Talk to be presented April 19 at the University of Bergamo, Italy

THE FOLLY OF FAITH

THE INCOMPATABILITY OF RELIGION AND SCIENCE

AND WHY IT MATTERS

 

Victor J. Stenger

University of Colorado

University of Hawaii

Abstract

“People of faith” are universally treated with great deference. The religious are assumed to be persons of the highest moral standards—exemplars of goodness, kindness, and charity. But why should that be? How does faith qualify anyone for such high esteem? After all, faith is unquestioning belief in the absence of supportive evidence and even in light of contrary evidence. How can one expect such a frame of mind to result in any special insight? Are we not irresponsible then to build a society based on faith? And how foolish are we to defend the beliefs of people of faith?

           Science, on the other hand, is not based on faith, but on objective observation of the world, which makes religion and science fundamentally incompatible. This incompatibility is more than just an intellectual debate among scholars. Belief in ancient myths joins with other negative forces in our society to keep most of the world from advancing scientifically, economically, and socially at a time when a rapid advancement in these areas is absolutely essential for the survival of humanity.

           In America, religious groups are being cynically manipulated by corporations who work against the naive believers’ own best interests, in health and economic well being.  Their tentacles are so far-reaching that they threaten the future of all humanity. These corporate interests deliberately cast doubt on well-established scientific findings in important issues such as global pollution and climate change.  The American education system is also under attack by creationists.  This would not happen except for the diametrically opposed world-views of religion and science.