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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.
November/ December 2018
Recent Blog Posts
- Blog: 10.04.18Professor Stephen Hawking RIPWith the death of Stephen Hawking, the world has lost a great physicist who made important contributions to our understanding of cosmology. Together with Prof. Roger Penrose, he linked General Relativity with Quantum Physics in the immensely challenging context of Bla...Read More
- Blog: 13.02.18Over at First Things a transcript has appeared of the 2017 href="https://www.firstthings.com/events/2017-erasmus-lecture">Erasmus Lecture given at the end of last year by Bishop Robert Barron on the subject of “reaching the nones”, that is those who self-declare as being of “no religion”. The whole piece is definitely worth reading, a...Read More
- Blog: 28.01.18The recent Channel 4 News interview of Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, by journalist Cathy Newman is currently trending high on YouTube and various Social Media platforms. The 30 minute interview rapidly covers a lot of ground; the difference between the sex...Read More
- Blog: 08.01.18“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
- Blog: 30.12.17Fr 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
- Blog: 24.11.17Last 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