Just thought I would share this with you. It’s the advertisement for my Duke lecture that is going out to seminar participants.
Title: “Does Religion Really Poison Everything? A Critical Review of New Atheist Perspectives on Religion and Science”
In his 1999 book Rocks of Ages, the late Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould coined the acronym NOMA to characterize the relationship between religion and science. “Non-Overlapping Magisteria”: Religion and science reign over distinct and “non-overlapping” domains of knowledge. Science rules over facts while religion governs the domain of values—including moral values:
“The net, or magisterium, of science covers the empirical realm: what is the universe made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the old clichés, science gets the age of rocks, and religion the rock of ages; science studies how the heavens go, religion how to go to heaven.”
But the New Atheists are having none of it. Religion has no magisterium whatsoever. As Richard Dawkins puts it in The God Delusion, “The fact that [religion] has nothing else to contribute to human wisdom is no reason to hand religion a free licence to tell us what to do.” Sam Harris agrees with this assessment, arguing in The Moral Landscape that science—and not religion— presides over morality and values.
In his book The Immoral Landscape of the New Atheism, John Gravino introduces into this debate the voice of John Paul II, whose conception of a Biblical Moral Psychology offers an intriguing third alternative to NOMA and the New Atheism: Morality is indeed the magisterium of Christianity and all Biblical faiths, and this special authority can be demonstrated empirically. This is because the moral and spiritual prescriptions of the Bible are tied to humanity’s psychological nature. Thus does Biblical Moral Psychology predict that psychological consequences flow from conformity—or the lack of it—to the spiritual and moral prescriptions of the Bible. In today’s presentation, John Gravino looks at the empirical record of the mental health sciences to demonstrate the astonishing degree to which this record appears to confirm the predictions of John Paul’s Biblical Moral Psychology.
John Gravino is the author of The Immoral Landscape of the New Atheism:
- “The entire study is painstakingly researched and meticulously documented as well as carefully argued. Gravino presents his case in the spirit of the natural law teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, eschewing a facile reliance upon scriptural authority in favor of an appeal to rational demonstration.”—Kirkus Reviews
- “[H]is is a clear and principled defense of the church that is arguably superior to anything the institution has offered on its own behalf. A worthy read for anyone interested in the modern relevance of Christian teaching.” —Kirkus Reviews