Active scientists

Encouraging science to counter narrow-mindedness

Encourage the scientific establishment to use Mirrored Tolerance when dealing with religiously-based attacks against facts-based evidence or potentially-vital research


The scientific establishment must itself use Mirrored Tolerance when dealing with religiously-based attacks against facts-based evidence or potentially-vital research. There are growing numbers of situations – such as teaching Evolution (and science-education generally), genetic research, embryonic stem-cell research – where it is increasingly critical that Science pushes back against religious dogma.

To do so, scientists must stand up to be counted, and themselves adhere to the principle of Mirrored Tolerance in their attitude to religious claims. Yet despite what many faith-leaders sometimes suggest, scientists taking a tough stance on some issues will not only minimize backlashes against Science but in the long run actually help religions minimize potential backlashes against themselves. As an example, teaching thinly-disguised Creationism in schools as a legitimate alternative to Evolution is unsustainable – not to Science but to Religion. In the short-term, faith-schools that nominally teach Evolution but persist in trying to persuade children that there is actually a better explanation in an ancient holy text, on the surface appear only to undermine the Scientific Method (and maybe risk stifling the healthy skepticism that should be encouraged in any child – or adult – when someone in authority tells them something is true without offering analyzable evidence).

But in the long-term, that stance will ultimately prove damaging not to Science but to Religion – as well as to Education and to those governments that permit, let alone fund, children to be indoctrinated with dogma that is in reality fully discredited. Whatever science teachers in faith-schools suggest, in truth there is now completely-overwhelming proof for Evolution by natural selection. As scientific discovery exponentially advances, to claim that some of the irreversible ‘mistakes’ that have resulted over eons – such as the vestigial limbs inside snakes, the completely unnecessary blind-spot in the eyes of vertebrates, and the absurd route of the laryngeal-nerve in giraffes – are nevertheless a function of Intelligent Design risks being seen as increasingly untenable.

Although faith-leaders will continue to provide divine explanations for whatever they consider appropriate, the reality is that when those answers deeply conflict with well-established science then the credibility of those faith-leaders, and their religions themselves, become increasingly vulnerable to instability. The longer such a situation continues the more that all parties will suffer, and the more that children caught in the middle will be poorly served and potentially will become disillusioned with their religion.