Admitted similarities between scientists and theologians

(quoting RationalWiki)

Willingness to reexamine facts objectively is the key difference between a scientist and a theologian.

(quoting Richard Lewontin, who speaks more forthrightly about scientists)

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to naturalism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

My two cents

So scientists examine (or re-examine) the facts objectively, as RationalWiki claims?

An illustration of a character from a story; a...
An illustration of a character from a story; also, an illustration of illustrations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I guess words like objectively have different senses, and in some of those senses, science can get close to objectivity—but to push that to the status of a universal absolute is a bit of a stretch. More accurately, scientists make an a priori commitment to a particular philosophy/epistemology/worldview, and try pushing it to its logical conclusion.

It doesn’t take much effort to respect scientists (like Lewontin) when they’re objective enough—and honest enough—to tell it like it is. It also doesn’t take much effort to find snarky one-liners from sites like RationalWiki and critique them. What takes more effort is to accept the truth value of its claims after doing a critique.

Lewontin 1, RationalWiki (or at least its fanboy component) 0.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki. (2012). Falsifiability. Available: Last accessed 17th Feb 2013.
  2. Lewontin, R cited in Thompson, B and Harrub, B. (2004). The Origin of Consciousness [Part I]. Available: Last accessed 17th Feb 2013.

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