For those following this, the fourth installment of my debate with Christopher Hitchens is now posted at Christianity Today's web site. If you want to get there quickly, just click on this magic word.
I also note two ugly things at work in Hitchens’s activism. He appeals to the intellectual cheap seats in the secular coliseum, and for that reason, I find him and his fellow militants some of the most dangerous demagogues on Earth. Number two, at bottom, Hitchens behaves like the quintessential tyrant: “Just leave me alone! And do whatever I say!” He can’t see his obligation to justify his own moral edicts, yet he wields a scalpel in the nooks and crannies of every theistic viewpoint. He faults their mysterious and unfounded assertions but plays the hypocrite while the horror vacui waves all about his face.
Absent a shift in the atheist’s mindset, I hope the debate at CT ends early. Hitchens bores me.
Matt asks, “How should a scientist approach the question of the origins of the cosmos if not by way of naturalistic explanation?”
First, notice how Matt frames the question in a closed manner. To the materialist, the answer must be a forgone conclusion, lest the scientific method be overthrown and gods and spirits inhabit all the “gaps.” Here we meet the atheist’s bugbear. Despite that almost no creationists attack the scientific method per se, answering Matt’s question isn’t so tidy for the Christian, who, simply on the basis of biblical revelation, must forever eschew presupposing the universe is a closed system.
Most important to their credenda-agenda, they exceed Matt by claiming science proves God doesn’t exist; therefore, no religious person or group deserves any say in government policy debates (unless they agree with the atheists, of course). In sum, they want to rule with the all the mysterious moral authority of pagan priests. Hence, the real bone of contention with them is never really operational science or origins but their secular holy trinity of power, prestige, and profit.
From a Christian perspective where such things still matter, it seems humility and honesty would serve science better than the vast array of just-so stories offered by evolutionists. Saying when appropriate, “We just don’t know for sure, and we’ll probably never know” would be a welcome addition to their rhetorical repertoire in the debate over origins. But priests can’t say that. Even when they don’t know, priests must protect their aura by pretending that they do.
What is at stake here is not whether someone has 'sensible' beliefs (btw, what are your opinions of people who hold to what are commonly called 'conspiracy theories') but whether they are correct. A man who believes himself wronged in some situation may be entirely sensible in his indignation but his sensibility does not impute correctness.
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