Steve Fuller asks, Why shouldn’t religious commitments influence one’s science?

Agnostic Warwick U sociologist Steve Fuller, author of Dissent over Descent (2008) offers:

One wishes that the US legal system exercised the same diligence in authenticating people's religious beliefs s their scientific beliefs. Ayala, Miller and Collins claim that their scientific inquiries are driven by their faith in God. Yet, as they are the first to admit, the science they do is indistinguishable from those who do not share that faith.

One might reasonably wonder: how exactly does their faith influence their science, especially given the enormous import of their religious commitments? Would it not be reasonable to expect their Christian beliefs, assuming they have some cognitive content, to colour the theories they propose and the inferences they draw from the evidence? If not, why should we think that their Christianity has any impact on their science whatsoever – simply because they say so?

Perhaps logical positivists like A.J. Ayer were right, after all, when they dismissed religious utterances as no more than emotional outbursts. In any case, theistic evolution appears to be the kind of religion that even Richard Dawkins could love, since it appears to exact no psychic cost from its scientific adherents. Their religious beliefs spin as decorate but cognitively idle wheels. What follows? Not necessarily that theistic evolutionists are liars. But if not, then either their theism must be very weak or it is held in a state of captivity, as if they fear its public expression would invite persecution. (pp. 108-9)

Note: When Ayala received the Templeton Prize in 2010, he refused to talk about his religious beliefs, but presumably Fuller's comments apply to Miller and Collins who explicitly say they are Christians. For a curious story about A.J. Ayer, go here.

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