The modes of inquiry are, to be sure, very different

The World Science Festival is offering a “Faith and Science” panel, funded by the Templeton Foundation, of course. Chad Orzel disagrees with Jerry Coyne and Sean Carroll on the wrong-headedness of this. Sean points out

there is a somewhat obvious omission of a certain viewpoint: those of us who think that science and religion are not compatible. And there are a lot of us! Also, we’re right. A panel like this does a true disservice to people who are curious about these questions and could benefit from a rigorous airing of the issues, rather than a whitewash where everyone mumbles pleasantly about how we should all just get along.

To which Orzel responds

I’m not convinced you need anyone on the panel to make the case that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible…The interesting subject of conversation is not so much the absolute compatibility or not of science and religion– given that neither side is really going to budge on that– but rather how it is that religious scientists reconcile the supposedly incompatible sides of the issue.

He doesn’t know that “neither side is really going to budge on that” and therefore he doesn’t really know that a discussion of it would be immovable and uninteresting. It’s true that it’s unlikely that either side will budge as a side and as a result of being on the panel, but what individuals including those attending the panel will do is much less obvious. His dismissal is, as so often with accommodationists, flippant and dogmatic at once.

Josh Rosenau thinks it’s good stuff though – in fact better than that: he says Orzel is absolutely right.

Someone like Dawkins would stop the World Science Festival panel cold. The whole point Affirmative Atheists are making is that there is no dialogue to be had. Which means that the panel would descend into a metaconversation about whether there should even be conversations like the one they were supposed to be having. And that wouldn’t inform anyone.

Why wouldn’t that inform anyone? Rosenau doesn’t say. Why should there be conversations like the one they were supposed to be having at a science fest? It’s certainly not obvious to me, given that science and “faith” operate in rather different ways. It’s also not obvious to me that, or why, an explanation of that fact would not be interesting.

Larry Moran comments on Orzel and Rosenau.

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