NYT+Sept+10+T+Crane+Sci+Rel

NYT+Sept+10+T+Crane+Sci+Rel - Cut copied from NYT September...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Cut copied from NYT September 5, 2010, 5:30 PM Mystery and Evidence By TIM CRANE The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless. TAGS: PHILOSOPHY , RELIGION , SCIENCE There is a story about Bertrand Russell giving a public lecture somewhere or other, defending his atheism. A furious woman stood up at the end of the lecture and asked: “And Lord Russell, what will you say when you stand in front of the throne of God on judgment day?” Russell replied: “I will say: ‘I’m terribly sorry, but you didn’t give us enough evidence.’ ”This is a very natural way for atheists to react to religious claims: to ask for evidence, and reject these claims in the absence of it. Many of the several hundred comments that followed two earlier Stone posts “ Philosophy and Faith ” and On Dawkins’s Atheism: A Response ,” both by Gary Gutting, took this stance. Certainly this is the way that today’s “ new atheists ” tend to approach religion. According to their view, religions — by this they mean basically Christianity, Judaism and Islam and I will follow them in this — are largely in the business of making claims about the universe that are a bit like scientific hypotheses. In other words, they are claims — like the claim that God created the world — that are supported by evidence, that are proved by arguments and tested against our experience of the world. And against the evidence, these hypotheses do not seem to fare well. Religion commands and absorbs the passions and intellects of hundreds of millions of people, many more people than science does. Why is this? But is this the right way to think about religion? Here I want to suggest that it is not, and to try and locate what seem to me some significant differences between science and religion. To begin with, scientific explanation is a very specific and technical kind of knowledge. It requires patience, pedantry, a narrowing of focus and (in the case of the most profound scientific theories) considerable mathematical knowledge and ability. No-one can understand quantum theory — by any account, the most successful physical theory there has ever been — unless they grasp the underlying mathematics. Anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves. Religious belief is a very different kind of thing. It is not restricted only to those with a certain education or knowledge, it does not require years of training, it is not specialized and it is not technical. (I’m talking here about the content of what people who regularly attend church, mosque or synagogue take themselves to be thinking; I’m not talking about how theologians interpret this content.) What is more, while religious belief is widespread, scientific knowledge is not. I would guess that very few people in the world are actually interested in the details of
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
contemporary scientific theories. Why? One obvious reason is that many lack access to this knowledge. Another reason is that even when they have access, these theories
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course BIO 1410 taught by Professor Rast during the Fall '10 term at Texas State.

Page1 / 5

NYT+Sept+10+T+Crane+Sci+Rel - Cut copied from NYT September...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online