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Oct 02 2013

No Science, No Future

C-Net’s carrying a piece by someone who really doesn’t get the problem with the creationists. Let us call a shovel a shovel, Intelligent Design is Creationism. It is the assumption that magic was involved (and it is magic) in the creation of humanity rather than a scientific process.

In short these arguments boil down to “A Wizard Did It”

Science and religion have one thing in common: Neither has all the answers.

Yes that is a half truth. See, saying this makes them both seem like equal methods for describing how the world works. In fact many people create an entire universe where religion rules in their minds in order for religion to seem as important.

You and I call that Heaven and Hell. On this planet powered by natural processes we once invoked the gods in order to explain how things worked because we didn’t understand how things worked.

Religion doesn’t have all the answers because there is no question that religion answers. The question is one of fear. We are all special! We cannot die! Not like this! Religion is at it’s core a fear of the darkness and death. It is creating an elaborate fantasy of how we would live our lives and gain eternal life. There was no question to which religion is the answer.

What happens if we die? We stop. Game over. GG WP (Good Game, Well Played).

Science doesn’t have all the answers because if it did it would stop. Oh you can discuss what things mean like art and the like but that’s philosophy and taste. One doesn’t need to invoke the gods in order to have an aesthetic taste.

Personally, I’d like to believe in both. I’d like science to solve all the hideous mysteries like cancer, traffic, and human friction. Then I’d like religion to prove to me that there is everlasting life, so that I can have eternal joy, free of cancer, traffic, and human friction.

Except Science has solved far more impressive problems.

You know what the problem is? People take our technology for granted. We live in a world where we have tame lightning at our fingertips. Where you all read some British Asian in India’s writing at a whim. Should you wake up in a cold sweat without your Million Gods dose, you can log in from your phone or indeed from a tablet or PC or TV or Laptop (or Mac Equivalent Devices) and satiate that. You eat food from across the globe and travel by cars and have countless little pieces of science that make your life easier.

The humble scissors was once a scientific marvel but today is something so mundane.

Religion? I suppose it gave people a unified moral code (the individual moral code isn’t as important as how unified it made people. Many successful religions were not nice. Just like at Christianity, Hinduism and Islam! They aren’t nice faiths!) that allowed for a friction free society and that helped civilisation and societies survive competition from others.

But honestly? As things go it also caused a lot of problems.

Sadly, I always ask too much. Now, certain organizations are asking me to choose between science and religion.

No one is asking you to choose between science and religion. That’s like suggesting you choose between sacrificing babies to Tlaloc to ensure the rain falls or rely on the weather forecast. The people who think is such a choice are idiots who’s religion is set up on absolutes so fragile that should one absolute fall the entire structure of their religion falls apart.

As Raw Story reports, Christian organizations are suing Kansas schools for their temerity in trying to enact teaching standards for science.

The Citizens For Objective Public Education and the Pacific Justice Institute both feel that there is something terribly wrong with these standards: They promote atheism.

Yes. Science promotes a naturalistic view of the world without invoking any magic or entities capable of doing it.

Why? Because if you start invoking magic then what you end up with is the “Adeptus Mechanicus” symptom.

Okay for those who are unaware, I used to play Warhammer 40K. One of the background pieces is an organisation called the Adeptus Mechanicus which in effect is the technological wing of “the Imperium of Man”. But rather than science they are in effect priests of technology. They don’t use a scientific principle to their work and instead often follow an orthodox set of procedures that we sometimes recognise as just following rote repair protocols. Their religion is being mechanics and through this few improvements and changes occur. There is no new technology being created. The AdMech are more interested in discovering and preserving what they lost rather than making something new. Many of their technologies are barely understood by them.

So their stunning starships have to be crewed by the penitent and lobotomised slaves because they don’t have autoloaders because they don’t know how to make them. Their AI programs are believed to be the souls of predators they sacrifice over the processor. To them Heresy is Science. They are the priests of a Cargo Cult who merely maintain technologies they barely understand and those that do understand guard their understanding jealously.

Science promotes a natural view that magic does not run the world. This for some is deeply disturbing. Not the fact that flipping a light switch on will cause a bulb to glow reliably and not turn into a flock of seagulls. Such an event would make human progress extraordinarily hard.

It is why even in science fiction, we ensure “magic” follows rules.

Indeed, COPE can barely cope with its upset at what it deems in its legal complaint ”concealed Orthodoxy.”

This Orthodoxy — dubbed “methodological naturalism or scientific materialism” — “requires that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid.”

The Pacific Justice Institute, in its complaint, offers that the new standards “would create a hostile learning environment for those of faith.”

