I think that religious creationism and scientific materialism - which is not science, incidentally, but an historically-conditioned attitude - are mirror images of each other, and come from a very similar source.fckw wrote:Just look at creationists. There's no way anyone with a modern scientific worldview needs to tolerate that. Creationism and the whole worldview behind is something that the age of enlightenment tried to overcome. Human rights, women's rights to vote, ending slavery - these were all results of a modern, scientific worldview that was an essential constituent of the whole enlightenment movement. Creationists do not want any of that.
This is actually very well explained in a book published in 2009 by religious studies commentator, Karen Armstrong, called The Case for God. From the NYT review:
So, those who try to 'prove that God exists' by denying or willfully misinterpreting scientific facts tend to be religious creationists. But those, like Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, who try to 'prove that God doesn't exist' on the basis of science, are reading conclusions into the scientific data that simply aren't there.modern believers and modern atheists, Armstrong contends, have come to understand religion primarily as a set of propositions to be assented to, or a catalog of specific facts about the nature of God, the world and human life. But this approach to piety would be foreign to many premodern religious thinkers, including the greatest minds of the Christian past, from the early Fathers of the Church to medieval eminences like Thomas Aquinas.
These and other thinkers, she writes, understood faith primarily as a practice, rather than as a system — not as “something that people thought but something they did.” Their God was not a being to be defined or a proposition to be tested, but an ultimate reality to be approached through myth, ritual and “apophatic” theology, which practices “a deliberate and principled reticence about God and/or the sacred” and emphasizes what we can’t know about the divine. And their religion was a set of skills, rather than a list of unalterable teachings — a “knack,” as the Taoists have it, for navigating the mysteries of human existence.
It’s a knack, Armstrong argues, that the Christian West has largely lost, and the rise of modern science is to blame. Not because science and religion are unalterably opposed, but because religious thinkers succumbed to a fatal case of science envy.
And if you've never believed that the Genesis myth was literally true, then the fact that it's not literally true is not the 'devastating blow to religion' that Dawkins appears to believe it is. It is only devastating to literal-minded fundamentalists, whom Dawkins seems to believe represent what religion really means. But from another perspective, both sides of the argument have it wrong, in opposed but very similar ways; meaning that Dawkins is, as some eminent commentators have pointed out, a fundamentalist of another kind.
(And another point is that 'liberal Westerners' also embody a tyranny of kinds, in their imposition of what they consider to be to 'enlightened values' on global culture. Certainly fundamentalist violence is to be shunned, but so too is materialist nihilism, all the more dangerous because it's so insidious, masquerading as 'liberation'.)
It's also interesting to note that there's barely a mention of cosmology in the early Buddhist texts, just as there's barely a mention of Genesis in the New Testament. They're both simply the background worldview of the culture in which the teachings were articulated.