Muggles for Harry Potter

Rowland, Jennifer jennifer.rowland at
Thu Jun 22 12:49:21 EDT 2000

I like the spaces- look away now if you don't want to know the score! 

Dear Jennifer

I disagree deeply with what you have written but I do not want to upset
so I am going to put in a space so that, if you don't want to know why I
heartily disagree with you , you can delete this post quickly, OK?

> I think the problem would be that innocent
(non-science-background)>readers  might take them seriously,

So, only well educated people who already believe in evolution can take
in the scientific debate about  how the world was made? Everyone else
be protected for their own good?

No, the general public should definitely join in. That's why one of the
"sides" shouldn't try and pretend about their motivation/viewpoint, because
it misleads.  

> not realising that they were arguing from a
> religious and not scientific viewpoint, because they use
> words.

You could equally well argue that feminists or communists cannot publish
scientific papers because they have ways of looking at the world which
affect the way they draw conclusions from the evidence they accumulate
even the way in which they design the sorts of evidence that they go

But creationists in general aren't publishing scientific papers. They're
publishing books in which they take only the facts that they like and ignore
the others. Feminists have published some good science from looking at the
world from a different angle, and some bad science from ignoring or
distorting opposing studies. Similarly, Christians doing science with a
background belief that God created the world, which informs what experiments
they do, great. Creationists doing anti-science- presenting misinformation
under the guise of science, bad.

> The creationists misrepresent their position, and try to make fools
> of other people.

If I inserted the word jew in the above sentence I would be called a
and slung out of the discussion group.

Creationists aren't a race, are they? They choose their beliefs (or, all
right, believe the same as their parents) rather than being born like that.
Surely inserting the word "communist" or "fascist" (or "scientist") would
stay closer to the meaning.

>They are too powerful, especially in America, to feel sorry
> for them. The consequences of their ideas being bolstered up and taken
> seriously in any society could be very repressive and unpleasant. When
> religion is in power it does not tend to be tolerant of dissenters.

and the atheistic Soviet Union was a model of tolerance because it
with religion? We have to face the fact that the human race is basically
intolerant and we have to rise above it.

Yes, I originally put ..a religion or other strong belief like communism... 
but thought introducing communism suddenly would be a bit pointless. Any
very strong belief (that is intolerant of dissenters) gaining power can be
bad, so we should avoid giving religious fundamentalists any weapons. I'm a
Unitarian, as I mentioned in my first email about censorship I think, and we
*try* to be tolerant of everyone's beliefs. Creationists have the right to
theirs, and the right to try and spread them, but not (I would argue) the
right to lie while doing so. And we have the right to argue back. "Your
freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose", etc.

> I agree very much with the seperate spheres idea, that religion is
> spirituality and morals, which are internal decisions for people, and
> science is about how the physical world works. Of course moral
> have to be made about what technologies are acceptable, etc, but the
> religious (or any other) position of the researcher should not lead
> misrepresent what really happens. This is falsifying data, lying in
> convince people of your ideas, and is seriously wrong. I would say
> example given above, of cherrypicking inconsistencies and using them
> argue against science as a whole rather than to create a better model,
> very neatly into this slot.

It is impossible to seperate life into chunks like this - you can't go
a research lab and see things through impartial eyes. A person's views
must influence the things they are interested in, the things they choose
research, what they will and won't do to further their career (
are just as keen on fame and fortune as the rest of us), etc, etc. Up to
certain level it may be possible to say 1+2 =3, after that we are all
listening to witnesses to a traffic accident - the differing viewpoints
shed light on the truth of what really happened.

Yes, perfectly true. People's beliefs will always influence their choices,
and different viewpoints show up different aspects of reality.  
What I was trying to express was that the real world does actually act in
certain ways regardless of your beliefs, and a real scientist (be they
Christian, marxist, pagan or right round the bend) will alter her/his
theories to match the world if necessary- it can be painful but it is done.
Creationists try to fudge the facts so that they fit their beliefs, which is

>  The idea of a God watching over us is very seductive and many people
> to believe it, so evangelisers do well enough without stealing
> clothes. I don't think they should be allowed to get away with
> science for their own reasons.

We all worship something  - I don't think science quite does it for me.

I find science very satisfying, it makes so much sense, and also very
numinous and extraordinary. Everyone has a need to understand the world and
know how they fit in and I am happy with my personal understanding. I don't
know if "worship" is quite the right word. 
I doubt either of us will convince the other- is it OK to agree to disagree
or are there some things you (or anyone) wants to reply to? 
I'm going to try and post less for a while, my work is suffering!
Anyway, it's a lovely evening here now the mini-heatwave is over, and I'm
going to go and read "Cart and Cwidder" for the n-th time, but the first for
several years. 
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list