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    War is over: top ten R&S peacemakers of 2011

    The billboard came before the song. This NYC photograph is from December 1969; “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” was released two years later. Image source: The Rock File

    I’ve a new article up at Religion Dispatches. Here’s the lede:

    This year has marked, I believe, the beginning of the end of the war between science and religion. Creationism cannot last. The New Atheists are now old. And between these camps the middle ground continues to expand.

    Indeed, many folks have been hard at it, doing a new kind of peace work. Some have done it intentionally, some have not. Outliers, both atheist and religious hardliners, continue to wage battle but they look increasingly irrelevant.

    Here are ten who, in small ways and large, have helped to spread seeds of peace on the blasted-out battleground of science and religion.

    And here’s the article.

    Comment Pages

    There are 13 Comments to "War is over: top ten R&S peacemakers of 2011"

    • Tom Harkins says:

      Paul, after reviewing your article on RD, I find that efforts to “reconcile” science with religion may result in “carving off” parts from one or the other. In other words, for the Christian part, carve off Creation and the Flood, at a minimum. Likewise for the scientist, acknowledge that there may be some “connection” between the divine and universal affairs, rather than “blind chance” working solely with all the universe’s “mass/energy” which forced itself into reality in the “Big Bang.”

      I think that reconciliation may nonetheless be possible if the claims of religionists and scientismists are closely analyzed without “blind” preconceptions (a difficult task, of course). Believe in God only if consistent with observations. Believe in evolution only if consistent with observations. Of course, one of the “observations” is that the Bible exists. Also, for the larger body of humanity throughout the larger course of history, religion has been irrepressible. So there must be some explanation for those phenomena, just as for rocks and trees.

      For conservative Christians such as myself, there is also “confirmatory’ evidence. When I chose to try to believe the Bible again after my lengthy atheistic stint, I “changed,” consistently with how the Bible projects things will happen upon such belief. So that is another “datum” that has to be dealt with (as least for people like me).

      After much thinking and studying, including evolutionary tomes, though there are “potholes” aplenty no matter which direction you come from (God certainly did not make this universe “clear and simple,” and why would he, given his own complexity, if we choose to believe he is how the Bible portrays him to be), I have to come down with the biblical account as being the more persuasive to me. I think it may well be that some of the biblical literature is somewhat “poetic,” and has “poetic license” as a result (just as we allow ourselves), but nonetheless the overall flow of the text and how it has been treated by subsequent generations of scripture writers gives a substantial “historistic” flavor to it.

      Of course, for that to be true, some (or even many) of scientific “claims” have to be rejected. However, I don’t believe that to be a rejection of “science” itself. There are billions of scientific claims and discoveries with which I have no dispute (even though a number are beyond my full comprehension). But it is the “how did things get to where they are” claims that give me difficulty. The fact is, none of us were here longer than 100 years ago (or so). So everything we conclude about what happened “before” is based on “what we were told” or what we “deduce.” One thing I have been ‘told” is that God “intervened,” if you call it that, to start a “full grown” universe and humanity. So, I try to reconcile what I have been “told” (by a book which otherwise has a lot of indicia of truthfulness, including how it has been “received” and acted upon throughout history) with what other people say they “deduce” from what they see, whether by digging into the ground, looking through a microscope, or looking through a telescope. I find that so long as I keep this “intervention” belief (consistent with the above), I come down with conclusions which impress me as more “explanatory” of what I actually “see with my own two eyes” than most “evolutionary” claims.

      So, that is my “reconciliation.” I readily recognize others such as you have catalogued have taken different paths towards “peace-making.”


      • Paul Paul says:

        Thanks for the heads-up, Barb. Also for mentioning my article in your FB discussion. BTW, the ten were actually remarkably easy to come up with. Had a couple others that were left off. Maybe I read too much.

        Full disclosure: I’m not on drugs. OK, caffeine maybe. But I don’t think that’s what Mr.┬áLaden had in mind.


