chardin (
Tue, 7 Oct 1997 11:22:24 CST+6CDT

> From: Nathaniel Hall <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: virus: Logic

> Chardin wrote:
> >
> > I enjoy a good debate and am especially interested in beliefs vs.
> > reality and "how we know what we know." Also, while I think the
> > scienifitic method is good, I feel that science and scientists
> > have become the new "religion" and priests of our age.
> Religion is a belief system with faith considered as a legitimate
> means to knowledge. Faith is a belief independent of logic or the
> senses. Science would be better described as an "ideology or
> philosophy" rather than a religion because science by it's very
> nature is opposed to faith.

Your definition of "faith" is interesting. It is as though it is an
ephemeral cloud that appears out of nowhere and rests upon a person's
head. Most of the people of faith I have encountered have "reasons"
for what they believe. While it is true that many people are
instilled with a religious belief as children and find it hard to
question that, it still does not follow that they have no reasons for
their belief. Their reasons may not seem valid to you, but it does
not follow that in their scheme of things, the reasons are not

When I speak of science as a religion and scientists as a new breed of
priests, I do this based upon experience. I have a good friend who
is an atheist who nonetheless looks to science, in my opinion, as a
religion. He gives great credence to anything published in scientific
journals. Science has become so technical today and the jargon so
alien to normal vocabular, that one might as well say the mass is
given in Latin. When you press him for particulars about a particular
methodology in science, he admits that he does not understand himself
but has "faith" in those who do understand it, namely, the guys in
white coats(the new priestly garb). His basis for doing this is that
of "peer review." There again, he puts faith in this method of
keeping the boys/girls in white honest. I, on the other hand, as a
skeptic and observer of the system, see potential for "ole boys club"
and collusion or if you prefer the ole "scratch-my-back-
and-I'll-scratch yours-routine. Granted, on the surface it does seem
like the system ought to work and many times it no doubt does, yet it
still leaves a lot of room for error. I think it did work in the
infamous Cold Fusion case, but that was a hard science issue that
could be proved false or true by experimentation--rather quickly. In
medical science, for example, I don't think it can work as well as
there are too many variables and conducting human trials are more
difficult. This leads to all the wild claims--salt is bad for you,
cholesterol values have meaning (good and bad), milk probably causes
"hardening of the arteries." etc. etc. etc.

The point I disliked about Dawkins article "Viruses of the
Mind" was his continual thumping of the table to show that if only all
these sick religious people would think critically, objectively, etc.
as scientists, then the world would be better. The truth of the
matter is that scientists, as human creatures, fall victum to all
those same evils that afflict others, i.e., excessive ego, greed,
power grab, etc. The publish or perish syndrome, the race for grants,
the funding of the pharmaceutical industry, the desire for patent
rights, all of these affect science so that "pure" science is
difficult to find.