The Rev. Brian Chase grew up a Quaker, but he has found his calling in a different church. Chase is a priest of the Anglican Church of North America, a new branch of a very old faith.
The 28-year-old has been assigned the task of planting a new Anglican congregation in Stark County.
He will conduct a series of informational meetings April 1, 6 and 9.
A native of St. Clairsville, Chase graduated from Malone University in 2005 where he majored in Bible and theology. He also earned a master of divinity degree in 2010 from the Gordon-Cornwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.
“I grew up in the Friends church, but I never really (embraced) the theology of a Quaker,” Chase said. “I was more Calvinistic in high school. In college, I began reading the early church fathers and very much agreed with what I read.”
Chase said he found his spiritual destiny when he read the Anglican Common Book of Prayer. Compiled in 1549 by Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, the central purpose of the Book Of Common Prayer is the “Daily Office,” a liturgy of prayers and Scriptures.
Chase likens praying the Daily Office to running a spiritual marathon.
“It’s a well-worth path that’s at the heart of Anglicanism,” he said. “What really brought me to Anglicanism was a prayer life grounded in the ancient prayer life of the church.”
Chase is assistant pastor at Holy Cross Church in Kent under the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, which has churches in Akron and Hudson.
Anglicanism’s roots are found in the Church of England, founded in 1534 by King Henry VIII after the Catholic church refused to grant him permission to divorce.
Its largest North American body is the Episcopal Church USA. In 2008, traditionalists split from the more-liberal Episcopal Church USA to form the Anglican Church of North America, which has 700 parishes and 100,000 members.
Chase said that while he was interested in Orthodoxy “for long time,” he chose Anglicanism, the metropolitical Church of England, because of its emphasis on Scripture and tradition.
“The traditions for me were a form of Orthodoxy,” he said. “The Anglican Church in North America has a a healthy relationship with the Orthodox Church. What the Orthodox Church seeks to preserve is what Anglicanism aspires to. They share a kernel of truth.”
Chase said Anglicanism also appeals to him as a clergyman because it offers scriptural-based authority and an Episcopal governance often lacking in other churches.
Chase said churches don’t understand that these are qualities that attract and keep young people like himself.
“They (churches) try to ‘sell’ church to them,” Chase said. “But young people don’t go church just to go or to have fun. The way to keep and attract people is to introduce them to Jesus Christ, to encourage them to develop a daily relationship with him.”
While Episcopalians and some Anglican dioceses permit women clergy, Chase’s does not. But it is not, he stressed, because Anglicans are anti-female.
“It’s an issue that’s easily confused,” he said. “It comes down to an understanding of the priesthood. People are thinking of it in terms of ‘rights,’ but the church is not a political entity. We think in terms of ordination and in terms of the Sacraments. It’s more a matter of ‘rites,’ not rights.”
Some observers have said the last straw for the traditionalists was the recognition of gay clergy by the Episcopal Church USA, particularly the elevation of Gene Robinson, its first gay bishop, in 2003. Robinson retired in 2010.
But gay rights wasn’t the only issue, said Chase, who was never an Episcopalian. He said the Anglican Church tends to be more evangelical and places a greater emphasis on Scripture and tradition.
“The Anglican Church in North America abhors and detests any form of violence against homosexuals; there’s no toleration of that,” he said. “People want to treat the division like a political issue, but it’s more biblical, theological and sacramental. We wish there to be no ill feelings. We hope to have peace with all people. That’s our goal.”
For information, visit www.cantonanglicans.com
Thursday, March 31, 2011
By The Rev. Dr. George Naff Gray, Jr.
Special to Virtueonline
March 30, 2011
The Anglican Communion has undergone tremendous change in what constitutes the basis of Anglican unity. In the recent past, Anglicanism shared a somewhat common Biblical, theological, and liturgical unity. During the reign of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, it has become clear that these no longer serve as the basis for future Anglican unity. Williams' March 11, 2011 letter to his peers confirms this shift and the fallacy inherit within this new paradigm.
Rowan Williams witnessed peer unity early in his administration, but Anglican leaders since then have become so biblically and theologically separated that they no longer share liturgically in Holy Eucharist with one another. They are unable to even meet in the same room. As a result, future Anglican unity now rests solely in the friendly person of Rowan Williams and in his worldly office as the Archbishop of Canterbury.
