This Town Ain’t Big Enough

Today we offer a heaping helping of heresy, cooked up by some of our hardest-hitting, highest-profile heathens. First, as a little amuse-bouche, we have a recent editorial by the astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss, in which the author argues that, despite conciliatory efforts to get “militant” atheists to stop being such party-poopers, the fact is that religion and science are not just, as Stephen Jay Gould famously called them, “non-overlapping magisteria” — but really do represent fundamentally incompatible ways of understanding the world.

Next, the main course: an extended e-mail exchange between the adamantly hell-bound infidel Sam Harris (a founder, most recently, of the Reason Project), and the science writer (and former editor of the journal Nature) Philip Ball. It is not brief, but it is worth your time, I think: it limns with useful clarity the range of viewpoints to be found within the growing community of unbelievers, an aspect of this debate that is often overlooked. Read it here.

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  1. “non-overlapping magisteria”

    I think that if I read that expression I’d be like Kinglsey Amis when he first read one of his son Martin’s books: he threw it across the room.

    Posted June 30, 2009 at 9:05 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    It’s a surprisingly prevalent view, though, Dennis. It’s a sop to the perceived importance — some would say necessity — of religion in human affairs, from those who would shield it from critical inquiry into its many preposterous assertions.

    So what did you throw?

    Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  3. JK says

    And where do you aim your arrow Dennis?

    Middle America? The Southern US? The UK?

    Do you simply aim your arrow skyward and (dare I say) “hope to hit your target?”

    Science and Religion are incompatible.

    I do not capitalize “incompatible.”

    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink