En tekst jeg finner frem oftere enn jeg egentlig liker, er åpningen til kapittel 2 i boka “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith“, skrevet av fysikeren Stephen Barr. Den er rett og slett veldig…fascinerende. Den prenta seg inn i minnet første gang jeg leste boka for et par år sida, og har ikke klart å forsvinne siden. Derfor ønsker jeg å dele den.
Den er en slags oppsummert gjengivelse av mytehistorien mange materialistiske ateister ofte forteller hverandre, om deres overlegne rasjonelle sans, deres vitenskapelighet, og seieren over fortidens ignoranse. Ofte en klart anti-religiøs historie. Den ligner mistenkelig mye på historiene som de mest karismatiske predikantene forteller rundt på kristne sommerstevner. Anklagen om å holde til et slikt narrativ treffer nok ikke alle, men skremmende mange (kilde: empiri).
Apropos. På foredraget mitt i Bergen sist uke, var det en ateist som reiste seg etter foredraget og sa at ateister valgte å bruke logikk og rasjonalitet til å tilnærme seg virkeligheten. Svaret mitt, var at dette hopper over alle mulige spørsmål, fordi det virkelig interessante, er å spørre hvordan ateisme (naturalisme) er forenelig med eksistensen av nødvendige logiske regler, rasjonalitet, en rasjonell verden eller rasjonelle intellekter i utgangspunkt. Et spørsmål alle burde stille seg, men det krever selvfølgelig mer grunnleggende utforskning, med en sped start f.eks. her, her eller her.
Hvis du har fulgt innholdet i denne bloggen over en liten stund, forstår du sannsynligvis hvorfor det som står under er rent tøv. Hvis ikke, burde du skaffe boka til Barr, eller bare vente på neste blogginnlegg. Tror du likevel at deler av narrativet under holder, kan du gjerne slenge inn et “men, men…” i kommentarfeltet. So here we go:
“Religion is the fruit of ignorance. Ignorant people, because they do not know how the world really works or the true causes of things, have always had to recourse to explanations based on mythical beings and occult forces. One see this in the ancient myths and legends of primitive people. For example, in Greek mythology, thunder and lightening were the weapons of Zeus, storms at sea were caused by the wrath of Poseidon, and volcanic activity was associated with the subterranean workshops of Hephaestos, from whose Roman name, Vulcan, the word volcano comes.
But religion is not just simple ignorance. It is a form of pseudo-knowledge. True knowledge – which is to say scientific knowledge – is based on reason and experience, on testable hypotheses and repeatable experience. Religious beliefs, on the other hand, are based on the authority of ancestors or holy men or sacred writing – in other words, on someone’s say so. The fundamental opposition, then, between science and religion is the conflict, inherent and unresolvable, between reason and dogma.
The defining moment in the history of science was the confrontation between Galileo and the Roman Inquisition. In this episode science and religion stood revealed in their truest and purest colors. It was the decisive contest between the two approaches to the world, the scientific and the religious, and religion lost. Its defeat proved the hollowness of religious authority’s claim to special knowledge about the world.
Science is the rational approach to reality because it deals with things that can actually be observed. Its statements can be put to the test. Religion, by contrast, characteristically deals with entities – God, the soul, angels, devils, Heaven, and Hell – that are admitted to be invisible. Its statements, because untestable, must be ‘taken on faith’. ‘Faith’ is nothing but the wholly arbitrary acceptance of statements for which there is no evidence, and is therefore the very antithesis of reason: it is believing without reason.
As science has progressed, religious explanations have given way to scientific ones. No evidence of God or of the soul has been forthcoming. Rather, these fictitious entities have less and less room to hide. They were meant in the first place to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the physical world, and consequently they are being steadily and inevitably squeezed out as those gaps are systematically closed. Science is the realm of the known, while religion thrives on the ‘unknown’, on the ‘unexplainable’, and on ‘mysteries’ – in short, on the irrational.”
Barr fortsetter med å skrive:
“It is not too hard to show that most of this fairly standard anti-religious caricature is based on misunderstandings and bad history. In the first place, it is important to emphasize that the biblical religions did not originate in pre-scientific attempts to explain natural phenomena through myth. In fact, the Bible shows almost no interest in natural phenomena. It is certainly truth that biblical revelation, both Jewish and Christian, has as a central part of its message that the universe is a creation of God and reflects his infinite wisdom and power. However, the scriptural authors evince no concern with detailed questions of how or why things happen the way they do in the natural world. Their primary concern is with God’s relationship to human beings, and with human beings’ relationships with each other.”
Med andre ord; du ønsker deg boka, slik at du kan lese videre! :)