Thursday, May 27, 2010

Karl Giberson Whines About Atheists

Karl Giberson whines like a 5 year old. He seems to have a problem with the "new atheists" criticizing scientists that are religious.

The 90% of Americans holding beliefs incompatible with science include Charles Townes and William Phillips, who won Nobel Prizes in physics in 1964 and 1997, respectively. It includes many in between. It includes Francis Collins, who received venomous attacks from atheists when he was nominated to head the National Institutes of Health. Sam Harris described Collins' personal religious journey, unfolded in his best-seller The Language of God, as an account of "nothing less than an intellectual suicide." Harris, who finally completed his Ph.D. in neuroscience at UCLA, apparently believes that neurons used for religious belief simply won't work if applied to science. And no amount of scientific achievement by believers will convince him otherwise.

No one is saying they can't "do" science. What Harris is saying is that these people have to go through some serious mental gymnastics to connect science, which is something that exists and can be studied, to belief, which is something that exists all in a persons head. And that bit about neurons not working, how about the scientists using those neurons for science instead of wasting them on myths and thought-communication with a non-existent being.

There is something profoundly un-American about demanding that people give up cherished, or even uncherished, beliefs just because they don't comport with science. And the demand seems even more peculiar when it is applied so indiscriminately as to include religious believers with Nobel Prizes. What sort of atheist complains that a fellow citizen doing world-class science must abandon his or her religion to be a good scientist?

I am going to let the un-American things slide, since not every citizen of the world is an American. The real problem is that when you have people like Francis Collins (who can effect the way money is distributed for scientific research) that hold beliefs contrary to science, then you leave open the chance that science is going to be funded based on what that person believes instead of what is scientifically provable. The problem is not with the "world class science", its with the people who effect policy that hold beliefs contrary to science. To say that this doesn't happen is an outright lie.

Karl did a great job of building his straw man, but it only takes about 2 minutes of thought to set a match to it. This guy is nothing more than a whiner who won't be happy unless everyone who claims to "do science" is allowed to peddle their nonsense unchallenged.

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