Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Three Amigos

Below are the musings of three atheist amigos. Please know: These gentlemen said these things in the same conversation. Their disunited unity is a mindboggling feat. These are their actual words. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. 

Moe:There are no authorities (in science). Science questions everything.” 

Larry:I can spell it again for you if you need: Science is not a belief system! 

Curly:We just don't know what ‘good’ is . . . religion is bad for the world. . . .they make claims about what is good for this world that ARE NOT TRUE . . . science is core to having a respectable belief system . . . you cannot find what 'good' is if your moral calculus is messed up . . ." 

We begin with Moe. 

Moe claims that there are “no authorities” in science and yet he esteems science as the highest possible authority known to man. While this seems a bit incongruous, I suppose we shall just have to take his word for it.  

Notice too how Moe personifies science: Science questions everything. To Moe, science is personal, dare I say godlike. Thus, while he refuses to worship the Personal creator God of the Bible; he nevertheless prostrates before the non-personal god of his creation: “Science the Great and Powerful!” 

But science isn’t personal neither is it godlike. Science is simply “the pursuit of systematized knowledge and understanding about the way the universe, with its governing laws and all it contains, operates” (Hugh Ross, More Than a Theory, p. 18). 

Still, even allowing for the idolatrous, non-scientific personification of science; is it really the case that science questions everything? I think not. 

Do scientists seriously question the reality of the external world, the reliability of sense perception, the rationality of their own mind, the rapier wit of Christopher Hitchens? No.  

Furthermore, do scientists question science? Scientists can, and certainly do, question other scientists; but do they question them non-scientifically? Of course not. It seems scientists with their science are not unlike skeptics with their skepticism. That is, they question everything but their science. 

But the real difficulty isn’t in the illusion that science questions everything—far from it. The real danger is found in the pretension that science answers everything. 

We have recently witnessed several physicists (such as Stephen Hawking or Lawrence Krauss) argue that physics can explain everything . . . that there will ultimately be a 'physical theory of everything' . . . 

That science can answer everything is a grand fantasy, a science fiction, if you will. That there are no answers to anything outside of science; that science alone holds all of the answers to all of life’s legitimate questions, is the grandest of all deceptions. It’s “The Science Delusion.” 

Speaking of delusions: Enter Larry with his belief that “Science is not a belief system!”  

This little nugget would certainly be news to Richard Dawkins. And more importantly, as it turns out, it’s news to Curly. Subsequent to Larry’s mistimed leap into irrationality, Curly confidently announces: “Science is core to having a respectable belief system.”
(Can you say, “Awkward”?) 

As if this unfortunate breach of etiquette isn’t enough, Curly then blathers about morality. He claims that we “just don’t know what good is” and yet, paradoxically, he somehow knows that “religion is bad for the world.”  

Upon offering such, shall we say, unconventional wisdom, Curly has the brass to mention “moral calculus”? (Methinks Curly is better suited for “moral pre-algebra.”) 

What exactly are we contemplating here? 

We have a Moe who looks to Science for questions and then goes cross-eyed to Stephen Hawking for answers. We also have a Larry who believes that science is not a system of belief and a Curly who thinks that science is at the very heart of epistemological respectability. These three amigos are a study in contradiction. 

So…who to believe: Moe, Larry or Curly?

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