Only if you think your iPhones are a product of divine prayer rather than say cheap Chinese labour and savvy marketing.

The problem with this is that COPE and Pacific Justice have forgotten that pens, paper and ink are all products of science. Basically these entities want us to not do science that upsets them. Unfortunately for them, the science that throws up iPhones and the printing press also threw up evolution and astronomy.

In the institute’s press release, its president, Brad Dacus, insisted: “It’s an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students — as young as five — to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong.

No it’s not. It’s an education. You know what’s a violation of rights? A system of belief designed to keep people poor by ensuring their children remain poorly educated and believing in a fairy tale of magic creation rather than scientifically proven ideas.

However, Kansas has had an especially thorny history with science teaching. As the Kansas City Star reports, the state has had six different sets of standards in the last 15 years. Naturally, these depended on which sort of political or religious persuasion happened to be in power at the time.

Those who oppose the proposed new standards fear, like John Calvert, an attorney involved with the case, that the result will be: “By the time you’re in middle school, you’re a Darwinist.”

In the same way that you are an Galileoian by that age. However not believing in gravity doesn’t mean you will float away. It will just make you forgo education in an entire field of education and not understand how our world really works. Instead to satisfy your mind you will have to invoke magic beings.

What is scary is not that these people want their kids to believe this but they want all kids to be crippled. They want a system which not only allows them to teach nonsense but to ensure other kids learn it too.

Oh, Lordy. If only the two sides could find some mutual accommodation. But there seems an unwillingness to recognize each other’s positions.

Because one position is one of scientific endeavour and has created the society and the world which we live in and the other wishes our children to not know how anything works and simply invoke a god.

Deep down I fear that these religious people fear that having to accept science means having to accept that all of human achievement is due to human endeavour rather than being blessed by a god.

Just as it would seem useless for one side to wonder why wars have constantly been waged over religion, but never over science, it would be useless for the other side to point out just how often science has been absolutely, totally mistaken.

Yes. But it has never been prayer and religion that has disproved a mistake made by scientists but other scientists. Newton was not disproved by Prayer but by Hard Science. At no point did the Newtonians and the Einsteinians do battle to eradicate each other over their theories. The debate was won through mathematics, experimentation and observation.

Science never says it is infalliable, it’s just more reliable than praying to the gods.

Those in the scientific camp, such as Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas’ science education center, told the Kansas City Star that the lawsuits are thoroughly frivolous and don’t stand a chance of being taken seriously.

I fear, though, that only Google’s Larry Page can bring a conclusive end to this raging, other-worldly argument.

If, with his new and highly scientific company Calico, he can solve the mysteries of death, then we won’t have to worry about the afterlife, will we?

There isn’t one. Enjoy what you have and treat it as precious. It’s like worrying about being impaled by unicorns. Worry about living and one finds that living becomes a lot more enjoyable.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    DaveX

    What answers does religion actually have? Don’t worry your silly little head about X until you are dead?

  2. 2
    colnago80

    IMHO, the big reason why scientists insist on methodological naturalism is because accepting miraculous explanations would lead to explanations that are unbounded. Doing science is impossible when unbounded explanations are accepted as they cannot be tested. By the way, not all scientists accept methodological naturalism, biologist Larry Moran at the Un. of Toronto does not.

    Another misconception is that methodological naturalism implies philosophical naturalism (i.e. atheism). As Barbara Forrest explained to the judge during the Dover Trial, this is not the case. One can be a philosophical theist (e.g. Ken Miller) and a methodological naturalist, which is how Miller describes himself.

  3. 3
    Allan Frost

    In the institute’s press release, its president, Brad Dacus, insisted: “It’s an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students — as young as five — to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong.“

    My irony meter just hit 11 again.

  4. 4
    angharad

    Yes. But it has never been prayer and religion that has disproved a mistake made by scientists but other scientists. Newton was not disproved by Prayer but by Hard Science. At no point did the Newtonians and the Einsteinians do battle to eradicate each other over their theories. The debate was won through mathematics, experimentation and observation.

    And the answers, when they finally came, were not religious ones, but more science.

    I will give them this much – I used to be a theoretical physicist, and there weren’t many theists among my colleagues. In fact there was a very bright young man in my cohort of students who, sadly, in the first year of his PhD got leukaemia. He was treated and went into remission, but in doing so turned to faith for comfort. When he was well he dropped out of physics, saying he could no longer reconcile it with his faith. There are some kinds of science, especially the kind where you get very close to the fundamental nature of the universe, which are very, very difficult to reconcile with religion.

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