Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Morning Quotes ~ Michael Shermer

"Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not."

"Perceiving the world as well designed and thus the product of a designer, and even seeing divine providence in the daily affairs of life, may be the product of a brain adapted to finding patterns in nature."

"Myths, whether in written or visual form, serve a vital role of asking unanswerable questions and providing unquestionable answers. Most of us, most of the time, have a low tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. We want to reduce the cognitive dissonance of not knowing by filling the gaps with answers. Traditionally, religious myths have served that role, but today — the age of science — science fiction is our mythology."

"Finally, from what we now know about the cosmos, to think that all this was created for just one species among the tens of millions of species who live on one planet circling one of a couple of hundred billion stars that are located in one galaxy among hundreds of billions of galaxies, all of which are in one universe among perhaps an infinite number of universes all nestled within a grand cosmic multiverse, is provincially insular and anthropocentrically blinkered. Which is more likely? That the universe was designed just for us, or that we see the universe as having been designed just for us?"

"...evolution is not a religious tenet, to which one swears allegiance or belief as a matter of faith.. It is a factual reality of the empirical world. Just as one would not say 'I believe in gravity," one should not proclaim 'I believe in evolution."

"People have a hard time accepting free-market economics for the same reason they have a hard time accepting evolution: it is counterintuitive. Life looks intelligently designed, so our natural inclination is to infer that there must be an intelligent designer--a God. Similarly, the economy looks designed, so our natural inclination is to infer that we need a designer--a government. In fact, emergence and complexity theory explains how the principles of self-organization and emergence cause complex systems to arise from simple systems without a top-down designer."

"Intelligent Design is a remarkably uncreative theory that abandons the search for understanding at the very point where it is most needed. If Intelligent Design is really a science, then the burden is on its scientists to discover the mechanisms used by the Intelligent Designer.”

"Believers can have both religion and science as long as there is no attempt to make A non-A, to make reality unreal, to turn naturalism into supernaturalism. “

"Evolution provides a scientific foundation for the core values shared by most Christians and conservatives, and by accepting–and embracing–the theory of evolution, Christians and conservatives strengthen their religion, their politics, and science itself. The conflict between science and religion is senseless. It is based on fears and misunderstandings rather than on facts and moral wisdom. "

"How can we find spiritual meaning in a scientific worldview? Spirituality is a way of being in the world, a sense of one’s place in the cosmos, a relationship to that which extends beyond oneself. . . . Does scientific explanation of the world diminish its spiritual beauty? I think not. Science and spirituality are complementary, not conflicting; additive, not detractive. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades.”

Thanks to Good Reads for the list