10 myths—and 10 Truths—About Atheism (Part 3)

By Sam Harris for The Los Angeles Times (I first saw this at Seeking a Little Truth)  December 24, 2006 My thoughts are in orange.

5) Atheism has no connection to science. Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God — as some scientists seem to manage it — there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the U.S. population as an example: Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.  I have heard that it is possible to believe in science and god, but I don’t know how.  Anything that cannot be proven in religion must be taken on faith.  Scientists don’t claim to know something unless it has been proven.

6) Atheists are arrogant. When scientists don’t know something — like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed — they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesn’t know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be found in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while claiming to know facts about cosmology, chemistry and biology that no scientist knows. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn’t arrogance; it is intellectual honesty.  Religious people seem to have an inability to admit they don’t know things.  From my personal experience, they also have an inability to conduct unbiased research.

3,760 US Soldiers killed in Iraq, 27,767 US Soldiers wounded in Iraq


4 Responses to “10 myths—and 10 Truths—About Atheism (Part 3)”

  1. September 8, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Good post, makes you think.

    Although, I can see how science and religion can coexist in the same person. The clearest example I can think of is that we scientifically know the universe exists yet a person who believes might say, “I agree the universe exists, but I also believe that God got the ball rolling.

    As an atheist, I don’t believe that. I expect one day we’ll figure that out. I’ll even to go so far as say, the religious might be right. Maybe there is some Big Guy controlling everything and neither camp can definitively answer the question. I’d just like a little more confirmation than a 2000 year old book based on hundreds of years of vocal tradition before someone wrote it down.

    As some level we all work on the principle of faith. I figure everyone’s entitled to do what they wish, but I am with you that sometimes over-reliance on faith to explain anything that we currently can’t answer keeps many from looking any further. Sort of a self-imposed dark ages if you know what I mean.

  2. September 8, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    I’m sending a friend your way. She thinks a lot on this subject. I’d like to see how she reacts!

  3. September 9, 2007 at 10:53 am

    OUCH! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  4. 4 unitedwelay1
    September 13, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation!

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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