As the undisputed leader of the Anglican Communion, Williams alone is the unifying basis of future Anglicanism. The sign of this unity is that all Anglican leaders continue to meet with him as the leader of the Anglican Communion and thus, confirm that Anglican unity continues to exist under his auspices. Williams' victory is that no decisive schism has occurred nor does a decisive schism appear to be on the horizon.
Williams' March letter declares his victory. He tells his leadership peers that they no longer have the power to "offer a solution to ongoing challenges of mutual understanding." Williams is no longer fighting a delaying action to prevent "decisive action to enforce discipline" on communal Biblical, theological, and liturgical beliefs. Williams is now aggressive and clear (for a change). His power has been enhanced by neutering any future peer "solutions" to "enforce discipline." As a result, Williams' doctrine of listening replaces shared Biblical, theological, and liturgical understandings as the sign of Anglican unity.
In prior years, Williams' fought using delaying tactics and finally sabotage to defeat the many decisive and unified recommendations which he helped to craft. These recommendations have been replaced with a listening process. Williams states he will be visiting those leaders who object and fail to attend peer meetings. Williams' individual meetings serve to prove that Anglican unity exists because these peers still meet with him avoiding any sign of a decisive schism. Williams' accomplishment is a worldly colonial-style political victory pure and simple.
No doubt cracks will widen despite Williams' telling his peers to have: "no doubt" that they "stand together in prayer and solidarity when confronted by attacks on the gospel and its witnesses." He mentions the many attacks on those in provinces where true Christian discipleship carries a heavy price. It is here that his fallacy begins.
Many of the provinces he mentions in need of prayer and solidarity are in locations where his peers no longer meet with those who advocate a gospel foreign to Anglicanism's recent past. The fallacy occurs when Anglican unity is decoupled from common Biblical, theological, and liturgical understandings for one's attack on the gospel can be another's defense. New positions arise requiring a new witness, but these new positions and new witnesses are seen by many as an abomination based on past Anglican formularies. It is a fallacy to believe that such opposing witnesses can remain unified even under the friendly listening ear of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The future of Anglican unity is now based on a paradigm exclusive to the office of the Archbishop Canterbury and decoupled from centuries of shared Biblical, theological, and liturgical understandings. Perhaps St. James' warning needs to be both heard and heeded by all Anglicans: "You adulterous people. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)
----The Rev. Dr. George Naff Gray, Jr. was a life-long Episcopalian until May 2008 when he was accepted into the Anglican Province of Rwanda, Africa and today is a priest in the Anglican Mission of the Americas.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
A New Instrument of Communion?
By Steven R. Ford
March 24, 2011
The Church is in a pretty sorry state right now. A diocese has seceded from the province, although bishops, apparently on the advice of lawyers, deny this can happen at all. Unchristian and uncivil court battles over property and money are ensuing, and a newly appointed rival bishop has arrived on the scene. Consents to two episcopal elections have been denied, one for the suspected "moral turpitude" of the winner and the other for the disputed theology of the victor. And a priest withdrew as a candidate for diocesan bishop when questions arose about his loyalty to provincial church leadership.
No, this isn't the U.S. Episcopal Church. I'm in Mzuzu, the see city of the Diocese of Northern Malawi, in the Province of Central Africa. The diocese that seceded is Harare in nearby Zimbabwe. Money, sex and power. These are the preoccupations of too many Anglican Christians today. It's true in Central Africa, and it's most assuredly true throughout the United States and Canada. It's no coincidence that, as these preoccupations are growing, the traditional Anglican Instruments of Communion are breaking down. The office and person of the Archbishop of Canterbury are simultaneously accused of having too much and too little influence in the life of the Church. More than 200 bishops declined to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008 because conference participants included bishops who had consecrated a noncelibate homosexual.
Several Global South primates and other bishops have resigned from the Anglican Consultative Council's Standing Committee. And because two North American primates had been invited, one-third of their Global South brothers declined to attend the Primates' Meeting in Dublin. Hardly "Instruments of Communion" at all anymore, these things. Our Anglican obsession with money, sex and power has seen to that.
