Tag Archive: Science

Quote of the Day: Does Religion Answer the Question, Why is There Something, Rather Than Nothing?

sean carroll

Quote from Sean Carroll’s article in the upcoming Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Physics:

It seems natural to ask why the universe exists at all. Modern physics suggests that the universe can exist all by itself as a self-contained system, without anything external to create or sustain it. But there might not be an absolute answer to why it exists. I argue that any attempt to account for the existence of something rather than nothing must ultimately bottom out in a set of brute facts; the universe simply is, without ultimate cause or explanation.

Carroll goes on to say:

As you can see, my basic tack hasn’t changed: this kind of question might be the kind of thing that doesn’t have a sensible answer. In our everyday lives, it makes sense to ask “why” this or that event occurs, but such questions have answers only because they are embedded in a larger explanatory context. In particular, because the world of our everyday experience is an emergent approximation with an extremely strong arrow of time, such that we can safely associate “causes” with subsequent “effects.” The universe, considered as all of reality (i.e. let’s include the multiverse, if any), isn’t like that. The right question to ask isn’t “Why did this happen?”, but “Could this have happened in accordance with the laws of physics?” As far as the universe and our current knowledge of the laws of physics is concerned, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” The demand for something more — a reason why the universe exists at all — is a relic piece of metaphysical baggage we would be better off to discard.

This perspective gets pushback from two different sides. On the one hand we have theists, who believe that they can answer why the universe exists, and the answer is God. As we all know, this raises the question of why God exists; but aha, say the theists, that’s different, because God necessarily exists, unlike the universe which could plausibly have not. The problem with that is that nothing exists necessarily, so the move is pretty obviously a cheat. I didn’t have a lot of room in the paper to discuss this in detail (in what after all was meant as a contribution to a volume on the philosophy of physics, not the philosophy of religion), but the basic idea is there. Whether or not you want to invoke God, you will be left with certain features of reality that have to be explained by “and that’s just the way it is.” (Theism could possibly offer a better account of the nature of reality than naturalism — that’s a different question — but it doesn’t let you wiggle out of positing some brute facts about what exists.)

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— Sean Carroll, Why is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? February 8, 2018

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Atheists are Pathological Liars, says Bruce Walker

bruce walkerAtheism is the slavish and simple-minded embrace of ignorance.  When people call themselves “atheists” today, what they really mean is Christophobes, people with an irrational hatred and fear of Christianity.  The arguments they make against Christianity are both bizarre and silly.

Consider first the macabre atheistic position that only stupid people believe in God (i.e., Christianity) [straw man argument that no thinking atheist makes].  Until the latter part of the 19th century, virtually all great scientists were extraordinarily devout Christians.  Indeed, the scientific method itself was created by Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar.  Buridan, a priest, perfected the scientific principle of impetus and answered many questions about the revolving of our planet.  Ockham created the idea, the heart of modern science, that the most simplified explanation for phenomena ought to be considered the truest.

Science long was exclusively the province of devout Christians, and the greatest scientists, like Newton, Maxwell, and Kelvin, were also profoundly religious individuals whose faith was greater than that of most people of their time.  Even through the modern age, important scientists have been Christians.

The contrast with atheism is stark.  Until the modern age, there were virtually no atheist scientists worth mentioning [yet, many modern scientists are atheists, agnostics, or indifferent towards religion].  Atheism, instead, proved an obstacle to scientific thought.  Most prominent was the wiliness of atheists to lie.  Lacking any divine overseer to perceive and punish mendacity, virtually all atheists – Nazis, Soviets, Maoists, fascists and our indigenous atheists – have been willing to lie and to conceal if the subterfuge is deemed in the interest of a greater cause.

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The pattern is clear: atheists are Christophobes who irrationally hate and fear Christians (and also religiously serious Jews) because they hate and fear the idea of a divine and perfect judge of our honor and virtue.  Atheists are the dead end of scientific inquiry and rigorous speculative theory because of their phobia.  They run from truth as they run from God [if God is chasing atheists, surely he can catch them].  They are profoundly unserious minds whom no one needs to heed.

