Development and science

I was shocked to hear that in Iran movie theaters — even those in science museums — refuse to show scientific documentaries that clash with fundamentalist religious doctrine. While there is much to be appreciated in religious culture and custom, it is unfortunate when one of God’s greatest gifts, the ability to reason, is thrown away without regard. Science is a human process, but of divine origins, and if there is any sin, it is ignoring the potential of humans to better understand the world.

Moreover, when fundamentalists gain cultural control, it almost always means also gaining political control. Once reason is irradiated, there is no hope for the rise of democracy. Those who cannot think for themselves, and who will not engage in systems of reasoned investigation and debate, are not able to effectively participate in democratic politics.

It is unfortunate that such a great culture is hampered by those who want to regress into the dark ages. Science arguably found its greatest home in the Arab world, and it became a shining beacon to the world because of it. It is shameful that they now are willing to reject it and turn instead to strict interpretations of religious texts.

Oh, wait, did I say Iran. I meant the US.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted 3/20/2005 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Moreover, when fundamentalists gain cultural control, it almost always means also gaining political control. Once reason is irradiated, there is no hope for the rise of democracy.

    Your argument is terribly flawed. In fact, fundamentalists here are expressing their opinions through the very definition of democracy–peaceful, nonviolent protests. That’s why these theaters won’t show the movies. That this situation is occuring simply reinforces the fact that democracy is alive and well in the U.S.

    If the tables were turned and museums wanted to show movies about religion–perhaps the “Passion of the Christ”?–and atheists objected over public use of tax dollars, I doubt I’d be reading this blog entry.

  2. Posted 3/20/2005 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    (1) The current neocon government only uses religion as a tool to teach the people their ethics. The faith is only skin deep and when the backlash comes they will turn-around and join the other side.

    (2) Science is about wondering and asking beter questions, and answering then based on real evidence. Applying the scientific approach to all aspects of life — including religion — is what I do.

    So, I’ve looked closely at the evidence for spontaneous generation of life and evolution and I find it lacking and not convincing, although some parts are interesting.

    I’ve looked at the evidence for creation and found good supporting evidence but also that there are many theories of creation that do not work.

    Because this does not mean that I ignore the evidence for a old earth. I use this information because it helps me to beter interprete the meaning. For example the meaning of (creation)”day” in Genesis is not an actual 24 hour day, but a long closed period.

    Also one realizes that “kinds” are families: Two individuals are of the same kind when they share a common ancestor.

    It allows for local groups to adapt to the local environments and they can have radical different appearance from other groups of the same kind. (Which will then be catalogued as distinct species by modern biologist.)

    This too is not inconsistent and explains all of the fossil evidence and even why there are no fossils to link some species. (Which evolution can not.)

    I have no problem to combine science and religion, but I also know that many people on both sides have the wrong idear and both try to push their theory onto the public. This is not good.

    I think that people should create their own model of the universe based on their own research of all available data, not on the authority of the sources of the model alone.

    So I welkom more information of any source and I hate any kind of censorship. Let the theories proof themselves in the light of honest evidence, and not based on preference of personal bias.

  3. Posted 3/20/2005 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    There is no place for mythology in a science museum. I can see a place for religious thought and discourse on issues like abortion and euthanasia, where the moral claim is wider than scientific thought. But when it comes to silencing a film because it appeals to reason rather than faith, this is not the practice of democracy, it is the beginning of a spiral of silence. This a regression into the dark ages, when authority was granted not by reason by faith alone. The re-mything of America will turn us into a global backwater, if it hasn’t already.

  4. Posted 3/20/2005 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    If the people desire a “re-mything of America,” so be it. Why should science be off-limits for protest in a democracy? There is nothing special about it. Science demands belief, just as religion does.

  5. Posted 3/20/2005 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Let me make a distinction. I am not saying that they can’t protest science, just like I am not saying that the American Nazi Party can’t protest equal rights for non-whites. Nonetheless, I think both kinds of protest are backwards and should not be encouraged. Although the act of protest must be protected for everyone, to the extent possible, I think it is lamentable that Americans can be so benighted.

  6. Posted 3/22/2005 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    You’re right, in a science museum one would expect science and nothing else.

    Remember however that what is considered science fact today isn’t infallible. In the long run science will correct itself, but this does not solve anything today.

    While science is not a popularity contest, sometimes it’s hard to say where the line lays between real science and populair BS.

    Maybe we should learn to accept “I don’t know” more often as the only true and honest scientific answer in some cases?

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