Can’t We Just Agree to Differ?

Can’t We Just Agree to Differ? November 30, 2020

Well, no.

It has been tried; Stephen Jay Gould proposed that we should keep the two schools of thought, religious and non-religious, separate. He called this idea ‘non-overlapping magisteria’ (NOMA) and more or less suggested we should just ignore each other and get on with our own business.

I might be able to support that proposal if religion was as thoroughly discredited as astrology, but with historic believers, and the current batch of believers, continually trying to muscle in on my patch, and committing human rights abuse, that’s a definite no no.

Gould was right about there being no overlap – just take a look at the two different explanations for the diversity of life. I wrote yesterday about the scientific explanation see here:

The theistic explanation is entirely different. Whichever flavor of faith they adopt involves a Creator. These two models are incompatible; one must be right and the other wrong. It’s true there is no overlap, but theists show few signs of being ready to keep themselves to themselves. Gould pointed to morality as belonging to the ‘magisterium’ of religion; I say that science has some putative explanations for that too…

The scientific attitude is to point to material evidence rather than belief, and we have plenty of it. We also know the limit of our knowledge and don’t claim to have answers to questions that we haven’t solved yet. We can be honest, honorable and humble about our understanding because we don’t own it; the evidence ‘belongs’ to anyone who can observe it in the reality of the cosmos itself. 

Theists operate differently. They point to belief rather than observations and they put great store in narrative, tradition, ‘revelation’ and authority. Worst of all, they are assertive. Groundlessly assertive. They love those who are submissive and they wish to impose their faith on all and sundry; by force if necessary. Many of them will mutilate the genitals of the newborn, victimise homosexuals, and stone to death female adulterers. 

You can’t expect me to turn a blind eye to that, can you?


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