I spent some time this morning visiting St. Mary's Convent in Luwinga, a few miles outside of Mzuzu. It's the new Malawian house of the Community of St. Mary (Eastern Province), the "Peekskill Sisters." I've been a priest associate of CSM for many years (though not a very good one, I'm afraid), so I naturally sought the place out. The nuns here are all central African, but their rhythm of life is the same as that of their American sisters in upstate New York.
Two professed sisters were trained in Peekskill. A junior, recently elected to life profession, was trained near Albany in the community's American mother house, and the newest junior received all her training in Malawi. At least two aspirants are expected in the next few months. Anglican multinationalism and multiculturalism are alive and well in CSM. In fact, they thrive in quiet lives of shared faith and service. It's a community which lives out the "bonds of common affection" between North American and Central African Anglicans. It binds together two very distinct provinces. It embodies the service to others to which all of us are bound through our Baptismal Covenant.
It's sometimes suggested that Anglican and Benedictine spirituality are one and the same. Indeed, a monastic heritage figures large in our collective spiritual culture. The bulk of our prayer book is the Eucharist and Benedict's Divine Office. Many of our church buildings are set up for singing the Divine Office in monastic-style choirs. Yet it's the core of Benedictine spirituality, largely forgotten among Anglicans at large, that's lived out in Luwinga: the "evangelical counsels" of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The very opposite of the money, sex and power after which we tend to chase and which cut like so many knives into the Body of Christ. It unites these Malawian CSM sisters with their American Episcopal siblings in Greenwich - and through CSM's Southern Province, with their sisters in Sagada in the Philippines. The Luwinga sisters feed orphans in a joint work with nearby Holy Trinity Church, and they're looking to establish their own orphanage. Sisters in Greenwich minister through the Diocese of Albany's Christ the King Spiritual Life Center.
It's not just the Community of St. Mary, of course, which seems increasingly to be the glue holding Anglicanism together - our new Instrument of Communion, perhaps.
On previous African sojourns I've visited convents of the U.K.-established Order of the Holy Paraclete in both Ghana and Swaziland, where sisters of diverse cultures and traditions live in kingdom-style unity which spills out in service. OHP African ministries include an eye clinic and a residential school for girls who have suffered abuse. The Order of the Holy Cross lives and witnesses not only in Canada and the United States, but also at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery in Grahamstown, South Africa, where brothers educate local children.
And it's not just Benedictine religious communities which bind Anglicans together. The Society of St. Francis witnesses and works not only in the U.S. and the U.K. (among many other far-flung places), but also through a covenanted community of religious brothers providing hospitality in Zimbabwe.
International, multiprovincial and multicultural religious communities, Benedictine and otherwise, are living witnesses to selfless Christian service. These communities, in my growing experience, are the new Anglican Instruments of Communion which God is raising up even as we tear the old ones apart. Being that instrument just might be the 21st-century vocation of Anglican religious communities.
The Rev. Steven R. Ford serves at the Church of St. James the Apostle, Tempe, Arizona
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Newsweek on the Apocalypse
Somebody had to say it. And it struck me as ironic that it was a heathen magazine like Newsweekthat said it first. Except for the last line of copy, I should think this would make a fine cover for a Christian publication about now.
To be sure, the heathen media don’t mean a word of it. It’s OK for them to talk about the “Apocalypse” as long as they know that you know they just mean it metaphorically; they were winking when they wrote it. What Newsweek’s editors meant to say is that if they ever did believe in God, this sure would look like what the Bible says to expect. But they are educated, so they know there are reasonable explanations for why the world is going so crazy. Right?
Now we Christians, on the other hand, do believe in God. We are principally committed to the idea of an Apocalypse. (By the way, Wikipedia, while not my only source of theological truth, defines “Apocalypse” as follows: “a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception.” That’s not bad.) But we got pretty tired of centuries of Nostradamus types who thought they figured out the exact date of the Second Coming. So nowadays we obviate embarrassment by not talking about the Apocalypse at all.
This leaves the job to Newsweek. They somehow managed to devote an entire double issue to the crazy gyrations of geological and political mayhem without giving a passing thought to the God of the Apocalypse. That’s not exactly all-things-considered. But something tells me that somewhere in the bowels of the magazine’s headquarters, a few overeducated writers are shaking in their Rockports and whistling in the dark.
