Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New Scienctist Humility

From the October 8-14th New Scientist article "Meeting of the Minds" on fundamentalism we get the following, hopefully humility inspiring quote:

But how does the conflict [the compartmentalization of religious and scientific thought] translate into a social war, like that being waged over the role of science? part of the answer lies in fundamentalist's need to bolster group identity by reframing their belief in the terms of the dominant culture. In a secular, scientific culture, Savage points out, a certain level of evidence is generally required in order for knowledge to count and for individuals to act on it. Fundamentalists respond by attempting to "prove" their core beliefs: the "science-up" their faith, framing it in a way that they think ought to make sense to a scientific culture. Their claims then become, in their eyes at least, as valid as science's claims. No wonder scientists find fundamentalist's claims so infuriating: they are operating on patently false credentials.

I think in todays society, we are often too quick to self justify. While I think the minority movements of the 80's and 90's certainly actualized this human tendency, I suspect unless we are willing to look for the good that critical thought can offer, we are setting ourselves up for a compartmentalization of belief. While this may be a fine way to deal with abstract potentials, it may not be the wisest choice on the market. I fail to see why dealing with, and accepting day to day reality at face value is limiting. If religion doesn't match up with our current existence, it can only ever be applicable in an abstract world. While certain utopias may exist, limiting the conditions wherein beliefs may be correct certainly seems to severely limit the sphere of power over which one is able to operate. If I can't deal with this life, I may be missing out on a substantial fraction of the next.

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