Orderliness Is Next To Godliness

Aug 18 2013 @ 9:21am

Tania Lombrozo suggests that the “relevant contrast might not be between science and religion but between beliefs that promise an orderly universe—one in which individual humans or some external forces, be they natural or divine, impose structure and corral uncertainty—and those that do not”:

Perhaps it is no surprise that religious beliefs have tended to fit the more psychologically attractive profile. Religion isn’t tethered to empirical facts the way scientific theories are; it is free to shift, to fit the contours of the human mind. When it comes to science, however, the empirical world offers hard constraints. We can hope for scientific theories that offer an orderly and predictable view of the natural world, but we can’t enforce them.

What we can do is rethink the way evolutionary ideas are presented, and work to improve people’s understanding of the ways in which natural selection is—and is not—a random and unpredictable process. While humanity may be an evolutionary accident in some sense, our place in the tree of life can be characterized in highly systematic ways that highlight the exquisite dynamics of evolutionary change. There are patterns in the natural world, and grasping them can be revelatory.