Hostility toward spiritual traditions may be hampering empirical inquiry.
Just as ancient doesn’t always mean wise, it doesn’t always mean foolish. The only way to determine which is the case is to put an idea — a hypothesis — to an empirical test. In my own work, I have repeatedly done so. I have found that religious ideas about human behavior and how to influence it, though never worthy of blind embrace, are sometimes vindicated by scientific examination.
“Scientists began thinking and writing about how Native Americans understand the natural world in the 20th century. Instead of seeing a conflict between Western science and Native American knowledge, they started thinking about ways to learn how Native Americans addressed environmental and ecological issues differently.”
“When his results were first published, critics argued that the weight loss could be explained by physiologic factors, such as evaporation. Moreover, his report failed to mention several patients in whom he found no weight loss. Finally, subsequent attempts to reproduce his results failed to find any weight loss. Indeed, MacDougall’s vision may have been clouded by confirmation bias, the tendency for investigators to see what they expect.”
Michio Kaku says that God could be a mathematician: “The mind of God we believe is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God.”
“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.”