Thursday, April 29

Sorry, Dr. Dawkins, the evidence does not support your science

"Faith, being belief that isn't based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion. ... Well, science is not religion and it doesn't just come down to faith. Although it has many of religion's virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence." - R. Dawkins

I have a number of friends and associates who are agnostics and/or atheists, all of whom strongly believe that science is superior than any sort of faith-based system. As someone who openly has faith and believes, I am commonly on the receiving end of rants not unlike Dawkins' above.

Full disclosure time. I hold three degrees in the sciences and have been professionally involved with applied, natural science for over two decades.

Returning to the main point, Dawkins, Hitchens and others like them forget/ignore the point of science and one of the underlying fundamental articles of science. Science (specifically applied science) is about gathering knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories. The present method of doing so involves creating models which simulate and explain the natural world. To do so, there are a certain number of underlying assumptions which are agreed upon at the first. If mathematicians do not agree on the value of the number one or agree on the base numbering system, then 1+1=2 may not be an absolute truth. Ergo, science is based upon agreed-upon assumptions.

This leads me to the fundamental article which they are ignoring - that the nature of the universe is constant. Evolution, to use Dawkins' hobby horse, is a well crafted theory based upon a single data set. There is no verifiable evidence to support the idea that life follows Darwin anywhere else in the Cosmos. Similarly, the fundamental laws of physics (including universal constants and the ilk) have been proven to hold true in our local neighborhood, but nowhere else. Yet to refer to that belief in evolution (or String Theory or Q.E.D.) faith would be worse than saying bad things about his mother.

My point is not to denigrate the work of these people, nor to hold a faith-based system of belief above (or in contradiction to) science. Rather, it is to highlight that science is, itself, a faith-based system of belief. One thing I have learned in my direct dealings with the natural world is that our universe does not read textbooks or reports or what the 'authorities' declare. The apple does not fall from the tree in accordance to Newton's law of gravitation, but rather the law of gravitation describes what the apple does of it's own accord. We're back to the finger pointing at the moon again.

In a TED Talk that he gave, Dawkins asks the question "Are there things about the universe that will forever be beyond our grasp?" He then spends the remainder of the time explaining how, due to the constraints of human conception, there are. How different is that from saying "Is God unknowable?"

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