This article - essentially on the debate about ID (Intelligent Design
) makes very interesting reading - especially the 200 or so comments - giving a diverse range of perspectives. I am firmly in the scientific camp and totally concur with the conclusion of Sam Harris's article:
The only thing that permits human beings to collaborate with one another in a truly open-ended way is their willingness to have their beliefs modified by new facts. Only openness to evidence and argument will secure a common world for us. Nothing guarantees that reasonable people will agree about everything, of course, but the unreasonable are certain to be divided by their dogmas. It is time we recognized that this spirit of mutual inquiry, which is the foundation of all real science, is the very antithesis of religious faith.
Regardless of the arguments of the two camps, I am surprised how few people understand the concept of scientific theory
. To quote Stephen Hawking
Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis; you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory."
And thanks to Euan Semple's weblog
for pointing me to this.