Thursday, August 11, 2005

A couple of items I noticed today

It is common to assume that the sciences whether natural or otherwise are "bastions of secularism" (as Dennis Prager would say). However a recent survey seems to suggest otherwise.

About two-thirds of scientists believe in God, according to a new survey that uncovered stark differences based on the type of research they do.

The study, along with another one released in June, would appear to debunk the oft-held notion that science is incompatible with religion.

Those in the social sciences are more likely to believe in God and attend religious services than researchers in the natural sciences, the study found.

This is not really a big surprise. The number of committed atheists in this country is quite small.
I think this is partly because most widely known secular philosophies are of the nihilist skeptical variety or of the communist kind. As a result, many intellectuals turn to religion despite their secular occupations because they must have an integrating point of view. As Dr. Leonard Peikoff put it in OPAR:

Philosophy is not a bauble of the intellect, but a power from which no man can abstain. Anyone can say that he dispenses with a view of reality, knowledge, the good, but no one can implement this credo. The reason is that man, by his nature as a conceptual being, cannot function at all without some form of philosophy to serve as his guide.

Jacob Weisberg of Slate has written a reasonably good essay on the incompatibility of evolution and religion. Here's an excerpt:

But the acceptance of evolution diminishes religious belief in aggregate for a simple reason: It provides a better answer to the question of how we got here than religion does. Not a different answer, a better answer: more plausible, more logical, and supported by an enormous body of evidence. Post-Darwinian evolutionary theory, which can explain the emergence of the first bacteria, doesn't even leave much room for a deist God whose minimal role might have been to flick the first switch.

Weisberg is correct. A systematic application of reason and science to the issues of life completely eliminates God from the picture.

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