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A disregard for evidence = a moral and intellectual emergency

January 31, 2011

It is incredibly disheartening for me to see such disregard for evidence in some comments in my Facebook page. One of my contacts commented that if evidence seems to contradict a holy book, it is the evidence that must be thrown out, not the book. Another commented that he has no more faith in science’s ability to explain the origin of the universe than in the creation stories of any religion. If a disregard for evidence is closely related to a literal interpretation of scriptures as I suspect it is, the notion that nearly half of the American population likely holds similar views and is dismissive of evidence-based knowledge when it conflicts with writings from the Bronze age should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.

I’ve begun Stephen Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design, to see if he offers any explanations about how the universe could have fit into a space smaller than an atom.

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One Comment
  1. leontine permalink

    Well, I think we’ve reached a point in the history of science where a single human brain can’t hold all the information and evidence that has been gathered about how the world works. So the scientific view of the world *does* require faith. We all decide who we trust…Einstein or the Pope? Jared Diamond or the Mormon elders? I find the spirit of enquiry that informs scientific exploration more trustworthy than the spirit of, well, whatever it is that informs the religious view of the world.

    That doesn’t mean science can’t lie though. Look at the recent scandal about the (fraudulent) link between autism mmr vaccines. And even well-meaning scientists can get science wrong. Jonah Lehrer has a great article about one way that happens here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/12/13/101213fa_fact_lehrer.

    So, whichever path people choose, it’s important to keep an open mind. For me, keeping an open mind leads inevitably to science and atheism, but I have to give it to the religious people that maybe I’m missing something.

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