Michael Ruse is a philosopher specialising in the philosophy of science, especially biology and evolution. He is an atheist, but one with more respect for religious belief than many prominent atheists today.
Ruse has some interesting things to say about science, belief in God and his more militant atheist colleagues.
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Many modern atheists claim that science can, or will, be able to explain everything, and anything not explained by science cannot be believed. But in this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Ruse argues that science cannot, and can never, explain why the universe exists, rather than not existing.
Atheists tend to either say that the question is meaningless, or that science has already answered it via the propensity of particles to appear out of a quantum vacuum. But Ruse argues that the first is a cop-out and the second mistaken. Even though he is an atheist, Ruse comments “I don’t see that science has ruled out the Christian answer. The universe exists because it was created and is maintained by a good God.”
Ruse and the ‘new atheists’
Ruse has been outspoken over many years in his criticisms of the so-called new atheists. he summarises some of his views in this 2009 Guardian article Dawkins et al bring us into disrepute. In summary, he criticises:
- The new atheists’ blanket, and unjustified, views that religion is totally evil and corrupting.
- Their disrespect for scholarship, despite their claims to the contrary, which results in, for example, Richard Dawkins using “sophomoric” philosophical arguments and sometimes even unsupported scientific claims.
- Their disrespect for those who disagree with them, even if they are intelligent, learned and decent.
- The strong and unjustified association of evolution with atheism, which, Ruse believes, hinders the progress of science because many christians will not consider something which is presented as a threat to their religious beliefs. This effectively means the new atheists give anti-religious propaganda more importance than the promotion of science.
As a result, Ruse has attracted criticism, and some nasty comments, from fellow atheists, but respect from other atheists and many christians.