And lest we think that beliefs of this kind doné─˘t really matter, recall that for centuries leading up to about 1100 CE the Muslim/Arab peoples led humankind with regard to secular studies such as math and science, and they were also the wealthiest and in many ways the most cultured group on Earth at the same time. At that point, religious forces gained the upper hand within Muslim society and they began to emphasize é─˙spiritualé─¨ studies over secular, quickly lost their scientific, wealth and cultural advantages and began down the road that now has Muslims rioting and killing each other over cartoons published in Denmark and other parts of Europe (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4684652.stm). The triumph of irrationality in many parts of the Muslim is a temporary setback that has lasted, to this point, almost 1000 years.
As nice as this sounds, he makes the assumption that this was all due to religion. There were many other factors that influenced the downfall of Muslim world. It seems as though he's saying they would've gone on forever as great scientists if it hadn't been for religion, but would they have become scientists in the first place if the religious idea present at the time had been different? After all, there is some idea in Islam that learning of the world arounds you helps you understand Allah more, not that you could ever really understand him.
We are far better off following the advice of the people with the greatest experience and expertise in a give field instead of trusting our instincts. This is because we are relatively ignorant; the experts are relatively wise and their collective judgment is likely to be the most accurate evidence available as to what will work and what will not; and humans (like us) have a proven tendency to each be overconfident in their own judgment
Is this not in complete and utter contradiction with his earlier statements about Darwin, Galileo, and Semmelweiss?
The rational thing for us non-scientists to do is govern ourselves by what the majority of well informed scientists have to say on any given topic.
start taking anti-depressants instead of seeing a counselor who would help him to understand that his day to day pattern of living is virtually guaranteed to cause depression,
Now he's playing Psychologist! Weeee! And, something about the statement that his "day to day living pattern is virtually guarunteed to cause depression" seems fishy, but I can't put my finger on it, Hughbert, maybe you can help?
Buddha said greed and fear should be resisted because they are the source of most human trouble. Scientific knowledge generally helps us to do this, while belief systems like Mormonism supercharge these emotion based forces.
Really? Somehow I doubt that people now are any less greedy or fearful then they were 100 or 200 or 2,000 years ago. It's just fear and greed directed at different things...or maybe not so different things.
Quite frankly there are a few other things in there I could've pulled out too that are just as farfetched, or downright wrong.
That being said, I like some of where his message is going, but I think that his ultimate conclusion to choose science over religion is short-sighted. It is not that he is really choosing science over religion, he is choosng science as his chosen religion. Look at the way he talks about it, the words he chooses to describe it, he is not far off from the types of mormons that he seems to pity because they are caught in the spiderweb of Mormonism. I have heard Mormon's speak with the same ferver as he uses to describe science, and use almost the exact same language.
He imagines that he has made his way from the trap into freedom, where he has simply deluded himself that this other trap is somehow different because it's new.
I agree that science is a useful tool for understanding the universe et al, and I appreciate the many things science has done to make my life better, but I do not think that we should allow ourselves to be deluded by the pretty spinning cogs of one machine because they are shinier then the other. Science should be taken with a grain of salt, just like everything else. When we take things as granted because the majority of scientists take them as true, we are doing no different then catholics when the pope makes his edict.
Religion is not as inherently evil as he makes it out to be, fundementalism, I'll go with, but not religion as a whole (though I'm not sure if he is making the case that religion as a whole is evil the more I think about it...). Religion can be a positive influence in someone's life, just as it can be the sort of thing that makes people assholes. Of course, I'm not sure if it's religion that's doing any of that and not human nature. Some people will be evil bastards raping children no matter what you do with them, while others will be wonderfully nice just because thats what they want to be.
We blame religion for so many things because a war was fought in the name of the religion, but religion was only the most convenient scapegoat then, and without it another scapegoat would've been found.
Maybe it was a satire, and I missed the point. So, umm, yeah.