Meanwhile, for example, some of my materialistic, purportedly shallow colleagues at the American Council on Science and Health have literally done things like save a billion lives through improved agricultural techniques and eradicate smallpox from the planet even while being pilloried by ostensible defenders of Nature and/or God’s design — and all that struggle goes on when the more minor players on our Board aren’t merely helping to found hospitals and the like. Ah, what blinkered, cramped little lives the servants of science and industry lead! They’ll pay for it with eternal torture in the afterlife, I’m sure, and no one wants to be eternally tortured.
Of course, lest I exaggerate the divide, it’s worth noting my boss at ACSH is married to a religious man and that long-term co-existence is thus possible (fusionism!). Their daughter, I concede, did a nice job of splitting the difference by focusing on…philosophy. That makes sense to me. Philosophy is a fairly open-ended attempt to talk about truth in whatever language proves necessary to describe it — and wherever the ensuing arguments lead. Like few other disciplines, it is malleable enough to address whatever appear to be the new vexing issues of the day without requiring the jettisoning of the whole field’s methodology or underlying cosmological assumptions when surprises arise — as of course they always should unless one is very stubborn.
In short, if there’s reason to believe there’s a God, the idea ought to be subsumable within philosophical language, just as the implications of a purely-material universe ought to be. Philosophy, bless it, is ready to handle anything — which is why people like me who are (in addition to being pretty rational) a tad stoic and not easily fazed are often drawn to it. If you tell engineers that we’ve just discovered all physical laws are really being faked via telekinesis, they’ll probably freak out, at least in the short term. Philosophers will calmly ask, for example, what ethical implications this revelation has for the permissible range of action of the telekinetics (if they change the laws of the universe at a whim, have we been wronged?).
We philosophy buffs can handle the truth, in other words. I would not lose my mind if it turned out the universe were the product of a planning mind (heck, I’ll even tell you the one remotely-plausible argument I’ve heard for this position, which is the argument from the so-called Cosmic Anthropic Principle concerning the well-suitedness of this physical universe to molecule formation, not that I think it ultimately necessitates a Designer). I only wish I could convince my religious acquaintances (those who have not already permanently lost their minds) that they need not lose their minds if we conclude, after sober reflection, that the universe does not imply a Creator. They seem very anxious and insecure on that front as compared to all the skeptics I know.
Speaking of things poised between science and religion, by the way, in between the inflation-adjusted box office totals for biotech-oriented Jurassic Park and ancient-Hebrews-oriented Raiders of the Lost Ark (both Spielberg-directed) now sits Avatar, at #17 on the all-time box office hits list (with a diabolical $666 million in domestic ticket sales). It’s risen above Phantom Menace and The Graduate in the past week or so — how high will it go? This might, I suppose, be a good time to admit I was wrong about one empirical prediction: I thought Avatar would be a colossal money-loser.