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Special thanks to today’s guest scriptwriter, Mary Midgley.



Discussion (37)¬

  1. You continue to amuse and amaze me, Author. Bravo yet again. They are always telling us what we think, and then telling us why what we think is wrong. But it’s seldom what we think.

  2. Bodach says:

    Ms. Midgley operates a very powerful straw man projector. Thanks, Author, for bringing her fantasies to the fore.

  3. The Beagle says:

    How is it that even though what ‘they’ purport to believe is written down, and is alleged to be the word of god, ‘they’ still claim that ‘we’ don’t understand what ‘they’ believe? Isn’t that the whole point of it being written down? How can there be room for ambiguity in the word of d’lord (arguments about god’s transcendent nature and the inadequacy of Earthly language? Don’t get me started!)

  4. wright1 says:

    I find it hilarious (because that’s easier on the blood pressure than rage) when “moderate” theists wax astounded and indignant at atheists pointing to more extreme religious views. I’ve concluded that this is deliberate ignorance: they’re pretending those people really don’t exist, that the fundamentalists are made-up atheist boogeymen.

    This head-in-sand approach does not give their “moderate” views credibility.

  5. Eric Meyer says:

    The comedy practically writes itself, man!

    (Not to take anything away from The Author’s work. It’s just, jiminy, what a target-rich environment!)

  6. Sondra says:

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Sublime.

  7. JohnnieCanuck says:

    How’s that for low-hanging fruit? Self picking and peeling, too.

  8. AchillesAndTortoise says:

    They can’t get anything right except that atheists don’t believe in gods… wait, they get that wrong when they say that we’re just angry at God… hmmm……

  9. nina says:

    it is impossible to pick a single favorite installment – because every one is a gem.

    I find the trend of the beleivers trying to make athiests out to be fundies and a religion is just sad

    I always say that the day someone suicide bombs while screaming “for nothing”, is the day that they can make that we’re the same claim.

  10. GE says:

    Hmm – I appreciate that sentiment, Nina, but it’s precisely the misperception of atheists that the fundies fall into. The bomber who screams “for nothing” could just as easily be inspired by the fact that he doesn’t collect stamps, or has never heard a composition by Liszt…which is to say, not very easily at all (why would something you’ve never really involved yourself in suddenly become your motivating factor?). Attributing the “for nothing” bomber’s inspiration to atheism is a complete disconnect – there’s no route from “I’m doing this for no reason” to “I’m an atheist.”

    Of course, that’s because you’re absolutely right that making atheists out to be fundies, or a religion at all, is just sad. Atheists have one thing in common, and it’s a lack, not a characteristic. There is no “group.” There is no “motto” because there is no group. So, no, they don’t get to make that “atheism is just like a religion” claim just because somebody with no professed allegiances (or even an explicitly stated lack of them) blows something up.

    The day a suicide bomber screams “Against all beliefs in gods!” is the day we’ll be a step closer to the idea you’re suggesting here. Of course, how that could reasonably reflect on all people who happen to share his (presumed) lack of belief in deities – like me and, I’m guessing, you – is beyond me. ;)

  11. Pappy mcfae says:

    How can one be angry at a god that doesn’t exist? If there is atheist anger in me, it’s pointed at the morons stupid enough to believe in religion, not their supposed god.

  12. [...] Wow! Just like anti-evo arguments here on C-D! Thought this was germaine… Jesus and Mo ? Archive ? view [...]

  13. David B says:

    Beautifully done. If I was on facebook, then I would have said something about it there.

    But when I get a facebook account there will be hell to freeze over.

  14. nina says:

    @GE

    You are 100% correct – thank you – “for nothing” doesn’t really translate into atheism.

    Glad to get that nipped in the bud here than risk a godbot realizing the flaw.

  15. SKF says:

    What’s the counterargument against “you have faith in science”?

