Sunday, July 01, 2007

Krauss vs. Dawkins on science and religion

This month's Scientific American has an excerpt of a dialogue between Professors Lawrence M. Krauss and Richard Dawkins entitled, "Should Science Speak to Faith?" If I have time in the next few weeks, I may post my own (rather strongly opinionated) thoughts on the matter. But in the mean time, I strongly recommend the unabridged version of the conversation, available only onlne

Money quotes:

Dawkins: "It might be surprisingly hard to detect, by observation or experiment, whether we live in a god-free universe or a god-endowed one."

Krauss: "It is essential to intellectually separate science and religion. It may be true that faith is not based upon reason, but this fact would only make it bad science if the claims of faith were in general falsifiable."

My own views are much closer to those of Dr. Krauss.


Anonymous Mike S. said...

I myself found the discussion uninteresting from a scientific perspective, and useless from a religious perspective. You have Dawkins arguing that one must berate religious believers into abandoning their beliefs, while Krauss is in favor of seducing them from their beliefs. Both accept unquestioningly the view that scientific methods are the only way of learning anything of importance. One can take that view, but, if so, there is no reason to consider religion in any light other than as a consequence of human neurology (as indeed, a well publicized book did recently)

One cannot prove scientifically that Rembrant's paining is better art than the school projects on my refrigerator magnets, but they are, and I don't think anyone (except perhaps the most extreme postmodernist) will argue the point. And of course, no one expects there to be a scientifically testable definition of good art. Likewise, one cannot prove religion scientifically, but I am not sure that is any more interesting. I would agree with Krauss and Dawkins that scientific creationism and intelligent design are lousy science (if they are science at all). I would add, although I don't think they would care, that they are lousy theology also.

Euclid realized 2500 years ago that there can no reasoning without accepting some axioms without proof as starting points. Similarly, without some basic truths accepted by both disciplines, there is no basis for any discussion of religion and science. The diologue between Krauss and Dawkins accepts scientific axioms without arguing, but, ignoring or rejecting religious axioms, they cannot really say anything interesting about religion or the relationship between religion and science or about religion.

6:46 PM  

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