Posts Tagged ‘science’

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addendum

May 20, 2008

i came across an article when signing into my hotmail just now which discussed einstein’s views on god. interesting and yet completely unsurprising.

The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

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‘i am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.’

May 20, 2008

finally watched “the root of all evil?” on the weekend. i like how they throw that question mark in there for no reason. of course i enjoyed it, although not actually as much as “a brief history of disbelief.” although richard dawkins does come off a tad arrogant, i think it is completely rightfully so.

here are a few of my favourite moments [quotes from richard dawkins unless otherwise specified]:

I want to examine… the process of non-thinking called faith.

I’m a scientist and I believe there is a profound contradiction between science and religious belief. There is no well demonstrated reason to believe in God, and I think the idea of a divine creator belittles the elegant reality of the universe. The 21st century should be an age of reason, yet irrational militant faith is back on the march. Religious extremism is implicated in the world’s most bitter and unending conflicts. In Britain, even as we live in the shadow of holy terror, our government wants to restrict our freedom to criticise religion. Science we are told should not tread on the toes of theology. But why should scientists tiptoe respectfully away? The time has come for people of reason to say, enough is enough. Religious faith discourages independent thought: it’s divisive and it’s dangerous. Isn’t this the beginning of that slippery slope that leads to young men with rucksack bombs on the tube?

If you want to experience the medieval rituals of faith nobody does it better than the Catholics. At Lourdes in southern France the assault on the senses appeals to us not to think, not to doubt, not to probe. And if we can retain our faith against the evidence in the teeth of reality, the more virtuous we are.

People like to say that faith and science can live together side by side but I don’t think they can. Science is a discipline of investigation and constructive doubt, questing with logic, evidence and reason to draw conclusions. Faith by stark contrast demands a positive suspension of critical faculties. Science proceeds by setting up hypothesises, ideas, or models and then attempts to disprove them. Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.

Ted Haggard: We fully embrace the scientific method, as American Evangelicals. And we think, as time goes along, as we discover more and more facts, that we’ll learn more and more about how God created the heavens and the earth.

RD: The scientific method clearly demonstrates that the world is four and a half billion years old. I mean, do you accept that?

Ted Haggard: Yeah, you know what you’re doing, is you are, you are accepting some of the views that are accepted in some portions of the scientific community as fact, where in, in fact, your grandchildren might listen to the tape of you saying that and laugh at you.

RD: Do you want to bet?

Ted Haggard: Sometimes it’s hard for a human being to study the ear, or study the eye, and think that happened by accident.

RD: I beg your pardon, did you say by accident?

Ted Haggard: Yeah.

RD: What do you mean, by accident?

Ted Haggard: That the eye just formed itself somehow.

RD: Who says it did?

Ted Haggard: Well, some evolutionists say it did.

RD: Not a single one that I’ve ever met.

Ted Haggard: Really.

RD: Really. You obviously know nothing about the subject of evolution.

Ted Haggard: Or maybe you haven’t met the people I have.

If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them? Who’s God trying to impress? Presumably himself, since He is judge and jury as well as execution victim.

Oh, but of course, the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic? So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a nonexistent individual.

We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

For many people, part of growing up is killing off the virus of faith with a good strong dose of rational thinking. But if an individual doesn’t succeed in shaking it off, his mind is stuck in a permanent state of infancy, and there is a real danger that he will infect the next generation.

A formative influence on my undergraduate self was the response of a respected elder statesmen of the Oxford Zoology Department when an American visitor had just publicly disproved his favourite theory. The old man strode to the front of the lecture hall, shook the American warmly by the hand and declared in ringing, emotional tones: “My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years.” And we clapped our hands red.

Steven Weinberg: Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes Religion.

i know a lot of people could argue with this, and usually i would not assert my ‘opinions’ as being correct over those of others. however, i really appreciate being reminded of my true atheist nature every once in a while… otherwise i forget and drift through life weakly agnostic. why not think we are correct when all scientific fact discovered only proves us as painfully right? of course i don’t think we know everything there is to know, but i somehow doubt that the new evidence we learn will disagree with everything we have complied up until now.

i am also reading “the dragons of eden: speculations on the evolution of human intelligence” by carl sagan, which i came across at a $1 book sale last weekend. it is really excellent so far.