— Bruce Walker, American Thinker, The Ignorance of Atheism, February 10, 2018

Walker, a chiropractor, lives in Perth, Australia and is on the faculty of Murdoch University.

Songs of Sacrilege: Solar Light (Silent Night) Gospel by Natalie Windsor

natalie windsor

Warning! Lyrics may contain offensive, vulgar language.

This is the one hundred and fifty-fourth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Oh Satellite (O Holy Night) by Natalie Windsor.

Video Link

Songs of Sacrilege: Oh Satellite (O Holy Night) by Natalie Windsor and The National Philharmonic Orchestra

natalie windsor

Warning! Lyrics may contain offensive, vulgar language.

This is the one hundred and fifty-third installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Oh Satellite (O Holy Night) by Natalie Windsor and The National Philharmonic Orchestra.

Video Link

Physicist and Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss on Science and the Origins of the Universe

lawrence krauss

Lawrence Krauss, 63, is an American-Canadian theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and director of its Origins Project. In the video that follows, Krauss answers questions about science, the scientific method, and the origins of the Universe. Enjoy!

Video Link

Quote of the Day: There Are No Rules of the Universe That Say “People Can’t Rise From the Dead”

creationism vs science

Fundamentalist Christian:

Everything from the creation to the resurrection became possible once the sciences took on their true form and place, as mere human experience writ large.…Once the people built a tower to the sky; it did little for their spiritual well being. So my reading of the Bible is painfully literalistic. When I see it read that Jesus Christ has physically risen from the dead, I take it as teaching what it is saying. I don’t have a poetry that can carry that event without some real blood and asphyxiation. Without a real death and resurrection I could not be a Christian, the way some cannot be a Christian with it. I don’t, contrary to many, have any good reasons to think that something like that cannot happen, even if I have good reason to understand that it does not usually happen.

There are no rules of the universe that say, “people can’t rise from the dead.” Those kinds of rules are limitations drawn from the narrow breadth of human experience and common habit. There is no evidence for them.

Gary:

If we follow this line of thinking, no claim, regardless of how fantastical, should be dismissed by modern, educated people if the claim comes from someone’s holy book. Anything is possible, so nothing can be ruled out. If the literal interpretation of a passage in the Christian Bible says that the universe was created in six days, it was created in six literal days, regardless of what science says on that issue.

Science states that the earth revolves around the sun, but that isn’t what Joshua seemed to believe in the Old Testament. If we follow our Christian’s thinking above, it is perfectly rational to believe that the sun DOES revolve around the earth; the apparent evidence suggesting heliocentricity is simply a mirage, created by God to humble and confuse the wise. So maybe we should force NASA and other governmental space and science agencies to abandon heliocentricity based on the literal reading of this biblical text.

How can a modern society function with such a mindset? Imagine if all US government agencies were forced to yield to those who hold a literal interpretation of every statement in the Old and New Testaments as historical fact. What a disaster! Life would be chaos! We would revert to a primitive people, afraid of our shadows for fear of conniving devils and demons.

No one can claim that science, and the scientific method used by science, is the one and only source of truth. But we can claim that the scientific method, to date, has proven to be the most reliable method of discovering how our universe operates; far better than the literal interpretation of the Bible or any other ancient holy book.

As for me and my house, we will stick with science!

— Gary, Escaping Christian Fundamentalism, Should Christians Believe Biblical Claims Which Contradict Scientific Evidence?, October 2, 2017

 

If the Evangelical God Revealed Himself to Me, Would I Believe? 

athfleaist convention

I am often asked what it would take for me to believe in the Evangelical God. Is there anything that would cause me to discard atheism and embrace the God whom Evangelicals say is the Creator of everything and the savior of everyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ?  Am I so set in my atheistic/humanistic ways that there is nothing that could persuade me to return to the Christianity I abandoned eight years ago?  Simply put, what will it take for me to fall on knees and repent of my sins, professing that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior?