The Rev. Brian Chase grew up a Quaker, but he has found his calling in a different church. Chase is a priest of the Anglican Church of North America, a new branch of a very old faith.
The Episcopal Church:The Way of Balaam
False Teachers and the re-appearance of ancient Gnostic beliefs
By Dave Doveton
Cadar Press, SA 2010
Reviewed by David W. Virtue
March 28, 2011
Manchester Cathedral to host tarot card readers and healers at 'new age' festival screamed a headline in a British broadsheet. The cathedral will also feature crystal healers and 'dream interpretation'.
Fortune tellers, meditation experts and traditional healers will fill the pews during the day-long festival in May. The Bishop of Manchester, Rt. Rev Nigel McCulloch, said he wanted to celebrate 'all forms of spirituality'. Bishop Nigel said the unconventional activities are not incompatible with Christian belief.
On January 5, 2008, the new Episcopal Bishop of Nevada was blessed at his consecration by a Muslim Imam, a Hindu chaplain, a Bahai leader, a Jewish Rabbi as well as a Baptist minister and a Roman Catholic bishop.
In June of the previous year in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, twin boys were baptized in a ceremony that used Jewish and Muslim blessings.
Just before the dawn of the new millennium, Canadian Anglican bishop Michael Ingham distributed his seasonal 'Christmas message' in which he predicted that the future would be 'post denominational', in other words divisions between churches would break down due to the increasing independence of young people who would not necessarily follow the 'faith of their fathers',but would go where their spiritual needs were met. The he made an astonishing assertion; "The big emerging movement of the future - still young but new in the unstoppable - will be global inter-faith consciousness. Human nature has not ceased to be spiritual, but human beings have become tired of the relentless and destructive competitiveness of religions each claiming to the only way. People by the millions are now crossing boundaries formerly patrolled by powerful institutional authorities, and meeting each other as fellow seekers after truth. Just as ecumenism has wrought profound changes among the churches, inter-faith movements will bring the religions into new self-critical reformulation."
His message is clear - we are the victims of wicked church leaders whose orthodox doctrines are preventing us from meeting with people of other faiths, and, more importantly, that we are all fellow seekers after truth, and we need to discover the truth each possesses.
At St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Seattle courses are taught in 'evolutionary astrology'. The premise is that each soul that is in the process of progressive evolution towards eventual resurrection with the 'Divine.'
Matthew Fox, an ex-Roman Catholic priest, explains that divinity is greater than any one religion. God is like an underground river...the implication of this is that there is nothing final or complete about the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Like the syncretising thinkers of five centuries ago, the heterodox bishop Ingham attempts to adapt Christian belief to a more profound 'cosmic religion' of mankind; like Pico, John Shelby Spong advances his 12 theses to reformulate the Christian faith so that it can be blended into the 'universal religion'. Like all Gnostic attempts, they try and reconcile two mutually contradictory religious systems - paganism and Christianity.
Dave Doveton, Canon theologian and Director of the Training Centre for Ministries and Community Development in the Anglican Diocese of Mauritius, believes that Gnostic temptation is at the root of every Christian error and heresy.
"In gnosis everything is the intellectual self-production of the individual. This is the real reason why the only authentically Christian heresy is gnosis: the pretension of a self-redemption of man who does not need the intervention of the Other of [One] on High, that is the intervention of God," he writes.
God and the gods
The Episcopal bishop of Washington, John Chane in speaking of relations between different faiths, states that "we all worship the same God", but when we turn to the church fathers, we find an entirely different opinion. When Bishop Polycarp wrote to the emperor Trajan in AD 155/6, the accusations against him included the charge of atheism, because the Christians did not acknowledge or worship the gods of the Greco-Roman culture.
The Bible makes it clear that the God of the Bible is not the same as the pagan gods or gods of the nations. If we conceive of God wrongly, our god is an idol, writes Doveton.
The aim of Eastern mystical systems is to attain god consciousness, or to realize that I and god are one - I am god. This is attained by liberation form "illusion" - the illusion that the individual self is separate from the Brahman or universal self. Christians, on the other hand, believe we are separated from God the creator by our sinful state; we are not divine and furthermore we need redemption. This redemption or salvation comes through having faith in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross.
