Scripture and science: So, uhh, exactly what do you affirm in this thing?
Exploring the natural universe, we start with Galileo’s emphasis on our senses, reason, and intellect. That runs contrary to how I grew up as a fundamentalist Christian. The more deeply I dug into my Biblical literalism as a devoted evangelical, the more I found holes big enough to sink Noah's ark. Beyond their purely suibjective appeal, all my rationales and arguments for theism (and any form of supernaturalism) gradually crumbled.
At the same time, I kept finding not only a growing majority of the data, but also the better quality of most arguments, stacking up much higher on the naturalist, humanist side. The tools of science and reason help us learn more about ourselves. That's the core of this site.
Only slightly oversimplifying it all: reason trumps revelation.
Making that shift in worldview took me more than 30 years.
Some skeptics/naturalists are flat-out anti-religion. I'm not. Well-informed faith traditions can provide legitimate subjective, emotional context for introspection; religious communities can certainly serve as vehicles for social change. To whatever extent a religious viewpoint embraces and promotes the best in constantly evolving modern knowledge, I appreciate it. That includes not only the natural and social sciences but also a rational, scholarship-informed recognition of scripture and tradition as plainly human products. (Unfortunately, this has an obvious flip side, as most religion goes in exactly the opposite direction.)
And as for "faith," I have deep faith: faith in myself, faith in this life here and now, and faith in our capacity as homo sapiens to make a difference. Granted, there's ample reason for disputing that last bit, given the U.S.' presidential fiascoes of 2000 and 2004, but ya gotta keep on trying.
And who do you think cares?
Anyone who responds positively to words like humanist, naturalist, scientist or sciencephile, empiricist; agnostic or atheist; progressive theist, recovering fundamentalist; butcher, baker, candlestick maker.
Anyone who's interested in "How can someone believe THAT?" — on either side of the stereotypic divide — and who wants to learn more about how our arts and sciences, politics and religion interact as we scurry about on our pale blue dot.
On whatever basis, if you enjoy getting into these things, and especially if you bring new shades of reason to the canvas, you’re welcome here.
OK, fine. But why another website on all this stuff?
Yeah, why a gazillion sites and ONE MORE? Already you can find plenty of podcasts that feature professionals and experts, researchers, professors, writers, and thinkers. Great stuff. So why this one?
Because these things matter today more than ever before. We need as many good resources as possible, offering different points of entry, useful in their own way. In addition to some well-known thinkers, writers and speakers (at least a few more, I hope), I'll introduce to you some other individuals who also offer some really good information and perspectives; they go overlooked by the big-name sites precisely because they're not national or international figures.
Likewise, that also points to one advantage of my own amateur status: Since I don’t have a world-class professional reputation to maintain, I can have maybe a little more fun. Try the introduction.
As much as anything else, I’m doing this to help myself keep on sifting through the incessant stream of new data. Lots of the facts bump into each other and argue over who sits where. Maybe you can sort through it all if you have degrees in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Theology, Philosophy, History, and Interior Design. I don’t. I promise only that I make an honest effort to stay informed, and I’m trying to bring together some of all that here. Maybe this is just my personal little tiny, um, monolith. (A littlith?)
So you've got it all worked out, eh, bubba?
Oh, yeah, sure. Thousands of scientists, philosophers, historians, and theologians have squabbled over these things for millennia, and I'm going to settle it all right here. Mmm-hmm.
I've done my homework and I feel confident in my convictions, but I’m not an expert, and I'm certainly not so delusional as to think I have all the answers. Especially regarding the sciences, I have to struggle to keep straight what I have learned. The first time I ever heard of the Laws of Thermodynamics, I thought they meant something like installing an airconditioning system that starts cooling the house an hour before you get home. Obviously my brain could use a little more oxygen. So if you find any objective errors, misquotes, etc, I’d very much appreciate your emailing me a correction.
What to Expect
The central topics: How science and religion can intersect or overlap or clash, especially when these have practical political and social impacts.
I’d like to keep most programs focused on the affirmative, learning more, moving ahead. Sometimes the discussion will intrinsically call for confronting and debunking misinformation and superstition.
For episodes featuring interviews or public talks, sometimes I’ll just present that content on its own, maybe adding a sidebar. In addition to professionals in the sciences and academics, I hope to share some conversations with other individuals who have their own unique insights, whether we agree or not. I also plan to feature some artists who dig down more creatively and introspectively through all this stuff of humanness and bring it back up to our everyday awareness through writing, film, drama, painting, poetry. The arts can articulate some truths that don’t show up so well in a Petri dish or an image from Hubble Deep Field.
Some specific focal points I aim to develop: