Friday, July 1, 2011

You know your god is man-made when he hates the same people you do.

I like this quote because it holds true whatever you hold 'god' to be.  I can remember reading somewhere (maybe one of Feynman's autobiographies?  Who knows.) that god tends to be replaced by science - when we can't explain something, it is attributed to magic or God.  When we can explain it, it can still be rejigged to that a god made it so if that's what you want to believe, but it doesn't become so mysterious.  I'm a scientist, and not religious, so I could be biased, but I think that science is beautiful and that there is more wonder in knowing how something works than in letting it be a mystery.  The crashing of waves against the shore isn't any less beautiful because I understand tides and currents, or because I know how sand forms.  

Any belief system is exploitable though.  A great many indigenous races have had their way of life destroyed for being filthy heathen savages who would not hearken unto God's Word.  Whatever about the Troubles, they were honest - they didn't pretend it was about anything other than people, not acting on God's Holy Word.  I do take it more personally when people turn real science into nonsense though.  A field study showing female meadow voles to be more aggressive at certain times of the year gets turned into "BITCHES BE CRAZY, SCIENTISTS FIND."  Or a sample group of five people that proves some stereotype is SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE SAID IT SO I'M NOT A BIGOT.  "Science says women are just stupider" is as misguided as "The Bible says women should be obedient."

What got me thinking about this is the ridiculous, but surprisingly pervasive "Men are X, women are Y" trope. How, wonders pretend bigotry science, can men and women ever understand each other when they are just fundamentally different?  (Never mind that this erases transgendered people - science!)  I'll certainly grant you that the average man and the average woman are different - and yes, some women do harp on, and some men do just want to watch sportsball all the time..  Here are some equally pertinent questions:
How can I ever understand my mother?  How can I ever understand my aunt's two-year-old grand-daughter?  How can I ever understand my female friends?  The waitress at the place I went to for lunch today?  My brother's girlfriend?  The girl in my class I don't really get on with?  The other three billion people on the planet with whom I share a chromosome but not a body or mind?
By employing basic empathy and treating them all as humans, SCIENCE BEING A REAL PERSON ACCOMPLISHED!

This isn't a very good post, it's poorly written and I haven't said what I meant to, but it has been a long week (of real science, in a real lab!).  I guess it is just a little disheartening that some people are determined to declare that the available information proves them right, and that whatever mysteries of the universe we uncover, there will always be people determined to ignore the evidence of their own eyes and decide the only worthwhile information is that which dehumanises some group.  Even if that information doesn't actually exist.

Isn't it enough that it's amazing, even if you're wrong?

1 comment:

Eoghan said...