Doveton notes the paganism being taught at Hartford Seminary with these lines from Miriam Therese Winter, professor of liturgy worship and spirituality, "Our Mother who is within us we celebrate your many names. Your wisdom come. Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us..."
Matthew Fox suggests that different religions worship the same god, they merely have different names for God, or as he puts it, divinity has multiple faces - including a feminine face.
A New Zealand Anglican bishop maintains he is 'no wishy-washy non-believer' yet rejects the idea of God as a supreme being preferring to define God in terms of 'love' and 'spirit'. But under these outward forms and expressions, another belief system is being imported which is at its heart, Gnostic and pagan.
At Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, one can hear at the Eucharistic prayer, "We break this bread for our ancestors in the Jewish faith, our brothers and sisters in Islam, our friends who are Buddhists..." and this at a key Christocentric part of the liturgy.
Doveton says you cannot change the Trinitarian biblical language and terminology for God - especially in prayer and worship. You cannot abandon the Trinitarian formula of Father, Son and Holy Ghost and substitute other terms addressing God as 'mother', 'healer' or 'life-giver', 'painbearer'. "If God is defined by my need for legitimation and affirmation as a gendered creature, then God is defined in terms of human need and human dignity. Then humanity has become the measure of all things because outside of humanity, nothing has being, nothing has significance. This is in essence the Gnostic belief that because humanity uses language to express religious ideas, in effect humans create the world of the divine.
"Names are part of the specificity of personal identity. Creator, redeemer and spirit are not referents of specific personal identity, when they are used they give a view of God as remote and distant.
"Grace Cathedral in San Francisco has a side chapel with walls adorned with the sacred symbols of Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism. The purpose of the chapel is to create a 'sacred space' for a person of any faith to pray, but underneath it imports a new theology of worship into a Christian church. By allowing a 'multifaith space' we are in effect denying the exclusive claim of Jesus to be the one in whom is salvation and help in time of need."
Doveton blasted the use of labyrinths "as a device to communicate with the goddess, or feminine principle. Lauren Artress, one of the driving forces behind the use of labyrinths says walking the labyrinths is a spiritual process that leads us to experience the 'god within', the 'sacred feminine'.
In Philadelphia, at the Episcopal Cathedral, a sand mandala or wheel of life was constructed by a Tibetan Buddhist monk. This temporary display of Buddhist tradition and symbolism includes representations of Jesus and Buddha. "Mandalas and labyrinths are not spiritually neutral, they are magic diagrams or devices which lay claim to their surrounding 'space' as week as subjugating spiritually the people in the neighborhood."
Doveton blasted theologian Marcus Borg for abandoning a theistic worldview and adopting a worldview in which nature is divine. "Embrace of a pagan-Gnostic enlightenment experience and belief in the divine within seems to lead ineluctably to the abandonment of doctrinal orthodoxy. Says Borg, "I do not believe that Christianity is the only way of salvation or that the Bible is the revealed will of God, or that Jesus is the unique son of God."
Walter Melnyk, a former Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, also believes in two mutually contradictory faiths simultaneously 'walking between' the worlds of pagan Druidry and Christianity as does the Rev. Chris Horseman, an English vicar with a degree in white witchcraft.
Doveton says the Gnostic tendency to place experience above clear scriptural teaching is apparent in the decisions of TEC to permit the 'blessing' of same sex unions. He cited the Bishop of Vermont, Tom Ely who provided the justification for these 'blessings' arguing that for homosexuals and lesbians "sexual expression is something entirely different from that condemned by a few verses of Holy Scripture." In other words, says Doveton, the 'pervasive, absolute and strong biblical prohibition of same-gender sexual relations which has been interpreted as such and upheld by the church for two millennia, can be overturned on the basis of personal experience. Human experience is highly subjective and can be to totally misleading,' says Doveton.
The author cites British theologian Alistair McGrath who argues cogently that "doctrine interprets our feelings even contradicting them when they are misleading. It stresses the faithfulness of God to his promises and the reality of his resurrection hope - even where experience seems to suggest otherwise. Doctrine makes sense of the contradictions of experience."
