Category Archives: Science

Take the Flour Back to the Future?

It’s often said by atheists something along the lines of “science flies us to the Moon, religion flies us into buildings”. In truth, the aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Center were a triumph of the application of science, and religious fanatics, while deprecating what they call the scientific /atheist worldview, have no compunction when using the fruits of scientific endeavour to further their own beliefs, when it suits. If Mohammed Atta had simply wished the WTC to collapse, or punched it, it would still be there, and he wouldn’t.

But what this does show is that applied science can be used to do great harm as well as great good. This isn’t really an issue. Science has given us sophisticated and devastating weaponry, it has facilitated communication among paedophiles as well as the general population, it has allowed “Big Brother” to watch us.

Gun advocates in the US rightly point out that it is the human relationship with science, not the science itself, that poses the greater danger. More people are killed in road accidents – even in the US – than are shot dead, and this isn’t generally held to be an argument against cars. Nevertheless, the feeling persists among some that in some respects science is leading us down a path that can only hurt us as humans. In this view, science changes things that are better left unchanged. If science exposes truths it sometimes does so against our human interest and therefore should be curtailed. Continue reading

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A universe from nothing?

One of the tragedies of religion (and there are many) is that by attempting to explain everything, it actually explains nothing.

Which is a shame because, for all the talk of “inner (or outer) reality”, the reality that we have is invariably much more fascinating. It’s just incredibly stupid that anyone would seek to deny, for example, the reality of evolution for the dogmatic reasons that some of the religious do. Giving up on that fascinating reality is so much of a shame, and ultimately to the detriment of future generations if allowed to thrive.

As with evolution, so with cosmology. Creationists, with their 6000-year-old Earth nonsense, would take us to a new dark ages given half a chance. “Teach the controversy”, they say. Which means nothing more or less than allow nonsensical dogma into classrooms. No doubt they’d allow the argument from divine hiddenness into Bible class – not.

Alternatively, we could increase our knowledge by taking reality and understanding it as reality. Scientific theories are by definition tentative and always subject to disproof and revision in a way that religious dogma isn’t. But this adds to their veracity, because they’re based on what we can sense and what we can measure. It might be that there was no evolution, no big bang, no quantum mechanics, but one thing is surer than most – if they aren’t true, they’ll be disproved by science, not by apologetics.

So for those with the time, the patience and the unlimited broadband, I’d like to share a talk about cosmology from Lawrence Krauss. Krauss has written a book recently that apparently is not only based on actual observation, but answers many of the spurious philosophical comments of the creationists. I look forward to reading the book when the paperback edition comes out in the UK.

Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy. [Carl Sagan]