    • Crommunist says:

      Oh Paul… have you learned nothing from President Bush? Put up all the “Mission Accomplished” banners you want – you’re still getting absolutely torn apart by the Gnus.



      • Paul Paul says:

        Hi Crommunist. No fan of Bush am I! But I didn’t say “mission accomplished”; I said it’s “the beginning of the end.”

        Thanks for reading.


        • Crommunist says:

          Ah yes, of course. The insurgency is in it’s last throes… well said Mr. Rumsfeld

          Thanks for providing me with a whetstone against which to sharpen my knives.


    • Sly says:

      What is this “middle ground” between nature and supernature?
      Is this some fairy land where Science and Religion “coexist” peacefully??
      Utter nonsense.
      Science continues to expand what we know about the nature of reality, and theistic explanations continue to contract. Religion has never overturned a scientific principle, and it never will… because it’s nonsense.
      Believe what you will. You’re entitled to any opinion you want to hold. But you are not entitled to your own facts.


      • John Horstman says:

        Indeed; in fact, the entire concept of the “supernatural” is self-negating. If something is real, it is part of the natural world, by definition (we define the “natural world” to include everything that is real – if any of the proposed god figures exist, then they are part of the natural world and we will attempt to discover their nature through repeated observation). Religion doesn’t need to be disproved because the propositions are intrinsically self-falsifying. The battle is getting people to give up belief systems based on superstitious explanations of natural phenomena from hundreds or thousands of years ago, and that is FAR from over.


        • Paul Paul says:

          Hi John. You write, “We define the ‘natural world’ to include everything that is real – if any of the proposed god figures exist, then they are part of the natural world and we will attempt to discover their nature through repeated observation.”

          By assuming God is contained within what we call “the natural world,” you are ensuring that, if the God of Christian theology exists in any way at all, you will never find that out. Before you even start, you rule out the very God you presume to have disproven.

          Which is fine, but please remember that the god you are “attempting to discover” has nothing to do with the God of Christian theology.

          Thanks for reading.


        • Tom Harkins says:

          John, I’m not sure I am following you. Only the natural world exists because we have DEFINED nature to include “all that is”? Isn’t that kind of arguing in a circle or pulling oneself up by his own bootstraps? How can you know whether there is a spirtual realm or not by experiments which are designed totally to only investigate physical events? Well, Pau’s message just “intersected” mine, so I add my agreement to what he says. I think there is a verse which says, essentially, “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit, because they are spritually discerned.” Not to say there is no natural “pointers” to God’s existence, by such things as the complexity yet orderliness of nature, among many other things, but ultimately saying there cannot be a God because he cannot be found out through “natural” experiments is itself a “self-defeating” argument.


    • Yahzi says:

      It is the beginning of the end; but the end is no religion, not some kind of half-assed compromise. We had a compromise for the last 400 years (re: God of the Gaps), and it’s over. Science has left no gaps large enough to contain a god anyone would care about.

      I am sorry you are trapped in a country where political leaders are required to swear obeisance to Bronze-age fantasies, but the whole world is not like that. Some places have moved on; and eventually, the USA will follow.


    • Brian Lynchehaun says:

      The middle ground between observable facts and bullshit is…..?

      The middle ground between folk who take time to examine multiple perspectives and come up with the best-fit explanation while assuming as little nonsense as possible, and the folk who just make up shit as they go along, while reading one page of the bible, ignoring another, and re-defining/translating nonstop is ……. ?

      The middle ground between people who pursue the dignity of all folk, to be treated as fully human with all the same rights as everyone else, and the folk who wish to treat women as breeding stock, children as chattel, and non-heterosexuals as sub-human is…..?

      C’mon, Paul, what could this “middle ground” possibly look like?


    • Jeff Johnson says:

      How come the response letters to your Top Ten Peacemakers article at Religion Dispatches have not been published?

      Based on this page: http://www.religiondispatches.org/contributors/paulwallace/

      There appear to be 10 letters in response. They are not accessible for some reason.



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