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  •  Most scientists very comfortable with uncertainty. (2+ / 0-)
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    terrypinder, exterris

    You're wrong when you state that scientists and science-oriented folks are uncomfortable with things "science can't explain". That's really the Discover magazine version of science- cool and flashy, and certain. But real science isn't like that at all. Instead it's a constant iterative process of ever closer approximation to truly understanding what's going on.

    This is nominally the opposite of faith-based understanding, but even that is not correct. Because, as Daniel Dennett has pointed out, religions do in fact evolve over time. They evolve to become explicitly more resistant to factual challenge or debunking; they become more slippery and elusive. Not more 'true' exactly, just harder to disprove or pin down. It's a survival advantage for religion in the age of science.

    •  There's comfort and then there's comfort (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, some scientists can deal with uncertainty fairly well in one sense - they're in the business of trying to understand things after all.

      But... data/experiments that seem suggest fundamental theories may have problems, research that challenges accepted authorities - that can make for some real fireworks.

      To get back to Semmelweis for example, even though he had real results to demonstrate he was on to something, the medical establishment was outraged and ostracized him. When Pasteur first started demonstrating that disease was something different than medicine believed, he got a lot of pushback.

      And the research into Cold Fusion is still being treated as akin to black magic in some circles. That's why it's keeping a low profile. And look how long it took plate tectonics to get acceptance.

      Scientists remain human after all.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:18:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'll have to read Dennett. I don't think I agree (0+ / 0-)

      with his assessment of religion setting itself in concrete or getting squishy in reaction to new facts. Some sects and religions do, some react to changing times, some don't. Dalai Lama's quote: “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change.”

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:23:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dennett's argument is very sophisticated. (0+ / 0-)

        He demonstrates at great length how good religion is for providing the societal 'glue' that binds a culture together. This was an enormous survival advantage back in the day of tooth-and-claw genocidal tribal conflict.

        He goes on to explain how such religions evolve over time with the cultures 'hosting' them. His main point is that religions evolve to meet the needs of their culture. But to me the real significance is how religions clearly have evolved to resist scientific disproof. It's not a matter of 'getting all squishy' so much as subtly changing a few dogmas in ways that evade logical disproof.

        Dennett's central point is that religion can be subjected to precisely the same analysis we apply to the evolution of language or other cultural mores, and that failing to apply such analysis falsely gives religion a 'pass'. This permits it to continue evading legitimate criticism of such critical problems as religions' role in neutralizing any meaningful response to global warming.

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