Looks like David Scharfenberg is begging for some of the John Templeton Foundation awards to journalists reporting on how mean and unjust atheists are.
What is clear is that he is massively editing what people say, in the cases of PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne. This will be much appreciated by Gary Rosen, who is familiar with this strategy, to make things look very much as he likes them to look. And do so without warning that he did so. So, Scharfenberg fits nicely to JTF’s unethical behavior. He should be rewarded as a fellow.
Is there something Miller can’t win, which would justify the title Scharfenberg chosen for his paper? Coyne mention « the unstinting respect of certain atheists. I’ll add: the battle against methodological naturalism in science.
The JTF crowd elaborated a very nice and clever new stance concerning where gods can be hiding so they can be undetected and able to interfere with everyday’s matters as they please. Fine-tuning the universe to include the necessary teleology leading to being able to grasp the existence of an invisible creator and the ability to interact with whatever he must fine-tune a little bit more, through quantum mechanics. The obvious aim of this is to protect the gods from any investigation from those curious guys practicing science, especially those of the atheistic persuasion who don’t accept revelations as source of knowledge, their cognitive functions haven’t being impaired by magic waterfalls. God being secured against rationalism, they can try to sell to the crowds that empirical science and revelatory faith can be mixed. The arguments have gone through empirical faith and revelatory science, scienligion, where scientific arguments are used to show that science can’t reach gods but allow somebody to think that gods could exist without looking stupid and gullible. Most importantly JTF praise the struggle against openly stupid and openly creationist organizations, like the Disco ‘tute, the guys that display a prejudicial image of creationism, that is : openly in the political and judicial arenas.
JTF, and it’s champions are much more subtle and sneaky. Despite the fact that they profess a belief to a creator of the universe, they hide themselves behind the confusion of the term creationism and YEC and that seems to work nicely, both Myers and Coyne praising Miller for his assaults against creationism, oblivious of Miller’s credo:
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
JTF and the associated crowd, directly or indirectly, via financially supported proxies, seems very much interested in bringing the spiritual into science. And as Scharfenberg reports:
But Miller rejects any suggestion that the science in his work suffers when he brings in the spiritual. And he argues that the New Atheists, in their forceful rejection of God, are doing damage, in their own right, to a scientific brand already under assault.
As Miller doesn’t seem to believe to direct interventions of the creator following prayers, I wonder how he brings the spiritual in science. I suspect he doesn’t pray for his experiments to fit his hypotheses, or doesn’t expect any improvement of his scientific life from prayers. Not after the proofs of inefficiency of prayers demonstrated by a study financed by JTF. Neither I can imagine Collins expecting of a revelation of some genes sequence directly from Waterfall Jesus.
So what ? What Miller is talking about is probably « public relations ». His main concern is the scientific brand, not science, at least that’s the public argument he is using here. All he offers is some reconciliation between people inclined to accept superstitions as some kind of reality and the scientific brand, by supposedly bringing the spiritual in science. But JTF’s and Co most important concern is to deal with another question: « Does science make belief in God obsolete? » Millers response is « Of course not. » And I agree with him. Religions made belief in God obsolete (or should have done so if people weren’t eager to accept whatever superstitious mythology they are served as revealed truths).
What science did is make people like Miller, Collins, Simon-Conways, etc., work to imagine where to hide there gods to make sure that they are beyond the reach of scientific enquiry, beyond the reach of reason.
Claims about unreachable imaginary entities which for valuable and easily understandable reasons will not respond any solicitation thus really revealing their existence, may go as one wish. Call it the abrahamic God, Kali, Ganesha, Zeus or FSM and it is as much a reliable take and a valid candidate to explain the universe. The rest of it is how you will sell your religious brand, with or without some science to come with it to add credibility, or maybe supported by artists, scientology-like, to add glamour. This is a public relations strategy choice one have to make and it will differ among the creationist brands you consider.
Bringing spirituality in the lab doesn’t change anything for science but adds credibility to religions, credibility much needed to support action in the political arena, where religions try to maintain the power to influence law-making as keepers of the moral code delivered by the almighty.
Miller seems to defend the position that his god do not try to influence moral independence by responding to prayers and obviously intervening doing miracles. But the very same god is supposed to have revealed a moral code – not just revealed but commanded his people to follow, any taken liberty resulting in eternal turmoil (and that’s supposedly, somehow, synonymous to independence) – with his church actually trying to make it influence laws making, also, supposed to have prove his divinity by doing a bunch of miracles, of the very visible kind, when in visit disguised as his own son, but nowadays he became quite shy and respectful of our independence, so he lets people suffer.
Miller’s, and any faithful’s, contradictions do not end at the barrier of the incompatibility of rational investigations of the surrounding reality, they persist when he tries to explain the nature of his superstitions.
The contradictions of this new theological stance aren’t yet widely known, and that may buy the JTF crowd some time to try to figure out some other explanation. Or not. Maybe they will spread faster than they can imagine new ways to conceal their gods (and plural it is as each one seems to describe it a little bit different than the others). Too much theology kills the gods.
Maybe we should be thankful to JTF to finance these efforts, and after all thankful to Scharfenberg for his immoral, almost Gary Rosen-like, behavior (lying by omission, is lying anyway) as he gave the opportunity to discuss the matter over the Web.