Many Evangelicals, of course, believe that no amount of evidence would be enough to convert someone such as myself. I am a reprobate, an apostate, a sworn enemy of the Evangelical God. I have crossed the line of no return. My destiny is already settled, with a first-class accommodation in Hell and the Lake of Fire awaiting me after I die. According to the Bible, I am the pig that has returned to the mire and the dog who has returned to his vomit. I have trampled under my feet the blood of Jesus, and there remains no further sacrifice for my sins. Christian evangelizers are told not to waste their time on the Bruce Gerencsers of the world. Let them go to the hell they so richly deserve!

Other Evangelicals think that I am still saveable. With God all things are possible, they say.  Imagine what a testimony to God’s wonderful grace it would be if the preacher-turned-atheist Bruce was brought low before the thrice-holy God and saved from his sins. Years ago, I remember being taught in evangelism class that the best way to reach a community for Christ is to find the meanest sinner in town and lead him to Christ. While I am not a mean person, I am considered the village atheist, a man who hates God and Christians. Get me saved, and r-e-v-i-v-a-l is sure to follow. Or so local Christians think, anyway.

Many Evangelicals believe that God has given me all the evidence I need in order to believe. The Evangelical God has revealed himself to me through creation, conscience, and divine revelation (the Bible). God has done all the revealing he intends to do. If this is not enough for me, I can go straight to hell.

Wait a minute, what is there in creation that proves to a rational, reasonable man that the Evangelical God is one true God, and that forgiveness of sins and salvation are through Jesus, the second God of the Trinity? When I peer into wondrous darkness of a starry night, I am filled with awe and wonder. When a harvest moon rises in the east, giving off its larger-than-life orange glow, I am reminded of the awesomeness of the universe.  All around me I see wonders to behold. As a professional photographer, I often spend time peering at the complexities and beauty of nature and wildlife. Even the feral cats resting underneath the nearby post office box cause me to pause, watch, and enjoy. Everywhere I look, I see things that cause me to stop, reach for one of my cameras, and shoot a few photographs. Not far from where the aforementioned cats hang out, there are sheep and goats who often entertain me when I have time to stop and take their pictures. And don’t get me started when it comes to my family. There are times when everyone is over for a holiday — all twenty-one of us, aged two to sixty — that I quietly sit and watch my children and grandchildren. I think to myself, man, am I blessed. With all the health problems I have, I am lucky to be alive, fortunate that I have the privilege to love and be loved. Does all of this, however, say to me, the Evangelical God is real, that Christianity is the one true religion? No, it doesn’t. At best, all that I have experienced tells me that perhaps there is some sort of divine power, a God of sorts, that has set in motion life as we know it.  Perhaps — though I doubt it — there is a deistic God who created the universe and then went on vacation, leaving the future of planet earth and its inhabitants up to us. This is the God of some of the people who read this blog, and while I don’t believe in their God, I do understand how they came to believe as they do, and I respect their viewpoint. And they are okay with my unbelief, as is their God.

existence of god

I have yet to have an Evangelical satisfactorily explain to me how anyone can rationally surmise that their God is the one true God just by looking at starry skies or biological world. I am willing to concede, as I mentioned above, that it is possible to conclude that some sort deistic creator put the world into motion and then said, there ya go, boys and girls, do with it what you will. But, pray tell, what evidence is there for this generic creator God of sorts being the Evangelical God? Well, the Bible says ___________, Evangelicals say, and therein lies a big, big problem. Evangelicals are, for the most part, literalists. When they read the creation account recorded by an unknown author in Genesis 1-3, Evangelicals conclude that their God created the universe in six twenty-four days, exactly 6,022 years ago. Yes, I am aware that some Evangelicals are NOT young earth creationists, not that this really matters. Whether young earth or old earth or any of the other creation theories espoused by Evangelicals, they believe that the foundational authority is the first three chapters of Genesis.

Using the Bible as a tool to prop up what can be viewed with human eyes only causes greater doubt and unbelief. Why? Because what the Bible says about the universe runs contrary to what science tells us. Astronomy, geology, cosmology, archeology, and biology all tell us that what the Evangelicals believe the Bible says about the universe is false. Of course, Evangelicals are taught that the Bible is the final authority on everything, including how and when the universe came into existence. When science conflicts with the Bible, the B-i-b-l-e — the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God — not science, is always right. As science continues to push creationism closer and closer to the dustbin of human history, Evangelicals are forced to defend beliefs that are no longer rationally defensible. So anyone telling someone such as myself that creation — when viewed through the lens of the Bible — proves the existence of the Evangelical God will be met with ridicule and laughter.

The Bible, despite Evangelicals believing otherwise, is no longer a credible source of proof for the existence of God. Evangelicals believe that divine revelation (the Bible) is another way that God reveals himself to us. Unfortunately, thanks to the internet and authors such as Bart Ehrman and Robert Price, the Bible can no longer be used as proof for anything. Now that there are countless blogs and websites dedicated to deconstructing the history and teachings of Christianity and the Bible, it is increasingly hard for Evangelicals to continue to promote and sell the party line. The Bible is not worthless. There are teachings, maxims, proverbs, and such that people, religious or not, find encouraging and helpful. The same, however, could be said of a plethora of religious texts, so the Christian Bible is not special in this regard.

inventing a god

Having read the Bible dozens of times from cover to cover, spending thousands of hours studying its words, books, and teachings, I see nothing that would convince someone not already initiated into the Evangelical cult that the Christian God is the one true God and all other Gods are false. The fact remains that the Bible is not what Evangelicals claim it is, and the only people who believe that the Bible is some sort of supernatural book are those raised in religious sects and tribes that embrace inerrancy. Such people believe the Bible is inspired and inerrant because they either don’t know any better or they refuse to change their beliefs — facts be damned. Extant information, available to all who can read makes one thing clear: the Bible is not what Christians say it is.

Evangelicals also believe that their God reveals himself to humans by giving all us a conscience. Supposedly, the conscience that God gives us is some sort of moral regulator. According to Evangelicals, everyone is born with an innate understanding of right and wrong. God, they say, has written his law on our hearts. If this is so, why do parents need to teach children right and wrong? Why is it that geography and tribal identification, not God, determines moral and ethical beliefs? If the Evangelical God’s law is imprinted on everyone’s hearts, shouldn’t everyone have the same moral beliefs? Of course, they don’t, and doesn’t this mean that there must be some other reason(s) for moral belief other than God? That atheists are moral and ethical without believing in God is a sure sign that these things come from something other than a deity; things such as genetics, parental training, tribal influence, education, and environment.

The fact is, for atheists such as myself, creation, conscience, and the Bible do NOT prove to us the existence of the Evangelical God. Sorry, Evangelicals, I have weighed your evidence in the balances and found it wanting. What then, Bruce would it take for you to believe in God? Is there anything that God can do that would cause to believe?  Sure, there is. Let me conclude this post with several things the Evangelical God could do to prove to me his existence. All of these are within the ability of the I can do anything Evangelical God:

  • Raise my mother from the dead so she can love and enjoy the grandchildren she never got to see.
  • Heal me. Waking up one morning — just one — without pain would certainly cause me to reconsider my view of God.
  • Striking Donald Trump dead the next time he lies would certainly be a sign of God’s existence.
  • Causing the Cincinnati Reds to go 81-0 the last half of the season, Joey Votto hitting 80 home runs, Billy Hamilton hitting .350 and stealing 140 bases, and the Reds winning the World Series would definitely make me believe in God’s existence.
  • Causing the Cincinnati Bengals to go 16-0, winning three playoff games and the Super Bowl would also make me wonder, is there a God?
  • On a more serious note, God ending violence and war, hunger, sickness and disease, would certainly get my attention. Unfortunately, I’ve been told that God is too busy helping Grandmas find their keys and Tim Tebow become a major league baseball player to be bothered with human suffering.
  • And finally, God could just send Jesus to my house. That certainly would do the trick. However, I fear once I tell Jesus what has been going on in his name for the last 2,000 years that he might say, Dude, I don’t blame you for not believing in God. I wouldn’t either, but since my Dad is God, I have to believe whether I want to or not.

Truth be told, I doubt there is anything that can be said or done that would convince me of the existence of the Evangelical God. I have carefully weighed the extant evidence and found it wanting. Since it is unlikely that any new evidence is forthcoming, I am comfortable with saying that the Evangelical God is the mythical creation of the human mind, and I need not fear or obey him.

