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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

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 Why you can't decide scientific questions using religion

"History aside, the almost universal opinion that one's own religious convictions are the reasoned outcome of a dispassionate evaluation of all the major alternatives is almost demonstrably false for humanity in general. If that really were the genesis of most people's convictions, then one would expect the major faiths to be distributed more or less randomly or evenly over the globe. But in fact they show a very strong tendency to cluster...which illustrates what we all suspected anyway: that social forces are the primary determinants of religious belief for people in general. To decide scientific questions by appeal to religious orthodoxy would therefore be to put social forces in place of empirical evidence..."

-- Paul Churchland, Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

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