The Human Brain

The Human Brain

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Reason vs. Faith: Move Over Religion, Science is Moving In

I am sure that everybody remembers Kirk Cameron, the child star from “Growing Pains.” Well, he grew up to be a Christian Fundamental Bible Pusher. Kirk and his friend Ray Comfort are pushing a program called "The Way of the Master," which explains why all non-christians are doomed to hell. They are so inane that they have even gone as far as to reject the existence of evolution.

There is nothing I hate more than when religion buts its nose into science. Stephen Jay Gould once said that science and religion are non-overlapping magisteria. I do not subscribe to this perspective. I side with Richard Dawkins, who suggests that faith and reason are incompatible. In fact, faith is defined as belief without reason.

And like Daniel Dennett, I believe that religion is a natural phenomenon that should be subjected to the same scientific scrutiny as all other phenomena.

It does not do any good to invoke a supernatural explanation (including God or gods) to explain a complex system. Explaining the existence of life as the work of a magician whose powers are beyond our comprehension does not enhance our understanding of how life came to evolve. Life did not appear on earth by some elaborate, inexplicable magic trick. Life evolved.

Anyway, I am done spouting off. If you want to see the Rational Response Squad destroy Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s argument for the existence of God, watch Nightline tonight (May 9, 2007) on ABC or check out the nightline website.

To read more about reason vs. faith or science and religion, check out Bertrand Russell's Why I am not a Christian, Carl Sagan’s The Demon-haunted World, Richard Dawkins’s God Delusion, Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, and Sam Harriss’s The End of Faith.


Anonymous said...

As a born again Christian I do not think all non-Christians are doomed to hell. They still have up until the day they die to receive Christ as their personal savier. I would also like to say that a lot of the latest scientific studies point to evidence of a creator. So I would say that your theory of evolution is looking more like the magic trick in this scenario. It is people like you that have to keep this false theory of evolution alive because you are to afraid to face the fact that there is a real God in Heaven that loves you like a father loves his son, but will hold you accountable for your actions at the end of your days.

John Anthony Terrizzi Jr. said...

Dear Anonymous, thank you for your comment, but I fear that you grossly misunderstand evolution. Evolution is not a magic trick and does not occur by random chance. It is a systematic process of gradual adaptation that takes place over millions of years.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a science book! Try Richard Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker.
Also, you suggest that I am “to(o) afraid” to believe in God because He will hold me accountable for my actions. This is a rather presumptuous allegation. I do not need a god to bee good. I am a humanist and as Kurt Vonnegut said, “Humanism is trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”
If you have any doubts that a person needs to believe in God to have a moral compass, read Marc Hauser’s Moral Minds. Hauser presents a cogent argument for the evolution of a universal moral grammar.
Maybe it is you, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, who is afraid. Maybe you feel that you can not be good without religion as your crutch. Maybe you are afraid of death and need to believe in an afterlife for comfort. Do not project your fear upon the rest of us!

pr1ttyricky said...

"I would also like to say that a lot of the latest scientific studies point to evidence of a creator."

Well a description of just one of these "studies" would be nice. I mean, scientific evidence pointing to a creator would be a bit groundbreaking I think. So it seems a little peculiar to me, if I may say so, that there are all these studies out there that support a god hypothesis, when I am unaware of even one. So . . . yeah, please describe one . . . or at least give a citation or something.

Dr. Snail said...

Bertrand Russell is the shiznit.

Dr. Yeti said...

Dear anonymous,

Which scientific studies point to a creator? I'm a scientist, and I haven't seen one shred of proof.

Jeffry said...

Reason is so faith based its absurd. one of the most important things I have personally learned from studying evolutionary psychology is that reason and rationality evolved for the purpose of reputation management and social manipulation; not for making clear, coherent/consistent and objective analysis of the natural world. I mean, aren't we trying to abandon the whole "ecological problem solvers" narrative? We didn't evolve to be scientists and I personally think we are very bad at it (evopsych excluded, of course :-)

considering science is saturated with religious affectation, I don't even know why we have this science vs. religion conversation. I mean, really, whats the difference between God and materialist reductionism? they are both absurd notions. absurd not in their structure--you can always defend them in a debate and win if you're a decent sophist--but rather because we forget that they are utilitarian, not incontrovertibly true.

Haidt himself has written a lot trying to emphasize the importance of the aphorism, "we don't make rational choices, we rationalize the choice we make." everything we do with our thinking is post hoc narrative work. we pick and choose from the endless possibilities of interpretation and make a world. some pick and choose the evidence that justifies god, others pick and choose the evidence that justifies materialism. but it is most important to understand the EVERYBODY chooses what they do NOT because they really believe it is the truth, but because it gets them the corner on the markets of prestige/resources/mates etc.

Don't forget! the age of Enlightenment was a short historical contingency during which reason was briefly and wrongly lifted to the status of God. Further, I hope as we continue our work of making sloppy scientific narratives we will discover what I believe to be true: that we are neither primarily reasonable nor religions beings, but rather affective/reactive beings.

Anonymous said...

Reason and Science are *NOT* religion in any way. They are the process the ferrets truth out. Real truth. The type of truth that get GPS to work and cell phones to call. It is a process. The only process that has made advancements that allow humanity to so control its environment.

Evolution is a theory like the earth-centered planetary system was a theory. Religion railed against a sun-centered system for years, persecuting its proponents. But eventually, science won when the evidence became incontrovertible. Recent advances in molecular biology have put evolution in the same place as the sun-centered theory was then.

Religious people should look at the number of scientists ALL OVER THE WORLD, 99% or more, who embrace the theory of evolution now. If you still want to cling to your religious beliefs on origins, I'm sure the flat earth society has a slot for you.


jeff said...

ugh, anonymous. don't forget that science is grounded in philosophy of science. you should research the foundations/assumptions of your field before you go blindly professing its dogma. You will quickly find that most scientists and definitely most historians of science would be embarrassed by your remarks.