Thursday, April 18, 2013

Science is not a democracy

In my last post I argued that believing in an anthropomorphic God is not a choice, where the two options are of equal value. This is because there is no reliable evidence yet on the presence of an earthly supernatural being.

Robin Ince recently wrote along similar lines:

There is a gaggle that seems to consider that expertise is an unfair advantage, that all opinions are equal; an idea that people who are experts in climate change, drugs or engineering are given unfair preference just because they spend much of their life studying these things. I do not think it is fascism that heart surgeons seem to have the monopoly of placing hands in a chest cavity and fiddling with an aorta.
We should not trust people just because they are experts, but if we are not prepared to put the time and effort in to understand something, [...] then we are placed in a position where we must defer and try and make the best decision we can as to who we should defer to.

Science is not a democracy; it's an evidence-based meritocracy. It's closer to fascism than a democracy, with the major difference that the expert/fascist earns his status through the scientific method, and not because of circumstances or strength (physical, political, or otherwise).

In science we do not vote or make decisions based on popular choice. There is no choice. At some points in time most people believed that the earth was in the center of the solar system, that matter cannot cross walls, that the universe was eternal and static. But it didn't matter. What matters is what's right and what's wrong.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Apology to theists

I am an atheist.

I used to think that believing in God or not was a choice. I admired people that didn't, and didn't care about people that did.

Not anymore. I have come to think that believing in God should have a definite answer, in the same way that whether the earth is flat has a definite answer. Sure, you can choose to believe that the earth is flat, but that's wrong. It's not a choice.

No one is born an atheist. We have no reason not to believe in God, and atheism is a state that needs effort to be reached.

I, and millions other people, have reached that state through education, scientific reasoning, logical deductions, and by just plainly looking at the data. It boils down to a lack of evidence for the existence of a God.

(God, in this piece, is the supernatural anthropomorphic know-it-all old man sitting in the sky and watching us all. There are other forms of God which can be fine.)

Now here's the thing: In today's world, I don't think this is a choice anymore. Any person who is educated, can reason scientifically and deduct logically, should reach that same conclusion. There is no excuse anymore in our hyper-connected western world with ultra-fast communication systems and access to all of human knowledge. 

So when I see someone that believes in God, I see a person that hasn't gone through the the process of education, scientific reasoning and logical deducting. I have a problem with them. I can never admire such a person fully, because it signifies lack of coherent thinking. My perfect person has to be an atheist.

I don't have a problem with religion per se. Many aspects of religious teachings are great. But when the supernatural part comes in, and I am asked to believe something without any proof, then I cannot stand it. It's not a matter of choice, it's just wrong. I think of such people in the same way I think of people who believe in astrology, homeopathy, or faster-than-light-travel: they are unaware of the truth and thus choose to believe in something false.

It's exactly the feeling I have towards kids that believe in Santa.