Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Word of Dog #1: "I Do Not Know"

"The beginning of wisdom is 'I do not know." (gestures towards the Negative Space Wedgie on the viewscreen) "I do not know what that is."

-Lt. Cmdr. Data, Where Silence Has Lease

Welcome to yet another new series, The Word of Dog. Unlike the alleged words of stone idols written by bronze age shepherds, I don't expect you to take these entries on blind faith.

Where faith is a system of hubris, science can be thought of as a system of enforced humility. Faith claims to be all the answers when there is an absence of evidence. Scientifically-minded people, in contrast, are allowed to humbly admit ignorance, at least for the time being. Without evidence, conclusions cannot be supported. Without dogmatic conclusions being fed to them, scientists are free to form hypotheses and seek evidence to confirm or deny them.

Fundies, bizarrely, think this is a weakness of science. This, in truth, is a sign of the fundies' weakness of character. Sane people know that there will likely always be something we don't know, no matter how much data we collect. We can cope with these uncertainties. Our lack of knowledge represents an opportunity to discover new things. Because we take our ignorance as a given, our worldview is inherently expansive and inclusive. Many fundies instead regard ignorance as unimportant: truth is a much lower priority than the false peace of mind that comes with assuming the comforting answers they invented without evidence are true.

For that, we can pity them.

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