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Letters from alums about science and religion

April 16, 2004

Science and Religion: The age old subject of recent PAW mail is far from closed. My new book, The Natural Bible for Modern and Future Man: The Ultimate Theology of the Still Evolving Mind, based on serious human knowledge and understanding, was painfully written to bring closure to the issue. 

John F Brinster '43
Skillman, N.J.

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February 4, 2004

Two letters in the January 28, 2004, issue dealt with science and religion.

Stuart Hibben '48 wrote, "One can attach all kinds of pejorative terms to Hume's conclusions on religion, but that doesn't lessen their validity."

It is true that name-calling does not affect the validity of Hume's conclusions, but neither does sympathy with them. Professor John Earman of the University of Pittsburgh wrote a recent volume entitled Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles (Oxford University Press, 2000). In it Earman attests both to his endorsement of Hume's conclusions and his conviction that Hume failed signally to demonstrate them with the arguments he provided in his section of the "Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding" devoted to miracles. Depending on Hume's own arguments is not a safe way of attesting to the truth of the conclusions, since they can hold even when the arguments are invalid.

There was a letter from Gerrit L. Wright '70, speaking out on behalf of "creation science." He indicates that he is looking forward to "open and constructive debate on this topic," and there is plenty of occasion for discussion of the interplay of religious and scientific attitudes concerning evolution.

The discouraging feature that impairs the quality of the discussion is the tendency of some of those endorsing a certain interpretive view of their scripture to confuse that method of proceeding with how science works. They may feel that science has a stranglehold on certain subjects in the curriculum which it does not deserve. Their cause is not helped, however, by trying to claim for their style of argument the title of "science" when it is not the method of practice of the biological community. Let us trust that continued discussion of matters of science and religion can best be advanced by analyzing arguments instead of just conclusions and by recognizing the differences in approach that can help to explain differences in outcome.

Thomas Drucker '75
Whitewater, Wis.

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