When board members and administrators from Baylor University and the Baylor College of Medicine were recently engaged in conversation about the possibility of strengthening ties between the two institutions, some suggested that the faith component of Baylor University’s mission would negatively affect the quality of the scholarship for which the Baylor College of Medicine is so well known.
As scientists and people of faith, we were troubled by reports in the media that characterized serious scientific research and a faith commitment as incompatible. We believe we speak for thousands of accomplished scientists when we say that this is a false dichotomy that reflects an ill-informed understanding of the way many of us perceive the wonder, mystery and revelation of God.
They should be troubled, but not necessarily surprised. The New Atheists have made it their signature cause that people with any kind of religious belief are incapable of scientific research and activity. This, in turn, leads to rumblings such as the Baylor University faculty have to stand against.
The core problem with New Atheism is that they do not understand the real conclusions of their own thinking. What counts in science are the results, and even then they don’t count because any purely materialistic system cannot attribute meaning to anything. If they succeed in discouraging or driving out people or institutions because of their religious convictions, they will set themselves up for another Trofim Denisovich Lysenko to come along and mow real science down with an ideologically based idea. Any time you put in place a “litmus test” that has nothing to do with the real objective, you open yourself up for people who, as Mao Zedong used to say, “put politics in command.”
That was the hard lesson of the world’s foremost atheist regime. To recall Marx, the first time it was a tragedy, so I suppose we’re looking for the farce this go around. We won’t have to look too far if the New Atheists have their way.