Thus Saith the Lord: The Sun Revolves Around the Earth

john jasper

Famed 19th Century Preacher John Jasper

If, as Christians say, the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God and is meant to be literally understood, shouldn’t Evangelicals believe the sun revolves around the earth? In the late 1800s, famed black preacher John Jasper preached a sermon titled ‘The Sun Do Move’. Here is some of what Jasper had to say (text edited for readability):

Now then, I have proved to you all these things as they are laid down in the Bible, chapter and verse. According to the text, Joshua showed in the sight of all Israel that The Sun Do Move, because he stopped it, by God’s command, for a whole day, as the text states. If he stopped it, that proves that the sun was moving, and moving over Joshua and the Amorites, and of course they were nowhere else than on this here earth, and consequently it was moving around the earth, and after the battle was over, it begun moving again in its regular course.

Therefore it is proved that the Sun Do Move around the earth. Now then, this great fact of the sun’s rotation may be illustrated by many powerful texts in the Bible : I will confine myself to the most striking ones. Notice Malachi, chapter 11, verse 2 — and that come from God’s own mouth, and their can be no properer authority than God’s authority. With His own lips he said, ” For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles.” What strikes us here is that the Sun Do Move ! ” My name shall be great among the Gentiles ” — (and we people of to-day is the Gentiles) — that, is an evidence that the Sun Do Move, for it’s God that says it. And take Ecclesiastes, first chapter, 5th verse : “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” That’s an evidence that he arose, for if he had not done left the place, he could not haste to where he arose. Again, in Psalm l, verse 1 : ” The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.” I illustrates this as an evidence that the Sun Do Move, for the psalmist is the inspired writer, authorized by the Almighty to say this. The following texts I put in evidence : Psalm 113, Verse 3 : — ” From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.” Isaiah, Chapter 38, Verse 8 : ” Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees which is gone down in the sun-dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward ; so the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.” And Judges, Chapter 14, Verse 18 : ” Before the sun went down—.”

Now, from the expressions of all these texts, that is evidence that the Sun Do Move, for they were all inspired and written of God, of the Holy Spirit of God, who authorized to write these things. See, also, Jeremiah, chapter 31, verse 37: “Thus saith the Lord, if heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.” Here is more evidence. No man can measure the distance from the sun to the earth, according to this text. Thus God says this distance can’t be found out, for it is impossible to measure the foundations of the earth. “In the firmament is the tabernacle of the sun ; he is gone forth as from one end of the heaven to the other, and his circuit is to the end of the earth,” saith the psalmist. That is, instead of the earth’s circling, the sun is circling the earth. Therefore the sun’s rotation can’t be overthrown.

The philosophers’ reasons to the contrary is a matter of impossibility. They say there is a nation that at 12 o’clock in the day has their foots opposite us : now it is an utter impossibility for them to know that there is any nation under there doing so, as, witness in Jeremiah, 31st chapter, verse 37, where it says the foundations of the earth can’t be measured.

Ken Ham, defender of young earth creationism, says that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Ham believes, for the most part, that the Bible should be read and interpreted literally. According to Ham, God spoke the universe into existence, using six, twenty-four hour days to do so. Ham also believes Adam and Eve are the father and mother of the human race. Every crazy mythical story found in the book of Genesis — and the other 65 books of the Bible — is factual history. Why then doesn’t Ham embrace the geocentric model found in the Bible? In the aforementioned quote, John Jasper bathed his ‘sun do move’ belief in the waters of Holy Scripture. How dare Evangelicals deny the clear, unambiguous teachings of the Bible.

Just the other the day, Ham stated that the Bible is a science textbook that never changes, yet Ham holds to the heliocentric model espoused by modern science, and not the geocentric model believed by not only Jasper, but other Evangelicals today. Shame on Ken Ham for denying the Word of God and its infallible teachings. Why, this makes me wonder whether Ham is a closeted Bible-denying liberal!

