Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One Last Post...

One of the more annoying aspects of the NewsCloud is it's tendency to simplify then exaggerate.

Take science vs. religion.

The mere fact that you have some idea of what I'm talking about it disgusting. How can such a puerile expression be useful? As a mental hook for something so complex and profound (and so misunderstood) that it escapes almost all serious consideration.

In the last 24 hours the British parliament has been debating and voting on a series of issues associated with abortion (should the last date at which an abortion can happen be lowered from 24 weeks), hybrid embryo research, and saviour siblings.

Some tasteful sketches of a foetus from Leonardo da Vinci

All these are important issues. I won't comment on them because there are facets of the debate (particularly associated with abortion), which I simple don't know about.

These issues are important and as such they should be treated as such. This is not, nor has it ever been, about "science vs. religion."

That expression "S vs. R" begs so many questions it is almost impossible to dissect it without falling into the trap of dignifying the debate, but I will attempt it.

Science is a tool. It is a way of thinking about, and observing the world. Empirical evidence (input from our sensory apparatus, both biological and artificial) and recorded data acquired through empirical means are considered.

Once they have been considered scientists think of ways that any patterns, or lack of pattern, in the data can be explained. They create a hypothesis.

They then attempt to disprove the hypothesis. They create experiments that are intended to disprove their hypothesis. If a hypothesis stands up to this treatment, and the work of one scientist is corroborated by the work of many other scientists, then an hypothesis is accepted as a scientific theory.

Yes, I know there's more to it than that. Check out this document on the scientific method for more details on the subject.

Religion is many things to many people. To me it is yet another system of control, external to myself.

It is also a panacea in moments of weakness. It is a crutch and it is community. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. Sometimes it is right. Usually it is wrong.

I do not judge those who have faith. I know what faith is. It is like a powerful drug, and it can make difficult things ... less difficult. I have had faith.

It's glowing! It must be SCIENCE!

However I am entirely within my rights to call anyone who believes in the afterlife a fool and anyone who thinks the universe is run by some dude with a beard who isn't a science fiction writer of some sort (if God can't be a science fiction writer, or is not a full-time [and published] science fiction writer I quit - god is wrong and it is immoral to have faith ;-)) an idiot.

Anyway I despise how this argument is corrupted and dragged through the dirt by slavering hacks wanting to churn out copy on a "controversial" debate.

Addendum: I am entirely aware that this article is without evidence, empirical or otherwise. It is also fairly badly written. So sue me.

1 comment:

lelly said...

TJ thanks for this post. It may not be fantastically written but you make a good point.