Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double helix  (‘If revealed religions have revealed anything it is that they are usually wrong’).

And how about this for another put down?

These are the heavyweights of science. Their populizers have no such claims to great achievement, but in their way they are even more important in forming the public’s opinion about science [and religion].

The underachieving populizers include Richard Dawkins (‘faith is one of the world’s great evils’) and Daniel Dennett (‘If religion isn’t the greatest threat to rationality and scientific progress, what is?’).

I reckon Ruse is not on either Ken Ham’s or Dawkins’ or Dennett’s Christmas card lists.

Comments. as ever, welcome.

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5 thoughts on “Ruse: Christianity and science (1)

  1. This seems to me to be very intolerant. 6 Day Creationists are often criticised for saying that their view is the only acceptable one, and here we have someone on the opposite side doing exactly the same.

    We have spoken before on this Blog about areas on which Christians can agree and remain orthodox. Surely this is one of them.

    To say that Science is totally incompatible with Creationism is a very sweeping statement, and many would disagree with it. By all means say I BELIEVE that to be the case, but please acknowledge that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who think otherwise. And yes, it is EXACTLY the same whichever side of the debate you are on.

  2. Hi Richard. Ruse is not a Christian. He is writing as a philosopher of science arguing that science and Christianity are compatible.
    But he is arguing that Creationism is not compatible with science. And it is fair to say I think (whichever side you are on) that that to believe in a young earth of under 10,000 years (for example) is to take up a position that is irreconcilable with the modern sciences across the board. Creationists simply say the whole sweep of modern science is wrong.

    • I didn’t realise that Ruse is not a Christian. In which case it’s great that he recognises that Science and Christianity are compatible.

      I am just pleading for charity among Christians when this subject is discussed, some recent exchanges have done little to bring honour to Christ. Surely we unite around the fact that God created the world from nothing and did so in an orderly manner. As to how that happened we can agree to disagree. Love and humility are needed whichever side of the discussion we fixtures are on.

  3. “Creationism, so-called, is an idiosyncratic legacy of nineteenth-century, American evangelical Protestantism.”

    I heard this sentiment alot in the last few years ( i think zoomtard put me onto it ) and im led to believe that it was 7th adventists started it all off…anyway whatever the thing is i don’t like it. (the statement) In so far as i understand that modern-day creationism has its roots in a reaction to modernity by what we now call fundamentalists and in so far as i realise its a bit of a stretch to complain about the scientific understanding of Christians before the enlightment NONE THE LESS.. is not true that your average christian over the last 2000 years would have said in response the following q’s who made the world -God. How long did it take him – 6 days. When did that happen? about 6-10 thousand years ago. Am i missing something here?

    I have a sneaking suspicion i just made myself look foolish…but i cant see how:)

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