With what does science deal?

Why, reality, of course.

If that seems like a simple answer, it’s because the answer is simple. We could break everything down, get more particular, explore general concepts, use specific examples, etc. That would give us a better understanding of how science works, but the answer to the question of with what it is science deals is the same: reality. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this:

Science is great for material things, but by definition it doesn’t deal with immaterial things.

This comes from our friend Neil. I usually reserve him for use in my “Punching Bags” series, but I’m actually still trawling his comment section to find more unique bloggers (not to mention bloggers who actually dare to defend their positions). As a result, I’m not particularly reading his writing – in fact, I’m not going to bother reading the rest of his post – but the above comment did catch my eye. It represents a weak mind.

Making the point that science only deals with material things, not immaterial things, is like saying science only deals with material things, not unicorns. It’s a meaningless statement. Unless, that is, Neil has provided evidence for the immaterial. But wait! Then he would have to use the material world and thus science. Since, by definition, he cannot use these things to study the immaterial (or unicorns), his views are fundamentally anti-science. In fact, the same goes for absolutely anyone who believes in the supernatural. It’s just kooky thinking.

Washington passes equal marriage law

Lawmekers in the state of Washington have approved a law guaranteeing gays equal rights:

The Washington House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote. The state Senate approved the measure last week. And Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign the measure into law next week.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay lawmaker from Seattle who has sponsored gay rights bills in the House for several years, said that while he and his partner are grateful for the rights that exist under the state’s current domestic partnership law, “domestic partnership is a pale and inadequate substitute for marriage.”

It is almost certain this will be challenged at the ballot box in November, so freedom has an uphill battle to fight in Washington this year. Apparently a lot of people think the sky is going to fall is gay people have the same freedom as straights.

When theory becomes practice

When Christians make a stink about their religion being targeted, it is often put to them how they would react if the religion in question was Islam or Scientology. (See the teaching of creationism.) Alternatively, when another religion is seeking to do something which Christians don’t like, it is often put to them how they would react if it was their religion in question. (See the Ground Zero mosque.) The usual response is to either ignore the question or pay it lip service. The former is what I most commonly see, but every so often Christians will give the latter a little air time. I’m sure it is genuine for some, but most are so oblivious to their majority status in everything except science that they’re just espousing principles they pretend to hold but really ignore in practice.

One place where Christians often fight to keep their special treatment is at legislative meetings. They’ve become accustomed to beginning their sessions with Christian prayer. Moreover, elected officials rarely, if ever, reflect the actual population; it isn’t often a state or federal senator will challenge the idea of prayer before commencing (secular) lawmaking. What this means is that people assume they have a legitimate podium for promoting Christianity. However, since they do not, this is often one of those places where it will be put to Christians, What if the religion in question is something other than Christianity? What if Islam is being espoused? And, again, the response is usually to either ignore the question or pay it ever-so-empty lip service.

But there is a third, a-historic option.

This strategy is to claim this is a Christian nation by way of the values encoded in our constitution and the intention of the founding fathers. It is a demonstrably false claim, but it is made nonetheless. And it goes further. In addition to stating such falsehoods, Christians will follow through on their poor grasp of history and actively seek to prevent equal treatment of other religions and non-religious groups. Don’t believe me? You should:

(This is a few years old, but it was recently brought to my attention.)

This sort of thing doesn’t surprise me. It isn’t that people are merely acting like dolts in the name of religion. They are doing it at the behest of religion. It is fanatical shows of theater like this for which religion calls its sheep. Luke 17:3, for instance, tells followers to rebuke evil. Titus 1:10-16 tells believers that non-Christians can’t do anything good and should be, once again, rebuked. I’m sure if I wasted more of my time reading a book which has failed to provide a shred of evidence for its primary thesis I could find several hundred examples without problem. The point is, this is what Christianity (and most other religions) command of its followers. Spreading the word and shouting down ‘evil’ is half of the point. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when Christians and other religidiots do exactly that.