Doveton's views on the infiltration of Gnostic can be summarized thus:
* The Gnostic doctrine of the migration of the soul results in spiritual elitism.
* Gnostic influence reduces faith to the interior, the personal and the subjective.
* The Gnostic idea of salvation is similar to forms of Hinduism and Buddhism; Gnostics believe that man's problem is not sin but ignorance.
* For the Gnostic, the problem is not an 'original sin' but the captivity of the soul in material existence.
* For Katharine Jefferts Schori, PB of The Episcopal Church, Jesus is the route to God for Christians, people of other faiths approach God through their own social contexts, they relate to God, they experience god in human relationships
* The implication is clear here - Jesus is not the unique revelation of God, valid for all people at all times; He is merely the exemplar of a relationship with God.
* Gnostic attitudes to the authority of Holy Scripture are that it is seen as incomplete and needs adding to. So any one cultural expression or contextual embodiment of Christianity is limited in its understanding and experience of the gospel.
* Gnosticism is bound up with victimhood. Bishop Tom Wright observes that many issues in the Christian church today suffer from a complete lack of reasoned debate and are instead decided on the basis of a priority of "victimhood"...which enables anyone with hurt feelings to claim the moral high ground, and the invention of various 'identities' which demand not only protection but immunity from critique.
* Gnostics regard states of mind or consciousness as of primary importance and regard behavior as of secondary importance.
* For many churchmen in TEC sin is not a breach of right behavior but rather, "sin lies not in the specific actions but in the context and intention with which it is performed and received.
The last word"
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world."1 John 4: 1
Balaam did not learn from his encounter with the angel of the Lord, but continued to lead the children of Israel into idolatrous worship - the worship of Baal-Peor, one of the foulest cults of Canaan. In the end he came under the judgment of God, which according to several NT writers as well as Jesus himself awaits al false teachers, all 'Balaams'. There is no doubting the terrifying, severe, complete and final judgment of God on all 'Balaams'.
HAS SCIENCE KILLED GOD?
In my last article, I suggested that recent debates in philosophy have raised questions about the notion of "rationality" that are not without relevance to the New Atheism. The failure to take into account such questions about the nature of rationality itself has produced a curious penchant among the New Atheists for hurling nineteenth-century thunderbolts against seventeenth-century notions of God.
Indeed, the "New Atheism," as many intellectual historians have noted with irony, is actually a rather Old Atheism.
I suspect that my reflections on the place of science in the ongoing conversation will attract a few more such thunderbolts.
So how does science come into the conversation about the New Atheism? Richard Dawkins is unquestionably a noble and credible representative of the New Atheism - if not atheism as a whole. After all, as he himself declared recently, he is "the world's best known and most respected atheist." So I think it only fair to engage with his take on the sciences and atheism. I have a great deal of respect for him, even though we disagree on some big issues.
Dawkins's main argument is that science proves things, whereas people who believe in God run away from reality, and try to avoid thinking about things. As I argued in an earlier article, this sloganeering approach to both science and religion does rather miss the mark on both fronts.
I'm completely with Dawkins when he demands that we offer reasons for believing that things are true. Where he and I diverge is over what can in fact be proved. My problem is that just about everything in life that really matters can't be settled by science. It's a view that is widespread among professional philosophers of science, and I can take no special credit for it.
The real issue concerns what may be considered to be reliable knowledge. No attempt on the part of human beings to make sense of the world, whether scientific or religious, can hope to achieve a logically coercive proof of its conclusions. That's possible only in the highly restricted domains of logic and mathematics. Our best hope is to try and identify the best evidence-based explanation for what is actually observed and encountered in the world.
And science moves on. It's on a journey, and often leaves ideas behind, even when these were the wisdom of the age. Science once believed in phlogiston, now it doesn't. It has moved on, and it will move on again in the future.
The philosopher of science Michael Polanyi thus shrewdly observed that scientists believed many things to be true, but knew that some of those would eventually be shown to be wrong. The problem was that they weren't sure which ones they were.
Apart from a few fanatics, science is fully aware of the provisionality of its truths, and its wider implications.
That's why Dawkins is so right to emphasise the provisionality of scientific theories, including Darwinism. They're the best we have today - but who knows what tomorrow will bring? As Dawkins rightly points out:
"We must acknowledge the possibility that new facts may come to light which will force our successors of the twenty-first century to abandon Darwinism or modify it beyond recognition."
