Atheists should drop anti-religion campaigns: Astronomer Royal

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Atheists should drop anti-religion campaigns: Astronomer Royal


Martin Rees

Martin Rees said many young people may abandon science if teachers insist God and Darwinism are irreconcilable. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

Martin Rees, the astronomer royal, has called on anti-religioncampaigners to abandon their tactics and strive for "peaceful coexistence" with mainstream religious groups.

Rees, one of the country's most senior scientists, criticised those who pit science against religion and urged atheists to embrace the moderate strands of faith in opposing fundamentalism.

The Cambridge cosmologist declared what he described as his "pallid and boring" view in an article in the New Statesman that amounts to a defence of his decision to accept a £1m prize given annually by the Templeton Foundation for work of a spiritual nature.

The announcement that Rees had accepted drew criticism from some scientists who claim the prize undermines the integrity of science.

Rees said some modern proponents of Darwinism took a "glaringly different stance to the Victorian naturalist who once commented that religion was too profound for the human intellect to comprehend.

"We should all oppose – as Darwin did – views manifestly in conflict with the evidence, such as creationism … But we shouldn't set up this debate as 'religion v science'; instead we should strive for peaceful coexistence with at least the less dogmatic strands of mainstream religions, which number many excellent scientists among their adherents."

Rees, who is master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was among the first generation of scientists to contemplate the big bang. In subsequent work he has asked how large is physical reality.

In the article, Rees, who does not believe in God, described himself as an "accommodationist" and "tribal Christian" who was happy to attend church services.

"Campaigning against religion can be socially counter-productive. If teachers take the uncompromising line that God and Darwinism are irreconcilable, many young people raised in a faith-based culture will stick with their religion and be lost to science. Moreover, we need all the allies we can muster against fundamentalism – a palpable, perhaps growing concern," he wrote.

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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The problem I have with this

 

is that I firmly believe monotheism encapsulates a campaign against unbelief in its dogmas. I don't feel like being a luke warm, live-and-let-live atheist. At least not until the bible and koran have the anti-unbeliever passages struck out of them by the censor general, a move that would render them largely pointless...

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Atheistextremist wrote:Rees

Atheistextremist wrote:


Rees said some modern proponents of Darwinism took a "glaringly different stance to the Victorian naturalist who once commented that religion was too profound for the human intellect to comprehend.

 

Then there's this. What the fuck does this mean? Darwin had limited information at his disposal and whether he'd cede to an argument from complexity now is debatable. Nevertheless, discussing anything about something too profound for the human intellect to comprehend must be self defeating...

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Someone has to speak up

Someone has to speak up imo. Religious moderation propogate extremists, everyone knows this..everyone who matters anyway. The comfort of the religious is not exactly my main concern, coddling a scorpion will get you stung.

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I'll enter a peaceful

I'll enter a peaceful coexistence with theists when they stop sending death threats to cartoonists, stop proseletyzing to me, stop trying to proseletyze to a captive audience via public schools, stop calling me immoral for asking questions, stop calling people immoral for who they love, stop treating ideas about unobservables as more important than science, stop ragging on us for our use of free speech, stop inhibiting sex-ed...

 

The reason I harp on religion is because it's doing such a poor job.  If it did a better job, I wouldn't harp so much.

 

Some people just can't handle constructive criticism.

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For ever and ever...

 

Zaq wrote:

I'll enter a peaceful coexistence with theists when they stop sending death threats to cartoonists, stop proseletyzing to me, stop trying to proseletyze to a captive audience via public schools, stop calling me immoral for asking questions, stop calling people immoral for who they love, stop treating ideas about unobservables as more important than science, stop ragging on us for our use of free speech, stop inhibiting sex-ed...

 

...Amen...

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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As a matter of practicality,

As a matter of practicality, I think we should obviously teach kids science without telling them that it is incompatible with their religion all the time. However, he seems to imply some respect for religion, as if we should strive to be "spiritual" or hold that religious claims are "too profound for the human intellect to comprehend."

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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 Well, I find myself to be

 

Well, I find myself to be of two minds on this one. For one part, I tend to agree with zaq about the religious people learning to keep their private devotions private. Stop trying to change the public science curriculum to reflect a single religious agenda and all of that.
 

On the other hand, that would, if taken to the logical extent, mean requiring them to become the exact type of second class member of society that some of them wish atheists to be. Just shut up, do as you are told and everything will be all right.

