the official site of Michael Shermer

top navigation:

Tag Results

God’s Number Is Up

Among a heap of books claiming that science proves God’s existence emerges one that computes a probability of 67 percent
magazine cover

In his 1916 poem “A Coat,” William Butler Yeats rhymed: “I made my song a coat/Covered with embroideries/Out of old mythologies/From heel to throat.”

Read “religion” for “song,” and “science” for “coat,” and we have a close approximation of the deepest flaw in the science and religion movement, as revealed in Yeats’s denouement: “But the fools caught it,/Wore it in the world’s eyes/As though they’d wrought it./ Song, let them take it / For there’s more enterprise/In walking naked.”

Naked faith is what religious enterprise was always about, until science became the preeminent system of natural verisimilitude, tempting the faithful to employ its wares in the practice of preternatural belief. Although most efforts in this genre offer little more than scientistic cant and religious blather, a few require a response from the magisterium of science, if for no other reason than to protect that of religion; if faith is tethered to science, what happens when the science changes? One of the most innovative works in this genre is The Probability of God (Crown Forum, 2003), by Stephen D. Unwin, a risk management consultant in Ohio, whose early physics work on quantum gravity showed him that the universe is probabilistic and whose later research in risk analysis led him to this ultimate computation. (continue reading…)

Comments Off