left biblioblography: Belief Is Not Enough...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Belief Is Not Enough...

(Cross posted at God is For Suckers!)

selectivescience

As I've mentioned previously, I have a new job, and am in the process of the good old 90 day probationary period. As such, I have to decidedly scale back my usually loud and aggressive personality (not to the point of mumbling to myself, I might add: lately, I've been making an effort to balance my 'militancy' with diplomacy).

And so, I have an anecdotal tale to tell, which set the gears in my thick Irish skull a-turnin'.

I step out occasionally for a ciggie break, and occasionally I chat with this nice lady (who, incidentally, is a preacher's daughter).

We began discussing how politicians are inherent untrustworthy, and I pointed out to her that there's a distinct difference between flip-flopping and a politician changing his/her mind based on evidence. (I cited Bill Simon as an example, as I recall reading that he'd changed his mind on abortion, but cannot find a citation, and a Jon Carroll column that I read some years back, where he made a good argument that a politician can change his/her mind, if there's reasonable evidence to the contrary. Again, cannot find).

I brought up the recent Republican debate, where three of the runners didn't 'believe' in evolution - and of course, this opened a bit of a can of worms.

She kept emphasizing that it was important that she knew what a politician believed - I pointed out that evolution is the backbone of biology, is a science, etc.

Time for a flummox moment:

I was told that it didn't matter - it was what the person believed was important. I was also treated to the old 'Where's the spirituality? Either we came from Adam and Eve, or we just sprang up from animals" canard. I also heard about how scientists can't agree on any set theory (I very patiently pointed out that there are theistic evolutionists, such as Ken Miller, Francis Collins, etc), but she was having none of it.

I also (quite diplomatically) told her that while these 'scientists' (I love how no name-dropping is ever involved in these personal discussions, in re: the theist) disagree on the details/approach, they're in general agreement on the overall picture.

I was told if I wanted to believe that, that was fine. I began to point out that science isn't about belief, that it was based on facts and evidence, that science was about catalogued observations, at which point some fellow joined in on her side with some utterly vacuous platitudes about believing (which sounds fine and good if you're an overly tolerant lamb), at which juncture, I bit my tongue and walked away.

I'll just wait until the 90 days are up to rejoin that conversation, you betcha.

She's a nice lady. I rather like talking to her. Like myself, she's a sunny, happy person. Obviously, she's not completely daft - her job is quite a bit more complex than mine.

On the flip side, I go to lunch with the computer 'nerds' - one young fellow (I'm old enough to be his dad - no joke) is also an atheist. We struck up a conversation about thermodynamics and quantum physics, and thus, I've been dubbed 'Doug the Physicist' (utterly hysterical, as I've no college background whatsoever). He stated at one point, that being logical, he can't accept religion - it's either logical or not. Not? Gone.

In my roundabout way here, I'm somewhat indulging in what I would've liked to say - which is this:

Belief is not enough. It is not an explanation. It is not a shield. It is by no means a badge of honor, whether it is treated as such by the majority or not. It is an eccentricity, and should be treated as such.

You cannot tailor the facts to fit your worldview. Rather, you have to tailor your worldview accordingly.

When a child tells a wild fable, replete with magical creatures and wizardly feats, we laugh, pat said child on the head, and nod in agreement. After all, they're children: likelihood is, that someday they'll outgrow these wild extravagancies, or perhaps ply them as a trade, such as a fantasy/sci-fi/horror writer.

But if adults base their decisions on some obscure anachronistic piece of writing, indeed, not only their worldview, but all their decisions - politics, discrimination, if they feel the need to play mathematical games to extract an answer (rather than use their own noggins) or to randomly pick some verse from their wholly bibble, I'd have to say that the whole 10 percent of the brain being used myth may have some merit after all.

The day has passed, humanity's adolescence is long gone, the time for adulthood is far overdue.

Fantasies are a fine pastime for idle moments, but are unfit for that short time we have allotted to us on this planet. This cloak of flesh is all there is: best to use it wisely, live fully, for reality is a handful enough.

This is the Apostate, signing off.

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2 comments:

Chris Bradley said...

I have also noticed that a lot of theists point out the normal debate amongst scientists as to the mechanisms of evolutionary theory somehow means that they're unsure about the reality of evolutionary theory.

When that happens to me, I try to discuss with them the differences between, say, punctuated equilibrium and phyletic gradualism. Of course, they never know what these things are, so I can say that how can they say, one way or another, of biologists internal debates cast doubt on evolutionary theory when they can't even identify the two main schools of thought about the mechanisms of evolution?

I can then go on to say that, y'know, both phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibrium both support evolution and natural selection, and that scientists disagreeing with each other over a particular mechanism doesn't put the theory into question.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey, Chris, long time no see.
Yeah, I had a conversation w/a buddy of mine (YEC - oy gevalt), he whipped out some psycho fact, I countered w/'Who said that?' - fumble, fum-fah, the whole deal. I was supposed to accept it because he said it.
Blogging's taught me a lot about pinning down people on the facts. But it's a lot harder FTF - too many instances of conversationus interruptus (hehehehe).
Problem is, if someone in their social network says it, it's automatically assumed it's correct.