  16. GE says:

    No worries, Nina – they repeat the strawmen ad nauseam, as the Author’s demonstrated so well, and it’s tough not to get it tangled up in your head! As I’d said: I was certainly behind your sentiment, just iffy on your illustration.

  17. The really funny thing is that by arguing that atheists are being “faithy fundamentalists” as part of an “atheists are bad” argument, they’re acknowledging that blind faith is a bad thing!

    Okay, so a few more rational theists might be trying to make the argument that atheists are hypocrites, but the odds aren’t good.

  18. daoloth says:

    Not all of MMs stuff was as daft as a brush.
    It is sad and salutary that a lot of her competent philosophical work (e.g. “Can’t we make moral judgements?”) was, presumably, really a lie- apologies for theism but concealled so as not to attract the obvious rejoinders.
    This saddens me because one of the few comforts of professional philosophy should be to say what you really think, even if it sounds daft (e.g. Jerry Fodor).
    Lets face it- it’s not for the money or the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation. You do not even have the politicians excuse that you lied for the greater good. Your sole mistress should be the truth.
    This means that she has nothing to show for her career at all.
    I am depressed now.

  19. foundationist says:

    Nice one yet again.

    Something that I really noticed is that the terms fundamentalism, blind faith, dogmatism and the argument from authority have become hijacked by theists, young-earth creationists, homeopaths and the likes to attack the scientific world viewS (capital S intended).

    That might be annoying but if you consider it from a long term perspective, I think it’s actually a hopeful sign. 200 years ago these terms didn’t have a bad ring to themselves and the fact that reason and critical thinking have become so popular that even those who don’t do it have to pretend to do it (and fool themselves that this is what they are doing) is a good sign in itself.

    Always looking on the bright side…..

  20. Jerry w says:

    Everybody should believe in something —
    I believe I’ll have another drink. —
    W. C. Fields.

  21. lol says:

    I’d like to point out that, though atheists who know what they’re talking about might perhaps not take the theory of evolution as disproving the existence of a deity, many presumably less-well-informed specimens routinely trot out what they think are atheistic soundbites along the lines of the “evolution => no god” idea.
    In addition, a person reading the early chapters of Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” might be forgiven for supposing that those who agree with Dawkins consider that any sensible question (that is, questions that make both grammatical sense and contextual sense, so not “What does purple sound like?”) should be treated as scientifically testable. Whether or not that’s what Dawkins is saying, it certainly seems as if he does, which is enough for the, shall we say, less independently-minded atheists to declare that it is so.
    I notice that in the third panel, you don’t reject the idea that some atheists do indeed “tilt at windmills”, but are trying to point out (and I agree on this) that many theists do the same.

  22. Very neat – she retorts to their strawmen, one after the other – then when they accuse her/atheists of doing exactly what they’ve just been doing – they knock the wind out of her, and she can’t manage another word.

    I know the feeling!

  23. GE says:

    @SKF: ‘What’s the counterargument against “you have faith in science”?’

    The counterargument, because it’s simply true: I don’t have “faith” in science – I have confidence in science. “Faith” is belief without evidence. My confidence in science is based on an obscene amount of success that has led from hypothesis through experimentation to solid theories, defined mechanisms, and – and this is the kicker – useful results.

    Religious apologists can wax philosophic all night long about how their psychological puttering does, at the very least, result in “community” and “feeling good” and such. They’re right, to an extent (or they can be, depending on the individuals and the community in question). However, in order to benefit from any religion, you must actually believe in said religion.

    Meanwhile, the religious have (for the most part) no major qualms when it comes to taking advantage of efficient agriculture, mass production, the internal combustion engine, mass transit, air travel, telecommunications, computing devices, and the astounding success of medical science both in extending and improving our lives and health. Cripes, we wouldn’t have microwave ovens or yogurt without good science, and I’d lay odds that nearly every religious fundamentalist railing against “science” indulges in either or both on a quite regular basis.

