Science 1, Leprechauns 0
Periodically, the secret society of irreverent irreligionists commission a new rehashing of the same old grizzled arguments against religion, and fire off a public service message to remind the rest of us what dolts we are to continue tolerating—let alone practicing—our respective faiths. After all, don’t we know by now that John Q. Churchgoer is no different from Muhammad Q. Taliban? That it is only a matter of time before we are swept up by some charismatic zealot and fly ourselves right into the side of a building?
Jerry A. Coyne in the USA Today, for example, updates us that “[w]e now know that the universe did not require a creator.” Apparently, Stephen Hawking wrote a book on it, and it conclusively settled the matter. Even better, Coyne happily informs us, “[s]cience is even studying the origin of morality.” You don’t say? These are bold new accomplishments indeed! One might only ask whether, after our Ph.D. clerics have finished grinding these metaphysical questions into pulp, might they work their way back around to some of the medical nuisances that still afflict us? As placated as we have been with the advances in the causes against hair loss and dysfunctional phalli, many would still like to see cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s and AIDS and Parkinson’s. Certainly, the drubbing of sappy religionists is the high calling of Science, but one hopes there is time left to devote to these other, albeit perhaps lesser, aims.
Though while science claims to have vanquished its foes, in fact it has not even overcome the devastating blow David Hume (himself an atheist) dealt it when he demonstrated that science has not—and, by its nature, cannot—explain even the basic tenets necessary to do science in the first place—i.e., causation and induction. So, while science purports to explain life’s great mysteries, it fails to even justify itself by its own method.
Folks like Coyne and Richard Dawkins, however, are too busy equating religion with “leprechauns” or monkeys studying Hegel on Mars to appreciate, let alone offer an explanation for, this all-important question. Science is useful to certain kinds of knowledge; but it cannot explain all the types of knowledge available to mankind. Scienceniks scoff at all types of non-empirical knowledge, as if the laws of logic are of the same order as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. But rejecting the idea that Tony the Tiger exists does not have the same effect as rejecting the basis for causation, induction, the laws of logic, and morality. The latter sort of rejection is extraordinary, and one which the scienceniks serially omit to account for.