Science certainly teaches us that reality can be very surprising once we look at it more carefully, and it’s quite conceivable that a more nuanced understanding of the question could explain away what seems to be obviously laid out right in front of us.We should therefore be a little more careful about understanding how exactly a compatibilist would try to reconcile science and religion.
We should be interested in what is correct and incorrect, and the arguments for either side, not the particular beliefs of certain individuals.
(Likewise, if science and religion were compatible, the existence of thousands of irreligious scientists wouldn’t matter either.) The reason why science and religion are actually incompatible is that, in the real world, they reach incompatible conclusions.
But these are human endeavors, and it makes sense to look at the actual practices and beliefs of people who define themselves as religious.
And when we do, we find religion making all sorts of claims about the natural world, including those mentioned above — Jesus died and was resurrected, etc.
Seriously, there are billions of people who actually believe things like this; I’m not making it up.
Religions have always made claims about the natural world, from how it was created to the importance of supernatural interventions in it.And these claims are often very important to the religions who make them; ask Galileo or Giordano Bruno if you don’t believe me.But the progress of science over the last few centuries has increasingly shown these claims to be straightforwardly incorrect.We can easily conceive of a world in which the best scientific techniques of evidence-gathering and hypothesis-testing left us with an understanding of the workings of Nature which included the existence of God and/or other supernatural phenomena. Thomas Aquinas, were he alive today, would undoubtedly agree, as would many religious people who actually are alive.) It’s just not the world we live in.(That’s where they would disagree.) The incompatibility between science and religion also doesn’t mean that a person can’t be religious and be a good scientist.It’s worth noting that this incompatibility is perfectly evident to any fair-minded person who cares to look.Different religions make very different claims, but they typically end up saying things like “God made the universe in six days” or “Jesus died and was resurrected” or “Moses parted the red sea” or “dead souls are reincarnated in accordance with their karmic burden.” And science says: none of that is true. But the superficial reasonableness of a claim isn’t enough to be confident that it is true.Chris Mooney and others have taken up the other side, while Russell Blackford and others have supported Coyne, and since electrons are free there have been an awful lot of blog posts.At some point I’d like to weigh in on the actual topic of accomodationism, and in particular on what to do about the Templeton Foundation.There are scientists who believe in the Steady State model of cosmology, or that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, or that sunspots are the primary agent of climate change.The mere fact that such positions are held by some scientists doesn’t make them good scientific positions.