Friday, January 7, 2011

Of Balloons and Bridges

The religious zealot who denies science - and yes, I'm looking at you, Creationists - sees science as just another belief system. Since their religion is based on belief, not fact, questioning any part of it is to question the whole. To disprove any part of it would be to bring the entire edifice of faith tumbling down. Its not supported from the outside, like a bridge; it supports itself, like a balloon. Even a small hole is bad for a balloon.

These people expect science to behave the same way. So when they find a gap which the current scientific theory fails to explain, or prove one of its predictions wrong, or read about some scientist caught fudging their data, they clap their hands and say "Ha! Told you so!" as if the entire discussion were now over, and they'd been proven right. Scientists and skeptics then go into conniptions about the religious folk being disingenuous because proving one thing wrong doesn't necessarily prove anything else in particular to be right, but I think many of the zealots are genuinely confused by such arguments. Obviously, they've already proved your belief system to be false; why is the discussion still going on? They've poked a hole in your balloon - have the decency to fall. Meanwhile the true scientist looks at the gap, or the error, or the fraud, and simply nods and says "Yep; thats how science works." And then gets to work making the next revision better.

Noone really seriously bothers to expose gaps, or contradictions, or frauds in religion, except possibly as a form of entertainment. There wouldn't be anything left.