Friday, 28 September 2012

What do scientists know?

Dinesh D’Souza participated in The Great Debate together with Ian Hutchinson arguing against the proposal that science has refuted religion, which was defended by Sean Carroll and Michael Shermer.

Dinesh speaks last of the four and after bit of introductory fluff which sounds like a complaint that the audience is biased he says, at 37’43”:

Here we are flung into the world and we are facing, if we are going to be thoughtful about it, some very key and fundamental questions that are very difficult to answer:

“Why is there a world, why is there a universe?”

“What are we doing here?” 

“Where are we going, what’s going to come after we die?”

“What’s the point of being here in the first place?”

I don’t think it’s possible to be an intelligent human being and not consider these questions to be important.  They have to do with what our life is all about and what this world is all about.

Now, for science to refute religion, it needs to consider the religious answers to these questions and provide a better answer.  But in fact the scientific answer to all the questions I’ve just mentioned is the following:

“Don’t have a clue”

“Don’t have a clue”

“Don’t have a clue” and

“Don’t have a clue”

Why is there a universe?  There’s no scientific answer to that question.

Why are we here?  There’s no answer to that question either.

What’s going to happen to us after we die?  Science has no clue.

This ends at about 38’54” into the video (I converted it to .mp3 so the timing might be slightly out).

Less than a minute later (about 39’30”), D’Souza says:

But science, if it claims to know what comes after death, is not only going beyond science but engaging in the most ignorant dogmatism that can be imagined, comparable to the foolishness of any mindless fundamentalist.

Science is claiming to know what it absolutely does not know.  This is the worst kind of dogmatism made even more culpable if it is engaged in by intelligent people who should know better.

Presumably there’s a group of people who say “We act on faith, we’re believers”.  Remember that those people don’t even claim to be knowers.  They’re believers.

But if you claim to be science guys, you claim to be guided by facts, by knowledge, by careful empiricism.  So don’t be led into pretending to have the answers that you manifestly don’t have.

This ends at about 40’25”.

So which do you want, D’Souza, to have your cake or to eat it?  Or is it a magic cake, so that you can eat it and still have it?  (Magic chocolate all over again.)

1 comment:

  1. “What are we doing here?”

    We are here to provide a safe haven for tapeworms.


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