Science & Religion – different strokes

Posted on January 5, 2011

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Jenny: ” So you’re saying that people like Dawkins who criticize faith-based reasoning fail to recognize that most of their own reasoning is based on faith – on unproven assumptions. Furthermore while promoting evidence-based reasoning they fail to recognize that the majority of our most important decisions either lack evidence – for instance we have no reliable or certain evidence about the future (choosing a mate, our health, etc.)  or involves incomplete and conflicting evidence (experts disagree) so we have to fall back on faith-based reasoning (beliefs, biases, hunches, theories)n  to make a decision. The militant atheists fail to offer alternatives to faith-based reasoning when evidence is lacking or conflicting – flip a coin? Consult which of the  ‘ experts’ – who are busy arguing with each other. Come on! ”

Peter: “It’s nice to know that someone as cock sure of himself as Dawkins can be so biased and self-righteous. I understand he no longer collects evidence – does original research – the model of science he’s peddling. Instead he’s  become the main mouthpiece for radical atheists. How come he cherry picks positive evidence and ignors or discounts negative evidence, how come he  doesn’t practice what he preaches? He behaves like guys arguing in a bar not as a serious scholar?”

Professor Wiggly: ” Well, remember Dawkins is bright, has done good work in the past. Yes, he stopped doing  original research – it’s tough – it’s a lot easier talking about research and theorizing than actually doing it. He’s doing what a lot of older  scientists do, give up doing research and become theorists  promoting their pet model of reality, and attacking competing models.”

Jenny: ” So what’s a poor citizen to do when scientists and ‘experts’ disagree?”

Peter: ” Flip a coin, have a drink and browse your TV til you find something interesting.”

Professor Wiggly:” Most of us do the following. If we’re lucky we find a safe place where our particular beliefs and habits – models of reality – receive a friendly reception – job, relationship, family, or hangout. And when you have to travel outside your safe places you find acceptable ‘experts’ who provide intellectually, emotionally and financially affordable bridges into the future that hopefully don’t collapse as soon as you attempt to carry your personal ‘baggage’ across them – as so many did during the recent economic meltdown. Unless of course you we’re one of the Wall Street Bankers who were peddling the maps.”

Jenny: “And if you can’t find a safe place, or trusted experts you do what Peter does – drink and watch sports, or take pills, or get twitchy or depressed or … or … or some people find a safe place in religion?”

Professor Wiggly: ” Religion remains one of the oldest and trusted sources of faith-based reasoning, of safe places or trusted bridges into the unknown and unknowable future. Religion provides trusted maps or models of reality for travelling into those places that science has not gone or can never go – places we must all visit whether we want to or not. What does science offer a young mother cradling her dead child in her arms killed by a hospital based super-bug? Or the family of a  young man dying of cancer caused by working in a radioactive laboratory, or the thousands who lost their homes in the recent recession because bankers trusted models of risk created by overly confident Nobel Prize winning mathematicians or physicists? ”

Jenny: “The radical atheists like Dawkins are like modern snake oil salesman peddling science as a universal cure all. “

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Posted in: Sciencing