Report #2 on Questions to Calvert

The first, and most important, question that I asked Calvert was:

There are millions and millions of people who from a religious point of view do not buy your argument that science is antithetical to theism. I would hope that you would respond to that.

What do you think about these people who don’t believe that just because science seeks natural explanations it’s inherently materialistic and atheistic? They don’t believe the theory of evolution teaches their children they’re mere occurances. They believe that religious beliefs incorporate scientific beliefs about the physical world and other beliefs about meaning, purpose and values. To put it bluntly, do you think they’re wrong? How do you respond to this large silent majority of religious people who are being wedged out of the conversation?

Calvert’s answer, both in his emails to me and in his other writings, basically reiterates his position without addressing the issues:

  1. He says that science is not “antithetical to theism when conducted objectively,” but his definition of “objective” means to not use a “naturalistic bias in answering speculative historical questions.”

That is, Calvert’s position is that science is not antithetical to religion if we define science in a different way than science is commonly understood. In other places, Calvert makes it clear that his definition of “objective” science includes the possibility of supernatural as wall as natural causes. (See point 5 below.)

So really his point is that if we change what science is, it is not antithetical to religion, but as science is now practiced it is antithetical to religion.

  1. He confirms this conclusion when he says that “the naturalistic bias just happens to be the fundamental tenet of nontheistic religions like secular humanism. At this point science ceases to be religiously neutral.”

This is a confused conclusion that precisely avoids the question that I am asking. It is a matter of simple logic that “All A are B” does not imply that “All B are A.” The fact that “All people who are secular humanists seek natural explanations for what happens in the physical world” is not the logical equivalent of “All people who seek natural explanations for what happens in the physical world are secular humanists.”

  1. Calvert then makes another common point of his: that the “millions of people” I refer “do not even recognize that many in science use a naturalistic bias.” He says “the bias is not discussed in science textbooks,” and so the public gets the impression that science produces “objective evidence based explanation” when really it does not.

This is a bizarre claim. All science textbooks discuss the nature of science, and make it clear that science studies how the world works. There is no hidden rule here - the “naturalistic bias” of which Calvert speaks has been central to the scientific enterprise since people like Galileo and Newton first articulated the basic principles of empirical investigation.

  1. Implicit in the above claim is that those theists who accept science don’t really understand this “naturalistic bias” of science, and therefore don’t understand that they are really supporting the secular humanists (or maybe are really secular humanists themselves despite thinking that they are theists.) Calvert does not understand, or does not accept, that people can accept the explanatory limitations of science and still be a theist - he believes they are at best “confused” about their theology when they do this.

Calvert concludes by saying that “analyzing the religious views of particular individuals is not helpful because most religious belief is based on many things other than a design inference or an inference of no-design.” This is again a back-handed way of saying that theists who accept science are wrong in some way.

But my point is that they have good theological reasons for their beliefs, and Calvert is not willing to discuss this. They are not confused, or secretly in league with the secular humanists, or sell-outs to naturalism, or anything other than orthodox Christians who have a different view of the relationship between God and the physical world.

  1. In his recent editorial in the Wichita Eagle (, Calvert made similar points when he wrote,

Nontheistic religions such as secular humanism, atheism, agnosticism and scientism are quite happy with science that seeks to remove any “supernatural” influence from its explanations.

Here he again gets “A implies B” confused with “B implies A,” and he makes it quite clear that his idea of “objective” science is one that can contain supernatural causes. So what if secular humanists et al are “happy with” naturalistic explanations in science - millions of orthodox and unconfused Christians are also happy with this.

Calvert is avoiding saying what he really believes - that these Christians are wrong. This is a theological discussion that needs to take place, but Calvert is not willing to engage in it. That was my original point, and I continue to stand by it.