Saturday, February 19, 2005

Well, that last post generated a lot of interest.



Look, you can believe in science and evolution and still believe in God, as the Catholic Church, and just about every other church in and out of the United States says, by the way. The antievolution movement is, by and large, peculiar to the USA.

The track record of religion in explaining the natural world has not been good over the long haul. Galileo and Copernicus come to mind. The thing about science is that all knowledge is provisional. Things can be revised, and, this is key here, scientific assertions are formulated so that they can be falsified. That is, theoretically, if such-and-such evidence were found, that would invalidate a particular hypothesis. Supernatural explanations, such as “God did it” are not testable, and therefore not falsifiable, even in theory, and are therefore, not scientific. Science cannot answer the question of why are we here, but it has made a lot of progress in explaining how we got here. It is science’s constant checking of itself against reality that has allowed it to make the progress it has.

The real problem is when the vast body of physical evidence is ignored in favor of a literal interpretation of some ancient myth. For example, the vast age of the Universe and the Earth, as demonstrated in all of the geological, cosmological, radiological, and astronomical evidence, is indisputable. The exact age is not known, but the margin of error has gotten smaller and smaller as measurements have gotten better. When all of this is flung aside by declaring that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and God just made everything look old to test our faith, we are on the path to the Dark Ages.

By the way, I saw a documentary once, where Tibetan and Catholic monks hung out together for a while and discussed their experiences and attitudes toward the divine, and the Tibetan monk said that they were basically the same, except for one difference: he said the Christians believe that the Universe was created, while the Buddhists believe that the Universe is self-creating.

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