Science Undermines Religion Against Accommodationism
There’s a current trend for religion science accommodationsism. This is the belief that there’s still room for religious faith in a scientifically-informed worldview.
This kind of accommodationism is supported even by official science organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. How well does it stand up to scrutiny? According to Jerry A. Coyne, a distinguished biologist, not too well.
Gould’s Magisteria Science
Stephen Jay Gould, a celebrity paleontologist, provided the most well-known and famous reason for accommodationism in his 1999 book Rocks of Ages. Gould claims that science and religion have separate, non-overlapping magisteria or domains of teaching authority. Therefore, they cannot be in conflict unless one or both exceeds its boundaries.
Accepting the principle of Non-Overlapping Magisteria, the magisterium for science refers to the factual construction of nature. Religion, on the other hand, has authority to teach about ultimate meanings and moral values or moral questions about the value of life.
This means that science and religion do not overlap and that religion is immune to scientific criticism. This is important because Gould does not consider many religious claims to be legitimate from the beginning, even as religious doctrine. He does not criticize the fundamentalist Christian belief that there is a young earth, even though it is clearly correct in light of scientific evidence. Although he makes no argument to the contrary, he claims that religious beliefs regarding empirical facts concerning space-time are not legitimate in principle. These matters fall outside of the teaching authority for religion.
Manifesto Asserts A Strong Position
It is clear, I hope, that Gould’s manifesto asserts a strong position about religion’s limited role. Most actual religions implicitly disagree with this assertion.
Philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, and other academics have all defined and explained the category of “religion”. There is much disagreement and controversy. We can see that religions are often encyclopedic or comprehensive explanation systems.
While religions often include ritual observances or standards of conduct, they are much more than just a system of ritual and morality. They often interpret human experience in terms that refer to a transcendent dimension of human life and well-being. These are often attributed to supernatural forces and beings. Religions make claims about humanity’s position in the space-time universe, which is often a remarkable and significant one.
This would be foolish or even dishonest to think that it is outside the historical role of religion. Gould may want to avoid conflict but he creates an entirely new source of it. The NOMA principle is contrary to most of the teachings of the major historical religions. Regardless, the NOMA principle is not without criticism. There are many opportunities for religions to intersect with science and be in conflict with it.
Coyne Discusses Science And Religion
Jerry Coyne’s Faith versus Fact Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible (Viking 2015) explores the real conflict between science and religion. The publication of this book was long anticipated. It’s an event that encourages reflection.
Coyne, in his pushback against accommodationism, portrays religion as engaged in a kind of war. A war for understanding, A war about whether or not we should have good arguments for what we believe to be true. He is only concerned with theistic religions which include a personal God involved in history. He is not concerned with Confucianism or pantheism, nor with austere philosophical deisms that postulate a distant, un-interfering God.
Although accommodationism is popular, it has less to do intellectually than with widespread religious hostility. Scientists in the USA, especially, find it politically convenient to avoid supporting any conflict model of science and religion. Many scientists, even if they don’t believe in religion, accept the NOMA principle as an acceptable compromise.