Monday, February 2, 2009

Keep Ratcheting

Andrew Sullivan sees Jim Manzi's gloss of Catholic theology's compatibility with science (Cf.) and runs with it:

There is in Catholicism a strain of anti-fundamentalism that has been sadly obscured by the current pontiff's attempt to ratchet back Vatican II. When theoconservatism inevitably retreats in the face of evolving human thought and enduring human faith, the full implications of Darwin for Christianity will emerge. In my view, both will be strengthened. Christianity can and will survive by embracing the truths of science for what they are. Faith and Truth cannot definitionally compete.
Uh, yea. While I agree that versions of Christianity can survive evolutionary science with only limited damage, I do question whether it could survive after its adherents realized that crucified-to-death itinerant preachers stay dead, that virgin humans don't give birth in 1 CE, that wine never becomes the blood of ancient superheros, or that sincere prayer to Jesus gets the same results as sincere prayer to Zeus, Allah, or my cat.

Whether faith and science must "definitionally compete" depends entirely on faith side of the balance; science will definitionally proceed on the basis of methodological naturalism, under which the impossible is impossible and the unobservable is unobservable. Faith-based methods will either ratchet back their more extravagant and esoteric "ways or knowing" or their distance from science will persist and widen.

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