    And, despite the fact that you must believe in Jesus Christ or Muhammed or whoever in order to benefit from their respective religions, you can remain blissfully unaware of science, the scientific method, and scientific progress (and, unfortunately, many do just that), and still reap every benefit they provide.

    This, of course, is why I’m always shocked at the supposition that religion, by way of “faith,” is in any way intimately (or exclusively) connected to generosity. A large number of the people who claim such wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the wide-open doors of the scientific community sharing these benefits to each and every one of us. The scientific venue has its malefactors too, sure – people are people – but the overwhelming fact of the matter is that, since scientists are revered for being right (rather than, as religious icons are, considered right because they are revered), the requirements of the scientific method weed out the bad from the good with the most remarkable success ratio ever seen in human history.

  24. nina says:

    SKF

    they are using the slippery meanings of words

    faith in science is about trusting the process, based on quantifiable experience

    not taking something like religion on faith – that has no evidence and is a subjective experience

    I have faith that gravity works and the sun will rise tomorrow, that my car will start when I turn the key, etc

    is different than I have faith in Zeus, Odin, etc

  25. Unruly Simian says:

    @SKF – A child gets sick with unusual illness. Group of people from community come together and pray for child. Doctors decide to stop what they are doing a dedicate themselves to find cure. They do and child gets better. Parents thank the people who prayed. Go figure….

  26. Stonyground says:

    I was amazed that SKF could even ask such a question while using the internet to do so. GE, your reply was so comprehensive and well argued that really there is little more for me to add apart from the following.

    It is an important aspect of the scientific method that anyone making factual claims has to document how he came to his conclusions and invite any other competent person to either reproduce or disprove his findings. This invitation is open even to not so competent persons who are prepared to put the work in to gain competence.

    It is also important to discard any theory as soon as it has become discredited and move on. Compare this with religion where the idea that the life of JC was predicted by passages in the Old Testament was falsified over two hundred years ago and yet is still, to this day, being cited as proof of his divinity.

  27. GE says:

    Excellently put, Stonyground – the confidence I have in science isn’t because it is an unassailable fortress, but precisely because it is, by definition, an open invitation to examine, question, challenge, poke holes, and otherwise explore the conclusions we’ve come to as a collective species. (Some coming to those conclusions more painlessly than others.)

    Religion and its adherents shot themselves in the foot the moment they declared any single element of faith to be “off limits” to questioning. To be fair, if they allowed free reign to question their most basic tenets, their religions would quickly evaporate in a puff of illogic, so they do have a vested interest in locking down some of the more curious challenges. (I wish I were naive enough to believe that religion itself would disappear if they were allowed to question the foundations of their beliefs, but human nature is what it is, and those who’d rather not examine the inner workings of the world around them now won’t suddenly be happy to abandon all irrational thinking then. Religions come and go, and owe a lot more to meme theory than they’d probably be comfortable recognizing; religion, on the other hand, seems to be here to stay.)

    The eternally provisional nature of the body of scientific knowledge is often lost on those of a religious bent, because they are frequently unable to imagine a world view where everything and anything can be turned on its head, including the most basic of assumptions. This has happened multiple times in the world of science over the past few millennia. Every time a believer (of religion, crystals, fairies, Reiki, and so on) complains that my mind is closed, I wonder quite vocally why they’re unable to accept that maybe their most basic tenet – that their pet happysauce exists in the first place – could perhaps be inaccurate.

    I’d be quite ready to accept that the laws of physics are not what I currently understand them to be…if they’re ready to show me some evidence to back that up.

  28. Janus says:

    LMAO! I actually know people who say things like this! The sad, sad truth of it is…they actually believe themselves!

