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Science

What Scientists Really Think About Religion 1123

Posted by kdawson
from the two-towers dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post has a book review of Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, who spent four years doing a detailed survey of 1,646 scientists at elite American research universities. The study reveals that scientists often practice a closeted faith, worrying about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. 'After four years of research, at least one thing became clear: Much of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. The '"insurmountable hostility" between science and religion is a caricature, a thought-cliche, perhaps useful as a satire on groupthink, but hardly representative of reality,' writes Ecklund. Unsurprisingly, Ecklund found that 64% of scientists are either atheists (34%) or agnostic (30%). But only five of the 275 in-depth interviewees actively oppose religion; and even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves 'spiritual.' 'According to the scientists I interviewed, the academy seems to have a "strong culture" that suppresses discussion about religion in many areas,' says Ecklund. 'To remove the perceived stigma, we would need to have more scientists talking openly about issues of religion, where such issues are particularly relevant to their discipline.'"
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What Scientists Really Think About Religion

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  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @02:53PM (#32391042) Homepage

    'To remove the perceived stigma, we would need to have more scientists talking openly about issues of religion, where such issues are particularly relevant to their discipline.'"

    Which is where, exactly? Just because a scientist is studying the Big Bang theory, which has implications for the creation of the universe, doesn't make a nice, frank discussion about the Book of Genesis over tea "particularly relevant to the discipline."

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @02:54PM (#32391052) Homepage

    Why would anyone need to be "in the closet" about anything? This implies discrimination and penalties for the way you think. Scientists should be above such petty things. Science is purely objective, why do the personalities of those who practice it matter? Reproducible results are all that matter.

    If there is a discrimination problem, what should be done about it? The usual answer is education, but scientists are already educated. I was often taught that education was an effective remedy for small-mindedness, and the uneducated are far more inclined to be closed-minded. Come to think of it, it was educated people who told me that.

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @02:54PM (#32391054) Homepage

    And in other news, studies show that many people who are members of organized religion, also accept the scientific method and its conclusions.

    Never underestimate the ability of the human mind to hedge its bets.

  • by Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @02:55PM (#32391060) Homepage Journal

    I mean, if you've already subscribed to the scientific process, it's opening yourself up for ridicule if you confess to the classical theological beliefs. Why?

    I'll tell you why - the magical mystical god of the various books is hugely inconsistent and fails the basic logical challenges a scientific analysis demands.

    Science and religion are diametrically opposed in one specific thing - religion insists on telling us "it is so", while science will treat us like adults and tell us "we don't know - here is our best guess so far".

    If it's any consolation for the "but but" squad - I am unhappy with Dawkins et als representation of science. Scientific laws and theories are not _de facto_ rules of the universe, and portraying them as fact does science a disservice.

    Now here come the flame mods :-)

  • Here one angle (Score:1, Interesting)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @02:56PM (#32391084) Journal
    Christianity worships love for God is love.
    People may say science has nothing to do with love, but they're wrong.
    Many people are into science because they want to help humanity, and that is a good form of love.
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:03PM (#32391132) Homepage
    Ecklund is spinning the data, possibly to fit her pet hypothesis. For example, she claims that about half of scientists are "traditionally religious" but by her own data, 34% are atheists, 30% are strong agnostics, and 8% are believe in a higher power which they explicitly don't believe is "God." Given that, it is very hard to claim that half the scientific population is traditionally religious when three quarters aren't even theists. There are also some odd choices she makes in her definition of scientists. So for example, she includes all the social sciences but not mathematicians (something which I philosophically agree with but find sociologically suspect). There's an excellent analysis of her data by Jason Rosenhouse of her data at http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2010/05/scientists_and_religion.php [scienceblogs.com]. The most striking thing about the data, regardless of how Ecklund wants to spin it as showing scientists are religious, is how much less religious scientists are than the general population. Atheism is much more common among scientists than among the general population, as is agnosticism. Moreover, what religions are common if one looks at the theistic breakdown is very different. Evangelical Christianity for example is a much smaller percentage then one would get from a representative sample of theists.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:03PM (#32391138)

    I was often taught that education was an effective remedy for small-mindedness

    Hence, 64% of "elite" scientists are atheists or agnostics and the rest just remain quiet on the subject.

  • Re:Tom Cruise (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:06PM (#32391160)

    You realize that by saying that, you can never ever go to heaven, even if you become a born-again. Denial of the holy spirit is the one unforgivable sin. You ok with that?

    By the way, Jesus is not the Holy Spirit.
    But again you should not be afraid of free thought. This is the same terrorism the world is trying to shake off!

  • Not real science. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:09PM (#32391200)

    Please check the domain names of both articles linked. "beliefnet" and "scienceandreligion". Check some articles in each. All bullshit.

    This is obviously biased. What kind of "scientists" did they interview? Mathematicians? Chemists? Physics? Biologists?

    I'm sure you'll find more Atheists among Biologists and Quantum Physicists than among Mathematicians.

    But, regardless of their findings, and differently from religion, truth is not a poll, and that's not how science works. It doesn't matter what many people "think" or "believe" about it. There is no compelling evidence in favor of the existence of god, and lots of evidence against it. The mere idea violates many fundamental laws of physics. It defies logic. Therefore, There are NO gods. The scientific method leads us to understand that there are no gods. Many different areas of science confirm the same finding (for example, History explains how gods where invented, Psychology explains why, Physics explains why god isn't possible, Biology, Archeology and Quantum Physics explains what really happened).

