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Not a lot of time, but I thought I’d share these thoughts from the Jewish Atheist on religion and science (also old, from 2005 this time).

I think that when religion is confronted by truth that conflicts with their most basic beliefs, it goes through the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
(Jewish Atheist: Religion, Truth, and the Five Stages of Grief )

When a scientific theory* is young enough that not everybody has accepted it, or maybe even the scientific establishment is sceptical, you can get by with ignoring or denying it. Next comes the stage where you cannot ignore it anymore. Lines have to be drawn, correct beliefs defines, heretics outlawed. A classic example of the third phase is Chabad defending its geocentrical worldview with relativity theory. This stage may be absurd, really convincing or really confusing, depending on how articulate and intelligent the person making the argument is. When bargaining doesn’t help anymore and depression sets it, people go OTD, become buddhists or start to write blogs. And lastly, finally, we arrive at the end, where the science can be acceppted as just one more fact of life that is not life-shattering.

These phases do not only apply to religion and science, often the general public or even the established scientific community reacts the same way to a new, revolutionary theory*. Take climate change. First it was largely ignored by many. I’d say now we are between anger (the people who will shout at you for just using the word) and bargaining (the people who say climate has always been changing and it’s a natural process during the earth’s lifecycle – it may look like it changes, but it’s not our fault). I’m not sure what depression is going to look like, but I hope acceptance starts before it’s too late for this earth.


* "A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation." (Wikipedia: Scientific theory)

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