Wednesday, December 19, 2007

God's Mechanics

I just finished reading Brother Guy Consolmagno's new book, God's Mechanics. Brother Guy is a Vatican astronomer who specializes in the study of meteorites and dwarf planets. He's also a regular at various science fiction conventions (and I'm hoping to catch up with him at this coming February Boskone), and the thing I liked most about his book, aside from his techie sense of humor, is he gives a very interesting answer (or set of answers) to the question: how do scientists, who are trained to be skeptics, make sense of religion?

Here's a brief sample:
So if doing science is ultimately a religious act, why does the story of a split between science and religion exist in out culture today? Because too many religious people have been scared away from science by the very stories of this split. Because most scientists keep their religion private, as is their right. Because the religious people most likely to be heard in the news are those whose strong bent in engineering hides their very limited education in science: the creationists. Because the scientists who do speak publicly about these topics have been precisely those whose very limited education in religion (people like Richard Dawkins or Stephen Jay Gould) have made them "science fundamentalists"," every bit as narrow as the religious fundamentalists and probably not the best representatives of their fields--just the best known. (p. 169--emphasis mine)
[You can just hear all the caterwauling that will take place on the skeptic blogs once they get wind of this.]

Couldn't resist another bon mot:
"Atheism is a luxury of the well-to-do; it goes hand in hand with flush toilets." (p. 186)

Highly recommended.

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