[ Author Bio ]
"The new atheism" refers to a recent revival of popular atheist books, particularly in the United States, which critique both the grounds for belief in God and the detrimental effects of religion on society. The popularity of these books has naturally spawned a religious counteroffensive, the latest installment of which is John F. Haught's God and the New Atheism. Though Haught laments the new atheists' indifference to theology, a case could be made that theological nuances are irrelevant to the views held by most ordinary believers, and that this is the real target of critique. Moreover, Haught completely misses the main point of the new atheists: that all religious doctrines lack reasonable justification. In the end, their central point is untouched: that faith requires belief without evidence, and that in the absence of evidence, any imaginable (self-consistent) belief is as credible as any other—so there is no good reason to adopt one unevidenced belief over any other.
It is commonly held that science and religion are in conflict, but a number of sophisticated believers and historians have disputed this. They have pointed out that there has never been a state of continuous conflict between science and religion, and that many scientists have been religious. Though both of these points are true, neither speak to whether the content of religious doctrines remain tenable in light of various scientific developments. In this essay Bart Klink argues that there is indeed a genuine conflict between science and religion, and that it manifests itself on four different levels. Historically, there has been conflict between the content of religious doctrines and the developing body of scientific knowledge. Sociologically, scientists are significantly less religious than nonscientists, and people of faith explicitly reject scientific findings on religious grounds. In psychology, the cognitive science of religion has had a debunking effect by providing naturalistic explanations for religious beliefs that, while not strictly refuting them, nevertheless render supernatural accounts of their origins improbable. Finally, there has been a philosophical conflict in the sense that the sciences have made the existence of a personal God and other theistic claims (e.g., to divine revelations, miracles, and answered prayers) improbable. Science has historically 'desupernaturalized' phenomena and provided a coherent naturalistic big picture of the universe that has only lead to a monologue between science and religion—one in favor of science.
Theistic evolution (TE), the theological view that God creates through evolution, combines evolutionary biology and religion in a way that pretends to avoid a conflict between these two disciplines. This view is held to a greater or lesser extent by the Roman Catholic Church and major Protestant denominations, and is even propagated by some nonreligious scholars. In this essay Bart Klink argues that evolution is irreconcilable with theism, particularly Christian theism, on both philosophical and theological grounds.