You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded.
To the question, “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, “Why not?”
Atheist: Natural Morals, Real Meaning, Credible Truth

19 June, 2010

Reluctance to Let Go

Reluctance to Let Go
"There’s a movement afoot to frame science/religion discussions in such a way that those of who believe that the two are incompatible are labeled as extremists who can be safely excluded from grownup discussions about the issue."
"What troubles me is how much our cultural conversation is being impoverished by a reluctance to face up to reality. In many ways the situation is parallel to the discussion about global climate change. In the real world, our climate is being affected in dramatic ways by things that human beings are doing. We really need to be talking about serious approaches to this problem; there are many factors to be taken into consideration, and the right course of action is far from obvious. Instead, it’s impossible to broach the subject in a public forum without being forced to deal with people who simply refuse to accept the data, and cling desperately to the idea that the Earth’s atmosphere isn’t getting any warmer, or it’s just sunspots, or warmth is a good thing, or whatever. Of course, the real questions are being addressed by some people; but in the public domain the discussion is blatantly distorted by the necessity of dealing with the deniers. As a result, the interested but non-expert public receives a wildly inaccurate impression of what the real issues are."
"Over the last four hundred or so years, human beings have achieved something truly amazing: we understand the basic rules governing the operation of the world around us. Everything we see in our everyday lives is simply a combination of three particles — protons, neutrons, and electrons — interacting through three forces — gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong nuclear force. That is it; there are no other forms of matter needed to describe what we see, and no other forces that affect how they interact in any noticeable way. And we know what those interactions are, and how they work. Of course there are plenty of things we don’t know — there are additional elementary particles, dark matter and dark energy, mysteries of quantum gravity, and so on. But none of those is relevant to our everyday lives (unless you happen to be a professional physicist). As far as our immediate world is concerned, we know what the rules are. A staggeringly impressive accomplishment, that somehow remains uncommunicated to the overwhelming majority of educated human beings."
"... understand the reluctance to let go of religion as the lens through which we view questions of meaning and morality. For thousands of years it was the best we could do; it provided social structures and a framework for thinking about our place in the world. But that framework turns out not to be right, and it’s time to move on.

Rather than opening our eyes and having the courage and clarity to accept the world as it is, and to tackle some of the real challenges it presents, as a society we insist on clinging to ideas that were once perfectly reasonable, but have long since outlived their usefulness. Nature obeys laws, we are part of nature, and our job is to understand our lives in the context of reality as it really is. Once that attitude goes from being “extremist” to being mainstream, we might start seeing some real progress."

We know so much now and can explain in many better ways how and why we are here. Religion fears being replaced by new facts and makes the noises necessary to keep itself relevant to the world. Keep the people ignorant of new truths and meanings, keep a wall between science and perceived non-science. If religion can't do that, then it will become irrelevant to the public.


  1. I think the “religion” problem affects more the fundamentalist countries, like Saudi Arabia for the Muslims and the US for the Christians. Europe is past that – I was reading that in the US there are still 60% of people attending weekly service (more in the South…) and only 3% in France – quite a difference. It is less than 10% in many European countries, and their health and education are superior too (as well as their life expectancy!)

  2. Yep, that is why I've become more aggressive as an atheist. Much of my family is god-fearing (not a good thing in my book) and they are finding out my position. I've been seeing bad decisions being made with faith-based "reasoning" involved. Their need for a father figure and patriarchal social system drives decisions that seem to be counter efficient social systems. The fear of socialized medicine is the prime example. That goes directly against the grain in a patriarchal system. God, nation, men take care of the family, not social systems where we work together. :-) I just learned this from PZ Myers. []