Krauss and Dawkins on Science and Faith

Krauss: You have cogently argued in The God Delusion that religion is bad science. I would argue, however, that this is particularly inappropriate, and in fact falls into the same trap fallen into by those who push Intelligent Design in science classrooms, as well as those who fund Templeton Foundation grants that attempt to foster scientific evidence for God. I have framed this issue in language that hearkens back to Carl Sagan, who said that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. Would a world without God necessarily look any different than the world we live in? Most scientists would say no, and thus claim we do not need the God Hypothesis to explain anything about nature. On the other hand one might also ask: Would a world with a God necessarily look any different than the world we live in? People of faith would argue no, and in so doing feel vindicated in their faith. The problem is that both groups are correct, and nothing either can say is likely to influence the other.

Dawkins: I have several times said that a universe with a God would be a very different kind of universe from one without. You have translated this into operational terms, and consequently arrived at the legitimate question of whether the two kinds of universe would look different. Not be different (my question) but look different (your question, where ‘look different’ can presumably mean any difference, detectable in any way by any of our sense organs or scientific instruments). I agree that yours is an important question, and I agree with you that it might be surprisingly hard to detect, by observation or experiment, whether we live in a god-free universe or a god-endowed one. Nevertheless, I still maintain that there is a cogent sense in which a scientist can discuss the question. There still is a sense in which we can have an interesting and illuminating scientific discussion about whether X is the case, even if we can’t demonstrate it one way or the other by observation or experiment. How can I argue this and still claim to be doing science?

Read the whole debate, here.


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