Science ain’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean you need religion

Science ain’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean you need religion February 22, 2008

The International Society for Science and Religion recently released a welcome statement pointing out the hollowness of Intelligent Design claims. In it, they say:

We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language.

But, this being the ISSR, they have to carve out a space for religion as a tool to give us knowledge. They start by pointing out the obvious:

Scientific explanations are always incomplete

From this they build a subtle straw man, and then imply (although carefully never explicitly say) that religion can fill the gaps:

However, in most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels … We recognize that natural theology may be a legitimate enterprise in its own right, but we resist the insistence of intelligent-design advocates that their enterprise be taken as genuine science – just as we oppose efforts of others to elevate science into a comprehensive world view (so-called scientism).

In other words, science is never going to tell you everything. We can look at the world around us, figure out what patterns we can, and make logical deductions. But, at the end of the day, there will always be occasions where you have to wing it. Plus, science can never make decisions for you, because everybody has different values. People want different things from life. Even if it was possible to lay down in detail the health effects of eating that cream cake, it would still be something that person A will choose to do while person B will not.

So what, in those circumstances, should you do? Well, you could go on gut feeling – why not? Or you could flip a coin. Might as well. But you should never, ever, ever go to you local priest/mullah/shaman and ask him to make the decision for you.

Why? Well, the difference between the first two options and the ‘religion’ option is that the first two are based on an admission of a lack of knowledge, whereas the religious option is based on a pretence of knowledge that doesn’t exist.

In other words, religion gives an illusion that a choice is being made for rational reasons – and that’s got to be worse than accepting and understanding the limits of your knowledge.

A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there. A theologian is the man who finds it.

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