In this context religion is presented from a variety of approaches, all negative. Taking from communism, it's the opiate of the masses. It's a societal control technique. It's simple minded stuff for the less intelligent among us. It's childhood stories to be outgrown. Telling a college professor you are religious is akin to saying you've never successfully been potty trained. A reaction of 'and how does a person with your condition find him/her self in our institution of higher learning?' is common.
Suddenly, the scientific knowledge base itself has begun to encounter hints and complexities that the generic anti-religious position might be wrong. One of the first major scientists to point this out was Stephen Hawking, who said in his famous book A Brief History of Time that science can describe how in great detail. But, the question why is outside the realm of science. Further, much of science is actually predicting previous results. If I drop the ball it will fall at such a rate impacting with so much force. Well, maybe, if gravity continues to operate as it did when that rate was measured and many other scientific principles continue to operate as they have in the past, then yes.
Operating in the context of a world where those things haven't been observed to change leads one to automatically assume that they indeed don't change, and never will. Why not? If the system continues to operate as it has, then science can do a pretty good job at describing how it operates. Why does the system operate this way (as opposed to some other way)? That question is beyond the realm of science (though science keeps stretching to try to answer what it can't, see the Time Magazine article, "The universe seems uncannily well suited to the existence of life. Could that really be an accident?", which guesses that one answer is there's many universes with different parameters, we just happen to be in the one that is just right to suite life. Guesses because there's no data at all to support [or deny] the idea, nor can there ever be as it would require to ability to measure and interact outside this universe, which by definition is impossible).
ABC News: Famous Atheist Now Believes in God
A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.
At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.
Flew said he's best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people's lives.
"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said. "It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose."
Flew first made his mark with the 1950 article "Theology and Falsification," based on a paper for the Socratic Club, a weekly Oxford religious forum led by writer and Christian thinker C.S. Lewis.
Over the years, Flew proclaimed the lack of evidence for God while teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, and Reading universities in Britain, in visits to numerous U.S. and Canadian campuses and in books, articles, lectures and debates.
There was no one moment of change but a gradual conclusion over recent months for Flew, a spry man who still does not believe in an afterlife.
Yet biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says in the new video, "Has Science Discovered God?"
The video draws from a New York discussion last May organized by author Roy Abraham Varghese's Institute for Metascientific Research in Garland, Texas. Participants were Flew; Varghese; Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jew; and Roman Catholic philosopher John Haldane of Scotland's University of St. Andrews.
The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the August-September issue of Britain's Philosophy Now magazine. "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote.
The letter commended arguments in Schroeder's "The Hidden Face of God" and "The Wonder of the World" by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.
This week, Flew finished writing the first formal account of his new outlook for the introduction to a new edition of his "God and Philosophy," scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Press.
Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but if his belief upsets people, well "that's too bad," Flew said. "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads."