Another great article by Victor Stenger. This is what makes the fundies jump up and down and foam at the mouth, while they scream about their “religious liberties” and their right to oppress others.

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Physicist, PhD, bestselling author

Scientists and Religion

Posted: 05/15/2012 12:07 pm

This essay first appeared on Science & Religion Today.

I find it surprising that most scientists, believers and nonbelievers alike, refuse to apply their critical thinking skills to matters of religion. Unless religious teachings impinge directly on their work, such as in opposing the teaching of evolution or, more recently, in denying global warming, scientists prefer to follow Stephen Jay Gould’s dictum that science and religion occupy two “non-overlapping magisteria.”

The National Academy of Sciences is regarded as the defining voice of science in America. Its membership represents the elite of U.S. scientists. It has taken a strong position that science has nothing to say about God or the supernatural. Most other science organizations have followed its lead.

The rationale usually given by those who reject any role for science on religious matters is that science concerns itself, “by definition,” solely with natural phenomena. Since the supernatural is unobservable, then, they assert, science has nothing to say about it.

However, while supernatural entities may not be directly observable, any effects these entities might have on the material world should manifest themselves as observable phenomena. Anything observable is subject to scientific inquiry. On the other hand, if the supernatural has no observable effects on the natural world, then why even worry about it?

In recent years, right under the nose of the NAS, reputable scientists from reputable institutions have vigorously pursued several areas of empirical study that bear directly on the question of God and the supernatural. Any one of these experiments was capable of providing evidence for at least some aspect of a world beyond the material world. I will mention just two.

Teams of scientists from three highly respected institutions — the Mayo Clinic and Harvard and Duke Universities — have performed carefully controlled experiments on the medical efficacy of blind, intercessory prayer and published their results in peer-reviewed journals. These experiments found no evidence that such prayers provide any health benefit. But, they could have.

For my second example, over a period of four decades extensive investigations have been made into the phenomenon of near-death experiences (NDEs) in which people resuscitated from the brink of death report a glimpse of “heaven.” Despite thousands of such reports, not a single subject has returned with new knowledge that could be tested by further investigations. No prediction has been made of some future catastrophe that later occurred on schedule, and not for lack of opportunity given the many natural disasters — earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, tornados — of recent years. Similarly, no divine revelation has provided an answer for any currently unanswered question in science, history, or theology; such as, where in the universe we will find extraterrestrial life or the location of Noah’s Ark.

Now, I am not saying that these negative results prove conclusively that the supernatural does not exist, although a good case can be made that the absence of evidence that should be there can be taken as evidence of absence. My point here is that, in principle, experiments such as these and others could have provided direct evidence for a world beyond matter.

So, scientists and science organizations are being disingenuous when they say science can say nothing about the supernatural. They know better. Their policy of appeasing religion for presumably political reasons only empowers those who are muddling education and polluting public policy with anti-scientific magical thinking.

Furthermore, the Gould attempt to divide up the territory by ceding the moral domain to religion takes away the individual’s right to have input on moral and ethical questions, leaving those issues to scholars who interpret ancient texts. This sounds like Sharia Law to me. Moral behavior is observable and science is the best method to investigate the observable world.

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21 thoughts on “Another great article by Victor Stenger. This is what makes the fundies jump up and down and foam at the mouth, while they scream about their “religious liberties” and their right to oppress others.

  1. “How is it that one of the most brilliant brain surgeons in the world can be so incredibly ignorant (bordering on idiotic) about a scientific theory that has been the backbone of biology and geology for 150 years? The answer is one word: Religion. As long as religion infects minds, you can expect ignorance peddling from the shining stars of even the top institutes of higher education in the world.”

    http://secularhumanist.blogspot.com/2012/05/how-religion-corrupts-minds-and.html

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  2. “The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea, however fundamental it may seem to be, for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable. To be sure, theology is always yielding a little to the progress of knowledge, … and thus lingers a good while behind the event. So far as I am aware even the most liberal theologian of today still gags at scientific concepts that were already commonplaces in my schooldays.”

    (H. L. Mencken)

    That is why Analfa and his ilk still don’t believe the theory of evolution.

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  3. I left out an essential part.

    “The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea, however fundamental it may seem to be, for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable. To be sure, theology is always yielding a little to the progress of knowledge, … but this yielding is always done grudgingly, and thus lingers a good while behind the event. So far as I am aware even the most liberal theologian of today still gags at scientific concepts that were already commonplaces in my schooldays.”

    (H L Mencken)

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  4. “Our ignorance is God; what we know is science. When we abandon the doctrine that some infinite being created matter and force, and enacted a code of laws for their government … the real priest will then be, not the mouth-piece of some pretended deity, but the interpreter of nature.”

    “Science built the Academy, superstition the Inquisition.”

    (Robert G Ingersoll)

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  5. P Z Myers says it like not many can:

    “Whenever I hear that tripe about the beneficial effects of religion on human cultural evolution, it’s useful to note that the world’s dominant faiths all hardcode directly into their core beliefs the idea that women are unclean, inferior, weak, and responsible for the failings of mankind…that even their omnipotent, all-loving god regards women as lesser creatures not fit to be intermediaries with him, and that their cosmic fate is to be subservient slaves to men, just as men are to be subservient slaves to capital-H Him.

    “David Sloan Wilson can argue all he wants that religion helped promote group survival in our evolutionary history, or that his group selectionist models somehow explain its origins, but it doesn’t matter. Here and now, everywhere, those with eyes to see can see for themselves that religion has for thousands of years perpetuated the oppression of half our species. Half of the great minds our peoples have produced have lived and died unknown and forgotten, their educations neglected, their lives spent doing laundry and other menial tasks for men — their merits unrecognized and buried under lies promulgated by religion, in cultures soaked in the destructive myths of faith which codify misogyny and give it a godly blessing.

    “Isn’t that reason enough to tear down the cathedrals — that with this one far-reaching, difficult change to our cultures, we double human potential?”

    I still wonder why so many women following old Potatohead agree that women
    must be subservient to men.

    Veral daai klomp bieliebalies wat hulle as mans het. Julle weet mos wat ‘n bieliebalie is?

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    • En hulle volg ook dom hoer-poesse soos Greta Wiid, wat vas glo ‘n vrou mag niks met haar eie geslagsdele doen teensy ‘n man met wie sy getroud is haar help nie. Want haar spoke sal hulle in ‘n ewige hel in dompel as hulle dit waag om vir hulle self ‘n klein bietjie genot probeer gee. Dit is bat-shit crazy!!!!! Hoe kan enige iemand so ‘n mal kont ernstig opneem? Maar sy het haar volgelinge.

      Dis ook natuurlik baie gerieflik vir mans om geloof te gebruik om vrouens te onderdruk. Kyk gerus na al die armste lande in die wereld en ook na die wereld se vooruitstrewendste lande. In die arm lande word vroumense soos vee behandel en in die lande waar mense lekker lewens lui word vrouens met volle regte op dieslefde (of amper dieslefde) vlak as mans aangesien.

      Vnadag nog in die ryk lande is die kerke hard aan die skreeu om vrouens se regte te probeer weg vat, maar die vrouens sal dit nooit weer opgee nie. Die mans wil dit ook nie sien nie, want almal besef hoe voordelig dit is om almal dieselfde geleenthede te gee. Almal baat daaruit.

      Die Angus bieliebalies en die arme vrouens wat hulle mans ondersteun om na daardie poepol van got te gaan luister dien hulle self ‘n wond toe wat hulle met eer dra. Ek voel net jammer vir hulle arme kindertjies. Veral hulle dogters.

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      • Very often these Angus wives support this rubbish so they don’t have to work. They sit around all day discussing babies and make up while their maids do the housework and the cooking. One Angus wife I know has gotten things so far that her husband has to do all the grocery shopping. I regularly spot him at PicknPay on his lonesome. She insists that as he is the provider he must bring everything home for her, like a caveman dragging home a dead bear.

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  6. Ek volg hierdie blog al van Dr Jan Grey van Australië se dae toe al die ateïste hier hom so aangeval het. My bydraes is maar min want ek neem eintlik geen debat hier waar nie. McBrolloks, Savage en Malherbe val al ons godgelowige mense hier (en almal daar buite ook) persoonlik aan en luister nie wat daar van ‘n Christelike oogpunt gesê word nie. Dat Analfa nie met hulle wil gesprek voer meer nie is te verstane, want so wat van ‘n verdoemenis en geraas teen die Almagtige God en sy volgelinge word nie aldag gesien nie. Maar gaan maar voort, julle bewys niks (ook nie evolusie nie).

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    • Hoe gaan dit met die geleerde toor dokter Jan Grey? Het enige iemand al weer iets van hom gehoor? Ek is seker hy is al weer besig om iewers kak aan te jaag.

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    • Jy vat dit goed raak, Basjan Gerber. Ek het al opgegee om met die ouens te redeneer. Hoe redeneer jy met iemand wat dieselfde paragrafies die heeltyd herhaal. Dis amper soos chants wat hulle resiteer, wat veronderstel is om hulle beter te laat voel. Hulle raak heeltyd dieselfde nonsens kwyt en naderhand glo hulle dit. Ek praat eerder met die Christene op hierdie blog – daar’s meer waarde daarin, en hopelik hoor Savage, Malherbe en McBrolloks sodoende bietjie van die evangelie van die Lewende God ook.

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      • Dankie, Analfa. Ek het met ons predikant gepraat oor hoe om onomvegbare bewyse vir hierdie ongelowiges te gee vir die bestaan van God. Hy het gesê dit sal moeilik wees want God bestaan oral – as jy nie kan sien nie hoe wys jy iets vir ‘n blinde. Maar tog, is daar nie ‘n manier hoe mens die bestaan van Die Opperwese aan hulle kan wys nie?

        Groete

        Basjan

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        • Basjan, ek het ‘n idee hoe jy vir my kan bewys dat julle gotte bestaan. As jy sal bid dat Pierre Spies ‘n besering sal opdoen, so gou as moontelik, sodat hy vir die res van die seisoen uit is, en dit gebeur, dan sal ek glo jou gotte bestaan. Dit is ‘n wen wen vir ons almal, vir die Bulls en vir die Bokke.

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          • Baie goeie voorstel, McBrolloks! Die Bulls se kas staan vol trofeë – 4 Currie bekers gewen en een gedeel, en drie Super Rugby trofeë die afgelope 120 jaar. En Bakkies Botha en kie het so hard gebid tot Jesus dat Hy beslis aan die Bulls se kant is. Jesus sal jou gebede verhoor en Spies uit die span haal want hy is useless. So dan glo ek ook dat Jesus (en sy pa) bestaan.

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            • Moet natuurlik lees die afgelope 10 jaar. As die Bulls al 120 jaar bestaan het, moet ons die syfers met 10 vermenigvuldig.

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  7. inligting vir Analfa !

    ;D ‘n knipoog vir jou =
    ‘West African parents may wink to signal children to leave the room, especially when there is a guest, or another adult coming in. It is considered rude for children to stay in a room where adults or elders want to have a conversation, and so winking is used as a more discreet way to tell the children to leave the room.” -source wikipedia-

    Dit is tyd !

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