« Three World Views? | Main | God and a Summer's Day »

June 30, 2006

Religion and Science

And just one more from Edward O. Wilson, in which he fails to take the why-can't-we-all-be-friends?, it's-all-just-different-perspectives-on-the-same-thing position on faith and reason:

So, will science and religion find common ground, or at least agree to divide the fundamentals into mutually exclusive domains? A great many well-meaning scholars believe that such rapprochement is both possible and desirable. A few disagree, and I am one of them. I think Darwin would have held to the same position. The battle line is, as it has ever been, in biology. The inexorable growth of this science continues to widen, not to close, the tectonic gap between science and faith-based religion.
Rapprochement may be neither possible nor desirable. There is something deep in religious belief that divides people and amplifies societal conflict. In the early part of this century, the toxic mix of religion and tribalism has become so dangerous as to justify taking seriously the alternative view, that humanism based on science is the effective antidote, the light and the way at last placed before us.

Oddly, this is an argument based not, as you might expect from a scientist, on truth, on the wrongness of religion, but on consequences: religion being ungood for societies.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at June 30, 2006 5:44 PM


As much as I can identify with Wilson's Scientific Humanism, I think he is on the inside of a glass house throwing stones. He is perfectly willing to see biology as the determining force in nature but somehow the enlighted few with the biology to embrace this world view have some moral "responsibility" because of their aquired "Intellectual Freedom".

Right after the end of your first quote he says, "To understand biological human nature in depth is to drain the fever swamps of religious and blank-slate dogma. But it also imposes the heavy burden of individual choice that goes with intellectual freedom."

He is explaining how biology is the source of an unremovable blueprint for our nature and in the middle say those who understand that fact are somehow able to rise above it to "Intellectual Freedom".

Humans do what humans do. They build machines. Then they build better machines. They believe all kinds of things, but they likes their machines. We do not need to worry about our nature; worry will not change it. We do not need to worry about science; technology is moving too fast to predict let alone control. We do not need to take any special responsibility for anything but each other's happiness. One and done.

We ruin the ride when we believe in things that have no real relationship to the world. The social consequences of religion and the social consequences of science will be what they will be.

It is arrogant to believe our puny knowledge of reality will change humanity.

Humans already have more information than they can process. They need help. Help is on the way.
What if you were a savant in every facet of perception? DNArtists, Inc.

Posted by: Jay Saul at June 30, 2006 8:13 PM

The problem with Scientific Humanism as defined and elaborated upon by Edward O. Wilson is his disregard for the fundamental difference science brings to the table:

Culture is the natural result of biology.

And since science is the natural outcome of our culture, this "discovery" is not radical but natural. His view of science seems outdated by science itself. Quantum physics demonstrates scientifically how the experimenter affects the experiment and causes the collapse of quantum states (possibilities) just by observation.

We are in the soup we are exploring. We see ourselves as the THE special ingredient, and we measure all others as if we were the center of that universe..... same as it ever was.....same as it ever was....

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 2, 2006 11:42 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)