Timeless twoofs

Jerry Coyne points out this here Clergy Letter Project. It’s a thing where a bunch of clergy sign a letter saying science and religion can be compatible. Very useful in its way, no doubt, but it says some dubious things on the way there.

Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation.

Oh really? What “timeless truths” does the beloved story about Noah and the ark convey? That there is a god watching human antics as if we were a bad movie? That we are so bad and disgusting that this god may decide to delete us all and start over, deleting all the other animals at the same time? And that then god will decide there is one righteous fella and decide to preserve him and his kids and a pair of each animal, and start over from them? What timeless truths does all that convey? That humans are horrible? That god is incompetent? That humans are horrible except for one righteous guy? Are those timeless truths? Are they truths at all? And is that story such a great way to convey them? Better than the Odyssey for instance? And as for Adam and Eve – we know what that teaches: that women are sly stupid disobedient bitches who ruin everything and drag men down with them.

And how can the bible or any other book convey any kind of truths about “the proper relationship between Creator and creation” when there is no “Creator” to have a proper relationship with? In other words that whole idea just begs the very question that is at issue, the compatibility of science and religion. The reason the two are not compatible is that science doesn’t assume the existence of a magical evidence-free “Creator” while religion does, so if you try to explain that the two are compatible by burbling about “timeless truths” about “the proper relationship between Creator and creation” then you’re arguing in a circle.

Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.

By starting from the assumption that there is a “Creator” and a “proper relationship” we should be having with it, which is a pair of claims about the real world that we live in, so it’s not as separate from science as the project wants to claim. Typical.

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