straw men in science class

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 20, 2005

George Johnson is easily frightened. Assigned to review a book by the Dalai Lama for the New York Times, Johnson worried about the subtitle: "The Convergence of Science and Spirituality."

Spirituality is about the ineffable and unprovable, science about the physical world of demonstrable fact. Faced with two such contradictory enterprises, divergence would be a better goal.

Wrong. If science and spirituality occupy completely different realms, as Johnson argues, then they can't be "contradictory." If you can't meet, you can't collide.

Despite his grave concerns, Johnson is pleased to find that the Dalai Lama is ready to jettison any Buddhist beliefs that are scientifically proven false, and says that no serious thinker "can ignore the basic insights of theories as key as evolution, relativity and quantum mechanics." Johnson continues:

That is an extraordinary concession compared with the Christian apologias that dominate conferences devoted to reconciling science and religion. The "dialogues" implicitly begin with nonnegotiables - "Given that Jesus died on the cross and was bodily resurrected into heaven. . ." - then seek scientific justification for what is already assumed to be true.

Got that? It is extraordinary for any religious thinker to accept scientific facts and confront scientific theories. It is ordinary for Christians to hold conferences in which they demand that all participants subjugate their scientific knowledge to religious dogma. Naturally, Johnson does not introduce any evidence to back up these sweeping statements, since no such evidence exists.

The Times review is right about one thing, though: It's a terrible thing when someone simply ignores the evidence that does not fit his preconceived notions.

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  • Posted by: - Sep. 21, 2005 2:52 PM ET USA

    Science is overrated. So many great writers have warned against the excesses and misconceptions of science. And who really believes in it anyway. The whole span of human history, even us in the scientific age, still prefer myth over science. More people center their lives around myth in the modern world than science. Is it just because we are all ignorant, or might their be a recognition that humans have understood in myth, that it speaks of truth better than anything else?

  • Posted by: - Sep. 20, 2005 9:28 PM ET USA

    I recently read that way back when all men believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth, an entire system of navigation based upon that mistake worked very well for them, for centuries. They observed a phenomena and came to scientific concensus about the Sun moving around the Earth. This seems to be where those opposed to intelligent design stand today...

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Sep. 20, 2005 7:06 PM ET USA

    The problem for the materialists is that they're constantly demanding that we give our unquestioning belief to their current understanding of the universe. Then, when their understanding changes, even to the point of utter contradiction of their previous position, our unquestioning belief is demanded for *that*. Who's being unreasonable here?