‘Sceptics’ — but not about science?
|May 29, 2010||Posted by Steve Fuller under Philosophy, Intelligent Design, Religion, Science, Creationism, Culture, Global Warming, Medicine|
I did an interview recently with the Sceptics’ Society of Birmingham (UK) on the relationship between science and religion, which may be of interest to people here. The interview was conducted over Skype, which explains some of the alien sounds, especially from my end, even though my interlocutor and I were separated by a mere 20 miles.
What struck me most about this quite genial interview is the lack of scepticism that today’s self-avowed ‘sceptics’ have towards the scientific establishment. Indeed, they have a rhetorical strategy for deflecting this point. So, if you listen to the whole interview, you’ll hear that my interlocutor periodically draws a strange distinction between ‘intelligent’ and ‘rational’ — as in ‘I grant that anti-evolutionists are intelligent, given that many actually have degrees in science, but they are not rational because their beliefs blind them to the truth’. Suffice it to say, no epistemology would wish to be associated with such a self-serving view.
The occasion of the interview was my recent piece in the Guardian, which received some attention here. You’ll notice at the start of the interview, I steered the discussion towards global warming because many self-avowed ‘sceptics’ appear to put aside their scepticism at this point and defer to the scientific priesthood. In general, scepticism loses any credibility if it’s selective. In contrast, science is, in a sense, selective. It is openly committed to a certain way of pursuing the truth, within which one may be ‘critical’, that is, opposed to the priesthood but still invested in what the priesthood would ideally defend. This is why I have been promoting the term ‘Protscience’ (‘Protestant science’), by analogy to the 16th century separation of the Protestants from the Church of Rome.