Sunday, 16 November 2014

"I Wander Why the Religious People Still Deny Science"

A nice BBC piece on Philae the comet-lander generates - being the BBC - a selection of sensible and far-from-sensible comments.

The one that took my eye, and which I would commend to you, is comment # 10. I realise some of you are on mobiles, or too busy to follow links and then scroll around. So let me quote it to you.

" -2
  • Comment number10.

    I wander why the religious people still deny science."

A very good question. Especially the "wander". Heaven knows I wander about it myself. As I scrolled through the comments on my iPad, to see what people were saying about a robot that landed on a comet, I have to confess I was denying the lot. The comet, the lander, the spaceship that launched it, that lead scientist's T-shirt, the idea that something with the brains of a washing machine machine knows what it's tweeting, the lot. Is it any wander?

Indeed, it was a rocky few years I spent, getting my MA in chemistry. Not the last three years, when I didn't need to study anything, just had to stay alive. No, the four years when I was expected to go into the lab, and carry out experiments, or to read books by the marvellous and handsome Graham Richards or the scruffy, in my opinion, PW Atkins. I used to go home at night and cry, having to spend all that time studying spectra, the fine structure of atoms and then - later, as a research student - transferring over to investigate the hydrogen bonding potentials of the surfaces of protein molecules. And all the time denying it all.

And even today it's a challenge getting out the door. As I walk outside and notice that the rays from the sun warm my face, I have to remind myself it's a delusion. The way in which I walk on the ground - whereas before Newton lied to us about Gravity, I could have floated amongst the tree tops!

Oh science, science, I deny it all.

Now I realise that "gaisha" is probably about 16, Scribbling sadly away in his room dreaming of Dawkins when the rest of his age group (I presume it's a "he") think of members of the opposite sex. Or indeed, according to preference, the same sex. That's fine. We're all entitled to our own life-paths. But I would like to say this. It's not the moderate scientists you have to worry about. They're fine. They do stuff like try to create new medicines (which I deny work, obviously), create new materials, do serious research on the crunchiness of cornflakes - they don't so much harm, on the whole. I mean, given their belief in an unprovable world where things are reliable and predictable, you could say their faith is quite impressive. It's the teenage extremists like "gaisha". They're the ones I worry about. The fundamentalists.

And yes, I'm sure "wander" was just a typo. But I do cling to the idea that "gaisha" denies proof-reading.


  1. I wander as I wonder
    Out under the Sky
    How folk with religion
    This lot can deny
    While poor, or'n'ry people like you and like I
    Still wander as we wonder
    And watch it on Sky


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