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A Shifting Landscape for Science and Religion


Photo credit: Руслан Селезнёв, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

At the recent Westminster Conference on Science and Faith, Stephen Meyer talked with Eric Metaxas in a Socrates in the City engagement. As always, their rapport is hilarious. But the subject is profound: the question of whether science has buried the argument for God, or on the contrary, whether scientific evidence increasingly compels at least respect for theism. 

The conversation is timely. Dr. Meyer points out changes in the atmosphere in thinking about faith. He’s right: the hard-core religion-hating atheist scientists like Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne have faded, giving way to a new party of more thoughtful agnostics and atheists who, while unable to believe, regret the reign of secularism, its cost to the culture, and demonstrate a fascinating new willingness to engage with ideas like those in Meyer’s latest book, Return of the God Hypothesis.

The landscape is changing in other, seemingly contradictory ways. Misunderstandings of science have contributed to pushing levels of belief in God down to new lows. (Just 81 percent according to the recent Gallup poll.) Sneering YouTube and social media atheists are influencing young people more than the New Atheists of yore. I was surprised to discover the existence of a popular YouTuber and self-styled science educator, “Professor Dave,” only to realize he’s developed a following of two million subscribers, some of whom may entertain the notion that he’s a real professor or PhD (he’s not). The fake prof, who has an affinity for absurdly, hysterically smearing intelligent design, is quite the intellectual step down from Dawkins. Meanwhile, a step down even from Professor Dave, today’s story is atheist vandals who are venting their rage at houses of worship, specifically Catholic ones, with attacks on churches across the country, including a couple right nearby us.

In this confusing context, Meyer offers a reasoned perspective, patiently explaining the three advances in cosmology and biology over the past century or so that have advanced the argument for a creator, even as atheists either prefer not to see or furiously deny it. On that, Metaxas is the perfect interlocutor.

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