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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday




Philip Ball really got his head handed to him by Sam Harris – and Harris didn't even go after some of Ball's dumbest arguments:


... the example of Galileo. If we choose to believe that the Catholic Church condemned his heliocentrism because it conflicted with scripture, we have an unassailable case against superstitious dogma. If we recognize that the issue was at least as much about maintaining the Church’s authority, we have to concede some (Machiavellian) rationality in the papal position, however repugnant the motives...

In trying to make of case for papal "rationality", Ball completely undermines the claim that religion isn't the enemy of science and, in fact, of society in general. When the holy books are exposed as full of factually incorrect bullshit, it undermines the whole basis for religion having any especially important opinion about anything - Ball says the pope knows that and ruled accordingly. If the pope really rejected the empirical reality Galileo's observations put in his face, then he's insane (or he would be if it weren't the scriptures being contradicted). And if he doesn't really reject empirical reality, he's just protecting the church's power - then the atheist's claim that religion is destructive has some very powerful support - just of a different kind.


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