In an age when tolerance is expected of rational people, those who find some ideas objectionable nevertheless attempt to put those notions in a positive light. Others refuse to denigrate any ideas although they personally do not believe them.
Naturalists often suggest that although belief in God is not a scientific concern (obviously RTB challenges that statement, but that’s not the subject of this thread), it’s legitimate to entertain the existence of God in other disciplines. Such a view is intended to communicate respect for religion—again, no one wants to be thought intolerant.
Arthur Caplan, PhD, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, in a lengthy commentary about Expelled a couple of months ago said:
Science, by the very definition of the term, wants to invoke god or divine intervention as little as possible in seeking explanations for natural phenomena. Is that because … scientists hate religion? No. Rather it is because the whole point of science is to press to see how far natural causes and mechanisms can go in explaining what is going on around us. There is not much room in science, although there is in history, religion, philosophy or sociology class, for jumping up and down and invoking god as the explanation of anything and everything. Could such an explanation be true? Sure. Is it science? Hardly.
His words recall the view espoused by Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, who proposed the
- Don’t the historian, the sociologist, the philosopher, the theologian, and the scientist learn the same way? How does a lawyer argue a case? Isn’t everybody (for the most part) studying a history of this, or a history of that? And don’t they employ principles universal to all learners to achieve true knowledge?
Too many questions, yes. But in order to avert the charge that naturalists merely give the nod to religious adherents, it seems that answers might help.