Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Here is a characteristically witty report, courtesy of Professor Tom Smith, on the recent "San Diego atheist fandango":
don't see why a biologist or astronomer has any more claim to speak about religion than any other reasonably intelligent person. It seems quite the same thing as the bad habit so many Americans have of turning to movie actors for their opinions about politics. Yet the ability to appear sad (or intelligent) when one really isn't, is hardly a qualification for opining about how to fight nuclear proliferation. What poor, deluded apes we are sometimes. I remember watching with growing horror some TV show years ago where Patick Stewart (a.k.a. Jean-Luc Picard) ran around outdoors and enjoyed the wilderness, or something like that. When choosing his own words, instead of saying "Make it so" with unquestionable authority, he appeared to be a man who had never had a deep thought, or unbanal sentiment, in his life. He was also wearing a hair piece. One more idol bit the dust.
As long as scientists are in the mood for educating people, perhaps they could start with themselves. Many of them appear to need a class in Philosophy 101. Or maybe Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. They would no doubt emerge with their atheism intact, but they might at least learn that most of the questions they impale themselves upon are philosophical questions, such as, Is there a God? Can we know if there is a God? Could the universe possibly be infinitely old? Or even, Is it a waste of time to even ask questions such as these? You don't see many philosophy PhD's blundering into conferences on the Higgs boson (which I think they are still looking for, but I for one have faith that it is there), because philosophers rightly think they would look like idiots if they did. Yet famous scientists can stand up and say that religion must be stamped out, replaced by science, and so on and on, and expect to be taken seriously. Then there are all the other questions, ones of culture and history I suppose, having to do with whether one would even want to live in a society from which religion had been eradicated by "education". While living under the Taliban or the Spanish Inquisition would have been a nightmare, living in a land where Science had finally taken Its throne does not sound like any bargain either.