Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features discussions on education, learning and teaching, and language with particular focus on English. The primary subjects to be taken up here are notable advocacies and contrary viewpoints in these disciplines and their allied fields. Our primary aim is to clarify matters and issues of importance to language and learning, provide intelligent and useful instruction, promote rational and critical thinking, and enhance the individual’s overall capacity for discernment.

A new war is now being fought between science and religion

Science and religion are in a new state of war, one where science has to defend itself against those who are forcefully pushing the idea that science and “moderate” forms of religion are actually compatible worldviews. In “The New War Between Science and Religion,” an article he wrote for the May 9, 2010 issue of the The Chronicle for Higher Education, physics professor and science writer Mano Singham says this new war concerns questions that are more profound than whether or not to teach evolution in schools. He expresses deep concern that the National Academy of Science (NAS) in the United States has come down squarely on the side of the so-called accommodationists, a group that he describes as seeking “to carve out areas of knowledge that are off-limits to science, arguing that certain fundamental features of the world allow for God to act in ways that cannot be detected using the methods of science.”

Singham, author of God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom, points out that historically, science has steadily replaced supernatural explanations with scientific ones, and he says that although the accommodationists have made recent inroads into prestigious science organizations like the NAS, it is highly likely that their strategy will fail. He argues: “There is no evidence that consciousness and mind arise from anything other than the workings of the physical brain, and so those phenomena are well within the scope of scientific investigation. What’s more, because the powerful appeal of religion comes precisely from its claims that the deity intervenes in the physical world, in response to prayers and such, religious claims, too, fall well within the domain of science.”

He then cites iconoclastic American writer H.L. Mencken’s argument that no beliefs should be exempt from scrutiny simply because many people have held them for a long time. “It is time to remove the veil that has protected religious beliefs for so long,” Singham argues. “After all, if we concede without argument that mainstream religious beliefs are compatible with science, how can we argue that witchcraft and astrology are not?”

Read Mano Singham’s “The New War Between Science and Religion” in The Chronicle for Higher Education now!



In “Metric Mania,” an article he wrote for the May 10, 2010 issue of the New York Times Magazine, mathematician John Allen Paulos says that in the realm of public policy, the American people live in an age of numbers, quantifying most everything from teachers’ effectiveness to the quality of medical care. But he expresses the nagging fear that the American people might have developed such an “outsize belief” in their ability to gauge complex phenomena, measure outcomes, and come up with compelling numerical evidence. Quoting Albert Einstein who said that “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted,” Paulos makes this more practical, down-to-earth warning: “Unless we know how things are counted, we don’t know if it’s wise to count on the numbers.”

Read John Allen Paulos’s “Metric Mania” in the New York Times Magazine now!

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