When Two Truths Go to War Pt 2

Satisfying the Incommensurable Worlds Inside Us. Science and Religion as incommensurable conceptual worlds. A Devil's Curmudgeon. Illustration by Lushington Brady. In my previous article, I discussed the long-running conflict between science and religion and the conclusion, of scientists from Galileo to Nobel Laureate, Professor Peter Doherty, that in fact there was no intrinsic conflict between …

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When Two Truths Go to War, Pt 1

Science & Religion as Incommensurable Worlds. “The intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes” - Galileo Galilei On receiving his Mendel Medal, Nobel Prize winner Peter Doherty remarked that he “had no quarrel with” its citation for demonstrating that “between true science and true …

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In Praise of Bishop Ussher’s Gift

In the mid-1600s, Irish bishop James Ussher published his Annalium pars posterior, in which he famously calculated the date of Creation as 4004BC. Ussher’s work is often the target of ridicule today, especially from the New Atheists, mostly because of its association with Young Earth Creationism. But such sneering attitudes shockingly underestimate the scholarship and …

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Welcome to the Nellie: Science and Superstition in the Modern Age

Whenever I think of the state of Western civilisation, here at the dawn of the 21st Century, I always see in my mind the fireman of the Nellie. The Nellie is the name of the river boat that carries Joseph Conrad’s narrator down the Congo and into the “Heart of Darkness”. In the hot, dirty …

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The Deadly Cost of Bad Science

If you’ve ever been taught about the scientific method, you’ve almost been certainly told that it goes like this: Observation-hypothesis-experiment-theory. The only problem is: that is idealistic bullshit. Scientists hardly ever proceed from dispassionate observations to formulating and testing hypotheses, and, finally, constructing a testable theory. Invariably, hypotheses precede everything else. Just as often, observations …

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The Myth of Indigenous Science

In the early 20th century, there was great scientific enthusiasm for “rays”. Following the discovery of ultraviolet, x-rays and radioactivity, everyone wanted to discover a “ray” and stick a letter in front of it. When the distinguished French scientist Prosper-René Blondlot announced his discovery of “N-rays” in 1903, it became a matter of intense national …

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Cassini: How Environmentalists Tried to Stop Progress

One of the most famous images from Cassini. Had the environmental lobby got their way, we'd never have seen it. In his memoirs, Failure is not an option, NASA’s Gene Kranz recalls being sent back to college in the summer of ‘68. While he was busy studying in the library, students regularly noisily protested on …

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