14
Feb
09

The true meaning of tolerance: co-existance

In a recent post, I talked about how the rift between atheists and theists seem to be getting bigger every day, and not because of the few valid differences that exist between the two ways of thinking, but for reasons that are actually peripheral to the really important ones. I have gotten some flack for it, surprisingly, all from the atheist camp, but the vast majority of it seemed to consist of flawed logic. We claim to be a nation that respects all colors, creeds, and religions, and yet, people are somehow supposed to leave all of those things at the door when they go to work?

It’s like telling a black person, “Yes, we are an equal opportunity employer, however when you come to work, you must leave your skin at the door, so as not to possibly offend someone by your blackness…” Yes, yes, it’s an exaggerated example, but the thing is, this would be easily recognized as race based prejudice, whereas, with religion, it somehow wouldn’t be. If someone can give me a good explanation how this makes sense, besides saying “If your beliefs could possibly offend someone, you must leave it at home.” I’d really like to hear it.

But back to the topic at hand. Today, I ran across an article that confirmed something that I have believed all along. There has never really been a good reason for people to butt heads over creation vs evolution. The Vatican has apparently come to the conclusion that the two are, in fact compatible with each other. To be honest, I really never understood why there was any conflict to begin with. The two are completely separate ways of thinking, but try to describe the same thing, which we all *KNOW* happened. Why *wouldn’t* they be able to coexist side by side?

What people don’t seem to realize is that Science does not provide answers. That is not what science is. Science is a method. Not a solution. It is not an answer. It has it’s failings, and at the end of the day, we have to trust that the experts in their fields have come up with the right interpretations for what they have observed. Anyone who is being honest with themselves will realize that believing in science is an act of faith. Faith, in both the scientific method, and in the people who employ them. And while I value the scientific method and methods of objective analysis above any other way of learning the truth of the world around us, there have been countless examples where the scientific method has not yielded correct answers. Not because the method failed, but because it is limited by our own understanding. Basically, we don’t know what we don’t know. And even science can’t fix that. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.

I found it interesting that my last post was rather swiftly assaulted by someone I’d consider a “devout” atheist, who simply ignored me (and pretty much almost everything else I said) when asked if they thought Atheism was a belief system or not. I find it interesting because it seems like people would rather seek out the differences between people than the similarities. My pointing out that Atheism is as much a belief system as any theistic system i can think of really ticks some people off, and for the life of me, (as I have been told) “I don’t get it.”

But let’s actually look at the similarities. Atheists claim that blind faith is stupid. Now I actually agree, however we must also admit that the vast majority of us do not understand many of the complex sciences we work with on a daily basis. We take at face value that what our engineers, physicists and doctors tell us is true, because it was determined “scientifically”.  That is an act of faith people. A belief in something we cannot prove for ourselves. And this, in spite of how often “science” proves to be wrong. Theoretical physics is rife with  backtracks and redacts,  medicine is an art as much as a science, and engineering changes with each new material we discover.

That act of faith is almost identical to that which many Christians take when the walk into a church. They blindly leave thier brains at the door, and imbibe whatever spiritual liquor their Imam/Pastor/Priest happens to be pouring that day. And I have heard some things from the mouths of supposedly holy religious men and women that was absolutely unbelievable. Despicable, manipulative, and just plain wrong. But here’s the kicker. I find all kinds of “science fearing’ atheists who are willing to just absolutely devour the exact same garbage spewed by politicians and community leaders, and don’t see that it’s exactly the same. The. Exact. Same. Drivel.

And the result is always the same. Needless violence. Humans have perpetuated just as much violence for secular reasons as religious ones. Nobody, has a lock on the evil that man does to man. You take away religion, and you will find that we have killed each other for lots and lots of other reasons. The truth, is that it is human nature. It is our nature to do what we do. How much different is a door to door sales man from a Jehova’s witness? They are both equally annoying. Why demonize one over the other? Humans simply use the most convenient way to justify doing whatever it is they want to do. The reasons are purely circumstantial. Believe what you want, but there is no escaping it. Science and religion have much more in common that most want to admit.

But the point of my long and winding rant is this. The Vaticans announcement illustrated that it is possible for religion and science to coexist. And  coexistence is what true tolerance is about. They are two radically different ways of describing something we all know happened somehow, and the two may be based on completely different ways of thinking, but that does not mean that they cannot both co-exist. There are no real reasons for either side to be considered inherently offensive to the other, and I wish people would stop thinking and acting as if there are.

The Vatican’s View of Darwin Is Evolving – [NFN – Yahoo News]

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3 Responses to “The true meaning of tolerance: co-existance”


  1. April 8, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Now I can’t speak for all Atheists but, when I considered myself an Atheist, I didn’t have ‘blind faith’ in Science. I just saw it as the conclusion with which I could find no logical errors at the time. If I can find a fallacy in an idea’s conclusion or reasoning, I will discount it as the most sound idea until I find that either I incorrectly accused it of fallacy or the reasoning/conclusion has been changed to accommodate for and remove the previously found fallacy.


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