Daily Archives: Friday, 23:15, May 21, 2010
It looks as if Fred Phelps’ merry inbreds are going to make themselves personae non grata yet again, this time planning to picket the funeral of the late Black Sabbath member Ronnie James Dio. As always, they preach the gospel of fear and hate, and indeed, I wonder what the reason is for this: At least one member of the Westboro Baptist Church (not affiliated with any mainstream Baptist denomination, I have been informed) has expressed the view that she hopes that everybody but the Phelps Clan goes to hell. If some members feel that only the WBC should be saved and no congregation but blood relatives qualify for this, they’re just trying to gain attention, not converts, but I could be wrong…
…and I have an image for this occasion that is getting lonely in my media library and wants some airtime…
Hey, guys. For my 1,000th post, I thought I would deal with something that I haven’t in much detail: my political and social reasons for advocating science and reason on this site. If I offend, that’s unfortunate, but I stand by what I believe. Feel free to send me a nastygram in the comments thread of this post, or if you’re feeling particularly pumped-up and buff like the Governator, try the more personal format of email instead: the contact info is on this site.
Those who seek to deny the validity of science and reason do not argue this in isolation: they also by implication seek to deny the validity of a free, open, pluralistic society and in so doing, seek to undermine a working, healthy democracy, showing in doing so their authoritarian, sometimes even totalitarian, views.
I argue that the reason for this is simple: the values of science are the same as those of democracy, and not just by coincidence, since the two historically began in a recognizable form side by side during the Ionian Awakening of classical Greece some seven or six centuries before the common era.
These values are as follows:
- The view that science and a society informed by science can and should make genuine progress through the seeking, acquisition and gathering of new knowledge over time.
- The permission, encouragement and generous rewarding of open, vigorous debate on any matter, on any and all topics, and a tolerance for difference and disagreement.
- The testing and justification of any and all claims, even established ones, using reason, measured against evidence. This is absolutely essential to a functional, even-handed justice system and thus the day-to-day working of a court of law as well as the institution of science.
What is the alternative to these values? The alternative is blind, uncritical acceptance of, rejection of, or obedience to whatever one is commanded by an authority figure, the capricious dictates of knee-jerk impulse, and whatever just happens to feel good at the time regardless of its truth or falsity.
It means leaving what one does, believes, knows and accepts entirely up to chance, or up to force, whether force of law or force of arms, of disenfranchising oneself of one’s rights, freedoms, and responsibilities. It means denial of the opportunity to achieve one’s real potential through the benefits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It means the vilification of, even the persecution of, those who question and criticize for sound reasons those institutions and individuals that left to themselves demand blind, unwavering faith in their doctrines and claims in the guise of false open-mindedness or loyalty, and which treat all such skepticism as closed-mindedness or disloyalty or some form of malice and villainy on the part of those who so question them.
In short I argue that those who attempt to sway others against science and reason argue against freedom, true open-mindedness and real empowerment by knowledge and deep comprehension, for science and reason allow not only Western democracy, but foster opportunity and economic growth as well as grant great power to those who are able and willing to learn and make use of them.
I argue that those who rail against them, who promote irrationality and ignorance or rejection of science not concurrent with their agendas, have views which are more in line with a theocratic or secular dictatorship, and they argue against the very laws of the land and values that make free nations viable in a modern world, much less what those who founded the United States intended when they drafted the nation’s Constitution. Fnord.