say it loud, accommodationist and proud?
There’s an old joke about a university professor who’s asked to name the most expensive faculty members to keep on his campus. “Physicists and computer scientists,” the president replies. “They always want to build a new supercomputer or buy another top of the line machine, unlike our mathematicians who only need paper, pencils and erasers. Or better yet, philosophers. Those guys don’t even need the erasers.” And just like those philosophers, Michael Ruse doesn’t think that we should override old ideas with new knowledge, especially in some of the most important and fundamental questions about our existence and our future.
Instead, he is far more at home writing on religious blogs about how he’s mistreated by those nasty atheists and waves his accommodationist colors like a battle flag on Francis Collins’ and Templeton’s pseudo-scientific brainchild, BioLogos. Sorry Michael, you can’t have it both ways and no amount of complaining will ever change that…
As we’ve seen before, accommodationists are all about building bridges and communicating unless there’s a specter of atheism in sight. Then, they get downright nasty and invite their theistic allies to unite with them to defeat a common enemy who breaks up the Kumbaya moment they’re trying to have. Ruse’s lamentations are just another manifestation of this anti-atheist streak in the accommodationist movement and a pretty obvious attempt to net himself a Templeton Prize. Unfortunately for him, the most likely winner of that award is Francis Collins, whose attempts in using science to proselytize Evangelical Christianity is the stuff that Templeton dreams are made of, and their very expensive, high brow fellowship already went to Chris Mooney.
But then again, the award is given out every year and perhaps Ruse is going for consistency here. Once upon a time, I used to think that accommodationists just really believed they could politely tell people that holding two highly contrarian views about the same thing would end debates between scientists and religious fundamentalists and set the world right. But seeing how their arguments began deteriorating into politics and the steady flows of cash and awards from religious groups into their coffers, I can’t help but doubt their motives.
Of course, atheists aren’t interested in watching religious organizations get accommodationists to help out in their agendas with a steady stream of cash and are starting their own groups to help prominent atheists get a grant or two. However, what they offer pales in comparison with what groups like Templeton are willing to pay to those willing to browbeat atheists with meaningless allusions to civility or cooperation (unless you happen to be one of those evil New Atheists, then you should just shoo and leave them alone), or with blatant science abuse. And this is where we have a problem.
You can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth while getting paid by one side of the debate every time you ridicule people who don’t buy the idea that it’s perfectly okay, or even enlightened, to believe that 5 + 5 = 9.987 is just an elaboration of 5 + 5 = 10 and that both ideas are correct in their own ways. It’s like being a defense lawyer being paid and schmoozed by the plaintiff during a trial. Sure, you could insist that you’re going to be a fair minded champion of justice in this situation, but human nature is such that we tend to avoid biting the hand that feeds us, even if prior to handing us another paycheck it took a shot at someone its owner found offensive by the target’s very existence.