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~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)

Conflicts Between Scientists and Christians

In computer programming, things get most interesting and fun just after you discover you have made a mistake and you get to use your wits to track down the bug. The odds of getting a Nobel prize in physics are greatly improved if your experiment shows the exact opposite of what you expected. Scientists thus have not nearly the fear or embarrassment at being found wrong that Christians do. If you tell a Christian his argument is unconvincing because it contains a logical fallacy, he feels insulted, even wounded. If you tell a scientist the same thing, it is more like pointing out a calculator error, no big sweat. He is happy for the correction. The famous computer scientist Dr. Donald Knuth offered an escalating monetary reward for any time anyone ever found an error in his programming. He wanted to find his errors and correct them.

A Christian has essentially placed a bet on which religious framework is true. If he is wrong, he will roast for eternity. If anyone suggests that he bet on the wrong horse, he panics. He takes this accusation of incompetence very personally because this error is so grave, that it deserves eternal torment. The error says something very important about him — what the true god thinks of him, the ultimate report card.

If you reject an argument a scientist makes, the game goes like this. You state why you think his assertion is false. He gives additional reasons why the assertion is true, and he explains the flaw in your reasoning. You go back and forth pointing out the flaws in each other’s logic. If the evidence is overwhelming either way, one of you is obligated change his mind. If the evidence is not overwhelming, you talk about what sort of experiment or evidence-gathering could settle the matter. It is cheating to refuse to concede when the evidence overwhelmingly goes against you. It is cheating to counterfeit, doctor, lie about or use lawyerly tricks to mislead about evidence. Failure to observe these rules can result in the other party exploding in rage.

If you reject an argument a Christian makes, from their point of view, you are disrespecting them. If you held them in sufficiently high esteem you would trust what they told you, just on their say so. You are being impertinent. You are accusing them of lying. Christian arguments are basically assertions that show that something is at least remotely plausible. The beauty of an idea is much more important than how well it conforms with observations of the physical world. It is a Platonic way of thinking.

Further, there is no need to check accuracy if the feeling of truth is sufficiently intense (to know it in your heart). Your beliefs are things you choose, like your diet. You don’t change your beliefs just because somebody advocates something different, no matter how glib they were. You don’t pick your beliefs because some so-called expert told you some colour change in a test tube proved they were true; you pick them because they fit you because they are comfortable because they feel right. You certainly do not publicly disown your own beliefs cherished and nourished over a lifetime, maybe even handed down through the generations. That would be irresponsible flouting of tradition and a disrespect for your own integrity. You don’t just change beliefs like a leaf in the wind no matter what the so-called evidence (that you may not even understand). You must have faith in your convictions.

This attitude, the complete lack of interest in what is actually true, only what you wish were true, drives scientists to apoplexy.

~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)

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