Religion & Science

Richard Dawkins has a new book out called The God Delusion, which I’ve mentioned before. By way of promotion, he posted an essay at the Huffington Post and gave an interview to Salon. I’m not going to read the book because if it’s anything like his HuffPost post, it would just be hours and hours of going “yeah, I know. I agree.”

The thing that gets on people’s nerves about Dawkins is that he’s unwilling to say that science and religion can co-exist, which leaves a stark choice for a lot of people. He’s tired of this ingrained cultural idea we have that it’s okay and even noble to have faith in things without reason. I’m with him all the way, but it’s definitely hard — precisely because the idea is so ingrained. In discussion, you come off as mean when you don’t defer a bit to faith, when you don’t make exceptions for somebody’s religious beliefs. In fact, for a long time, I subscribed to the “religion and science are separate, compatible, and complementary” line.

But religion and science are not separate. Religions make factual claims, and those claims should be subjected to scientific inquiry. And when we have evidence enough to know that one claim or another is wrong — the world is flat, man was created in his present form, earth is 4000 years old — we shouldn’t hesitate to cast that claim aside. Anybody who still clings to these discarded ideas should at least be good enough to admit that they’re choosing religion over science. They should also admit that they’re choosing to be irrational, which is their prerogative.

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