Reader's View: Theists must take a scientific approach to life
March 11's "Can nontheists and theists work together?" was a thoughtful letter to the editor regarding my new organization, called the Iron Range Coalition of Reason. As I understood it, the letter advocated for a more conciliatory tone from nont...
March 11’s “Can nontheists and theists work together?” was a thoughtful letter to the editor regarding my new organization, called the Iron Range Coalition of Reason. As I understood it, the letter advocated for a more conciliatory tone from nontheists if they expect to work alongside theists to solve global problems together.
The letter questioned the name, “Coalition of Reason.” Although this group is a local chapter of the United Coalition of Reason and had little choice in the name, questioning it is certainly valid. Why not just call it a “Coalition of Nontheists?” My guess is that the name was a defensive reaction to having been characterized simply as faithless or godless people and was meant to introduce something positive about nontheism. But I took the point that the name can easily be seen as unnecessarily provocative.
In the same vein, the letter expressed worry about nontheists’ claim to “a scientific approach to life.” It reminded us that many theistic scientists “can be reasonable, scientific, and rational and thus can usefully contribute to the work that needs to be done.” Again, I took the point that there have been many theistic scientists who have been extremely successful and productive.
My only quibble is that these theists, who clearly took a scientific approach to their work, did not necessarily take a scientific approach to their lives. It is hard to imagine the scientific argument supporting miracles, resurrections or other articles of faith. Perhaps nontheists are more committed to taking a scientific approach to more parts of their lives.
The writer of the letter knows no good reason to believe there is a god or to believe there is no god. The scientific approach to any claim probably should be to withhold belief in it until sufficient evidence supports it. We await that.