AR: "‘Origin of Species’ isn’t exactly a riveting potboiler."
LB: Well, no, it doesn't have to be, it's the theories in it as taught by grade 10 biology textbooks that are problematic to the philosophy at hand.
AR: Science isn’t problematic to philosophy – philosophy has as part of its concern revealing ‘truth’ – it can easily accommodate itself to new information. The only thing science is problematic for is head-in-the-sand theology.
LB: Liberal protestantism has a lot going for it, as a faith, not the least of which is the belief in a personal saviour and redemption, and the core belief that God is accessible to anyone. To take the key font of that away (anyone can open the bible and discover salvation therein) by saying the correct interpretation of the bible is only available at the dictum of a select committee... well you'd be undermining a lot of progress. Progress which made your viewpoint possible.
AR: Actually, my ‘viewpoint’ pre-exists liberal protestantism thank you very much. Atheism (as well as scientific naturalism) were present in Ancient Greece, and surely present in societies prior to that as well (anywhere there was a religion there would have been dissenters to the dictatorship of the invisible). All religions are like racism, you aren’t born with it, you have to be taught it. As such, all babies are atheists until someone decides to ‘educate’ them into a particular faith.
LB: No, the correct answer is as you've suggested: literalists must catch up on their reading.
AR: I was making a reductio ad absurdum – obviously religious literalists spend time reading their documents and scriptures carefully and I think it pedantic that you would suggest that they have simply bailed out before they reach the Gospels.
LB: Another solution may well be to reorganize the bible, so the important parts actually are at the beginning. Any read of the bible which starts off with Christ using metaphors will generate much more intelligent readers than one where the first thing God says is "let there be light" and there suddenly is.
AR: Yeah, like that will happen.
LB: Your interpretation of "his children" is specious. But you know that. We're God's creation, not his literal children. I don't fancy those raised only on the whim of God make for very nice people.
AR: I was merely trying to point out that evolution is not incompatible with the morality you glean from scripture. Not sure why you would insist on a less than literal reading of 'God's children' since it seems plausible to me that we might consider him an ancestor rather than an invisible superbeing responsible for; the creation of the universe, handing out stone tablets, burning bushes, and inoperable cancer.
LB: Finally, what you aren't appreciating is that it is not science but the method in which science is being wielded as a weapon to undermine people's philosophy's that is offensive.
AR: You’ll notice that I don’t accuse the religious of being stupid. I do accuse them of being; disengenuous, philisophically sloppy, and overall very confused, but I won’t add insult to their already glaring injury. The ID debates taking place in courtrooms in PA and KS are not the result of science seeking to stamp out literalism. They are precisely the result of the religious trying to get their theology taught as if it were science. So let’s be clear about who is actually being offensive and wielding their belief system as a weapon.
LB: Perhaps the issue of daily prayer in public schools is a situation that has equal parallels. Prayer itself is innoffensive, and common to most people and a useful tool (even if only the metaphorical prayers of hope employed by Atheists.) But prayer can be used as a tool of faith to destroy others... in which case it's nasty and dangerous, and not useful at all for constructive purposes.That's what science is being used for in this case. Saying "it's neutral and not problematic" is overlooking the fact that in this situation what it is being used to achieve is not neutral and is problematic.
AR: Incorrect. The truth is that we evolved from other species of apes over an incredibly long period of time. That is simply a neutral fact. If it contradicts a particular faith it is not because science has singled them out for abuse, but rather because that faith is defective when compared to the evidence of the real world. Now that may well be problematic – but it is so only for those of that faith. Those faiths that find themselves in conflict with the facts must either ‘adapt or die’ – an evolutionary concept to be sure, but one that suits the situation perfectly.