To the editor:
It is often said that science and religion are two different ways of knowing.
Really? Knowing what?
Since the Enlightenment, science has made enormous strides in our understanding of the universe.
Our vast technological achievements have been the offspring of this endeavor. Science has given us an extensive amount of knowledge of reality and much more will be obtained as research continues. The beauty of science is that it is verifiable and ultimately self correcting. Pseudo-sciences have existed in the past and some continue today, but they ultimately fail to survive the critical examination of science.
Of course, science does not give absolute certainty, it just gives various amounts of high probability.
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Some probabilities are so extremely high that to reject them would be ludicrous.
For example: the sun will rise tomorrow; the next step you take will still involve gravity; the Plasmodium parasite causes Malaria.
In areas of medical research, the probabilities are sometimes lower. For example: treatment X has a 70 percent chance of success; vaccine Y has an 88 percent success rate, etc..
Has religion given us any knowledge about reality that is verifiable?
If so, what is it? It seems that accepting any religious assertion, whether in the resurrection of Jesus, Muhammad ascending by horse to heaven, miracles, or reincarnation, is just a matter of faith.
A person believes it, sometimes on emotional needs, and frequently because of the writings of ancient superstitious people who claim to speak for some imaginary sky deity.
The probability of the aforementioned religious assertions is abysmally small, but if 98 percent (or more)of top scientists, however defined, bear witness to some phenomenon, then the average person can tentatively accept it, knowing that revision or discarding of it may be necessary when additional information becomes available.
In the pursuit of "truth," one must avoid the confirmation bias, as all good scientists do, by trying to look for weaknesses and/or to disconfirm their theories.
Is there any evidence that this purported deity exists? After millions of years of evolution, humans arrived with all the subsequent problems: natural disasters, wars, and a predatory world full of strife and disease.
For a long time life was nasty, brutish, and short, and still is for millions of people today. Is this the handiwork of a god?
Let's face it. There is only one reliable way of knowing about reality, and that is by the pursuit of science.
David M. Keranen