The last nail in God’s coffin? Part 5

I lied. To be fair at the time yesterday when I wrote that I’ve no intention to write post after post in defense of the words and tone used by the New Atheists I did mean it. And as this will be only the second post, albeit it’s two in a row, that I’ve devoted to picking on Lennox picking on the New Atheists I’ve hardly written post after post in their defense. But I’ve got nothing much else to say about the remaining pages of ‘The last nail in God’s coffin?’. Plus I know that the way Lennox plays with the words that he puts pressure on is going to be important when I get around to writing about his slippery definition of faith, so I feel there’s some value in looking once more at how he manipulates language.

Lennox (18) quotes Atkins’ claim that “science and religion cannot be reconciled, and humanity should begin to appreciate the power of its child, and to beat off all attempts at compromise. Religion has failed [emphasis mine], and its failure should stand exposed. Science, with its currently successful pursuit of universal competence through the identification of the minimal, the supreme delight of the intellect, should be acknowledged king.” He then continues, “This is triumphalist language. But has the triumph really been secured? Which religion has failed, and at what level?”

And as with yesterday’s quote, anyone with a high schooler’s ability to read can see that Lennox’s question of “Which religion has failed?” is connected to Atkins’ “religion has failed” in the word ‘religion’ only. Lennox refers to any singular religion while Atkins refers to religion in general. I put the whole quote in from Atkins’ rather than just the sentence containing religion because I wanted to show that for Lennox there was already plenty of ammunition there without resorting to sliding from one nuance of meaning for religion to another. I’m not sure whether to be impressed with the skill that Lennox has in tracking down words that his opponents use and twisting them to his benefit, or his chutzpa for doing so without regard for being caught.

And for me there are niggling points about the Atkins quote. It’s obviously in relation to the debate about science and religion, but is this the finale to a well reasoned argument that would justify such ‘triumphalist language’? If science ‘should be acknowledged king’ what were the conditions of the contest? In short, what was the context that this quote was taken from?

3 thoughts on “The last nail in God’s coffin? Part 5

  1. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

    I spent the greater part of twenty years arguing against Atkins’ point that science and religion cannot be reconciled, and I still think it is incorrect in the abstract. But I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that science cannot be reconciled with *any individual existing religion*. :/

    Quote is from Peter W. Atkins, “The Limitless Power of Science,” in “Nature’s Imagination: The Frontiers of Scientific Vision”, ed. John Cornwell, Oxford University Press, 1995.

    (You should get a Twitter account, btw, winstoninabox!)

    Reply
    1. winstoninabox Post author

      Chris:
      I spent the greater part of twenty years arguing against Atkins’ point that science and religion cannot be reconciled, and I still think it is incorrect in the abstract. But I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that science cannot be reconciled with *any individual existing religion*. :/

      winstoninabox:
      Quite probably true about the individual religion point.

      Chris:
      Quote is from Peter W. Atkins, “The Limitless Power of Science,” in “Nature’s Imagination: The Frontiers of Scientific Vision”, ed. John Cornwell, Oxford University Press, 1995.

      winstoninabox:
      “God’s Undertaker” has comprehensive references, and the Kindle means you can flip between the text and the references easily. I didn’t have the book though, and wasn’t really prepared to buy it just to check out a whim. Intellectual laziness I know, but since I’m trying to update this daily I don’t really have the time to check every false accusation I throw out.

      Chris:
      (You should get a Twitter account, btw, winstoninabox!)

      winstoninabox:
      What’s in it for me?

      Reply
  2. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

    winstoninabox:
    What’s in it for me?

    Chris:
    Well, you could have the *illusion* of a personal relationship with people like Nathan Fillion who would never comment on your Facebook page in a million years. And you could experience the daily witticisms of friends such as @_Lexifab (aka Dave). Also, only those with a Twitter account will be saved in the Rapture. (Doh, again my google fu has failed me on verifying this last point. But trust me!)

    Reply

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