Science & Society

Science and Society and how they get along.

My Photo
Location: Santa Barbara, California, United States

I'm a physicist and science consultant specialized in optics, lasers and optical engineering. This blog, StarkFX, looks at what applications physics is finding today. Or, if you are looking at my StarkEffects blog, it displays my views about and interest in the interface between society and science.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Secularists attacking freedoms?

Today I read one of the most twisted articles I have ever seen. David Limbaugh wrote that "The secularists demanding the removal of specks from Christians' eyes are oblivious to the planks in their own. Their paranoid predispositions about Christians lead them to the very type of oppressive behavior they wrongly ascribe to Christians. If anyone is guilty of wanting to foreclose debate and impose their values on others, it is these hyperventilating secularists."

He goes on to say that we secularists claim without warrant that there is a consensus on global warming. OK, the truth is I see a consensus on the subject among climate studying scientists. I doubt there is a consensus on proposed solutions but I'm sure that only ignoring evidence would allow me to promote huge wealth based activities that potentially increase the problem without any reference to at least some responsibility for global warming.

He writes: "...With their absence of self-reflection it must never occur to them that in their professed monopoly on 'science,' they squarely violate the fundamentals of the scientific method by forbidding debate and insulating their theories from scientific scrutiny." Is he kidding? We are talking about the difference between evaluating scientific evidence or simply claiming there is none.

He then claims that we malign "intelligent design" proponents for daring to subject our evolution and geology theories to the re-examination that the scientific method requires. What re-examination is he suggesting. Our theories can and will be examined and corrected in perpetuity but there is nothing to be gained by accepting "It was designed that way." It just so happens that design, at least as we understand it, does nothing to explain the way things are while our theories bring about real progress in understanding and controlling the world around us. Short of prayer, which I've found ineffective, there is no value in starting from the hypothesis that the world was designed this way.

It is true that I believe fear is the motivator behind opposition to societal acceptance of homosexuals seeking the same rights as married couples. But, that is because I have no expectation that homosexuality is going to be taught to or accepted by those of us that are simply heterosexual. Again, scientific evidence suggests there is nothing for me to fear from allowing gay marriage which is likely to be just as successful or not as heterosexual marriage.

Religious people do not have a monopoly on morality. Questions about how people should treat each other including abortion, equal rights between sexes, races, IQ levels, hair color, (redheads are superior but that doesn't mean we should have more rights), whatever the difference you want to look at should be seriously considered and decided based on the value to society rather than on "revealed" truth until such revelation is universal, which it never has been. Secularists do not, in general, disregard morality any more than any religious group you want to name and to suggest so is just fearful hate speach. The only real difference here is that when I do choose an action that is not in line with my moral beliefs, I can't blame any supernatural influence or claim absolution because it was the will of some almighty power.

It is true that my worldview does not embrace revealed truth and I do immediately question any claim of truth based only on faith without the need for evidence. It is also true that in my worldview, what I believe to be the best explanation of observed "facts" is always subject to better observations or simpler more elegant explanations. It is also true that I see only self serving dishonesty among those wanting to legislate based on revealed truth. For David Limbaugh to suggest that by agreeing with Alan Hurwitz that the real problem of leadership now is to find a way for people to believe whatever nonsense they want without hurting each other is in some way trying to exert control over society is fairly obviously silly.

T. Troy Stark