 

On the point of balance, I really don't have a problem with there being a public discussion on the matter provided that the understanding is that all sides can have valid points. At least until they are properly refuted, then we move on with the discussion from there.

 

As far as what we should be teaching children goes, sure, if one presents a case where they must choose between religion and science, then sure, some kids will never go into the sciences. I also suspect that the reverse would be true in that some will pick science over religion.

 

Not that I really want to see religion validated by any means but I suspect that it would be a disservice to pull people who could be powerful thinkers with at least some awareness of what science really is away from religion. Thus abandoning it to the likes of the fundie assholes who can't or won't ever try to moderate their own thoughts on the matter.

 

We have probably all seen the “list of religious scientists” that gets kicked out every now and then. For the most part, whomever made that list was totally dishonest in that the entries on the list are all people who did their scientific work before about 1850 or so. So sure they were religious. That was the default position back then and often the scientifically minded would tend to join the clergy so that they would have both financial support and the free time to pursue scientific thought. Hell's bells but none other than Charles Darwin was training for the priesthood when he took time from his religious studies to sail around the world.

 

In all honesty though, the list can be filled out with plenty of later entries. Right up to the current day, we have a number of leading scientists who also have religious credentials.

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Ending the conflict by not

Ending the conflict by not defending oneself? Interesting but hardly effective.

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 jcgadfly wrote:Ending the

 

jcgadfly wrote:
Ending the conflict by not defending oneself? Interesting but hardly effective.

 

Don't misunderstand me. It would not work unilaterally. Even if we did come to that agreement, it would just bring a new type of conflict where both sides want to break out but don't want to rattle the sabers too much as that would give the other side a reason to do the same.

 

I would rather that each of us feel free to state a case either way.

Even better would be if we had to seriously consider what the other is saying. Wait, we already pick apart the ramblings of the likes of Matt Slick and Banana man. They just don't feel the need to think about what we are saying. So that doesn't really work much better.

 

However, public discourse can hardly be worse than no discussion at all.

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Zaq wrote:I'll enter a

Zaq wrote:

I'll enter a peaceful coexistence with theists when they stop sending death threats to cartoonists, stop proseletyzing to me, stop trying to proseletyze to a captive audience via public schools, stop calling me immoral for asking questions, stop calling people immoral for who they love, stop treating ideas about unobservables as more important than science, stop ragging on us for our use of free speech, stop inhibiting sex-ed...

+1

Zaq wrote:
The reason I harp on religion is because it's doing such a poor job. 

Honestly, I never gave a shit about religious people, and their religion, much in the same way I never gave a shit about astrology, or people who believed in their horoscope.

I found them both foolish, and annoying when they'd talk about their 'beliefs', but religion moreso, as it stuck it's nose into people's personal sex lives.

The first time religion really made a mark on my radar, as the absolute insanity it is, is when the death threats came to Salman Rushdie for his book "The Satanic Verses".

The next mark, that forever solidified my feelings about religiosity, was 9/11. Not just about Islam, but about Judeo Christian religions.

 

Despite any protests to the contrary, there's no distinction between the insanity of the fundamental core dogmas of any of the Ambrahamic religions, nor do I have any respect, or will show amy respect whatsoever, for any beliefs in any supernatural deities.

I understand that people are entitled to believe what they want, but, that in no way supersedes my rights to criticize their 'beliefs', or vehemently oppose, challenge, or criticize them.

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

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The world and technology has

The world and technology has progressed such that core beliefs of the various theisms threaten human existence and any hope of peace in the immediate future. Apart from actively demonstrating such beliefs as unfounded and superstitious we may be doomed by those beliefs which eagerly await the End-Time or even destruction of this world for an imaginary paradise of eternal absurdities.

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Atheistextremist wrote:The

Atheistextremist wrote:


The Cambridge cosmologist declared what he described as his "pallid and boring" view in an article in the New Statesman that amounts to a defence of his decision to accept a £1m prize given annually by the Templeton Foundation for work of a spiritual nature.


 

Hmm.  I think about what would I agree to be in order to get 1 million pounds.... Mormon?  probably, not that far ( I like coffee).  Southern baptist?  Maybe...  Judaism?  Yes, sure why not. 

 

It is a historical fact that it is not science and atheists who attack religion, but the opposite is precisely true.  If this cosmologizt ignores this in order to justify himself taking money, it tells about his moral image, but it is unlikely to contribute to solving the problem. 

 

If young scientists who are heading to science with pre-supposition that God has created and rules the Universe move away from science, science will only benefit from this.