In his most infamous work, the talented (if acerbic) Christopher Hitchens opines,
“All attempts to reconcile faith with science and reason are consigned to failure and ridicule…I read, for example, of some ecumenical conference of Christians who desire to show their broad-mindedness and invite some physicists along. But I am compelled to remember what I know – which is that there would be no such churches in the first place if humanity had not been afraid of the weather, the dark, the plague, the eclipse, and all manner of other things now easily explicable. And also if humanity had not been compelled, on pain of extremely agonizing consequences, to pay the exorbitant tithes and taxes that raised the imposing edifices of religion.”
Such reflections clearly place Hitchens (may he RIP), along with most of the other “New Atheists,” solidly in the “warfare” camp among competing models of the relationship between religion and science. Like Dawkins, Hitchens seems to assume that robust science and faith cannot coexist. In the section from which the above quote is culled, Hitchens goes on the cite a number of famous scientists (Newton, Hoyle, and others) who had more deist than classicly monotheist religious views – folks who, I think he reasonably argued, are not religious in any functional sense.
But who do advocates of the warfare thesis do with, say, evolutionary theists? Take someone like Francis Collins, previously in charge of the Human Genome Project, now head of the NIH. Collins writes eloquently of how his experience with the genome was an experience of worship, and his “BioLogos” perspective rejects both Creationism and Intelligent Design and instead defends evolution as the explanation for human origins that Christians can not only accept but celebrate.
Does the presence of Collins and others like him (say, Alister McGrath or John Polkinghorne), devoutly religious persons who fully accept modern scientific methods and conclusions, negate the “warfare” thesis defended by Hitchens, Dawkins, and others? Why or why not?
[Source: Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve Books 2007), 64-65.]