Yet this makes any case for atheism based on science dangerously premature. Some might indeed argue (although it is a very weak case) that today's scientific understanding of things points in an atheist direction. But what of tomorrow's?
Following Dawkins, many New Atheists see science as some kind of one-way intellectual superhighway to atheism. Anyone who challenges the intrinsic atheism of science is dismissed as a village idiot who probably doesn't believe in gravity either.
Well, it's just not like that. Although New Atheist propagandists regularly declare that scientific advance and progress in the last hundred years has eroded the case for belief in God, the facts are otherwise.
A century ago, the scientific consensus took the form of a belief in the eternity of the universe. It had always existed. Religious language about "creation" was seen as mythological nonsense, incompatible with cutting-edge scientific knowledge. That was the scientific wisdom of that age.
The fixed scientific belief of that bygone age played an important role in the great 1948 debate between the atheist Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and the Christian Frederick Coplestone (1907-90).
Russell thought this scientific consensus of that age was more than sufficient to lay the whole God question to rest once and for all. The universe is just there, and there's no good reason to think about what allegedly brought it into being.
But things have changed since 1948. During the 1960s, it became increasingly clear that the universe did in fact have an origin - the so-called "Big Bang."
This idea was met with fierce resistance by some atheist scientists of the day, such as the astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who was worried that it sounded "religious." Happily, this irrational prejudice was overwhelmed by the evidence in its favour.
Yet it is an undeniable fact that the new understanding of the origins of the universe resonates strongly with the Christian doctrine of creation. It proves nothing; yet it is deeply suggestive.
A replay of the Russell-Coplestone debate was staged in 1998 to mark its fiftieth anniversary. It featured two leading philosophers, the Christian William Lane Craig and (then) atheist Anthony Flew.
Craig, the philosopher who many now regard as the natural successor to Coplestone, argued that the recognition that the universe had an origin pointed to it having a cause - and that the only plausible cause was a divine creator.
Flew experienced considerable difficulty in the debate at this point. He was unable to deploy the strategies of earlier generations of atheist apologists with any plausibility. Since then, of course, he moved decisively away from atheism, prior his death in 2010.
Two vitally important areas of human thought that clearly lie beyond the legitimate scope of the natural sciences are the non-empirical notions of value and meaning. These cannot be read off the world, or measured as if they were constants of nature. Dawkins thus rightly points out that "science has no methods for deciding what is ethical."
Other leading scientists, of course, have made much the same point. Sir Peter Medawar (1915-97), who won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on immunology, was a self-declared rationalist with a distaste for religion. Yet he still insisted that it is "very likely" that there are limits to science, given "the existence of questions that science cannot answer, and that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer."
Medawar makes it explicitly clear that he has in mind questions such as: "What are we all here for? What is the point of living?" These are real questions, and we are right to seek answers to them. But science - if applied legitimately - isn't going to answer them. We are free to find answers to those questions elsewhere, and we are not irrational in doing so.
God lies outside the scope of the scientific method. In one sense, therefore, science has nothing legitimate to say about God. As the Harvard evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) judiciously remarked,
"science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can't comment on it as scientists."
If science can't answer ultimate questions, then we need to look elsewhere for those answers. That's no criticism of science. It's simply recognizing and respecting its limits, and not forcing it to answer questions that lie beyond its scope.
If science gets hijacked by fundamentalists, whether religious or anti-religious, its intellectual integrity is subverted and its cultural authority is compromised.
I love science, but I hate the way it gets exploited by extremists of any kind who see it simply as a tool for their own deeper agendas. Darwin's great supporter Thomas H. Huxley (1825-95) saw this long ago, when he declared that science "commits suicide when it adopts a creed."
Much more needs to be said about the relation of science and faith. I explore some of these issues further, with detailed interaction with the scholarly literature, in my book, Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things.
But we need to move on, and look at an important concern about religious faith raised by the New Atheism - that it possesses an intrinsic tendency towards violence. I will reflect on this important concern, for which I have much sympathy, in my next article.
Alister McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education at King's College London. His most recent book is Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011).