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Archive for January 15th, 2008

On Nepal: What Should We Do and Say?

Posted by Rosa Harris on January 15, 2008

un_betweentwostones.jpgby Mike Ely

Recently reading Richard Dawkin’s atheist manifesto (“The God Delusion”) I came across a simple statement:

“There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or another.”

Dawkins then quotes Carl Sagan,

“I try not to think with my gut. Really, it’s okay to reserve judgment until the evidence is in.”

I think there is a lot to learn from these simple statements of scientific methodology (from these two controversial and deeply respected scientists).

A brief digression: The word agnosticism was coined by Prof. Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869. He took it from the Greek agnostos, a = without, gnostos = knowledge – and he used this term in scientific warfare against notions of spiritual or mystical insight (i.e., hunches from the gut). This did not mean that Huxley was wishy-washy: on the contrary, he is famous as “Darwin’s bulldog” because on matters where there was sufficient emergent knowledge he fought so fiercely for the most advanced understanding.

We need to be like Huxley in ferociously fighting for what is scientifically known, and cautiously identifying what is not. Read the rest of this entry »

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