Thursday, July 16, 2009

More doubt on Francis Collins as NIH chief

Francis Collins, President Obama’s nomination to head the National Institutes of Health, has already drawn skepticism NOT for being religious, but for being an evangelical Protestant of, if not conservative, no more than moderate stances on some metaphysical issues.

Now, he’s riffing Steve Gould and the non-conflicting magisteria idea to claim no conflict between science and religion. That said, he puts morals explicitly in the religious magisterium.

Now, throwing out the excesses of Pop Evolutionary Psychology, true ev psych and related fields like ethology have shed light on the evolutionary development not just of individual morals, but of a moral system, i.e., ethics.

Michael Gerson tries this explainer:
For Collins, modern science and Christianity are not competing answers to the same question; they are ways of thinking about two very different sets of questions, both of which should be taken seriously.

Not true in several ways. As noted above, they still today, as they have in the past, often think about the same questions. With strongly different answers. With scientific answers subject to empirical scientific research.

The “two magisteria” is just an updated, schmaltzy version of the “god of the gaps” idea.

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