New Atheists
Flikr /Mikko Luntiala
Mediating between the New Atheists and the new apologists

Mediating between the New Atheists and the new apologists

Comments to (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovuk

Professor Tom McLeish of Durham University recently made a common Christian reply to the New Atheist claim that science and faith are opposed. On Radio Ulster he affirmed that science “uses our capacity for faith” in “new ideas” in a similar manner to “believing in God”. (It can be heard for ten more days here, go to 15:10 for a couple of minutes). New Atheist Jerry Coyne has responded to these responses in his recently published book “Faith versus Fact: Why science and religion are incompatible”. He points out that the heart of successful scientific methodology is to verify any trusted idea experimentally. This is indeed radically different from rationally verifying our faith in Christ (which process Coyne, disappointingly for this calmer and more reasoned New Atheistic piece, fails even to discuss). Scientific hypotheses are intuited but need not be trusted until verified.

Coyne also deals effectively with the related claim, especially strong in Catholic circles, that scientists must “have faith in reason”. He points out that “we don’t have faith in reason; we use reason … and if you’re not using it, whether you’re justifying religious or scientific beliefs, you deserve no one’s attention” (p.210-11).

Yet there is something that can be salvaged from this Christian new apologetic on science and religion. Coyne has in effect acknowledged that the personal “use” of reason by our minds is intrinsically present in all our knowledge of matter, and all our knowledge of anything else. It is concurrent with the intuition of self-evident premises such as the Law of Non-Contradiction. Coyne would rightly deny that all this involves a priori knowledge. Yet the mind’s power of immediately intuiting and actively engaging with the environmental order in which we are immersed, is in the scientist just as in the religious believer.

Edward Holloway developed Coyne’s point this way:

“We do not argue to our being from our thought. We do not experience 'Cogito ergo sum'. We affirm our dynamism of being, we find ourselves in intuition of self and the other together ....I am - therefore I think.... It is in the dynamism of being that we find ourselves in thought. It is the consequence and measure of what existentially we are, and the manner we relate to the 'other' in which we swim like fish; the 'other' in which we are immersed.” [Perspectives in Philosophy II, p.81]

Such human “mindfulness” should be reflected upon in order to understand what the success of science means, and, as a result, in discerning an absolute Mind to be worshipped.

Faith Magazine

January - February 2018 2018

Recent Blog Posts

  1. Peace to all people

    Peace to all people
    “Peace is the harmony of good order. Good order is the membering of man in ready acceptance and honest love.” (Edward Holloway, Catholicism: A New Synthesis, 1)As we begin 2018, the sense of tension in the international order is strong. There are fears of nuclear war given the problem...
    Read More

    Fr Chris Findlay-Wilson made the below defence of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Herald (15th Dec., letters):"a fresh witness of true love is desperately needed; that it is love – not sex – that fulfils us as human beings." This is a point often made by Fr Holloway, ...
    Read More
  3. Fr Holloway’s 100th Birthday

    Last Saturday was the 100th anniversary of Agnes Holloway giving birth to Edward.He was born just as Lenin’s revolution began. This was the beginning of changing the poor, Christian country of Russia into the powerful Marxist one. It was predicted by Our Lady of Fatima over the previous six...
    Read More
  4. Weinstein and Modern Judgmentalism

    Weinstein and Modern Judgmentalism
    The Harvey Weinstein affair has unleashed a can of worms. There has been a series of exposures concerning sexual offences or inappropriate sexual behaviour of MPs, celebrities and others. There is no doubt that sexual harassment, carried out mostly by men, deserves condemnation and certainly ther...
    Read More
  5. Islam and Terrorism

    Islam and Terrorism
    We are all aware of the horror of the terrorist attacks in recent years and of the senseless attack outside the mosque in Finsbury Park, London. It is inspiring how brave those who work in the emergency services are and how strong the community support has been in all these cases. As Christians, ...
    Read More
  6. Flirting with Fideism

    Flirting with Fideism
    In America magazine John J. Conley, S.J., of Loyola University argues in effect that we need a new synthesis of faith and reason given that “the world [of neo-scholastic philosophy] has disappeared”.He invites us to make “the synthetic passage through both Athens and Jerusalem t...
    Read More