This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

The power of nonsense

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/the_power_of_nonsense.php

Forgive me, readers, but Madeline Bunting has raised up her tiny, fragile pin-head again, and I must address her non-arguments once more. Well, not her non-arguments, actually, but the same tedious non-arguments the fans of superstition constantly trundle out. She was at some strange conference where only people who love religion spoke and came away with affirmations of the usual tripe. It's as if the "New Atheists" have provoked a counter-attack by critics armored in pudding and armed with damp sponges.

…the Archbishop of Canterbury was brisk, and he warned, "beware of the power of nonsense". Science's triumphalist claim as a competitor to failed religion was dangerous. In contrast, he offered an accommodation in which science and religion were "different ways of knowing" and "what you come to know depends on the questions you start with". Different questions lead to "different practices of learning" - for example different academic disciplines. Rather than competitors, science and religion were both needed to pursue different questions.


We're quite aware of the power of nonsense — and I agree that it certainly has a powerful draw on some people, from those who frolic with fairies to the Archbishop of Canterbury. That's the frightening element of this whole argument, that people get sucked into spiritual fol-de-rol and think they're suddenly deep and perceptive thinkers, and that waving a little fluff at the atheists will make them run away.

We often get this vague claim that religion is a different methodology and a different way of knowing things, and that judging religion as a science is a category error. Very well: different way of knowing what? What are these different questions that they are asking, how do they propose answering them, and why should we think these questions are even worth asking, and that their answers are valid? They never seem to get around to the specifics.
...
Continue reading
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/07/the_power_of_nonsense.php

TAGGED: -, COMMENTARY, RELIGION


RELATED CONTENT

Science journalism through the looking...

Chris Chambers and Petroc Sumner -... Comments

Science has an uneasy relationship with journalism, so what can be done by both sides to improve coverage

In defence of obscure words

Will Self - BBC News Magazine 100 Comments

We chase "fast culture" at our peril - unusual words and difficult art are good for us, says Will Self.

Your Brain on Fiction

Annie Murphy Paul - New York Times 26 Comments

New support for the value of fiction is arriving from an unexpected quarter: neuroscience.

The spectre of militant secularism

Nick Cohen - The Spectator 40 Comments

If you turn on the news tonight and hear of a bomber slaughtering civilians anywhere from Nigeria to the London Underground, I can reassure you of one point: the bombers will not be readers of Richard Dawkins.

A brutal price still paid for daring to...

Amol Rajan - The Independent 39 Comments

Their assault illustrates the extent to which defenders of religion still dominate our press, the brutal retaliation exacted on clever opponents of faith and the incorrigible stupidity of Sayeeda Warsi's claim about "militant secularism" last week.

The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net 341 Comments

I can’t help wondering at the quality of journalism which sees a scoop in attacking a man for what his five-greats grandfather did.

MORE

MORE BY PZ MYERS

Don’t trust the religious

PZ Myers - Salon Comments

Does science support the idea that we should have extra confidence in the devout? No way, says a prominent atheist

Bang! How We Came To Be

PZ Myers - Pharyngula 22 Comments

Deepak Chopra reviews Richard Dawkins

PZ Myers - Pharyngula 89 Comments

I think we've been insulted by American...

PZ Myers - Pharyngula 48 Comments

"the major American publishers were reluctant to support a skeptical book, with some suggesting that I re-write it to suggest that ghosts were real and psychic powers actually existed!"

I think the creationists would rather...

PZ Myers - Pharyngula 60 Comments

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment