“Belief in moral-watching, all-knowing, punitive gods might have helped human societies grow far beyond small, close-knit groups, a new study shows. Researchers who ran an experiment with a total of 591 people in eight different small-scale societies around the world found that people who believed their deity of choice knew about their misdeeds and would punish them were more likely to play fairly in a game where money was on the line.”
“I’ve been a scientist for as long as I can remember. Children are born scientists; they experiment with everything, are naturally inquisitive and through this exploration they learn about how the world works. And I’ve never grown out of it. Of course, for many people, their modes of thought change as they find or are brought up with faith. Some manage, somehow, to hold religious beliefs alongside a dedication to the rationality of science.”
What takes precedent when one particular location has religious but also scientific significance? Do people have a responsibility to make sacrifices in the name of scientific progress?
“Debate over the Mauna Kea project seems to pit conservationists against industry, and religion against science. But for native Hawaiians for whom worship intersects stewardship of the environment, concerns about conservation and freedom of religion have blended into a common cause.”
“In his provocative new book, evolutionary biologist Jerry A. Coyne lays out in clear, dispassionate detail why the toolkit of science, based on reason and empirical study, is reliable, while that of religion—including faith, dogma, and revelation—leads to incorrect, untestable, or conflicting conclusions.
“Coyne is responding to a national climate in which over half of Americans don’t believe in evolution (and congressmen deny global warming), and warns that religious prejudices and strictures in politics, education, medicine, and social policy are on the rise. Extending the bestselling works of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, he demolishes the claims of religion to provide verifiable “truth” by subjecting those claims to the same tests we use to establish truth in science.”
“A new book by the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne tackles arguments that the two institutions are compatible.
“In the book’s 262 pages, Coyne tackles arguments stating that belief in God is a laudable quality, and reasons instead that faith is detrimental, even dangerous, and fundamentally incompatible with science, even while peacemakers try to find common ground between the two. Coyne, it should be noted, has spent much of his career objecting to religious rejection of Darwinism—he published a bestseller, Why Evolution Is True, that was based on his blog of the same name. In Faith Versus Fact, his overarching argument is that religion and science both make claims about the universe, but only one of the two institutions is sufficiently open to the fact that it might be wrong.
“The respected rabbi James Rudin has written, ‘I abhor the term Old Testament,’ because it suggests’Judaism has been replaced by Christianity and that the New Testament is superior to the Old Testament.”
“Is he right? Is ‘Old Testament’ an abhorrent and offensive phrase? I don’t think so. The phrase ‘Old Testament’ is not ideal. Yet, it is better than any of the alternatives.”
“For secular thinkers, the continuing vitality of religion calls into question the belief that history underpins their values. To be sure, there is disagreement as to the nature of these values. But pretty well all secular thinkers now take for granted that modern societies must in the end converge on some version of liberalism. Never well founded, this assumption is today clearly unreasonable. So, not for the first time, secular thinkers look to science for a foundation for their values.”