Which is Dominant?
Well, I’ve had some correspondence about the Science and Religion In Focus, which I suppose is not surprising. I thought I might as well discuss the issue a little more here, so that people can comment directly. To quote from Bill’s letter on the Letters page:
And aren’t these quotations reflective of a climate of opinion that is dominant in many quarters, notably (in my experience)in American academia? So dominant, in fact, that the viewpoint you deem right is pretty much taken for granted, hardly needing to be articulated–which condition you may be confusing with polite silence. In other areas, of course, including American electoral politics, the situation is rather different.
Well, maybe. It depends what you mean by ‘many quarters,’ for one thing. But in a great many other quarters, like for instance the mass media, that’s not the case at all. And that’s a change. All these angels cluttering up the place, for example – you didn’t see that kind of thing in my long-ago youth! And a good thing too. And yes indeed, American electoral politics (they do these things differently on the other side – Tony Blair is religious, but he doesn’t like to go on about it). And that is after all a rather important sector, wouldn’t you say? Worth talking about, worth criticising if you think it needs criticising?
I realize your view is a popular one. Susan Greenfield was saying a similar thing. But I simply don’t think religion is benign or harmless, so I think it’s a mistake to allow it to throw its weight about the way it does.