Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fallacies in the Science and Religion Debate

One of the things I would like to do with this blog is to watch the raging debate between Science and Religion carefully for erroneous characterizations or fallacious reasoning.

In particular, I am interested in ways that each misrepresent the "other" in the debate. It serves us well as observers in this dialog to repeatedly ask the question "how do we know?" Not all Scientists but certainly some of the most visible regularly succumb to the straw-man fallacy by trivializing religious institutions, beliefs and practices and then demolishing their stereotypes.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the first clues in my research that scientists as a group do NOT constitute a different KIND of society or a different CLASS of individuals. Their way of knowing about their field is certainly distinct. However, when they shift their gaze to adjacent fields or to larger questions, including religion, they are susceptible to the same kinds of perceptual and cognitive pitfalls that the rest of us are. Some of the more adamant and vocal scientists who criticize religion seemed to be criticizing their own IDEA of religion and have clearly NOT observed religious individuals or communities, let alone run any experiments.

    This matters because, while we might consult a physicist on the nature of climate change, they may or may not be particularly clear-headed with respect to the ethics or efficacy of alternative interventions. With regard to the interventions, we might want to consider the opinions of philosophers, religious leaders and policy wonks with more weight... as long as they ALSO acknowledge the evidence supporting anthropogenic climate change.