Listing entries tagged with Weinberg

Religion and Science -- 7

posted on 11.22.2006 at 9:42 AM

A few things are extraordinary about the New York Times report, by George Johnson, on a conference on science and religion in California.

1. The general anti-religious tone of the conference. Some quotes:

"The world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief....Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization." -- physicist Steven Weinberg
"Let's teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome -- and even comforting -- than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know." -- Carolyn Porco, a space scientist (whose ideas have been discussed here before)

Indeed, anthropologist Melvin J. Konner said at one point about the conference:

"With a few notable exceptions, the viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?"

Since public debate on such matters has been stuck so long at Y and Z, this may have been useful.

2. It is also significant that the ever-cautious New York Times felt comfortable printing an article that is so critical of religion -- an article that ends with this exchange between Weinberg and Richard Dawkins:

Before he left to fly back home to Austin, Dr. Weinberg seemed to soften for a moment, describing religion a bit fondly as a crazy old aunt.
"She tells lies, and she stirs up all sorts of mischief and she's getting on, and she may not have that much life left in her, but she was beautiful once," he lamented. "When she's gone, we may miss her."
Dr. Dawkins wasn't buying it. "I won't miss her at all," he said. "Not a scrap. Not a smidgen."

3. And the debate on how scientists should respond to religion (discussed here often) is also of interest. Here's a dissenting (maybe L or M) voice:

"Science does not make it impossible to believe in God. We should recognize that fact and live with it and stop being so pompous about it." -- Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist

Dawkins' hard-line response to this sort of statement is here.

posted by Mitchell Stephens at 9:42 AM | Comments (1)