A friend alerted me to this piece by Lawrence Krauss from the Wall Street Journal.
“J.B.S. Haldane, an evolutionary biologist and a founder of population genetics, understood that science is by necessity an atheistic discipline. As Haldane so aptly described it, one cannot proceed with the process of scientific discovery if one assumes a “god, angel, or devil” will interfere with one’s experiments. God is, of necessity, irrelevant in science.
Faced with the remarkable success of science to explain the workings of the physical world, many, indeed probably most, scientists understandably react as Haldane did. Namely, they extrapolate the atheism of science to a more general atheism.”
No surprise here. But he concludes with
“Finally, it is worth pointing out that these issues are not purely academic. The current crisis in Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma.”
Perhaps the most important contribution an honest assessment of the incompatibility between science and religious doctrine can provide is to make it starkly clear that in human affairs — as well as in the rest of the physical world — reason is the better guide.”
Reason is a better guide than what? Religion? Which religion? All religions? What empircal data does Krauss have to back up this, supposedly, scientific claim. For that matter, what precisely does it mean for reason to be a “better guide”? Better how? This is just another example of a scientist making unsubstantiated philosophical statements in the name of science. It would be interesting to hear how Krauss would explain what went wrong with “reason” with such well known atheists like Stalin or Hitler. How was “reason” a better guide with those guys? Perhaps Krauss could begin by telling us what he means by “reason” in the first place.
It always amazes me how those who claim the high road of science and scientific reasoning so easily abandon the basic rules of logic and reason when it doesn’t seem to suit their argument. He could start by telling us how he knows scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that no deity (assuming a deity exists), could take any action whatsoever that would have empirical consequences in what we call Nature, even in principle. If Krauss has no scientific answer to that question (and he doesn’t), then how does he know that the properties of our cosmos are such that miracles can not take place, even in principle? Just because science tells us how babies are formed and born does not mean that in one instance, at least, something quite extraordinary took place. Just because Krauss and his fellow atheists don’t accept such things as true or even possbile doesn’t mean they aren’t. And appealing to science is of little help to his case, since neither he nor anyone else has come up with a detailed, testable, (and potenitally falsifiable) scientific model that eliminates the possibility of miracles from ever occuring in Nature.