Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Natural Religion, Unnatural Science

John Farrell has a really interesting post up today discussing an essay by Robert McCauley titled The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of Science, the thesis of which is that religious answers to questions about the world often make more innate sense to people than scientific answers:

McCauley argues that the methods and tools modern scientists developed for their daily routines did not arise inevitably in the course of our history, and further, he writes that the more rarefied and esoteric that branches of science become, the less meaning they have for everyday people. It makes no difference, for example, that appeals to the empirical verifiability of a theory like Darwin's vs. the narrative in the Book of Genesis are more persuasive because they can be tested. A careful correct explanation of Natural Selection is far more difficult to get across than the world being created in six days. Likewise quantum mechanics makes no more sense to Joe Sixpack than a careful explanation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation. Ironically, Dennett draws attention to this in his book but doesn't seem to be aware that explaining the origins of religious belief doesn't make explaining the origin of species any easier or more palatable to most people.
There's much more, and all very worth reading.


John Farrell said...

I can only assume the reason that McCauley's essay is no longer available online is that perhaps the book is close to being published--or maybe the publisher didn't realize McCauley had posted it and asked him to pull it.

Anyway, I have the pdf for anyone interested.

Thanks, Brendan.

John Farrell said...

Oh. Now the paper is back.

Here: of Religion.pdf

Darwin said...

Thanks for the link (I was going to email you and ask for it). I just downloaded it and added it to the queue of "reading real soon now"...

If I could only figure out how to survive without working or without sleeping -- either one of those would free up a lot of time.