Science and religion both have the ability to teach us how interconnected we are – and it’s a lesson we cannot ignore
There is a school of thought that the new atheists have so polarised the debate about the relationship between science and religion that it’s not a conversation worth having. The “Ditchkins” – as Terry Eagleton describes them in his recent book – have developed such a crude argument about religion based on their boasted ignorance of the thinking which underpins belief that it’s hard to know how a dialogue is possible.
So what happens when there is an attempt at a very different kind of conversation which is not around the extremes of belief and non belief but largely amongst thoughtful believers, many of whom might be scientists? That was the proposition behind Lambeth Palace’s gathering of scientists, philosophers and theologians yesterday morning.
The discussion can be framed around two very basic, crucial questions put forward by the audience. Firstly, what’s all the fuss about? It reflected a strand of anxiety in the multifaith audience that, frankly, there were bigger questions to worry about. Surely believers should be discussing individualism, consumerism and other social problems rather than indulge in this kind of philosophical reasoning.