Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fundamentalists and Science... and a Funny Non Sequitur Strip

(click to enlarge)

Interestingly enough, that is the way that many fundamentalists (of various religions) seem to think that science should run. You start with the stated fact that the world is 6000 years old and then you work backwards using mental gymnastics to try to find a way to get the carbon-14 dating, radiometric dating, the doppler shift and the like to fit your facts.

I've always maintained that the fundamentalists would have a much better logical argument by simply chucking the science altogether. Instead of coming up with silly theories like the boiling water of the flood made the earth appear billions of years old, they should just say "God did it" and leave it at that. Of course it sounds silly and it opens up a bunch of other questions, but at least then they don't have to fight the scientists.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

Many people in fundamentalist communities haven't any idea how science works. When I was a kid I learned that scientists were at best foolish people who thought the world was millions of years old, but of course WE know better. At worst they're evil people who are part of a conspiracy to convince frum people that God isn't real. The concept of testing ideas against expirience, controls, reproduceable results, etc. is antithetical to the way in which we know about religion. Religion is revealed knowledge.


micha berger said...


Much the way the Kuzari says that philosophy is the best the Greeks could do, but we with the revealed Torah shouldn't need to settle for such reasoning? The difference is that the Kuzari has the chaver point out that philosophers can prove anything they want -- and on almost any topic, if you find one holding one position, you'll find another who could prove the other. Scientific proof is less shaky.

I'm just showing the position you attribute to fundamentalists has a long and solid history.

"G-d did it", as our host put it, and then faked out the history that science analyzes is called Omphalism. Google "Last Thurdayism" for a cute rebuttal. OTOH, can anyone living as a post-Holocaust Jew pretend they can second-guess what G-d would or wouldn't do?

Note that this doesn't mean challenging science (as R' Avigdor Miller did). Rather it's saying that science is correctly analyzing how G-d set up the world to look, and thus subsequently run. (The Lub Rebbe took this tack.)

R' Dessler seems to say they both are true, that creation is incomprehensible, and the scientist and the "fundamentalist" are simply seeking different patterns in the same incomprehensible data. This is another way a person can stay fundamentalist without taking on science.