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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: Augusta, GA
Member since: Tue Oct 16, 2007, 04:47 AM
Number of posts: 11,689

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I'd take a different tack

Leaving the importance of science to the next to last paragraph is where I differ with you. That should be the first argument out of the box. Climate deniers are in the same boat with creationists and anti-abortionists -- they let belief do their thinking for them.

But trying to pry loose the hold of belief is a difficult task. You can't do it with a flood of facts, because the believer hangs on even more desperately as the sea of facts threaten to inundate them. You have to do it little by little, getting them to agree that science is what is making their life better, not their belief system (usually based on religion). Agricultural science is what makes a bounteous harvest possible, better varieties and more scientific knowledge of how food crops grow, not prayers or sacrifices to the rain gods.

Climate deniers are science deniers, usually because they don't understand science and don't know how science has made their lives better. The Renaissance and the Age of Reason have passed them by, and although they use all the advances of science that modern life offers them, they have no clue how those advances came about. They compartmentalize science into fortunate discoveries (like the telephone) that must have come about because God must have decided to sprinkle some progress on humanity. In their mind, prayer and supplication are what progress depends on, not observation, analysis, theory, and experiment.

I never attack people's beliefs directly. All I can do is point them to some part of science that is important in their life, something that already has a foothold in their personal belief system. The more I ask them to observe and analyze, the larger science grows in importance to them. Soon they find that science in contradiction to their belief system and it's time to make a choice. Usually what they do is fence off a larger area for science, still leaving their received wisdom belief system in charge of the area outside the fence.

A practical example are the oil drillers in Texas and Oklahoma. There are many Baptist petroleum engineers there, people who look at geologic formations during the week to decide where the oil is, and on Sunday nod in agreement to the creationist sermon they hear. It takes a might strong fence to be a successful oil worker AND an upstanding member of the local church. If they had to make a choice between the two, they would probably go with their social group (emotion) than with what puts money in their wallet (intellect).

I don't think it makes any headway to call them mean, or to describe the world awaiting their grandchildren, or even to point out who is making a killing off their foolishness. You only make headway when you can get them to take their nose out of their Bible, their eyes off of FOX News, and their ears away from talk radio, and you get them to observe and analyze the world. What about the weather that we are experiencing? Is it part of a trend? What do they notice? Who are they going to believe, the latest set of talking points they heard, or their lying eyes?

Religion lies beyond science

Religion always has an answer for any question, for the priests will consult with the deities and an idea will spring into their mind. Fortunately or unfortunately, science has no priesthood, and scientific answers to questions can be found by anyone willing to invest the time observing, collecting data, analyzing, computing, modeling, testing, and validating.

As time progresses, science builds upon itself, gradually enlarging the world of the known and explainable. When science proved that the Earth is a sphere that revolves around the sun, religion had to take a step back and erase the previous "revealed wisdom" from their inerrant texts and explain that there wasn't really any conflict between the two views. So it goes with any scientific advance, once the science is well established and can be accepted as a truth, religion says "well of course, it said so all along in our holy books".

Creationism doesn't damage science, it just denies it, which is what religions always do. When people tire of false answers that don't work, and they observe that the scientific answer does explain something, they are usually converted to the scientific viewpoint. If not, it just indicates that they haven't tired of the false answer that they were taught and have become secure in.

The further the horizon of science extends and the more it can explain, the further out God and religions are pushed, always living in the unknown.
Posted by izquierdista | Tue Feb 7, 2012, 04:21 PM (0 replies)

No, you really can blame religion

What religions ALL have in common is a belief that knowledge is revealed (by a deity or authority figure), not learned by your own efforts. Take the question "why are some people gay?" The religious answer would be to go to the revealed wisdom (in this case Leviticus) where it says that to lie with another man would be an abomination and use that to guide your thinking. The scientific answer only comes after much more questioning and observation: are humans the only species to evidence homosexuality? Is it correlated with race, ethnicity, birth order, astrological sign, diet during the mother's pregnancy, sunspots, background radiation, being left-handed, lack of a father figure? Is there a genetic component? Is there an environmental component? Does it change over time? Can heterosexuals become homosexual and vice versa, or is there a third category that might be designated ambisexual? If it can change, what are the causal factors? What is the evolutionary advantage to homosexuality? Is it contagious? Scientists use math and statistics to quantify the answers to questions like these; religion has no use for mathematics as there is just a right and a wrong, no middle ground.

See, with religion, the answer is known by doctrine and revealed wisdom beforehand, and then what must be done is to fit the world to that view. Science takes the novel approach that ideas should be tailored to fit the world that is observed. I think if you divide your category of "all Jews" into very religious and non-religious, you will find that the former group is the one that is promoting the gay cure crock -- because of what their revealed wisdom tells them to do. And among the latter group, you will find scientists who are actually concerned with finding out what is true. Some of them might even be studying prejudice and how it can be explained.
Posted by izquierdista | Sun Feb 5, 2012, 10:50 AM (3 replies)
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