I’ve noticed a lot of very heated feelings with regards to various aspects of the infamous science vs religion debate/issue/soapbox. I first noticed it while following the Creation/Evolution debate, then in the Intelligent Design/naturalistic evolution debate, then further in the rise of what’s called the “New Atheism”. At the core of this debate is the concept of truth. Both sides claim to know the truth, either in part or in whole, and defend the idea of their view being propagated in schools or other educational settings. One thing that has always struck me is the level of emotional fervor not just on the side of religion but also on that of science. As time has gone by, in fact, I have seen little if any difference between the two sides except in the content of their message. I see the same level of emotion, dedication, outrage, insistence on being the only exclusive truth, and even the archetypal roles of saints, evangelists, preachers, and heretics exist with little or no difference on both sides. But we ultimately always arrive back at the issue of truth.
At the core of the debate is the concept that truth is good. Not just good as in it’s nice to have, like a subjective preference, but that is an objective, moral good. Truth is good, and whatever else is evil. Not only that, but the act of spreading and convincing others of a viewpoint that is not truth is morally evil. Some may try to deny this, but their emotional fervor belies a different idea. If knowing and spreading the truth were not considered an objective truth by them, in my opinion, there would be no problem. If they really believed it was a subjective moral good, though they would greatly prefer their truth be taught, they would have no grounds on which to insist it be.
So, then, if we have both sides believing their side is objectively true, and that the acceptance and spread of this truth is objectively good, we have a problem for the side of atheists. This stance is perfectly understandable for the side of religion, and is something they fully embrace and preach. But if you have something that is objectively true, then you have an objective morality, which is a non-material, abstract thing. Though it is not necessarily true that all atheists disavow the existence of abstract, non-material things, it poses a severe problem for their worldview. It is well known and widely accepted within the field of philosophy that if there is an objective moral law, then there is an objective moral law giver. More is available on that here:http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god , but I also have some of my own reasons for this as well (though I doubt they’re original). The level of specificity of moral laws indicate a pre-awareness of humanity and the human condition. In other words, for the moral law “Don’t commit murder”, there had to be the information that sentient beings would exist, be such that they were likely, at some point, to commit murder, and that a law had to be established to declare this morally wrong and establish a moral duty to not murder. The best explanation of this is an intelligent being capable of establishing moral laws and holding sentient beings within this universe accountable to them. Hence, we arrive at God.
This is what gets me especially when I hear about debates over legislation brought regarding what should be taught in science classes in schools. Atheist and science groups become enraged when this issue rears its head, and launch a crusade to squelch it. They become inflamed because they are worried that students will be lied to, won’t be taught the truth, and this is morally bad.