Let me add in closing, that John Jasper is widely revered in some corners of the Evangelical world. His biography and sermons have been republished. I owned a copy of Jasper’s biography for many years. What a great man of God, I thought at the time. Standing on the precious truths of the word of God! While I didn’t embrace Jasper’s geocentric view, I did believe that God did, in fact, miraculously cause the earth (and all other planets) to stand still. Such is the ignorance required to believe that what the Bible says about scientific matters is true.

Christians Says the Darnedest Things: The Bible is a Science Textbook That Never Changes by Ken Ham

fish-in-a-bowl

Now, I’m glad the Bible’s not a textbook of science like those used in public schools, because it would change all the time. Many ideas have come and gone. For example, most of the evolutionary beliefs used by scientists in the transcript of the Scopes Trial have been abandoned—but God’s Word remains the same. It is the infallible Word of God—the true history book of the universe.

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Secularists often accuse us of reading Genesis literally but not other portions of the Bible. We point out that we should read the Bible naturally. There is history (e.g., Genesis), poetry (e.g., Psalms), prophecy (e.g., Isaiah), and so on. Different genres of writing require different interpretative methods. Historical documents such as Genesis are not intended to be taken figuratively.

Secularists also attack Christians for not following Old Testament laws. But most secularists have no understanding of the Old Covenant and New Covenant—and they don’t want to. They want to distort and attack the Word.

I’m burdened for those described in the Bible as “having no hope and without God in the world”, which is why we boldly proclaim truth. My challenge to secularists is this: the evidence of creation is obvious, so “do not be unbelieving, but believing”  and “lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light”.

When you reject God’s Word in Genesis and interpret it through the lens of man’s fallible, opinionated word, more and more compromise is sure to follow. You see, when you start compromising in one area of the Bible, it isn’t long before compromise shows up in other areas. My challenge to all believers is this: believe all of God’s Word!

People are born and die, but “the word of our God stands forever” — and no person can ever change that! Secularists can’t change this: “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever”.

Many people try to change God’s Word, particularly in Genesis, but “forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven”.

— Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis, Is the Bible a Science Textbook?, December 18, 2016

Kindred Spirits in a Pathless Land — Part Eleven

guest-post

Guest post by Kindred Spirits

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten

So you think science is the antidote to sloppy emotional thinking as shown in the last few posts? Alas, scientists and scientific funding are subject to our non-rational brains too. Richard Feynman was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project creating the atomic bomb in World War II. In the essay below, Feynman discusses some of the many challenges that scientists face which are examples of the “…first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Cargo Cult Science, by Richard Feynman:

We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops and got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It’s a little bit off, because he had the incorrect value for the viscosity of air. It’s interesting to look at the history of measurements of the charge of the electron, after Millikan. If you plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little bigger than Millikan’s, and the next one’s a little bit bigger than that, and the next one’s a little bit bigger than that, until finally they settle down to a number which is higher.

Why didn’t they discover that the new number was higher right away? It’s a thing that scientists are ashamed of—this history—because it’s apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan’s, they thought something must be wrong—and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number closer to Millikan’s value they didn’t look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that. We’ve learned those tricks nowadays, and now we don’t have that kind of a disease.

But this long history of learning how to not fool ourselves—of having utter scientific integrity—is, I’m sorry to say, something that we haven’t specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you’ve caught on by osmosis.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that.

In another essay, Feynman argues that religion has a role in ethics, despite the metaphysics of religions being doubtful. He also investigated various mystical and alternative mental states (e.g., from sensory deprivation chambers), and seemingly decided that while the phenomena existed, it didn’t prove that any of the religious metaphysics was true.  You can read more of his thoughts in: The Relation of Science and Religion, by Richard Feynman.

Lastly, Feynman worked on creating the atomic bomb. Originally, he joined knowing that the Germans were also working an atomic bomb. However, after the Germans surrendered, the target was switched from the Germans to the Japanese who were not developing an atomic bomb, and he didn’t even question that change of the target at the time. (In an interview I saw, he seemed to think it was an ethical failure on his part. Alas, I could not find the video clip.)

So the question is, did science help Feynman make this ethical judgment? Did he make the correct ethical judgment?