Saturday, June 5, 2010

Faith and Science: World Science Festival precedent 2008

Today I will be covering the "Faith and Science" panel discussion at the World Science Festival in New York City. Here is the online video precedent for this talk from 2008. If you have any questions you'd like me to try and pose to Dr. Ayala or any of the other panelists please leave them for me in the comments section below.



Sigmund said...

Can you give us a review of the discussion please. I haven't seen it reported elsewhere and I'm interested in how they approached the topic.

Tom Paine's Ghost said...

I'm writing it up now! I've had limited computer access since I'm staying with a high school friend who lives in Queens. I can say that there was a lot of question dodging. Not a lot of dialogue either. most of it was the old "experts talking at you" approach and Elaine Pagels was the most egregious of the artful dodgers. I have never attended a scientific panel discussion where so many questions were simply not answered. I thought Paul Davies came the closest to being candid about his feelings toward the word "religion." but the others really were ambiguous to say the least. The one question I decided to ask in the end was regarding the value of practicing the traditions in a religion even if one does not have faith. I said "Questioning Authority, questioning dogma and question paradigm and then letting a range of hypotheses pass through a sieve of natural selection (in terms of the survivability of a good idea and the extinction of bad ideas) . This is the mechanism by which science allows progress and development. So my question is what is the mechanism by which bowing to dogma and tradition helps in that same endeavor? The only person on the panel that ventured and answer was Paul Davies and he basically said that - Yes bucking tradition is the only reasonable way to progress and move forward and that is still needed in modern astrophysics. no one on the panel came to defend the traditions they had just spent an hour extolling! I guess that was my biggest disappointment - the lack of any kind of real dialogue. it seemed like four people preaching to their respective choirs.

Sigmund said...

Thanks for that.
I've been following the discussion on this topic on the scienceblogs "thoughts from kansas" and "evolutionblog" where the debate is how they would approach the views of those who suggest a basic incompatibility between the methods of science and the methods of religion - basically over how you answer the question "How do you know if you are wrong?" I wondered whether the panel would discuss this openly or simply try to avoid the point by portraying the non-compatiblists (Dawkins, Coyne etc) as extremists.