Tagscience vs religion

Make Money for Charity Debating Fundamentalists, Part I: The Games

Good guidelines for an ethical debate on just about any subject.

“Have you been frustrated, friends? Have you tried to talk to a fundamentalist about science? You’re frustrated, because you know that good social policy, violence prevention, social welfare, and our environment depend on ethical application of scientific thought. The stakes are high, but you can’t get through to them. Political and superstitious social policy pertaining to mental health have been disastrous. The drug war, the sorry state of mental health services, and the killing of fifteen year old Lawrence King exemplify this harm. What can you do?

Allow me to offer two suggestions that will keep you from wasting time on the people who will not engage you in a sincere way, and that might even win over some folks to your way of thinking. Each of the following is a betting game. Bet enough to make it spicy. If you can, get others to bet as people do in an office pool. This will hold people’s interest. The money won can go to a charity of the winner’s choice. Is $5 too much? Is $100 too little? Have a trusted third party hold the cash.

When you challenge the person to one of these games, if they refuse, then you would have been wasting your time having a discussion. I have never seen anything come of a discussion with a person who fades out when some accountability is introduced into the discussion. Also, if they refuse, it makes a statement about their credibility to anyone present, so make the challenge very publicly.”

(via Brain Blogger. Part 2: The 10 Ethical Debating Rules. Part 3: More Ideas)

Religion Colors Americans’ Views of Nanotechnology

“Is nanotechnology morally acceptable? For a significant percentage of Americans, the answer is no, according to a recent survey of Americans’ attitudes about the science of the very small. Addressing scientists here today (Feb. 15, 2008) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dietram Scheufele, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of life sciences communication, presented new survey results that show religion exerts far more influence on public views of technology in the United States than in Europe.”Our data show a much lower percentage of people who agree that nanotechnology is morally acceptable in the U.S. than in Europe,” says Scheufele, an expert on public opinion and science and technology.

Nanotechnology is a branch of science and engineering devoted to the design and production of materials, structures, devices and circuits at the smallest achievable scale, typically in the realm of individual atoms and molecules. The ability to engineer matter at that scale has the potential to produce a vast array of new technologies that could influence everything from computers to medicine. Already, dozens of products containing nanoscale materials or devices are on the market.

In a sample of 1,015 adult Americans, only 29.5 percent of respondents agreed that nanotechnology was morally acceptable. In European surveys that posed identical questions about nanotechnology to people in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, significantly higher percentages of people accepted the moral validity of the technology.”

(via EurekAlert)

Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0

As you watch the conversation in Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0, it might help to know about one of the sources that was helpful to me in formulating the agenda, assembling the cast of characters, and setting the tone for the meeting. I quoted this passage from Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century by Jonathan Glover (who directs the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King’s College, London):

“Now we tend to see the Enlightenment view of human psychology as thin and mechanical, and Enlightenment hopes of social progress through the spread of humanitarianism and the scientific outlook as na?ve…One of this book’s aims is to replace the thin, mechanical psychology of the Enlightenment with something more complex, something closer to reality…another aim of the book is to defend the Enlightenment hope of a world that is more peaceful and humane, the hope that by understanding more about ourselves we can do something to create a world with less misery. I have qualified optimism that this hope is well founded…”

I say Amen to that. If Enlightenment 1.0 took a thin and mechanical view of human nature and psychology, I think Enlightenment 2.0 can offer a much ‘thicker’ and cognitively richer account – less na?ve and also, perhaps, less hubristic. If there’s one thing we’ve learned – particularly from cognitive neuroscience – it is that we need to have some strategic humility about the hobby horses we are inclined to ride.

-Roger Bingham
Director, The Science Network

(Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0)

Creationism dismissed as ‘a kind of paganism’ by Vatican’s astronomer

SCOTSMAN — Believing that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday.

Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a “destructive myth” had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a “kind of paganism” because it harked back to the days of “nature gods” who were responsible for natural events.


“Fundies Say The Darndest Things!”

“I just came across the “Fundies Say The Darndest Things!” site. This will keep any unbeliever or any sensible religious person (I know I have readers in the latter category) rolling on the floor with laughter for hours … well, if you’re not simply overcome with horror. You’re warned: reading and rating all the crazy stuff on the site could become addictive. But have a look anyway.”

“Fundies Say The Darndest Things!”

via Metamagician and The Hellfire Club

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