The NY Times is reporting on a wonderful meeting, “Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival”. I wish I could have been there, but at least there’s the promise that recordings will be available. A meeting that is denounced by a spokesman from the Templeton Foundation is my kind of place.
It sounds like there was a great deal of vigorous argument, which also makes for my favorite kind of meeting. And then there were all the scientists plainly making these kinds of statements:
Carolyn Porco, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., called, half in jest, for the establishment of an alternative church, with Dr. Tyson, whose powerful celebration of scientific discovery had the force and cadence of a good sermon, as its first minister.
She was not entirely kidding. “We should let the success of the religious formula guide us,” Dr. Porco said. “Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome—and even comforting—than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.”
Dang it. That’s the theme of the book I’m working on. I need to get cracking.
These two statements really sum up my feelings.
With atheists and agnostics outnumbering the faithful (a few believing scientists, like Francis S. Collins, author of “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief,” were invited but could not attend), one speaker after another called on their colleagues to be less timid in challenging teachings about nature based only on scripture and belief. “The core of science is not a mathematical model; it is intellectual honesty,” said Sam Harris, a doctoral student in neuroscience and the author of “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.”
That was just the kind of accommodating attitude that drove Dr. Dawkins up the wall. “I am utterly fed up with the respect that we—all of us, including the secular among us—are brainwashed into bestowing on religion,” he said. “Children are systematically taught that there is a higher kind of knowledge which comes from faith, which comes from revelation, which comes from scripture, which comes from tradition, and that it is the equal if not the superior of knowledge that comes from real evidence.”
I’m sure there will be another volley of comments here that bandy about the terms “proof” and “disproof”, but that isn’t what this is about: it’s about a consistent pattern of unearned respect offered the failed paradigm of religion, and the need for scientists and citizens to honestly face up to the fact that there are no grounds for accepting the myths of your culture’s favorite myths, other than the constant dunning bombardment of religious propaganda on developing minds.
There’s another meeting in November 2007. I’m glad to hear the discussion isn’t going to stop, and that the godless are getting more and more active.