    I can't stress this enough. The scientific method doesn't take polls into account. It doesn't matter if 99% of the people believe the earth is flat. Evidence shows otherwise, and that's all that matters. /In one of the linked sites, there is an article titled "How old do you think the world is?" //Who cares what you think about it? It is ~4.5 billion years old. What you believe doesn't matter, and doesn't change the truth. ///Also, regarding aggression against religion, it is NOT a bad thing. We need to be more aggressive against them, as aggressive as they are against reason.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:15PM (#32391268)

    Not 'more' interesting. Religion isn't interesting when discussing science. It has no relation.

    Likewise, there will be an equal reluctance to discuss the NBA draft, and politics. Only extremists view this as persecution, by insisting there is a relevance to spiritual matters.

    In other words, were I a religious fellow, I would have no interest in what scientists say about religion. In the same manner, I don't gather political insight from celebrities.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mederbil (1756400) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:19PM (#32391302)

    Makes sense because many scientists are from foreign countries were religion is perhaps more sacred, like India, for example.

    Although an atheist I appreciate some religion. Science can learn from it. I went to a CBC Massey lecture and listened to a great anthropologist, Wade Davis speak, and this was very well explained. If anyone else is interested in science, language, religion, anthropology and how they all come together they should read "The Wayfinders" by Wade Davis.

  • Strange Genius (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:30PM (#32391436)

    I saw this [bbc.co.uk] today. While I'm an atheist, I can see in the context of the above article that a religious scientist may still be creatively productive in science. So come out of the closet and let your freak flag fly, because other scientists will not reject verifiable information just because the source also believes in magic.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:34PM (#32391494) Journal
    I've never understood why people need to have a dichotomy between science and religion. Science appeals to people who search for truth, and traditionally so has religion. Buddha was a searcher of truth, for example. The scientific method applied to religion makes the search that much faster. I wrote a journal entry explaining how religion is falsifiable [slashdot.org]. So there is no reason to not apply science to religion. In fact, I would say you are insane if you didn't.
  • by Athrac (931987) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:36PM (#32391516)
    I'm also willing to bet that people in hard sciences, like physics, chemistry etc are far more likely to be atheists than for example sociologists or historians.
  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:37PM (#32391526)
    Russell's teapot is an analogy that only reaches so far. The difference to religion is that it has no meaning, no meaningful interpretation, no teaching. Don't get me wrong, I am an atheist myself, but most major religions differ from that. They tell a story, they have a message. The worth of that message is debatable - it can reach from inciting to hate of everything different to the simple message of "be nice to each other". Still, this is a significant difference between belief in a god and belief in Russell's teapot. Most of my colleagues are atheist, but still, some are christian and fewer buddhist. None of those is a crank, though, and none would let his beliefs interfere with his science. In other words - none is a dogmatic, a fundamentalist or a biblical literalist. That is an important difference.
  • by Shirakawasuna (1253648) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:38PM (#32391540)
    There's a common confusion here. Grandparent is not being explicitly intolerant - they are being critical. Criticizing religion or stating a problem are not in the same league as demanding coercion or social ostracization (i.e. racism). The fact that racism is based on ignorance, blind fear, and the intrinsic properties of a person also makes it a poor comparison for a criticism of religion, which has (quite obviously) many intellectual faults and is an academic (heh) topic, something chosen by people.

    I think I've made it clear that I also oppose religious thinking, but that should not detract from my point.

    The second point I'd like to make is about being "open-minded" in science. Being open-minded does not mean accepting ideas uncritically or even being polite about all ideas. It means being open to a reasonable possibility and deferring to the data and predictions, no matter how strange. Some ideas or claims are simply stupid or insulting (and utterly unsupported) and being "open-minded" should not and *will not* impede scientists from saying so. Luckily, most scientists who are also religious don't confuse their religion with their science and try to keep up a strict barrier: most caims about existence subject to rigorous skepticism are placed in the 'science' area, "personal beliefs" about existence largely shielded from skepticism in the "religion" area. While I think this is intellectually indefensible, they are at least *mostly* consistent within each of their domains.

    I seem to be rambling. The point is that the status quo holds claims of existence to have at least two domains: religious and scientific. These domains are fairly arbitrary, the primary difference being that religious claims are utterly unsupported by rigorous empiricism and are not routinely subjected to intense rational skepticism. Pointing out the failings of religion and their illogic does *not* make one intolerant, it makes one observant. It does *not* make one narrow-minded to criticize or to treat truly ridiculous ideas as laughable, it makes one realistic.

    Finally, if I had such a knee-jerk reaction as the parent, I'd call them intolerant as well - they are clearly not fine with criticisms of religion and want it to be suppressed as "intolerance". Instead, I know that they are just falling prey to the status quo of religious claims getting the nerf bat treatment.

    tl;dr: grandparent isn't intolerant, they're critical. There's a difference and scientists, of all people, know this very well.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:42PM (#32391574)

    The problem is that scientists are, as said above, human. They believe certain things because they think they are true. For whatever reason. Be it that they are religious and do not want to "disprove" God or that they're simply in an argument with another scientist and don't want to back down. Not to mention that they need grants and have to publish (or perish). How many "research" results have been fudged and doctored to come to the desired result? Be it to back up their pet theory (or at least to keep their results from disproving it), be it to remain "right" in the argument or be it to please their grant giver.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:45PM (#32391602) Homepage

    At least a secular organization does not try to indoctrinate,

    Or not [georgetownlawjournal.com].

  • by Pawnn (1708484) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:46PM (#32391620)
    I see a lot of sentiment here that religion and science have no business together, because religion says "God did it", but that sort of thought leaves out a big "what if".

    What if God did do it?

    That changes everything. That means that despite there being evidence that "something" could've happened one way, it actually happened a different way - God did it.

    In other words, a lot of times we see a result (the way things currently appear), then derive the formula to get there. We see 2, and we scientifically prove 1+1=2. But 4/2 also equals 2.

    I can feel the heat coming already. :-) We do ourselves a disservice to stop at 1+1 and say that has to be the formula when its entirely possible we're wrong.
  • by Chas (5144) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:53PM (#32391684) Homepage Journal

    Religion has absolutely no place in science.

    Correction. Religion and religious dogma has absolutely no place in the scientific method.

    Religion can motivate people to enter the scientific community for myriad reasons. Helping one's fellow man. Understanding how the world around us is put together and functions, as a means of understanding the will of God and their own place in it. Or any of a hundred other no-less-admirable reasons.

    The majority of religion is a social code to live by so we (hopefully) won't exterminate our own species. The rest of it, all the mysticism, and flash are simply window dressing to "sex up" (if you'll pardon the usage) the underlying message and make it mentally appealing to people.

    Look at it this way. I can quickly sketch out a rebellion against possibly illegitimate authority and a plot to destroy a powerful weapon in use by said authority. It won't have the same visual, mental or visceral impact that watching the original Star Wars trilogy had on people.

  • by headkase (533448) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:55PM (#32391702)
    Or you could say that without science to guide us those areas will be covered by religion. Religion covers evaluations such as: "Is it a good idea to develop weapons of mass destruction?"
  • by Shirakawasuna (1253648) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @03:56PM (#32391710)
    Let's not forget that the results overwhelmingly show atheism/agnosticism and 'liberal' religious attitudes to dominate the "elite" scientists' opinions, whereas the societal context has overwhelming theism and a huge amount of religious conservatism. Yet the author is stressing the amount of religion among scientists? It just keeps decreasing and decreasing, *despite* the society in which scientists were raised. I haven't read the book, but the choice of emphasis in these articles is very silly.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:1, Interesting)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @04:27PM (#32391986) Journal

    Just out of curiosity, what parts of Genesis are provably wrong? And please don't say how man was made, how the earth as we know it was made or anything like that. You can show a likelihood of another explanation but none of that has been proven over anything else.

  • by bkpark (1253468) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @04:28PM (#32391998) Homepage

    I'm also willing to bet that people in hard sciences, like physics, chemistry etc are far more likely to be atheists than for example sociologists or historians.

    As a practicing physicist, I'd be willing to bet against that.

    Aside from the fact that academics do tend to be less religious for whatever reason (just as they tend to be more liberal for whatever reason), I don't see why physicists or chemists would be more likely to be atheists than historians, psychologists, or biologists.

    For one, most of our work does not contradict religious doctrines—in fact, the Catholic Church was very happy about Big Bang theory when it was proposed—or deal with anything religious, meaning whether you believe in a god or not should have no impact on whether you can perform the necessary work, experimental and theoretical.

    In another, if you believe there is this hostile environment in the academia for believers, in hard sciences, your work at least can be judged by relatively objective standard (i.e. is the experiment reproducible? does the theory predict verifiable experimental results?), meaning believing scientists have better chance of surviving in physical sciences.

  • by rochberg (1444791) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @04:35PM (#32392044)

    Yeah, that sentence struck a nerve with me, too.

    These types of studies and discussions seem (to me) to be based on a completely flawed premise, which is that religion is such an important topic that everyone must talk about it. Why are there no studies examining why scientists don't talk openly about art, music, architecture, politics, pro sports, etc.? What makes religion so important that my unwillingness to discuss it openly is perceived as a character flaw?

    It seems to me that those outside the scientific community have no understanding of the culture of scientists. We care about facts, not opinions. We are trained to make assertions only when we can do so with appropriate authority and evidence. You can't make a living as a scientist by making bold statements without empirical results to support your claims. As a result of this training, most scientists shut up when the discussion moves away from their areas of expertise. If I am sitting with a group of biologists, I won't make any claims regarding the veracity of evolution. I'll let the others talk and learn from what they say. My opinion is irrelevant.

    The problem with this culture is that it assumes mutual respect and good faith. People who are motivated by religion do not share our restraint. That is, they do not experience discomfort when speaking without being able to cite the relevant study or journal paper. They are more willing to assert an opinion, and feel that it should be respected irrespective of others' opinions. That's why you have historians and philosophers (I'm looking at you, Discovery Institute) expressing pseudo-scientific opinions that they want treated with the same respect granted to peer-reviewed work. They simply do not agree with the perspective that the methods of how you came to your opinion are more important than the opinion itself.

    So I don't think scientists need to talk more about religion. We just need to do a better job of explaining why we don't talk about it.

    [Obligatory disclaimer: Coming from a science background, I feel the need to state that the preceding statements are my opinions based on observations. I did not set up a proper experiment and had not control group. Hence, these statements should not be construed as fact.]

  • Not really (Score:4, Interesting)

    by renoX (11677) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @04:57PM (#32392198)

    >While you can't prove that there is no god (or similar esoteric entity), you can still prove that certain forms of religion are wrong and self-contradicting.

    Not really, you can show inconsistency in religions but does this mean that the religious people will accept these inconsistencies as proof?
    No! They will most likely reject the 'proof'..
    Given that religions don't follow rationality, how could a rational argument be considered as a proof by religious people??

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @05:13PM (#32392320) Homepage

    We all have values of some sort (as well as things like assumptions, goals, and aesthetics) that guide our choices in life, and those can't come directly from science, even if science can interact with them. On how science and religion should interrelate, from a 1930 essay by Albert Einstein: http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm [sacred-texts.com]
    """
    For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capable, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence.
        But it must not be assumed that intelligent thinking can play no part in the formation of the goal and of ethical judgments. When someone realizes that for the achievement of an end certain means would be useful, the means itself becomes thereby an end. Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelation of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations, and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to perform in the social life of man. And if one asks whence derives the authority of such fundamental ends, since they cannot be stated and justified merely by reason, one can only answer: they exist in a healthy society as powerful traditions, which act upon the conduct and aspirations and judgments of the individuals; they are there, that is, as something living, without its being necessary to find justification for their existence. They come into being not through demonstration but through revelation, through the medium of powerful personalities. One must not attempt to justify them, but rather to sense their nature simply and clearly.
    """

  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @05:15PM (#32392340) Journal
    - How was the sample of scientists chosen ? The summary seems to make the assumption she just took the highest-level scientists she could find and interrogate them, but was that really the case or was it based on something like voluntarily responding to a form ? In which case I have the tendency to believe that believers would be more respoonsives than your regular agnosticist/atheist that just doesn't care about faith.
    - What does she call "scientist" ? It is borderline trollish but I believe that including "human science" profiles makes the rate of believers go much higher.
    - Why is this published as a book instead of a peer-reviewed paper ?
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday May 29, 2010 @05:43PM (#32392568) Homepage

    I think some of the conflict actually has nothing to do with science or God per se, but it's much more about people wanting to argue with each other for one reason or another. I hate to use this terminology, but it's a "culture war".

    It's someone saying, "I don't like they way you live your life. I don't like the way you talk about thinks or think about things, and I feel threatened by the decisions you make, so I'm going to get together with my like-minded friends and argue talk about how you're a horrible person."

    It comes from both camps. Sometimes it's because the one side is genuinely threatening to the other, but often enough, I think it's just because of the nice little ego boost that comes from calling someone else stupid. Plus, it's very upsetting for some people to admit that they might not understand something. For someone to say something you don't understand, to admit that you don't understand, and then to admit that they might not be wrong-- for some people that is in itself a terrifying threat.

    The real deal is that the scientific method can never really disprove the existence of God, so there can be no genuine conflict between science and the belief in God. And none of the major religions actually command you to be petty and ignorant and to disbelieve your experience. All the pettiness on both sides are just people being petty. There is no battle between God and science.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @05:43PM (#32392574) Journal

    Or god is malevolent, and just doesn't like certain people. The whole idea that "God answers prayers" means that god would be picking winners and losers: ie, kiss his ass, grovel a little bit pray hard to him and he *might* save your daughter from leukemia. If you don't, then he tell you to piss off, and she dies. The Abrahamic religions seem to support the idea that he *is* that kind of an asshole. Vengeful and jealous (per the actual wording in the bible and to a degree, the koran). Sorry, that doesn't sounds like an omnipotent or omniscient being, that sounds like a bully with an inferiority complex.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AffidavitDonda (1736752) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @05:43PM (#32392580)
    If you assume, that god is cheating on us with all his (or her) omnipotence, then you can give up thinking about him anyway, since you'll never be able to make out the truth. But in this case it's obvious, that he doesn't want us to believe in him. That again contradicts at least the christian and islamic believe systems, which claim that he expects us to believe.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @05:50PM (#32392650) Homepage

    Actually, it may be. On a very philosophical level. Basically on the question whether or not the people writing those old stories had some insight that we only rediscover.

    I don't dispute your assertion, but since I started out quibbling with the submitter's specific wording, I'll quibble with yours. The question is whether religious issues are "particularly relevant to the discipline" of science. They are not. Philosophers produce insight. Scientists produce data. A scientific study can be valid or invalid, conclusive or inconclusive. You very rarely hear one scientist describe another scientist's work as "insightful." Interesting, yes. Important, potentially. But scientists are not typically in the insight business.

    Could these topics be particularly relevant to someone else's discipline? Of course. Just not a scientist's.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rei (128717) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @06:07PM (#32392808) Homepage

    Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved? -- Carl Sagan, 1996

    In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed"? Instead they say, "No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way." -- Carl Sagan, "Pale Blue Dot", 1994

    In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. -- Carl Sagan, 1987

    The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity. -- Carl Sagan

    I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. -- Carl Sagan, 1996

    Sounds like not just an atheist, but someone hostile to religion, no? Yet Sagan, the guy who wrote the dragon in my garage [blogspot.com], considered himself an agostic. So in this survey, he'd come across as "agnostic", and possibly even "spiritual".

    I find nothing in this survey surprising. One can be agnostic, spiritual, but a firm disbeliever in a personal god and most organized religion, and the opposition to the scientific process that comes from it. Only people like Dawkins would fit into "Anti-religion atheist" category.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by couchslug (175151) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @06:10PM (#32392838)

    Practice is what matters in superstition, not theory.

    "It's the believers, my nonsense is LOVE!" is bullshit. RTFBs about all the bloodthirsty stuff that is encouraged or condoned.

    No one not religious defends religion. Declare YOUR religion, as a matter of integrity, so we can see what you are selling.

  • by eddy (18759) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @06:54PM (#32393128) Homepage Journal

    According to the scientists I interviewed, the academy seems to have a "strong culture" that suppresses discussion about religion in many areas

    Taking your religion to work is as relevant as taking your sex life there which for most people is, not relevant at all. Maybe this "strong culture" is merely the result of most everyone, with the exception of a fervent few, understanding this social contract. If you don't bring out your jesusspeak, I won't bring out my dong.

  • Breakdown per field (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tylersoze (789256) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @07:05PM (#32393218)

    I'd be more interested to see the percentages by scientific field. I'll wager that theoretical physics, you know the people that actually understand how the universe works on a deep level, and evolutionary biologists, the ones that understand how life works, are much less religious as a whole.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 29, 2010 @07:09PM (#32393248)

    You think that because many scientists hold religious beliefs, that religion and science are logically compatible? Seriously? You don't see what's wrong with that reasoning?

    Science is predicated on empiricism. Religion is predicated on faith. Empiricism affirms the necessity of supporting claims with evidence. Faith denies that necessity. They are mutually exclusive epistemological models.

    That's something you should've been able to figure out by yourself.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imgod2u (812837) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @07:17PM (#32393294) Homepage

    Ya. I mean all those people who didn't want penicillin, modern plumbing, flight, electricity, smallpox vaccines, the internet you're typing this on, etc. are doing so well.

    Do you even realize the insane irony of making the "we don't want your advancements" argument on the internet?

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xyrus (755017) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @07:17PM (#32393296) Journal

    Your examples easily fail, because religion does not nail anything down.

    You followed the eight fold path and you're still suffering? Well you haven't mastered it yet. You believe in God but you can't perform miracles, well you're not believing enough. You cast a love spell and the guy/girl didn't go for you, well then the cat you used wasn't black enough.

    There is always some sort of out, or loophole, or SOMETHING that allows a religion to weasel out of its own claims. Or rather, all the successful religions allow that kind of leeway.

    You CANNOT construct a falsifiable test where faith is involved. Faith is subjective, not objective. It doesn't matter what kind of evidence you bring to the table. Some people may be swayed, but most people do easily let go of their faith despite whatever evidence you have.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @07:43PM (#32393486) Journal

    Which really doesn't answer my question. Why are people on the scientific side of the debate somehow to blame, but well-organized and in some cases very well-funded Creationist groups whose major mission is to create a legislative and social shift from certain sciences just "punks"? The Discovery Institute has considerable amounts of money and a very talented pool of propagandists. And yet, it's a few whacky outspoken nerds that you think are to blame?

  • by dhammond (953711) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @07:51PM (#32393518)

    Einstein was also famously distrustful of quantum mechanics because he was convinced that God "does not throw dice". Did he allow his particular conception of God to cloud his scientific judgment?

    Stephen Hawking picked up the question in a lecture:
    http://www.hawking.org.uk/index.php/lectures/64 [hawking.org.uk]

    it seems that even God is bound by the Uncertainty Principle, and can not know both the position, and the speed, of a particle. So God does play dice with the universe. All the evidence points to him being an inveterate gambler, who throws the dice on every possible occasion.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jbssm (961115) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @08:02PM (#32393596)

    See, you come with all that Jesus, this, Jesus that crap, afraid to event think it might be wrong cause it can damn you soul to eternal damnation and say a LOT a easily verified crap, that we have to take from Christians constantly.

    Both Jesus' allies and detractors were present. The latter had good political reasons for denying the miracles, but they didn't, which suggests maybe they couldn't.

    This is just silly. Mate, you have an ENTIRE religion that denies the guys miracles, they are called JEWS.

    There is good archaeological reason to believe that the texts were recorded relatively close to the events and have been transmitted accurately, with respect to all other historical documents.

    The archaeological evidence states that the texts in the new testament where written between 50 AD and 150 AD. Now, now, seems to me that to someone that supposedly saw so many miracles, the apostles here quite a bunch a lazy guys. Some of them waited more than 100 years to actually write what they saw (they lived quite a long time back then ei?). Besides, these apostles, there were Jews according to the accounts, must have been a very special kind of fishermen. That kind of fisherman that knew how to write Greek (yeah, the new testament was originally Greek in case you don't know). Gosh, I wished we had Roman public education nowadays, even the fisherman would know how to write chinese here in Portugal.

    Many of the writers of the New Testament were so convicted by the things they witnessed, they were willing to be executed on account of their testimonies.

    Yeah, mate, you mean like nowadays muslins are so convinced about their profit deeds that they are willing to blow themselves and kill innocents all around? Oh, wait, at least those don't claim they actually saw anything they just believe in what they are told and that doesn't make any sense exactly like you.

    To say that the miracles couldn't have happened because they weren't physically possible is to miss the point completely. The miracles only have value to authenticate Jesus and God precisely because they are physically impossible for the rest of us.

    Man, that is great, let me try and do the same: "To say that the sun doesn't go around the earth because that's impossible is to miss the point completely. The breaking the laws of gravity only has value to authenticate science because they are physically impossible for the universe." Ei cool. Not bad for a 1st try. Let me try again. "To say that chicken don't have teeth, just because we are not morons and can see they don't have teeth is to miss the point completely. The teeth of the chicken, only have value to authenticate no, sorry, if you say they have teeth you have to be a moron, there is no other explanation".

    Ei, but I liked you text. It was very argumentative. I specially like the part where you send me to read a book about some JOURNALIST that was searching for some proof jesus didn't exist and became a catholic. Gosh, that must have been a really scientifically analysis by the part of a NON scientist.

    And just to end. Anytime, church actually presents proofs that something magical or that miracles existing, or even hypothesis, science always has proved them either wrong, or that what the holy mother church says it's a proof, it's not actually proof (yeah, sorry, see, telling us, some guy that was fastening 1000 years ago, saw the virgin mary coming to him, it's not considered proof dear. And we also have been there, in the Earth being the centre of the universe thing and that some guy didn't created us in 7 days. Sorry pal), so, stop pressing always the same discourse that science disregards your "proof", that you give us, is not really proof, and many times, science has been able to refute all that you have say even without you explaining exactly what it happened. Yeah, I know, that's the part when you say: "It's not to be taken literally". Ye

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @08:07PM (#32393628) Homepage

    Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of shit you'd expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would've been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago. And by the way, I say "this guy", because I firmly believe, looking at these results, that if there is a God, it has to be a man.

    No woman could or would ever fuck things up like this. So, if there is a God, I think most reasonable people might agree that he's at least incompetent, and maybe, just maybe, doesn't give a shit. Doesn't give a shit, which I admire in a person, and which would explain a lot of these bad results.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o [youtube.com]

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MZeora (1707054) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @08:13PM (#32393674) Homepage
    You cannot "measure" faith for the fact that faith from the empirical standpoint looks a hell of a lot like speculation.
    "I believe God exists" (a faith statement) and "I think there is an intelligent force which did XYZ" (a statement of speculation) look alike to me.
    When people make these claims they either have to be testable OR tossed out as nonsense until public and independent verification in a scientific manner above and beyond all possible doubt can be confirmed.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by VanGarrett (1269030) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @09:10PM (#32393932) Homepage

    There are many people who feel offended by religion. I'm not sure what the largest problem is, but a proper atheist should be indifferent to a religious symbol standing out in the middle of a desert, rather than militantly demanding its removal. The same goes for the generic mention of "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Hostility toward these things indicates that a person is, in some way, offended, or perhaps even threatened by the notion of God. A religious view makes the person uncomfortable, and there's nothing for it, but to lash out at it with anger.

    I am aware of two schools of thought on the subject. On the one hand, a lot of people stumble when they try to work out why God would allow such suffering in the world. On the other hand, there are those who view religion as Douglas Adams did-- the theologists are prepared to accept nonsense in the place of logic, and as well, they will argue logic with nonsense. If you are a logically-minded person, then this sort of approach to the universe is simply unacceptable.

    Personally, I tend to concern myself more with the things that I don't know, than the things that I do. I accept science as something that can be demonstrated, but sometimes misunderstood. Likewise, I accept religious matters as something that cannot be demonstrated, and is usually misunderstood. When the Bible claims that God created the world, I accept that, but I also observe that the Bible is rather vague on the details. I also observe that the Bible says that man was created from the dust of the Earth, and that the theory of Evolution also suggests more or less the same thing, if in more mechanical detail and with substantially less metaphor.

    The problem held by those who think as Douglas Adams did, is that to them, religion and science must be mutually exclusive, and it is exacerbated by a long history of religious leaders seeking to create a complete view of the universe based on limited religious texts and notions. What must be understood, is that it is not the realm of religion to explain the universe-- only to explain how best to handle your soul (which is, in itself, poorly defined, but generally recognized as being very important). Just the same, it is the realm of science to explore what we don't know, and little by little, fill that unfathomable chasm. Inherently, neither can outright contradict the other, in much the same way that mathematics cannot inherently contradict an apple. At best, one can describe the other, but that's as far as it goes.

    As for the problem held by the former group, those who have ethical complaints about God, well, those issues are addressed in Judeo-Christian traditions, by the book of Job, the fundamental point of which, is that God understands a great deal more about the horribly complex interactions of the population of the world and their environments, and without that level of understanding, we cannot possibly understand what is ultimately for the greater good, with perfect accuracy. The death of a righteous man may eventually lead to the repentance of an unrighteous man, or the general salvation of another person well down the line, who is unrelated. Just the same, the unexpected death of a dear loved one may result in the abrupt transformation of those who were near to him, causing them to ask questions of themselves that they otherwise would not have explored, or forcing them to rely on themselves in ways that they previously would not have; in either case, forcing them to improve. The results or benefits are generally not apparent to those involved, but in the end, it's difficult to tell what is ultimately good, and what is ultimately evil-- things are not so clean-cut. With regard to his soul, a righteous man has put his affairs in order, and he has nothing of consequence left to do for himself in this world (except perhaps, to teach others what he has learned), but an unrighteous man has yet still, a great deal of work to do before he can die in peace. If it requires the death of a righteous man, to inspire an unrighteous man to seek his salvation, then it is a bargain price well-paid.

  • by RandCraw (1047302) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @09:18PM (#32393972)

    With the aid of Google Books, I found the composition of 'scientists' in Ecklund's survey to be:

    241 physics
    214 chemistry
    289 biology
    228 sociology
    207 economics
    225 political science
    205 psychology

    BTW, the earlier oft-mentioned 1998 study of scientist faith published in Nature magazine defined 'scientist' rather differently. Their sample included only biologists, physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers. They identified merely 7% of scientists as religious, summarizing:

    "Our chosen group of "greater" scientists were members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Our survey found near universal rejection of the transcendent by NAS natural scientists. Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality)."

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @09:21PM (#32393980)

    Now, Jesus uses the miracles to prove who he is, and implicitly proves that God exists. The proof to the witnesses is compelling.

    There are miracles claimed in every religion. And, in the written accounts, the "detractors" were there. You seem to be hung up on Christianity (and, judging by your posts, an incredibly narrow form of Christianity at that). Has it never occurred to you that some other religion could be true?

  • by dfenstrate (202098) <{dfenstrate} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday May 29, 2010 @09:27PM (#32394012)

    The usefulness of the Bible depends partially on the maturity of the reader. With your bestiality argument, it appears you are in need of my help.

    Now, it wouldn't be accurate to call me a Christian, but I have come to appreciate the good Christianity has done for mankind, especially as I see what fills the same role in it's absence.

    For the moment let's assume the Bible is (among other things) our forbears passing on important lessons in the most effective way they knew.

    They start the Bible with creation. Why? (Well, aside from the fact that the 'story' begins with the start of existence.)Was this 6,000 year old passage to serve as a lecture on how the universe was assembled? Would the specifics have been relevant or useful to anyone before the last 400 years? Who would start this story with an explanation of gravitational forces? Of the Newtonian physics pulling together sufficient mass to create a self-sustaining fusion machine that lights up our solar system? Would a history of the species of the earth meant anything? Would telling the tale of evolution, and of all the extinct creatures they never saw, have served any purpose?

    Here we are, maybe six thousand years since the book of Genesis was written, and we're only now beginning to uncover the physical processes that made the universe and our world unfold. What place would this information had six thousand years ago?

    None.

    You are (besides the cow-f*cking cheap shot) 100% technically correct in your assessment of the literal truth of the book of Genesis.

    You also miss the point entirely.

    The point is this:

    This world is here for a reason. You are here for a reason. You are not an accident. The implication: Your life has a point. There is something you, and no other, are meant to do. Find it, and live up to it.

    Could this simple message, only casually hidden, have helped people you've known in your life?

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by laddiebuck (868690) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @09:52PM (#32394114)
    Except for a few happy periods in its history, there has always been something of an anti-intellectual trend in the US. Perhaps it has to do with the people who originally came here and the way the revolution is portrayed in its history books, but there is a great deal of reverse snobbery, and that goes against intellectualism too.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pseudonym (62607) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @10:05PM (#32394168)

    Religion has been deliberately opposing science since the first doctors were burned as witches. Want a list?

    No, I don't want a list, and neither should you. The plural of "anecdote" is not "data". I don't care if some cleric somewhere disagreed with something a scientist said. I'm also only partly interested in developments (e.g. cdesign proponentsists) that are largely confined to one country. (Don't get me wrong, such developments are important, but do nothing to prove or disprove a general statement.)

    If you truly claim to be pro-science, you should demand nothing less than a systematic study of available evidence to see if religion in general is opposed to science in general. You could, perhaps, start by reading the book mentioned in TFA.

    The inconvenient thing about all this is that no matter what your preconceived biasses are, reality tends not to support them. Do you think there's no conflict between science and religion? Sorry, you're wrong. Do you think that there is an inherent conflict between science and religion? You're wrong about that, too.

    It's seductive, I know, but if it's a choice between a simplistic fantasy and a complex and interesting reality, I'll take reality.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linzeal (197905) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @10:32PM (#32394282) Homepage Journal
    Religion is incorrect and even if there were a God than we would be obliged to wage war against it. The most dangerous thing in the universe is the Christian God from the bible and it must be killed, through words or warfare.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 29, 2010 @10:52PM (#32394376)

    You CANNOT construct a falsifiable test where faith is involved. [...].

    But you can actually come up with examples and facts again and again, up until the point it reaches the threshold of 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

    You know, the threshold U.S. juries use today to convict and then execute murderers. If it's a good enough threshold to convict and kill another man with 100% certainty, then it must certainly be a good enough threshold to question religious belief as well, right?

    You cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim that there is a set of facts that, no matter how falsifiable in theory, still convinces you that another person deserves to die a 100% certain (and rather gruesome) death - while insisting that there cannot possibly be a string of facts that are enough to question faith ...

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Saturday May 29, 2010 @11:07PM (#32394450)

    How can you investigate the options when there is no evidence either way?

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tatarize (682683) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @01:54AM (#32395028) Homepage

    No. Science can disprove things. It's the one thing it's actually good it. It's basically a process whereby you guess, figure out what the consequences are of that guess, and then see if those consequences exist within reality. And, most importantly, if it doesn't mesh properly with reality it is wrong, absolutely false, no matter how much you love it.

    Religion says there was a global flood some 4,000 years ago. Science is pretty much the goto-source for calling "bullshit". The fact that you could make up ad hoc and ex post facto reasons to wishy-washy the issue means your theory is crap to begin with. You don't special plead truth into existence.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lars512 (957723) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:04AM (#32395240)

    The real deal is that the scientific method can never really disprove the existence of God, so there can be no genuine conflict between science and the belief in God.

    That's not quite true. Science demands a kind of skepticism in evaluating evidence, and makes heavy use of principles such as Occam's Razor to prune the space of propositions considered realistic given the evidence. Despite not being able to disprove many things, it certainly passes judgement on beliefs about the world which are beyond the minimum required to explain the world around us (e.g. the Flying Spaghetti Monster). The scientific mindset requires us to discard propositions which are spurious and unsupported by concrete evidence. The belief in one or more gods or an afterlife certainly fails to meet standards of evidence; scientific rigour would thus allows as to discard such beliefs. If further evidence can be brought to bear, great! Until then...

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Requiem18th (742389) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @03:50AM (#32395360)

    Part of the purpose of having a constitution is to prevent the tyranny of the majority destroying the rights of the minority.

    *sigh* This. I hate this. I'll try to correct you as you seem a good person.

    Firstly, the constitution is a document outlining restrictions on the power the federal government has over its member states. In other words, It Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means.

    Secondly in a democracy, like America, nothing stops the majority from destroying the rights of the minority, and believe it or not, this is something good. Because the rights of the minority often turn out to be tyrannic.

    Prima nocte.
    Divine right.
    Manifest Destiny.
    Slavery, this one ironically one used to exemplify the tyranny of the majority forgetting that slaves have been majorities in many societies.

    Now the majority is sometimes wrong no doubt about it. But who's to decide when it is right or wrong? The minority? Ok but what minority? Historically the ruling minority has always been tyrannical. No ruler has ever dictated an unpopular law that offered more freedom to an oppressed class.

    Lincoln is the closest one ever, but even so his abolition was the result of a popular ideology that already dominated the north of the country.

    Even the civil rights movement that could be used as an example of a minority defeating the tyrannical majority is very misunderstood.

    The minority didn't force the majority to change, rather, they nagged, educated and ashamed the majority into returning them their just rights.

    To reiterate, the white majority didn't began respecting the rights of the black minority because some abstract power descended from heaven or some benevolent dictator forced it to, but because of its own collective will, as persuaded by the black minority.

    Democracy is not perfect but it is the best thing we have, don't go around crying for the tyranny of the majority, you don't know how good you have it!

    and teach their grandsons that God created every animal separated and that evolution is a lie made by the devil, supported by Satanists.

    Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about this one without venturing into the territory of your first point. Face it, a lot of people are stupid. They'll always believe that Jesus, the magical free market, or the People's Communist Party will somehow save them, and no amount of logic or debate will convince them otherwise.

      When they try to force their beliefs on others, you can step in and tell them no, their rights do not trump the rights of others. If they keep to themselves, though, you can't do much without becoming exactly what you're trying to eliminate.

    Er no, speaking out our mind is one thing we can do, and it has a effect. The only disruptive behavior I'm advocating is dialog.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @06:56AM (#32396008)

    No. Every scientific test has the unwritten assumption of Ceteris paribus [wikipedia.org] - "all else being equal". It means that the test is assuming an otherwise neutral environment. Part of that assumption is that the universe is based on rational laws. If there actually exists a force that can transcend rational laws (a deity) then science goes out the window whenever that force choses to get involved, as it's basic assumption (a rational universe) is invalid.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2010 @07:13AM (#32396080)

    Different religions cannot be right at the same time, but they can all be wrong, and at most one is right.

    So the change that a religion picked at random is right is at most 1/(number of religions).

    That means that Pascal's Wager is actually a rubbish idea. When there is more than one religion you need to choose the one with the harshest punishment for unbelievers.

    You can also make the change of choosing the right religion als close to zero as you like by cretaing even more religions than there are already in existence. There's no need to anybody to actually believe in one of these religions.

  • by Pawnn (1708484) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @07:19AM (#32396106)
    Not necessarily. Again you're saying because 1+1 comes out to 2, that 1+1 is the formula and ignoring 4/2. Perhaps with a little more research, we'd find 8/4 as another completely scientific explanation. What then? Then we'd debate on slashdot about 8/4 vs 1+1. :-) Usually we start looking for 8/4 only after some scientist concludes that 1+1=3 for large values of 1.

    Switching gears a little, there are several theories that, despite not being demonstrable, are commonly accepted because they're the only theory we have other than "God did it". Some of those theories have so much effort put into them to make them work, that the results for most of us has become faith that the scientist got it all right.

    I can't help but wonder in some cases, if the scientist who went to such great lengths just accepted "God did it" and moved onto something more important, what new discoveries he might have made.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Marble1972 (1518251) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @07:33AM (#32396172)

    For what it's worth;

    • Matter before light - Whether you see light as waves of some form of matter, or as a different form of matter (photons), neither possibility excludes matter existing prior to either material.
    • Light before Sun - Space has an awful lot of glowing plasma. You don't need a star for there to be light.
    • The division of the waters can be taken as the separation of liquid water under/around dry land from water in the atmosphere in form of clouds / water vapour / ice / snow / hail etc. There's plenty of water in there to be sure... and we couldn't live without it.

    I'll dodge the evolution argument for now thanks and make the point that your 'objectively wrong' is well objectively wrong. Unless you've witnessed a solar system / universe come into being lately or better yet managed to replicate it and published a peer reviewed paper? No? Ok - then perhaps 'subjectively wrong' is more accurate. ;)

  • by Puff_Of_Hot_Air (995689) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @09:42AM (#32396830)
    I'll take that wager. I think your simplistic egotistical view of human nature is unlikely to have any bearing on the outcome. "Well, surely the physicists and biologists will at least be rational!" I personally know two theortical physicists who have strong Christian convictions. They tell me that the elegence of the physical laws of the universe lead them to that conclusion. Obviously not an inevitable conclusion; just making the point. I am also friends with a micro-biologist, who tells me that a God is necessary for the creation of the first cell, as she does not see any other possible way it could come about. I'm not trying to suggest that these people are correct, I am merely challenging your assumption that scientific learning in these areas would naturally lead one to atheism.

"It's ten o'clock... Do you know where your AI programs are?" -- Peter Oakley

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