The Raving Theist

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Nearer My God

October 10, 2005 | 10 Comments

Science has not discredited religious faith. Christianity is as viable in the post-Einstein world as when it first caught fire in the West, the stupor mundi that transformed two millennia of men and women who acknowledged God as the generator of human activity at its noblest, from the earliest martyr to Martin Luther King.

William F. Buckley, Jr., Nearer My God, 1997


10 Responses to “Nearer My God”

  1. a different tim
    October 10th, 2005 @ 12:20 pm

    True if you buy the widely fashionable “separate magisteria” interperetation whereby science looks after the “what happened and how” and religion looks after the “ultimate purpose, afterlife and spiritual” side of things. Not true if, like many Christians, you believe in the God of the Gaps – that is, you invoke God to explain things which otherwise resist explanation. If you’re a God-of-the-Gaps person, any advance in human knowledge threatens religion. I don’t buy separate magisteria because religion keeps straying out of its magisterium to make strong claims about the physical world – that God made it, that he intervenes in it, that a soul animates the body, all ofwhich imply that the magisteria cannot really be separate after all.

    I suppose now I’m off the Teaching the Controversy thread, I should come clean and say I think that “spiritual” is essentially a content free term – a signifier without a signified. The God of the Gaps was all there ever was, and is therefore discredited.

    I realise this is not a rigorous argument…….

  2. Mookie
    October 10th, 2005 @ 3:04 pm

    Science as a methodology has already destroyed faith. A scientist cannot go on faith, she must have evidence. Science has already figured out why humans believe in non-existent dieties, has explained how and why (not ‘purpose’) we came to be here, and is fairly good at explaining where we are going. Not only is religion useless, it is detrimental and very harmful. Atheists don’t slam airplanes into buildings in the name of science or a non-entity (but they may for other reasons). Atheists do not beat women and children in the name of god (but they may do it for other reasons). Atheists certainly don’t use sweeping generalizations to insult one particular religion over an another, they treat all delusions the same.

  3. Debbie
    October 10th, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

    Talk about missing the point! Science does not discredit religious faith – science seeks to understand the physical world we inhabit.

    Now if religion has made statements about the natural world, e.g. structure of the solar system, age of the universe, evolution of species, structure of DNA, etc … and science subsequently shows that the truth is something different, how is this discrediting religion? In such cases a religion has discredited itself by claiming knowledge of a subject that it clearly knew nothing about.

    What was science required to do with the new knowledge? Keep silent or lie?

  4. Jason Malloy
    October 11th, 2005 @ 4:16 am

    The philosophical assumptions that define and validate science discredit religious faith. Basic epistemology discredits religious faith.

  5. Mookie
    October 11th, 2005 @ 4:29 am

    Thank you, Jason, for clearing up the misunderstanding.


    I said:
    “Science as a methodology has already destroyed faith.” not “discredit” as you seem to have read. “science seeks to understand the physical world we inhabit” is a very good definition, but it is not sufficient to wholly define it. When I said that science destroyed faith, I meant that in science, one cannot go on “faith”, one must back up claims with some sort of evidence. Science cannot accept claims made on faith, and therefore, AS A METHODOLOGY, has destroyed faith. Do you understand now?

  6. PanAtheist
    October 11th, 2005 @ 4:56 am

    I don’t like the word “science”!

    It has too many senses, and its meaning is not obvious.
    This is a weakness which theidoits easily exploit to spin their crazy misdirections.

    And I reject the outrageous abuse of the word “faith” by the insane!

    Get rid of “science” and “faith” and then we can see clearly!

    It’s all really about …

    honest wonder
    and an
    honest pro-active interest in finding out what’s out there, and about how everything happens


    acting as if proposterous assertions can be real.

  7. Jason Malloy
    October 11th, 2005 @ 7:22 am

    Science basically says ‘here’s how we justify what we say and think we know, and it is the opposite of faith’. We justify knowledge by induction and deduction and “faith” contradicts both methods. Philosophically – logically – “faith” as a credible method of knowing is literally just as wrong as saying the world is flat or that 1+1=3.

  8. Debbie
    October 11th, 2005 @ 8:57 am

    Mookie – my comment was directed at the quote by Buckley, not anything you wrote.

  9. Debbie
    October 11th, 2005 @ 2:26 pm


    To respond to your post … I would certainly agree that the scientific method provides tools which the individual can use to systematically analyse a religion’s beliefs and make a determination whether the aspects of the religion are true, or even probable.

    However, I would argue that Science (which I would define as the combination of the methods, knowledge, theories and data developed over the years AND peer reviewed to confirm its validity) has NOTHING to say on religion itself.

    Science deals with the physical world and as supernatural beings are not willing to play by the laws of physics, there is not much Science can say about them!

    I would extend this argument to say that arguing with people who believe in supernatural behavior is often likely to be frustrating as they may not share your view of what constitutes a rational discussion.

  10. PanAtheist
    October 11th, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

    Science *has* discredited so-called “religious faith”.

    I am talking right here about science [b]as a way of proceeding[/b].

    “Religious faith” (read “chancing everything on an insanity”), is an appallingly risky way of proceeding. Very, very, dangerous.

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