  29. SKF says:

    @GE and Stonyground
    Thanks for the great replies. I’m a de facto atheist myself, and believe (or have confidence) in science, at least almost as much as yourselves. But I’d argue that the question of having “faith” in science is not so easy to go about. GE, your argument is only “I think science is best simply because I’ve seen it work a lot”. You really have to do better than that, at least to beat a religious person who believes has witnessed many ‘miracles’ performed by ‘god(s)’ himself. (you can insert here any ridiculous example, from walking on water to surviving a ‘certain-death’ accident).
    By defending your view that science is a superior methodology for engaging life (I personally do believe so, meaning, if my conjecture is proved wrong, I should actually discard it and rebuild a better one), you implicitly assume that the best estimator for truth cannot be one which is inconsistent with data. but that’s a principle you abide to even before questioning which heuristic is best to engage the data. that’s why I wonder if there’s no single drop of ‘faith’ into the scientific method. Notice I said ‘data’, not ‘reality’, and think about all that this implies if you treat this questioning really rigorously.

  30. Vincent says:

    This cartoon really calls for the return of the irony meter. Spoing!!!

  31. GE says:

    I’ll try to be brief this time – I’m a little uncomfortable taking up so much of the Author’s space with my unbridled verbosity.

    @SKF:

    With no real offense intended (though one is always free to take offense whether it’s given or not), you’re playing a semantic game here, not a logical one.

    Right up front: one’s own experience is all one has to go on. It could be argued that I therefore take “on faith” the existence of anything and anyone else in the first place. However, if you’re going to go that route, then it’s time for me to stop engaging you and go enjoy a Wachowski brothers movie. Tennis is a fun sport, but it gets quite pointless if your opponent disputes the existence of the ball, the net, your racquets, the court, the line judge, the ball boys, the rules, and the very game of tennis itself. Whether the serve is in or out becomes decidedly irrelevant.

    If you want to define your terms, define your terms, and I’ll argue by them (reluctantly and with plenty of clarification if I fundamentally disagree with your definitions). However, if you really have any doubt as to the definitions I’m operating under, you’re likely either deliberately pushing them aside in playing devil’s advocate, or you haven’t read my previous posts carefully enough.

    A point is a zero-dimensional location in space; a line is a one-dimensional collection of points stretching infinitely in two directions on one axis; a plane is a two-dimensional collection of parallel lines stretching infinitely in the two directions perpendicular to their axes…and so on. I think it’s silly and pointless to ignore the “ground rules” any rational individual can recognize. You see, it’s not that there’s any fuzziness about that zero-dimensional location, or the infinite axis, or the plane. We’re just creatures of language, as imprecise as that may be, and we have to call them something.

    That being said, I’ll clarify my definition of “truth” for you, since you seem to be working with a very different version. Truth, in the classical sense, is simply accuracy. (“May your sword strike true.”) Therefore, yes, “truth” is consistent with the data – it is the most accurate assessment of the facts that we currently have based on that data. This does not mean truth itself is subjective, nor that it changes. This means that we refine our accuracy to better explain the data as we develop our means and methods of examining it, and our understanding of that truth changes.

    However, you’re still (seemingly) missing the point of the scientific method if you believe that my argument is about truth matching the data we already have, or that I think science is best “simply because I’ve seen it work a lot.”

    The much more impressive ability of the scientific method – more impressive than explaining what we’ve already seen – is its ability to predict what we have yet to see. Newton’s laws of motion do an incredible job of telling us where an object with a given location, velocity, and generally consistent external influences will be in a moment, a day, a year, a decade (and they work just as well backward). Einstein’s relativistic theories predicted specific phenomena…that were confirmed by experimentation (in fact, they’re still confirmed routinely – every time we turn on a particle accelerator).

    Folks can witness “miracles” all they like, and pretend that prophets have “predicted” the future – but human perception and memory are remarkably fallible and malleable, and confirmation bias is rampant. (Frighteningly so, in some cases – I’d happily recommend some reading on this subject, because it’s pretty astounding.) What one person sees as a miracle, another sees as perfectly reasonable when seen in the light of a bit of study…or, alternately, as an incredible coincidence that still operates under known natural laws. And those “miracles” which truly defy explanation invariably have a finite number of witnesses and are never reliably replicated.

    Meanwhile, the “truth” of what science has gleaned – as I exhaustively explained above – is available for everyone. It’s not about it simply not being inconsistent with data – it’s about it being replicated, over and over, by individual researchers and even laypersons in their daily lives. As Stonyground smartly pointed out: anyone can conduct experimentation and get the same results. If they get different results, and can reliably replicate them, and others can do so as well, then we incorporate this new data to refine our understanding of what’s going on.

    Pick up your mouse (assuming you’ve got one attached to your computer). Drop it. Congratulations – you’ve just replicated a (very simple) experiment that confirms gravity. Do it again…and again…and again. I’m confident you’ll find a similar result every time.

    Pray that it rains. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. Do it every day. Depending on the climate of the region in which you live and a number of meteorological factors, you’ll likely get about a 50% positive result, give or take…the same as chance predicts (or as meteorological sciences do!).

    So is “science best”? Well – yes, of course it is. But that’s not a glib answer. Think it through. The high scorer is the “winner” of any game. The scientific method hasn’t worked “a lot” – it’s worked every time. As Adam Savage cleverly reminded us in last night’s Mythbusters clip show, there’s no such thing as a “failed” experiment. Every experiment, whether it gets the results you predicted or not, is a success, because the goal of the experiment is to get results, whatever they may be!

    In other words, the scientific method is astonishingly undefeated. And the series is still going. That’s not “a lot,” SKF – that’s a perfect record. “Faith,” on the other hand, seems to win the few games it has by forfeit (i.e., the frequent “can you calculate love?” arguments).

    And speaking of losing, epic fail on my “reining in the verbosity” attempt. Sorry about that, Author.

  32. SKF says:

    Dear GE, no offense taken, obviously. But I hope you don’t get mad at me for continuing to disagree with you ;)
    I understand and agree with most of your arguments. Specially because I do research in economics, so understanding and applying statistics is at the heart of most of what I do. And statistics is the tool science uses to test itself, over and over again.
    If I believe that the level of education of an individual and the wealth of his family determines his wage, I can model human interaction, apply an econometric model and scientifically test, using data sets with thousands of observations, whether my hypothesis should be rejected or not, with a certain degree of significance, under the assumptions I made during the modelling.
    Much in the same way, if I believe that motion occurs following certain laws, like gravity, I can develop the model, set a hypothesis, declare my assumptions, and test them, again with a certain degree of significance and see whether the hypothesis may be rejected or not.
    Wherever statistics is rigorously applied, be it in physics, medicine, economics, etc, the scientific method is our modus operandi and it’s probably the most powerful tool human kind has to approach truth (i.e. increase our accuracy). I get (and abide by) it, ok?
    And any example of physics or biology you might give anyone to show them the wonder of science, how it explains and predicts FACTS so powerfully, is also a body of models and tests, theory and empirics, that evolves in time whenever a theory is proved wrong. Much like when we started looking up in the skies and observing many identical stars in awkward positions, only to later find out that they were actually the same star observed in different locations: the light had bent through gravity and we started understanding how its more complex than “hey drop your pen you’ll see it’ll fall”. See, I do understand the basics.
    Now you argue that I misinterpreted you because I said you believe in science only because you’ve seen it work all the time? I’m sorry, but that IS what you are saying, every time you post. If not, why would you say “science is astonishingly undefeated” or “the high scorer is the winner of any game” or “the scientific method has worked every time”? these are a posteriori justifications for the scientific method. They don’t relay the fundamental a priori aspects of the definition of scientific method, which eventually (or logically) lead it to it’s astounding success.
    And come on, rationality? What is your definition of rationality? Consistency of belief and action? Perfect employing of perfectly employable optimal plans? Or maybe just “not contradicting yourself” (this is my favorite use of the word).
    You have greatly persuasive arguments, GE, but they can only persuade, they don’t convince. You never attempted to explain, at least whilst replying to me, why the scientific method works. you only stated that it does. That’s not enough.
    First, you said you have confidence in science because it has useful results and it has the ability to test itself. Again, this just says that science works and how it works, not why it works. the rest of the post didn’t engage my question.
    Next, you reiterate that you have confidence in science precisely because it isn’t an unassailable fortress. Again, this means you like hypothesis testing. I agree, but do you explain why testing yourself is ‘better’ than not? What’s the desirability of being able to ‘correct’ yourself through experimentation, what do you lose by going this way, what do you gain, and why would you want to gain that?
    Third. yes, science predicts many things really well. But would you ever rely on the scientific method if it weren’t successful to predict events? Now you could argue “by definition, science will correctly predict very many events”. But the onus is on you to demonstrate why (or start a sketch of a proof).
    GE, I like playing by the rules. But since you mentioned Math, let’s remind ourselves that most of it is built on Axioms. Axioms are things you take as true, for granted. That’s ok, but math only explains math. and when we try to predict something outside of math with math, we can only hope that it’ll do well predicting events, we cannot be certain. Or maybe we can, but I originally posted here for some sketch of proof for that.

    In the end, yes, I understand that arguing with someone willing to contradict himself is pointless, and I try not to be such a guy. I hope this discussion has been fruitful to you too!

    And now I realize I have yet to thank the Author for his great work. Thanks for sharing Jesus and Mo with us, it’s always a good laugh with real meaning in it!

  33. daoloth says:

    Just a small point amongst all the weighty arguments:
    Science and technology are not synonymous. Technology is practical, science is wildly counter-intuitive.
    As Lewis Wolpert put it- science is a profoundly unnatural way of thinking about the world. That’s why so few people can do, even a little bit.
    Even the “easy” stuff about Newtons laws are profoundly weird and came at the end of many odd and brilliant people thinking very hard for a long time.
    Without writing some of this down to create a rachet effect over the centuries we would have very little to show for any of it.
    Most scientists can’t understand one anothers science much and frequently just sneer at one another.
    The fact that some of this oddness sometimes, eventually, ever, yields technology is fascinating and demonstrates the difference between what our brains evolved to be good at and the way the universe actually is.

  34. GE says:

    @SKF:

    I wouldn’t get mad at your words on my screen. You do seem sincere in your questions, though I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I sense something slightly “off” in their intent. I could certainly be wrong, but I’m describing a general vibe I’m getting. At this point, I’m seeing some blatant moving of goalposts, along with at least one strawman misrepresenting both what I’ve said and what I actually believe.

    I see nowhere previously where you’ve asked anyone to explain “why the scientific method works.” Your question specifically asked for the counterargument against the challenge that “you have faith in science,” and I spoke to that – I never addressed your newly revised question, nor claimed to. Asking two questions is very different from asking one and then claiming you were asking another. I’m not presently inclined to accept you’re not deliberately moving goalposts, though that may be because I’m not familiar with you personally.

    In addition, you initially put the following words in my mouth: “I think science is best simply because I’ve seen it work a lot.” I corrected this misrepresentation of my opinion by clarifying that I’ve seen science, and the scientific method, work every time – not “a lot.” You have now claimed that I merely reiterated your (inaccurate) representation of my words, by misrepresenting your own original misrepresentation. Discussions of a posteriori or a priori might be fruitful, but they’re jumping the gun when you haven’t yet accurately captured my arguments.

    I’ll confess to a sharp disinterest in the conversation due to these turns. If you’re attempting to bolster your arguments against religious apologists, then my sincerely friendly tip would be: don’t bother. I’ve been there. They’re not even going to be “persuaded,” let alone convinced. If you have a different goal in mind in broaching the topic, then I’m even more sincerely not interested in playing philosophical games. I’ve been there too. Meanwhile, I’ve got that “real life” thing to attend to, and (as is my tendency), I’ve wasted far more of your time (and everyone else’s) with my deluge of words than I should have. Sorry for that!

