When he was interviewed by ABC's Diane Sawyer, physicist Stephen Hawking had the temerity to point out the conflict between reason and religion:
"What could define God [is thinking of God] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God," Hawking told Sawyer. "They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible."
When Sawyer asked if there was a way to reconcile religion and science, Hawking said, "There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works."
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League took exception to Hawking's views, feigning surprise that "any rational person could belittle the pivotal role that human life plays in the universe." After that astounding display of cosmological egocentrism, Donohue continued to dig a hole for himself:
"Reason, in pursuit of truth, has been reiterated by the Church fathers for nearly two millennia...there is no inherent conflict between science and religion."
Really?! Here's a concrete illustration of the Church's hostility to free inquiry, from a source that Donohue should respect:
"...it is quite unlawful to demand, to defend, or to grant unconditional freedom of thought, of speech, or writing, or of worship, as if these were so many rights given by nature to man. For, if nature had really granted them, it would be lawful to refuse obedience to God." (Pope Leo XIII, "On the Nature of Human Liberty," 20 June 1888)
I would say, based on the evidence, that the Church only supports "reason in pursuit of truth" up to the point that truth and dogma come into conflict: in order to remain believers, many people then choose to reject evidence in favor of the Eucharist.
Donohue admits that "Religion without reason...leads to fanaticism," but then makes the claim that "science without faith also leads to disaster--the genocidal regimes in Germany, the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia being Exhibits A, B, C and D."
Nazi eugenics wasn't science; Soviet Lysenkoism (which also played a role in the Great Chinese Famine) wasn't science; Cambodia's Khmer Rouge was not known for rationality, but for totalitarianism. Would you care to try again with example E?
PZ Myers--ever looking to deflate such pompous pontification--provided the smackdown that Donohue so richly deserves, sarcastically noting "I agree that the Catholic church has assigned reason a special place: apologetics."
Rationalizing the irrational. Throwing up a smokescreen of scholarship to hide the fact that deep down, they're worshipping a jealous bronze age patriarchal myth wedded to a howling crazy Eastern mystery religion.
Myers observes that there is "an inherent conflict between science and religion," nothing that Transubstantiation, the afterlife, and other Catholic teachings "are irrational, unscientific beliefs -- they are anti-science, because he believes in arriving at conclusions because they are what he wishes to be true, or because the dogma has been repeated to him enough times, or because someone claims a supernatural revelation." Thanks to Myers for my Quote of the Day:
Sure, science arose out of Catholicism...in the same sense that plumbing, sanitation systems, and public health policies arose out of sewage.