Why I Defend Science!
James C. Rocks
I believe science is important ... I believe it represents our best effort to understand the universe around us, that regardless of whether the understanding it engenders is used for good or ill that knowledge is a good thing. Though there are those that will use knowledge for ill I have faith in the human race and I believe that the greater our knowledge the better a chance we, the human race, will have of surviving whatever disasters may befall us over time. I believe that our search for objective knowledge, for real understanding of the nature of the universe in which we exist is one of the finest endeavours (perhaps THE finest endeavour) to which the human mind can put itself. It therefore, stands to reason that I wish that that knowledge is passed on to my children and the children of the human race in general ... I want us (the human race) to reach as high as we can, I want us to leave this lonely planet in this far-flung corner of what may well be a lonely galaxy and throw ourselves outwards exploring and finding out more about the universe. The further we throw ourselves the greater we ensure our survival ... if the universe is inhabited by others I hope we can meet them in friendship, if the others are aggressive I hope we survive to be the victors and if the universe is a truly lonely place I hope we can bend it to our will. Whichever way I look at it I believe that science holds the key to our survival. Religion (and whilst I don't believe religion of any kind to be a good thing, when I say that understand I refer particularly to fundamentalist religions and not the moderates of this world) stands in opposition to science and to freedom as it represents and engenders IMO the worst of our bigotry, our hatred & our isolationism. Religion teaches us to be satisfied with what we have when I believe we should always strive to improve, to know more, to be better! Fundamentalist Christianity in particular has mounted a tirade of attacks on science (largely on what they see as science's bastard child, the theory of evolution) in the US challenging it successively (and unsuccessfully) at the state court, the supreme court and finally at the school board level where it has had some success ... and it was with some dismay (and anger) several years ago I learned that the very same fundamentalism had struck at the heart of the UK education system and that that attack, more frighteningly, had bypassed the earlier legal steps and had gone straight for the jugular of the school boards where it was having much more success in the US. In effect, they are striking at the very young of our nations and that is not, never will be, something I can idly sit by and accept ... before their strike at the UK I almost considered this a game but I can do so no longer. Science is important, the theory of evolution (a fully paid up and supported child of true science) is important and the sad fact is that scientists are typically too wrapped up in their own world and views to understand the threat that fundamentalist religions represent ... science has taken its eye off the ball! That's where people like me come in, people (science adherents) who are prepared to put in the time and effort to ward off the threat that religious fundamentalism represents. Science is important to our comprehension of the universe around us; it is rational, logical and appears to be correct in terms of its methodology ... no religion can say the same and that is why I find creationism, fundamentalism and evangelism generally to be so abhorrent. If fundamentalist religions gain control it will (IMO) usher in an era where thought and word (spoken and written) will be curtailed, where our basic freedoms and choices will be heavily limited where my children will not be able to appreciate the wonders (the truly awesome majesty) of a natural universe. We've been there before ... it was called the Dark Ages and I will not stand by and watch these lunatics destroy everything I hold of value and deny the basic freedoms and rights which I hold dear for myself, my children and those I love. So, I have every intention of defending science (& evolution) from the ravings of a bunch of religious cultists apparently intent on destroying everything I consider good and decent in this world and, on the basis that the best form of defence is (probably always will be) attack I inhabit forums, build websites and mount campaigns with the aim of undermining the belief systems of those who oppose science as they are on destroying the credibility of mine. It is unfortunate in debates of this nature that this means I have to attack people's core beliefs, things quite evidently meaningful & important to them, but there would be no point in this kind of debate if the various proponents didn't seek to win. I do not seek to understand the fundamentalist POV any more than I have to nor do I expect to change the minds of people whose minds are already set but there exist those who lurk, those who read such forums but don't contribute directly and it is to them that my efforts are primarily directed. It may be that they will read my work as the rantings of an atheist lunatic fighting against the good clean & godly believers of this world but then again it may be that they are not sure where they stand and that they have heard the superficially convincing views of the fundamentalist ... to them and for them all I can do is give it my best shot, to put up an opposing argument where I can, to act honourably and concede a point well-made where I can't. What I can say is that if I can oppose a fundamentalist point I will, that unlike the fundamentalist debater, if I don't know the answer then I will research it and if I can't answer, I will not try to blind with bull. However, what I most emphatically will not do is attempt to dodge (one of the defining characteristics of the fundamentalist/evangelist debater) behind irrelevant responses, attempts to turn the conversation in a new direction, defamations of character or run away (though believe me there are times I feel like it, coming back to places like this strikes a chill into my heart at times) repeated appeals to "common sense", unprovable authority and plain lies. I am an atheist and proud of it ... it took time, effort and a great deal of thought & courage to shed the beliefs I was brought up with. I did not get my views or my morality off anybody else's shelf, my views on this are entirely home grown and I am proud of that. I am also, I know, a militant and regard this as a kind of war ... as such I will adopt whatever strategy I feel best to achieve the aims I have set and if that upsets creationists, fundamentalists and evangelists I really don't care. If it upsets fellow science adherents it is an issue that I will weigh up at the time. Ultimately, I am human and I am prone to aggression on occasion ... I can't help it! I get frustrated at some of the stupidity I see around me! As a friend of mine says of me ... I do not tolerate fools (or foolish belief systems) easily. What an individual believes is entirely their concern, be that creation or otherwise ... when that individual brings those beliefs into a public arena and tries directly or implicitly to attack science or to repress free thought on the basis of unjustifiable and supernatural beliefs then, believe me, I get very, very annoyed and I fight! As Dawkins puts it, "I may not always be right, but I care passionately about what is true and I never say anything I do not believe to be right." (1986)