    @daoloth:

    Good point, and one with which I largely agree. I believe my statements suggest that I consider technology to be one of the results I discussed – that is, it’s simply more evidence that the scientific method works, not synonymous with science itself.

    I also find it quite compelling that the scientific method of examination digs through those very “odd” and counterintuitive layers to remarkably solid results, while the religious method of examination takes what “feels right” on the surface to come up with nothing more than what they started with. This difference is illustrated by the fact that religion remains largely stagnant, while the body of scientific knowledge develops and expands astonishingly at a fantastic rate.

  35. dysamoria says:

    This was a difficult read (the comments) but it was so damn worth the effort. You folks are amazing. I’ve given up trying to form arguments for rationality because the irrational mind cannot be changed by it. Yet, I feel like saving this page’s URL for the next time I’m pushed to defend myself against an insecure religious person’s questioning of my mind. Thank you for existing, folks!

    Also: that was a fantastic statement about how science, technology & the human brain operate rather non-harmoniously :-) Loved it!

  36. LostJohn says:

    Sorry to jump into the discussion late, but I’m running through the archive and I have just reached this one. And this is rather a sore point for me.
    @SKF , “Science” and “faith” are mutually incompatible concepts. A scientist does not have faith in Science, not in the processes, principles or powers of Science any more than a mathematician does in mathematics. Science is a tool, a hammer, a screwdriver, a stick to poke at the universe with to see what it does when we wiggle it. Science is touching the flame to see if it tastes nice then *never* touching another one – except for those “I wonder if they *all* do that?” moments. With Science you don’t *need* faith. Sure, you can have a certain confidence in your equipment, your colleagues, the previous work done, all of which are “faith” in the sense of “trust”, but all of that is open to falsification.
    Twenty years ago almost every astronomer, almost every teacher of astronomy and almost every textbook agreed that human technologies would never be able to find worlds orbiting other stars, save by going there and having a close-up look. We were all wrong. We have found hundreds and some of them are orbiting very strange stars indeed.
    Astronomers [those who like planets, anyway] are *delighted* to have been wrong for all those years.
    They did not have “faith” that our technologies were inadequate to the task, they just ran the numbers, looked at their kit and longed for “Star Trek” type sensors. No “faith” gave them the knowledge of the existence of hundreds of worlds orbiting hundreds of stars, that was merely new techniques and new technologies.
    Astronomers did not have “faith” in their wrong answers, nor did they have faith in the steady improvement of technologies to bring them better answers. They just did the best they could with the tools available and were happy when their tools improved.
    Other sciences are similar. Biologists do not “believe” in Evolution, they just observe that it happens. It is not a creed, or a faith, it is a process that is happening on this planet. Biologists do not *need* faith, they do not *need” to believe, they can see the process in action.
    I depend on the technologies Science has helped us develop. I worked in IT for decades and I have needed modern medical miracles to keep me breathing. But I do *not* have “faith” in Science. I just have centuries of evidence of millions of man-years of effort that shows Science to work and *nothing* else to be anywhere near as effective.
    No belief system has ever given us a fridge to keep my milk fresh. No belief system ever *can*. Science did. The process and toolkit of Science doesn’t care what you believe – bullets fly no matter who shoots them in the name of whatever spooky big daddy in the clouds – it just works.
    The development of the process of scientific enquiry is the most magnificently beautiful thing humans have ever done. That scientists are willing to devote their lives to using the Science toolkits to improve the lives of their fellow creatures, even while those fellows insult us, denigrate us, lampoon us as “boffins”, sideline us and even burn and stone us for heresy against their ghostly big daddy is a wonderment and a testament to the magnificence of the human spirit.
    Saying scientists have “faith” the way religions use the word is a despicable insult to something magic.
    And the (often deliberate) misunderstanding of what Science is and does and could mean to Mankind is a tragedy.
    Science does not need “faith” it is ever so much better than that.

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