In a recent issue of Scientific American, arch-Darwinist Richard Dawkins and physicist Lawrence Krauss discussed the relationship between science and religion.
Dawkins, whose latest book, The God Delusion, is only one of a slew of recent books attacking religious beliefs, prefers an in your face approach. He once wrote that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane. He then added or wicked, but Id rather not consider that.
In his discussion with Krauss, Dawkins stood by his statement, calling it a simple and sober statement of fact.
For his part, Krauss prefers to reach out to people and understand where they are coming fromnot so that he might learn from them: Like Dawkins, he assumes that the people in question have little, if anything, to teach him. Rather, his goal is to seduce them into understanding and accepting scientific truths.
Thus Krauss says that telling people . . . that their deepest beliefs are simply sillyeven if they are is counterproductive.
As you may have inferred from the even if they are, Krauss does not deny that religious belief is irrational. He simply thinks that religion is too deeply ingrained to be done away with. Better to help people moderate their beliefs and cut out the most irrational and harmful aspects of religious fundamentalism.
All of this begs the question: Is faith, in particular, Christianity, irrational?
Neither Dawkins nor Krauss comes close to proving this. Instead, Dawkins and Krauss simply assume that materialismthe idea that there is nothing besides matteris true. Thus, what makes a faith rational is whether it can be proven empirically.
Dawkins and Krauss do not offer any arguments to justify their assumptions. They do not tell us why materialism is true: Instead, they ask you to take its truth as a givenin other words, on faith.
Speaking of faith, what Dawkins means by the word faith is, to put it politely, idiosyncratic. His technique, on display in the Scientific American piece, is to find the most extreme, fringe Christian positions and ascribe them to all Christians. He then cites these beliefs as proof that all Christian faith is irrational.
Reading their discussion or anything else associated with Dawkins and what is being called the New Atheism, you would not know that many of the greatest scientific discoveries were made by people of faithnot scientists who happened to be Christians, but people whose faith inspired and informed their scientific endeavors.
The work of physicists like Krauss would not be possible without Michael Faradays work in electromagnetism. Faraday was a devout Christian who believed nature to be intelligible because it was created and upheld by a God who made Himself known in both His Word and in nature.
Rodney Stark, the eminent sociologist, writes that Christianity rescued reason. Christians saw reason as a gift of a rational God, and it could, therefore, be used to explore the universe and world that God had made. This belief made modern science possible.
If you meet someone who says your Christian faith is irrational, ask him to explain the basis of his faith.
This is part five in a five-part series.
From BreakPoint®, October 12, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. BreakPoint® and Prison Fellowship Ministries® are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship