DoSER

After my presentation Friday at the AAAS meeting, I stopped by the reception of DoSER (AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion).

It was interesting, but my impression was that this was a bunch of people trying to keep the peace by setting aside discordant voices: Dawkins-style nonbelievers and Discovery Institute-style believers. (In other words, anyone who more agressively highlights disagreements.) So it’s a bit of a club devoted to mutual back-slapping about their common reasonableness.

Having a dialogue is not a bad idea. Science and religion as important social institutions have plenty of incentive to keep the peace. Somebody should work on this. But it’s not me. One thing I like about science is that you’re allowed to call something bullshit as long as you’re willing to argue your case. In an environment like DoSER, I get the impression that this gets perceived as threatening the peace.

So I guess I hope DoSER and so forth continue doing useful political work. But if they get more influence, there’s also a danger that such efforts will be a bad intellectual influence. I wouldn’t like to see the sort of mush they promote to start interfering with work of real substance.

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