The religionistas are at it again, fervently protesting that their private feelings are the equal of rational inquiry.
Is this – as I hope – the last thrashings of religion, now it’s served its purpose (shared beliefs allow civilisations to emerge) where those with a vested interest in maintaining the power structures try to make peace with the other side?
Well, probably not, but it’d be nice to think so.
Take the guy from Manchester – who said: “Science can only explain how something was created; religion can explain why” – well, no it can’t. But it can make you feel better about not knowing. But we’ve won half the battle – this religious guy has admitted science can explain how the world was created, and therefore he admits the whole six-days-plus-a-rest brigade got it wrong.
(“Why” is a straw-man question. There isn’t any purpose or meaning to existence, save that which we impose upon it. For many people, a belief in supernatural beings is that imposition.)
And this Bishop of Southwark character, Tom Butler, said “the average person’s view is that science has disproved religion” – but spoke of the scientific theory of dark matter, which involves “a lot of dark matter which we can’t even see, being propelled by forces we don’t understand”
(That’s the point, Mr Butler. Science isn’t a frozen edifice; it’s a method of inquiry. It doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. Your crew does, and is therefore wrong by definition.)
Butler, then, is a classic god-of-the-gaps man – anything we don’t yet know everything about, he points at and yelps, “LOOK! There’s god! Over there! Just look!” And a few years later, when science has come to a reasonable consensus about its natural origins, he’ll find somewhere else to point.
And as for the mooted “battle between atheists and believers” where those nasty atheists are “misleading the public… claim[ing] science and religion are incompatible” – where are all those militant atheists, then? Where are the demonstrations in Oxford St by white-coated scientists and placard-waving mathematicians? Where, exactly, are all these damnable unbelievers sneakily inserting their rationalist agendas into the national debate?
Or could it be that religionistas just don’t like anyone disagreeing with them?
It’s a basic tenet of organisational behaviour, after all. People believe in things; a power structure takes root to take advantage of those people; the group defends its turf and its own existence, from the Romans to the Crusades to the Inquisition to Islamic terrorism.
(While it seems incredible today, for most of history the Muslims were the good guys – for around a thousand years Islam was a tolerant, diverse system that celebrated science, mathematics, and discovery. How far they have fallen, in less than a century… and, uncomfortably, it’s all Europe’s fault. After being attacked by uncivilised savages of medieaval Europe, Islam started Batmobiling, and hasn’t come out of its shell since.)
I know I shouldn’t make fun of people’s deeply-held beliefs, especially when I’m the most tolerant person in town; people are free to believe whatever private feelings make them most comfortable. But that tolerance also means I have right to take the mickey out of such beliefs.