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Saturday, August 02, 2008

So what has atheism done for science lately?

Indeed, what has atheism done for science?, agnostic Warwick U sociologist Steve Fuller asks, and the answer is, apparently, not much:
The most popular non-answers usually involve some vague appeal to “innate animal curiosity”. But this hardly distinguishes science from, say, gossip or sheer nosiness – let alone religion. It also doesn’t explain why we persist in doing science even when trails grow cold or, worse, dangerous. Most evolutionary explanations account for a trait’s persistence in one of two ways: it either increases our chances for survival or it is the by-product of something that increases our chances for survival. But does science fit either description?
and worse,
More generally, atheism has not figured as a force in the history of science not because it has been suppressed but because whenever it has been expressed, it has not encouraged the pursuit of science. The general metaphysical idea underlying Darwinism – that a morally indifferent nature selects from among a variety of organic possibilities – has many secular and religious precedents across the world. In each case, it has led to an ethic of equanimity and even resignation, certainly not a drive to remake the planet, if not the universe, to our own purposes. Yet, so far we have got pretty far on that drive. The longer we continue successfully, the stronger the evidence that at least human life cannot be fully explained in Darwinian terms.
Actually, never mind human life, I don't think even animal life can be fully explained - or even reasonably explained - in Darwinian terms. And plant life - definitely not! Lamarck and Mendel could tell you far more about plants than Darwin ever did.

What atheism has done for science is sold a lot of popular atheist books that use the word "science" every few sentences. Wow.

See also The god they don't believe in certainly isn't great.

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Clergyman: Blame evolution, not yourself, if you are unfaithful to your spouse!

I wouldn't have believed this if friend Regis Nicoll hadn't told me:

For the past six years, pastor-turned-evangelist Rev. Michael Dowd has been going from pulpit to pulpit preaching the gospel—no, not the good news of our salvation through Jesus Christ, but of our liberation and empowerment through Charles Darwin.

How’s that? The good Reverend explains: “[Darwin gives us] a far more empirical way of talking about human nature than through stories like the original sin.”

As the New York Times's Yudhijit Bhattacharjee writes, “It explains our frailties, our addictions, our infidelities and other moral deficiencies as byproducts of adaptation over billions of years. And that, [Dowd] says, has a potentially liberating effect: never mind guilt; once we understand our sinful ways, we can get past them and play a conscious role in the evolution of humanity.”

Consider Bob Miller, an octogenarian whose string of infidelities, decades ago, led to a divorce, just as he was ascending the corporate ladder. For years Miller struggled to understand his behavior and the forces behind it. Then, a Dowd crusade came to Miller’s church...

At which point, it seems, Bob discovered that it wasn't him, after all, who was in bed with other women, it was his body, his hormones, his drives.

Oh, and by the way, Regis notes,

Dowd calls his theological perspective “creatheistic.”

Would that be “cre-atheistic?” That seems right, considering his wife, whom he describes as his “mission partner," is an atheist.

Well, of course, there is always that Bible verse, "be yoked together with unbelievers". Oh no, wait ... it actually says ... uh, not ...

If this is coming soon to a church near you, suggest that they book a marriage support ministry instead.

Hat tip: David Rice

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Just up at Colliding Universes

Do intelligent design theorists have any predictions about finding life on other planets?

How important did people think Earth was before Copernicus and Carl Sagan came along and set us straight?

Chance - you mean, it isn't really a "thing"?

Life does not defeat chaos, but outwits it by wisdom (or information)

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