Muggles for Harry Potter

Tony Fox tonyfox at beeb.net
Sat Jun 24 18:09:26 EDT 2000


Dear Jennifer

Thank you for not flaming me!

I actually think we agree about quite a lot although we are coming at things
from very different angles - what still puzzles me is why you attribute such
dark motives to people who believe that the world was created. I will be
honest and say that I have very dear friends who firmly believe that the
Genesis account is literal - we don't agree and have had some brisk
debates - but to suggest that they have some ulterior motives  for their
beliefs is actually hurtful. They are intelligent and educated people who
genuinely believe that the theory of evolution has some large holes in it.

The depth of the reaction against a challenge to the universally taught and
accepted theory of evolution really surprises me. Objectively, the
creatonists are no more than an irritating flea on the back of a very large
dog in terms of worldwide influence and are therefore to be pitied ( back to
the beginning of the discussion.

BTW enjoy the book. I am re-reading R F Delderfield's Horseman Riding By at
the moment, being carful not to allow the book to fall apart in my hands.
> 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
> racist
> 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
> more
> > seriously in any society could be very repressive and unpleasant. When
> a
> > 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
> dispensed
> 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
> about
> > spirituality and morals, which are internal decisions for people, and
> > science is about how the physical world works. Of course moral
> decisions
> > have to be made about what technologies are acceptable, etc, but the
> > religious (or any other) position of the researcher should not lead
> them
> to
> > misrepresent what really happens. This is falsifying data, lying in
> order
> to
> > convince people of your ideas, and is seriously wrong. I would say
> that
> the
> > example given above, of cherrypicking inconsistencies and using them
> to
> > argue against science as a whole rather than to create a better model,
> fits
> > very neatly into this slot.
>
> It is impossible to seperate life into chunks like this - you can't go
> into
> a research lab and see things through impartial eyes. A person's views
> about
> life
> must influence the things they are interested in, the things they choose
> to
> research, what they will and won't do to further their career (
> scientists
> are just as keen on fame and fortune as the rest of us), etc, etc. Up to
> a
> 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
> will
> 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
> unethical.
>
>
> >  The idea of a God watching over us is very seductive and many people
> want
> > to believe it, so evangelisers do well enough without stealing
> scientists'
> > clothes. I don't think they should be allowed to get away with
> distorting
> > 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.
> Jennifer
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