Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Perils of False Certainty

Jason Rosenhouse at Evolutionblog has an excellent post on doubt.

I find it galling that it always seems to be atheists who get lectured about false certainty, or who get likened to religious fundamentalists in their dogmatism. Unless the intention is to say that fundamentalists meticulously sift the evidence to assess the balance of probabilities, and then hold their conclusions tentatively pending the arrival of new evidence, the comparison is completely inapt.

On the other hand, I see considerably less criticism of statements like this: “Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.” That's from Pope John Paul II. It takes some serious audacity for the Pope, who claims to be able to speak infallibly at least some of the time, and who heads an organization that claims to be in a privileged position to interpret the scriptures, to scold others about false absolutes.

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