Sunday, April 26, 2009

Should Scientific Organizations Advocate Accommodationism?

 
John Wilkins has started an interesting debate on the topic of Science and religion for individuals and organisations. He starts with a couple of multiple choice questions.

Get on over to Evolving Thoughts and share your evolving thoughts on the subject. Meanwhile you can answer my own multiple choice question in the sidebar.
What should scientific organizations like AAAS and NAS say about religion?
a) that religion and science are compatible
b) that religion and science are incompatbile
c) nothing


19 comments :

  1. The question is not actually asking about compatibility, it's trying to define religion. PZ or Dawkins use a sense of 'religion' very close to 'dogma' or 'ignorance'. Others (NCSE) are using it almost interchangeably with 'personal philosophy'. That is the difference between options (a) and (b).

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  2. d)Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

    I vote d)

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  3. Due to the ease at which the context can be skewed one way or the other, I vote that science should stick to science and say nothing at all.

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  4. Hendrian must be a pretty lame scientist if he needs religion to make it worthwhile...

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  5. d) that some people find religion and science compatible (necessarily meaning that some people don't) ... that is, about what the NAS said.

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  6. Since science has nothing to do with religion, I think that science organizations should simply ignore religion.

    Let the transparent rationality of science stand on its own merits.

    Science needs nothing from religious superstition.

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  7. John Pieret says,

    d) that some people find religion and science compatible

    Why stop there? Why not add ....

    e) that some people find science and astrology compatible

    f) that some people find science and racism compatible

    g) that some people find science and communism compatible

    h) that some people find science is compatible with being a Republican

    i) that some scientists even like lawyers :-)

    These are all true statements.

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  8. Why stop there?Any group you think is worth reaching out to. If you don't think reaching out to religious people is worthwhile we can stop teaching evolution in all public schools in the US, where 80%+ are religious. Our taxpayers would like saving the money. For that matter, most of the students in our universities are religious and we can stop teaching the subject there too, also at great savings to the voters ... though you might find the northward migration of out-of-work college professors somewhat discomfiting.

    As to saying that some scientists like lawyers, unlike the ability of some theists to reconcile with evolution, there is no empiric evidence for that.

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  9. What should scientific organizations like AAAS and NAS say about religion?

    c) nothing

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  10. John Pieret said
    "we can stop teaching evolution in all public schools in the US, where 80%+ are religious..."

    What is the point of the above statement? It sounds like a slippery slope argument. How does it answer original question: "What should scientific organizations like AAAS and NAS say about religion?"

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  11. c)nothing

    But some of the children may still believe in Santa Claus so maybe they should allow the buttered fat man down the chimney physics hypothesis. We dare not offend anyone.

    oops I offended already I left out the tooth fairy!!

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  12. The word "religion" is a pretty big bag. There're many very different things we call religion. Some may be compatible. Many certainly not.
    In my opinion, it's all about what particular religion we're talking about. Does it make any claims about the natural world? Then, it's incompatible. If it doesn't, it may be well compatible. Go check with your local shaman.
    I think that's what AAAS and NAS should say. They shouldn't just keep silence about this. It's relevant to many people. It's not science, but's about science's place in society.

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  13. What is the point of the above statement? It sounds like a slippery slope argument. How does it answer original question: "What should scientific organizations like AAAS and NAS say about religion?"

    I was answering Larry's question as to why we should "pander" to some groups and not others. When a group is a majority, controls the law and the purse strings, and generally decides the fate of your profession, there is some small incentive. You can stay pure and unfunded or you can pay some attention to the majority that you wouldn't to some other groups.

    As I said at Wilkins' place, scientific organizations should treat this like they would advising people on student loans -- as a way to facilitate the growing of the scientific enterprise. Tell 'em that there is such a thing as help for their needs, give 'em a point in the right direction, refrain from giving 'em them detailed advice as to their own circumstances and leave it at that. Exactly what the NAS did.

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  14. I choose John Pieret's (d), just like the AAAS, NAS, and NCSE have.

    As for the hypothetical "that some people find science and X compatible" statements, we don't have well-funded, highly organized groups of astrologers, racists, communists, and Republicans trying to undermine evolution education by stating that acceptance of evolution is incompatible with astrology, racism, communism, or Republicanism, respectively.

    As a point of clarification, though, does choice (c) mean no discussion whatsoever of creationism, both traditional and intelligent design flavors? Should only the NCSE deal with creationism but not the AAAS and NAS? Should there be a totally different anti-creationism organization instead?

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  15. "Hendrian must be a pretty lame scientist if he needs religion to make it worthwhile..."

    Devin thinks Einstein is a pretty lame scientist: Einstein said that.

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  16. Science without religion is lameWhich makes beautiful sense if you, like Einsetin, define religion as something like nature appreciation. Science needs traditional theism like a fish needs a bicycle.

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  17. I finally got back to internet access. The answer is, as you say, "Nothing". But it can say that religious organisations say there is no conflict.

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  18. HOW can one "accomodate" religion when (some) religious leaders insist that their {Insert name of relevant "holy" book here} contains absolute, unalterable tuths...
    Which are shown to be false by science?

    Perhaps the accomodationists should be reminded that it is the RELIGIOUS who have started this figt - as always, every single time, right back to Giordano Bruno, and before.....

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  19. John Wilkins says,

    I finally got back to internet access. The answer is, as you say, "Nothing". But it can say that religious organisations say there is no conflict.

    Welcome back to the real world. :-)

    Can the organizations give equal weight to the statements that: (a) many religious organizations say there is a conflict, and (b) many philosophers say there is a conflict?

    Or do you maintain that it's okay to point out one position and ignore the other?

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