“I can’t believe I’m about to put the words ‘atheism’ and ‘belief’ in the same sentence,” laughs Dr. Joe Velaidum, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, and Director of the Centre for Christianity and Culture. “But the new atheists believe faith and reason are in opposition. They’re not.”
Velaidum will defend this argument and others at the first Research on Tap night this coming Tuesday evening at Mavor’s. (Click here for details) He’ll be leading a public discussion entitled “The same old arguments of the new atheism movement.”
“In order for this to be a discussion, I can’t go on and on and on about what I think,” says Velaidum. “I’ll start out by stating my case about what I see as the five or so main problems with the new atheism movement — this new batch of atheists inspired by writers such as Richard Dawkins. Then I want to hear what everyone else thinks.”
Velaidum says he’s not setting out to convert anyone to any set of beliefs. He just wants people to understand why it is they believe what they believe.
“We are a species that is hardwired to have faith. In order to be a scientist, you have some amount of faith. Scientists start off from the perspective that the universe is knowable by the human mind. There’s no reason why it has to be, and it’s not provable that it is. This is a type of faith that’s needed in order to have science in the first place.”
Velaidum says another beef science has with God is that it doesn’t conform to scientific description.
“If it can’t be described, the new atheists don’t need it. Christianity is not about description. It’s not a botched science experiment. The Big Bang Theory doesn’t replace the creation myth in Genesis. Genesis never set out to describe exactly how the universe came to be — it’s a deeply meaningful metaphor.”
Hear the rest of Velaidum’s presentation, and join in the discussion, on Tuesday, December 1, at 7 p.m. in Mavor’s at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown. Come enjoy an evening of ideas, discussion, and good cheer.