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Discussion 15 to Talk Back 86
Words and Meanings

by: Jorge

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I see your justifiable frustration in dealing with Mr. Lockett's articles. You have written in your responses that many of the issues had already been dealt with on the site. You have pointed out that he redefines terms just like Humpty-Dumpty. But he continues.

I saw a letter to the editor in the 1 March issue of the New Scientist (it's a weekly magazine from the UK.) I will quote from it. I have put in some italics for emphasis:

Hanlon's argument is based on the mistaken idea that belief means the same to scientists as it does to the religious. When a scientist says "I believe that the Earth orbits the sun", or that "matter is composed of atoms", what we mean (or should mean) is that there is sufficient evidence accumulated to make it worthwhile to behave as if this statement is true. Sometimes the evidence is overwhelming but, even so, we do not mean that it is a true statement of reality. We allow for the replacement of the concept by a new one if further conflicting evidence is found. The religious believe wholeheartedly that "This is the truth."

Ernest Ager

The same point was made for faith in your Meditation 312 and Gary Lampe's Meditation 319.

Mr. Lockett makes no distinction in any of his articles between faith, belief and the verb to believe as used in a specifically religious sense and as used in a general sense (including the scientific). It is possible he does not see a difference. Most of the rest of us, believers and non-believers alike, can see a huge difference.

Mr Lockett's case rests on mixing together the various meanings and useages of belief / to believe and faith. The case collapses when you realize this.

On a different point: Mr Lockett refers to "The conflict between science and religion."

Some scientists such as Richard Dawkins would agree there is a conflict. Some religious people such a scripture literalists and such as proponents of Intelligent Design would agree there is a conflict.

I do not think that there is a conflict between religion and science. The only conflict is when a specific religion makes claims which conflict with the ovewhelming body of scientific evidence. The conflict is between the followers of that particular religion and science. It is not between religion in general and science.