Friday, August 24, 2007

A friend of mine here at the lab handed me an old opinion piece by William Provine in the September 8, 1985 issue of The Scientist, called "Scientists, Face it! Science and Religion are Incompatible." Amongst other things, he says:

Humans and other animals make choices frequently, but these are determined by the interaction of heredity and environment and are not the result of free will. No inherent moral or ethical laws exist, nor are there absolute guiding principles for human society. The universe cares nothing for us and we have no ultimate meaning in life.

Aside from the adherence to E.O. Wilson's sociobiology, this seems sad. It is also dogmatic. Atheists seem to get very agitated when they are described as having great faith in their position.

I saw Provine speak at the University of Tennessee some years back, along with Eugenie Scott of the NCSE. She is a self-described agnostic who is sympathetic to the religious position and he was absolutely derisive of her position. His was a Richard Dawkins-style atheism: very arrogant and borderline venomous. He had a brain tumor at the time and seemed to think that he did not have much time left. That was at least ten years ago and he is still kicking.

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