Can’t We All Just Believe Together?

5 Apr

Far be it from me to ruin the opportunity to drop knives and hug, but I think Matt Lewis (and Bill Scher?) is either naive, or disingenuous.

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I aspire to skepticism, which means I try as best I can to collect facts first, and if not, to assault my beliefs, in the sense of C.S. Peirce’s abductive reasoning, with as many facts as possible. This entire blog is an exercise in “guessing”. It’s Easter, and now believers want to give this, frankly, depressing rationalization of death and suffering, their full-throated support. I wouldn’t try to take that away. I enjoy a good fight, and I wish combatants in the political sphere wouldn’t shrink from the carnage either. I’m also content both in public debate and in private contemplation to consider the full panoply of philosophical arguments, and I wouldn’t deprive any believer – in both a Peircean and congregant’s sense – that pleasure. But, if a religious organization wants public money or someone wants to proselytize in science class, the debate stops here.

I admire those, like Matt Lewis (or Bill Scher), who spin words for partisan impact. This sounds so pleasant:

This, of course, isn’t merely a theological debate, as important as that might be. It also has major political ramifications — perhaps ultimately leading to the question: Are science and a belief in Christianity mutually exclusive?…My guess is this will be a big debate within Christian and conservative circles for years to come.

This is all so demure. Lewis drops his quotes and his anecdotes (mostly in the space between ellipses), and then runs before the bombs explode. What he leaves for consumption are the politer weapons in turf battles fought in local schools and statehouses between lobbyists and their staff lackeys for public funds. Lewis might dress up the argument in compromising tones, but what does he really want? An Erlenmeyer flask? A textbook? A new school building?

I fear Lewis might be a little too greedy.

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