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In defense of accommodationism

Respectfully reblogged from Pigliucci’s Plato’s Footnote. Historically, an accommodationist was a believer who, like William Buckland (Dean of Westminster), or the Free Church of Scotland theologian Henry Drummond, sought to accommodate their interpretation of their faith to scientific discoveries. More recently, the term has been used to refer to those who neglect to sufficiently disparage religion while expounding science, a neglect that some consider sinful.

Footnotes to Plato

science and religionA recent essay I wrote for The Philosophers’ Magazine online has, predictably perhaps, generated a minor storm (well, more likely a tempest in a teacup, but still). The piece is what I thought amounted to a mild, substantive criticism of a well reasoned piece by independent philosopher Russell Blackford, entitled Against accommodationism: How science undermines religion. Russell, in turn, was reviewing (very, very positively) the latest book by biologist and New Atheist Jerry Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible. I am a known critic of New Atheism (though myself an atheist) so I figured I’d add my two cents once again.

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The battle for evolution in Scottish schools

Excellent article by my friend Jonny Scaramanga.

And rather disturbing that so much press coverage repeats one person’s description of the petition as atheist, when that person has been told often enough that our organisation is faith-neutral and, in its membership, faith-diverse., and all that the petition seeks is

official guidance to bar the presentation in Scottish publicly funded schools of separate creation and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established science of evolution, common descent, and deep time.

And that the person spreading this damaging misinformation about us is the Moderator-Elect of the free Church of Scotland, heir to the great Henry Drummond , who a century ago embraced evolution as evidence of God’s creativity, and warned against the God of the Gaps on whom today’s anti-evolutionists so heavily rely.

Leaving Fundamentalism

Tomorrow, the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee will be hearing from members of the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE) and Scottish Secular Society (SSS). Earlier this year, the SSS started a petition urging the Scottish government issue guidance on the teaching of creationism in schools. In England and Wales, there is clear guidance that creationism and Intelligent Design are not valid scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution, and should not be taught as such. In Scotland, there is no equivalent document.

This is a problem, because as we’ve previously seen, there have been significant inroads by creationists in some Scottish schools. Fortunately in that case, there was a decisive win for science. But what that case showed was that creationism genuinely is an issue in Scotland, and it will continue to be so without clear guidance. So you might think that the SSS petition, backed by three…

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