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Science: It Works, Bitches

Suffice it to say that I’m not so wild about religion. I have nothing against funny hats, and some of the music is very nice; it’s just that blind adherence gives me the willies. I fully acknowledge a continuum of harm, but psychologically, chemically speaking, there’s no difference between getting up earlier than you want on a Sunday and driving a bus into a coffee shop. What really bothers me, though, is the idea that there are inherent limits within which only religion can provide valid answers. If history has taught us nothing else, it’s that the contemporary monotheistic god is a god of the gaps. Every few years – sometimes spectacularly, but more often by fits and starts – science ratchets down the boundaries of the unknown and supposedly unknowable. Science works. Indeed, the scientific method is the only reliable means of problem-solving yet discovered, and quite possibly the only means there is.

So why are massive areas of human experience, arguably the most important ones, held to be outside its purview? Why do questions of right and wrong automatically default to answers based on musty tomes of poorly-understood, frequently-mistranslated non sequiturs? Can a rational, scientific approach instead give us a basis for morality? Of course it can.

Objectivism provides us with the crudest first-order approximation of this concept: the choice that minimizes harm is the right one. One can easily conjure up a decision for which it fails (there may be a logical case to be made for the death penalty over life imprisonment, for example, even though it requires one death instead of none) but in most day-to-day situations it holds up just fine. “Thou shalt not kill” isn’t going anywhere.

Anyway, it’s nice to see that I’m not alone in this. One of these years I really have to see if I can wrangle an invitation to TED.


It is the position, generally speaking, of our intellectual community that while we may not like this – we might think of this as wrong in Boston or Palo Alto – who are we to say that the proud denizens of an ancient culture are wrong to force their wives and daughters to live in cloth bags? Who are we to say even that they’re wrong to beat them with lengths of steel cable or throw battery acid in their faces if they decline the privilege of being smothered in this way?

Who are we NOT to say this?

3 comments to Science: It Works, Bitches

  • SPAM

    What about TAM (The Amazing Meeting) by the James Randi Educational Foundation? It’s like ted but with skeptics, science aficionados, and athiests.

  • Jared

    This is a very interesting video. I feel all humans should be able to meet and agree on the subject of our very own well being. Good post brew brother

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