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Faith and curiousity

Posted By Russ Roberts On December 26, 2012 @ 12:11 pm In Religion,Science | Comments Disabled

This post by Jason Gots at Big Think [1] talks about the drawbacks of creation myths and how religious faith kills curiosity. If you’re interested in my reaction which is not the usual fare for Cafe Hayek, click through…

Here’s how it starts:

One day when he was three years old, my son asked me: “Daddy, who made this whole world?” I understood in that instant the power of religious creation myths. How simple – how comforting it would have been to be able to reply: “God made it.” How many questions it would have answered for him all at once. But I don’t believe any such thing, and while I might equivocate on Santa Claus, I can’t justify satisfying my kid’s emerging curiosity about the universe with what seem to me convenient fictions. I told him: “We’re not sure how the universe was made, but probably nobody made it. Probably, somehow, it just happened. Scientists are studying it.” Now almost five years old, he has a deep respect for and fascination with scientists – gatekeepers of the mysteries of creation.

Physicist Lawrence Krauss would be proud. He finds creation stories depressing – not because they’re implausible, but because they extinguish curiosity and limit human agency.

So the intellectually courageous story is to say the universe, somehow, just happened. That’s not a leap of faith? But the part that really bothers me is the implication that if you swallow the “convenient fiction” that God made the world that everything all settled and you don’t worry about figuring anything else out. Or that scientists are people who don’t fall for that kind of myth. Scientists like Newton? He was a man of faith who was pretty interested in studying the nature of the universe. How is that creation stories “extinguish curiousity?” Do Gots and Krauss not know any religious people? The role of religion in my life enhances my appreciation of the mysteries of the universe and my sense of wonder. It does nothing to reduce the power of human agency. The implication that believing in God answers all questions and relieves us of the need for curiosity or action is bizarre to me. Some people need to get out more.

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[1] This post by Jason Gots at Big Think: http://bigthink.com/think-tank/were-puny-insignificant-and-doomed-nil-and-thats-the-good-news?utm_source=Big+Think+Weekly+Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=969dba5154-12_26_Wed_Krauss12_21_2012&utm_medium=email

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