Drat, just when I (O’Leary for News) complained that the new atheists had given up threatening each other with legal action, raising cain about genome mapper Francis Collins, or starting hoo-haws in elevators, this item turned up in the In Bin: Jerry Coyne in The Scientist :
But while science and religion both claim to discern what’s true, only science has a system for weeding out what’s false. In the end, that is the irreconcilable conflict between them. Science is not just a profession or a body of facts, but, more important, a set of cognitive and practical tools designed to understand brute reality while overcoming the human desire to believe what we like or what we find emotionally satisfying. The tools are many, including observation of nature, peer review and replication of results, and above all, the hegemony of doubt and criticality. The best characterization of science I know came from physicist Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that.”
Feynman should be the one threatening legal action. It’s hard to believe he would want his name used in the context of say, if peer review is working, why all the retractions today? What about, just for example, the Columbia prof whose widely cited paper was based on data that seem to have been made up?
Was that a case of collective self-fooling? Who knows? The main thing is, waving pom poms for “science” is no help.
Coyne goes on:
In contrast, religion has no way to adjudicate its truth claims, for those claims rest on ancient scripture, revelation, dogma, and above all, faith: belief without sufficient evidence.
Actually, “religion” has a number of ways to adjudicate its truth claims, and here is just one:
The idea that basing decisions on evidence is unique to science is also bunk. Businesses do it all the time. For that matter, most Christians, if you asked them why they describe themselves as such, would say that it is the evidence for what Jesus has done for them and others.
And they wouldn’t be necessarily wrong: Religious people tend to be happier and healthier.
Why are students going into debt for education from sources like Coyne?
Okay, now back to our real work shortly.
See also: Wow. Catholic Darwinism goes nuts. A mass for Darwin. Or is this a joke?
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