Lawrence Krauss in The New Yorker: All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists

Lawrence Krauss holds forth (magnificently, imho) on the Kim Davis debacle in particular and on the folly of kowtowing to religious prejudices in general.

The problem, obviously, is that what is sacred to one person can be meaningless (or repugnant) to another. That’s one of the reasons why a modern secular society generally legislates against actions, not ideas. No idea or belief should be illegal; conversely, no idea should be so sacred that it legally justifies actions that would otherwise be illegal. Davis is free to believe whatever she wants, just as the jihadist is free to believe whatever he wants; in both cases, the law constrains not what they believe but what they do.


The Kim Davis controversy exists because, as a culture, we have elevated respect for religious sensibilities to an inappropriate level that makes society less free, not more. Religious liberty should mean that no set of religious ideals are treated differently from other ideals. Laws should not be enacted whose sole purpose is to denigrate them, but, by the same token, the law shouldn’t elevate them, either.


. . . It’s ironic, really, that so many people are fixated on the relationship between science and religion: basically, there isn’t one. In my more than thirty years as a practicing physicist, I have never heard the word “God” mentioned in a scientific meeting. Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature—just as it’s irrelevant to the question of whether or not citizens are obligated to follow the law.

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Wow.  A most excellent article, not that I'm horribly surprised.  Lawrence Krauss has been appropriately vocal as regards the illogical stands of his opponents in recent debates (his preemptive dismantling of WLC in their Australia debates is a wonderful example), and hearing him go boldly public with the problem of Kim Davis only reinforces his position. 

Religion is irrational and illogical.  It has no place in science or in government, and it's past time the rest of the country learned that.

It's hard for me to imagine a scientist of integrity, having religion. In my youth, I went through the whole thing, phd and postdoctoral. it was biochemistry and microbiology. Not only is there no place for religion, but your daily evidence-based experience refutes religious beleif. Even so, I knew a Lesbian couple, both were evolutionary biochemists, and both were evangelical (god hates gays)christions. Talk about compartmentalization.

I feel the same way about doctors. Yet, I know many christian doctors. And they are no less exclusionary than other christians. Yet, the entire basis for medicine is chemistry, biochemistry, evolution, sociology, snd psychology -what was called the biopsychosocial durirng my training. Without molecular biology, and without evolution, medical treatment would be in the dark ages. Integrity requires doctors to set their religion aside, but many dont. Again, compartmentalization, "belonging", subcultures, us/them exclusion, and self interest while wearing blinders. There are good doctors who are christian, but my comfort level is not there.

Both Ben Carson and Rand Paul are trained as doctors, but their religion, self interest, snd lack of compassion seem to rule their ideas or lack thereof.

I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy don’t.
-- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Exactly! All theists have left is a god of the ever-shrinking gaps.

Who was it who said that those gaps aren't a mystery to be held in awe and reverence, but simply temporary ignorance.

I've shared this elsewhere: prayers and rituals might have some therapeutic value to the practitioners. So does talking and singing to your cat. But to borrow a thought from Ivan Turgenev, neither will make 2+2 not equal 4.

“You'll pray for me? Great! I'll talk to my cat for you! Expect the same results”

And now godless practices like Ethical Culture and Humanistic Judaism bring to mind the quote (not by Einstein) about how radio works:

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

A great story, GC. The religionists just can't drop the cat out of the picture it seems. The emperor's been waggling his weenie for 2000 years and they still see him tricked out in fancy raiment.

Some of us say "We don't need no imaginary raiment! Parades are still good... and let's have an orgy afterwards!" :-)

Daniel:

.... Yet, the entire basis for medicine is chemistry, biochemistry, evolution, sociology, snd psychology--what was called the biopsychosocial during my training. .... Integrity requires doctors to set their religion aside, but many don't.

Recently while at the hospital I use, I chatted with the head MD about the personal MDs prescribing so many medications.

He told me that's what medical schools teach.

So while the sciences you named are the basis for medicine, the thinking done by researchers in those fields differs greatly from the thinking done by MDs.

One requires logic; the other requires memorization.

I learned this distinction long ago while deciding whether to follow a basic chemistry course with a year of organic chemistry. I chose physics.

Besides logic's many advantages, memorization would not have helped me quit religion.

The facts tell a story of illusionary ideas masquerading as reality. When people can argue that superstition is a concept that deserves respect in a debate involving natural events then the mental stability of the protagonists has to be questioned. Madness, whether obvious or disguised, is madness nevertheless. For all the cohorts of religion and all the ceremonies and historical infatuations involved, religion is nothing more than a daydream, an infantile imagining of what would be nice. This Kim woman is just a symptom of what can be achieved when everyone is hallucinating. 

This to me is the true horror of religion: it allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions what only lunatics could believe on their own.
-- Sam Harris

Remember Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? The author of that classic had a parallel thought:

When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a religion.

--Robert M. Pirsig

Loren, Sam Harris probably did not say Kim Davis is "perfectly decent and sane"?

He was probably pandering.

But to whom?

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