Letter: Way off course
t would be difficult to understate the magnitude of the misconceptions and false equivalences in Mr. Blagg’s column on religion and science.
First, the reality-based community uses the word “belief” for acceptance of propositions for which they have demonstrable and logical reasons to accept their veracity. Thus saying that scientists “believe” in evolutionary theory is not at all comparable to those who “believe” in creationism for no other reason than they want to, an utter lack of evidence, reproducible and falsifiable experimental results notwithstanding. This is the danger of accepting religious precepts as valid, and teaching (especially to children, who do not know better) that any nonsense can be “truth,” as long as one “believes.” A corollary to this notion is the fact that reality-based belief will modify itself to fit new evidence. This capacity is simply lacking in irrational belief, since evidence was never requisite to being with.
Next, Mr. Blagg promotes the calumny that those who deny the primacy of the rational necessarily have important things to say about morality that others do not possess. His inclusion of morality in such a discussion is curious: as if accepting the reality of science is somehow incompatible with moral behavior or that seeking the truth puts one in danger of immoral use of this information. This is especially galling as there is precious little in the Bible, or any other such Scripture, touching upon morality; and it offered nothing new in this regard. To this paucity, it adds much that is of dubious moral value, and compounds the error by positing that its pronouncements are universal and inviolable. People who disagree with this simply have not read the book, or chose to ignore large swaths of the text, or its origins.
To even start a conversation about the nature of reality, our place in it and even the nature of right and wrong, one needs to jettison the pernicious common irrationality that religions have as basic and immutable tenets (I say immutable, but these claims do change, and their adherents insist upon immutability at every stage, or schism on disagreement without resolution or even its possibility). This would be true even if one were only trying to arbitrate between their many competing claims of truth, let alone the ideal of finding an actual, supportable truth.