Pro-Choice Evangelicals, and Religious Scientists.

Paul Harvey

Just a couple of links for further discussion on topics that have been bandied about here recently.

First, The Edge features a colloquium on Jerry Coyne's piece in The New Republic, "Seeing and Believing: The Never-Ending Attempt to Reconcile Science and Religion, and Why It is Doomed to Fail," which I mentioned in my post on Darwin's anniversary. Respondents include the two authors (Kenneth Miller and Karl Giberson) whose books Coyne was reviewing (and attempting to refute), along with a host of others. Historians will recognize how much of this discussion dates back to arguments during the Enlightenment which have been ongoing since. Miller warns that Coyne's stark answers will "divert those of us who cherish science from a far more urgent task, especially in America today. That is the task of defending scientific rationalism from those who, in the name of religion would subvert it beyond all recognition. In that critical struggle, Jerry, scientists who are also people of faith are critical allies, and you would do well not to turn them away."

Second, Blake Ellis, a PhD candidate at Rice, offers up his thoughts on "Can Evangelicals Be Part of a Pro-Choice Consensus." His thoughts come from his dissertation research "Texas Baptists and the Rise of the Christian Rights, 1975-1985," based on the extensive oral history collections at the Institute for Oral History at Baylor. Ellis explores the history of Texas Baptist progressive figures such as Foy Valentine and suggests why it is that "despite substantial evidence that government-funded birth control reduces the number of abortions, white evangelicals have been among its fiercest opponents." It goes nicely along with Historiann's question: "why do conservatives oppose publicly funded contraception"? Her answer: because it works.


Anonymous said…
Great post. Not many issues apart from evolution combine religion, philosophy, science, politics and culture in such a fascinating way.

One of my favorite guiding lights on the controversy of science vs. religion is Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science at Florida State. He's an agnostic, but he has a soft spot in his heart for religious people and their arguments. Unlike most of the celebrity atheists, he's actually an expert in both evolutionary science and the philosophy of science. I've really enjoyed his work. Do you have any thoughts on him, Paul?

Incidentally, I met Kenneth Miller a couple of years ago at a symposium in Manchester, NH. He's got quite the compelling personality. His writing is good, but his speaking skills are spectacular. He's a rhetorical tour-de-force.
Paul Harvey said…
Manlius -- thanks. I've heard of Ruse, but I really don't know anything about his work, so can't comment any further. The colloquium at The Edge that I linked to has a nice range of views, including one "celebrity atheist" as well as people like Miller and Giberson.
Randall said…
Karl recently made the rounds out west, visiting a number of evangelical colleges. Wish I could have seen his talk at Biola: Would have been interesting, to say the least.
Anonymous said…
Actually, there are three celebrity atheists if you include Dennett and Shermer. I agree, though, that Harris is the only "A-list" celebrity. :)

I really wish some of these scientists would read a book or two on philosophy. Creationists may be weak in the area of science, but when they see such ignorance in philosophy, they're less inclined to give the science the credibility it does indeed deserve.

Miller and Giberson show much more depth than most of the other contributors to the colloquium. (Miller tears Coyne to pieces, in my view.) If this issue ever has a chance at some resolution, it will be people like Miller, Giberson, Ruse, Collins, Polkinghorne and McGrath who show the way. Coyne and his kin love to decry the ignorance of the other side, but they just keep fanning their own brand of it.
Robert Cornwall said…
I've not read the Coyne review, but I've read both Miller and Giberson. In fact, just finished Giberson. I loved both books, but especially Giberson. He lays out the issues in a fashion that the non-scientifically trained person can understand. He does a great job reclaiming Darwin's legacy and helping us understand the complex nature of the scientific enterprise. As noted here, he also responds to those who would confuse their science with their atheism. They do the cause no assistance by conflating them!

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