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Thursday, June 22, 2006

When Science speaks

When Science speaks, people are expected to sit up and pay attention. The reason is because the Scientific Process (TM) is expected to be a lot of things, generally good things. Logical. Based on facts. Utilizes rigorous tests to prove or disprove. Objective and precise in its conclusions and opinions.

And then we have someone like Hawking who betrays his own reputation by breaking a fundamental rule in the dissemination of scientific knowledge: thou shalt not misrepresent a citation. I don't know which is more disappointing: his hatred for the Catholic Church or his failure to uphold scientific non-prejudice.

As a scientist of sorts, I have absolutely no problem being, on top of that, a Christian. I've come across dozens of pundits attacking the Christian faith and/or the Catholic Church (the two are intertwined) but lacking the willingness to do their homework. That makes it bizarre when they call Christians ignorant zealots who believe without logic. I believe in Christ as much as I do precisely because my reason is sufficiently satisfied with the claims of Christianity. It is logical and based on facts -- with obvious caveats concerning limitations of instruments and data, and other contraints which even Science must accommodate. In particular, with 2000 years of brilliant theology and the empirical evidence of the lives of Christian witnesses, the Catholic Church satisfies the need to utilize or cite rigorous tests to prove the doctrines espoused by Christianity.


Justine said...

Thanks for picking up on this. It is rather disappointing that the Popes words got distorted in his book. Any scientist knows how important it is to cite things properly. If I did this for a college paper I'd lose credit and be asked to go do the legwork and find the citation.

As a scientist and a Catholic I've always been pleased with the way the Catholic Church has dealt with scientific issues and I greatly detest it when those hostile to the church try to misconstrue it as being anti-science.

Jeff Tan said...

Thanks for dropping in. Yes, we'd be jeopardizing our careers if we went around publishing (or publicizing) on the basis of faulty citations like this. On the other hand, Hawking is already established, so perhaps he has no such fear. Shame.