Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


A basic requirement for scientific belief is intersubjectivity. We need to all be able to look at the same evidence and agree on what we are seeing. While some people have looked at scientists as a kind of new priesthood, this is a highly imperfect analogy. Priests claim to have a private channel of communication with the truth. Scientists may depend on expertise that few people share, and some of them, who work for private industry or military agencies, may try to keep secrets, but ultimately, widespread acceptance of scientific belief depends on accessibility and public demonstration of its explanatory power.

Many people fervently support George W. Bush because he describes himself as a Christian and says that he is guided in his conduct of office by Christian belief. He goes further than that: he claims to take his orders directly from God. He told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East." Unfortunately the original report is no longer available on-line, but he later told a group of Amish that "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job."

The problem for me is that I don't have the opportunity to listen in on these conversations. Evidently God told Bush to oppose a cease fire in Lebanon, so that Israel would have the opportunity to continue creating a new Middle East. God's will is evident in this picture from Qana.

A man cries next to dead bodies after Israeli air strikes on the southern Lebanese village of Qana. At least 51 people have been killed, many of them children, in an Israeli air blitz on the Lebanese village of Qana, triggering outrage across the region and warnings of retribution for Israel's "war crime."(AFP/Nicolas Asfouri)

Now, quite possibly God is telling you something different. But why should I believe that either? I stopped listening a long time ago. So should everybody else.

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