While making a statement about science, is it necessary ... in your opinion ... to always make a connected positive and supportive statement about religion, in order that the scientist not offend anyone who might be listening? I'd love to hear opinions on this. (There is some discussion on this at PZ Myers blog)
In the mean time, I offer a prayer, for Boxing Day.
[repost from gregladen.com]
Boxing day is the day after we celebrate the birth of the Christian God on Earth, and Boxing Day itself is the day we contemplate the meaning of, well, boxes, and where in, on or near those boxes we may find those elusive gift receipts.
This prayer is meant to represent the sentiment of almost every scientist I know when they are confronted with the question of faith and spirituality.
A Prayer to the Faith Based
I'm sorry, and I don't mean to offend you,
And you didn't even ask for this but
I'm going to put in a plug for your beliefs
So that you won't get too mad at me as I utter words
With which you or someone you know may not agree,
(No matter how utterly wrong you may happen to be)
It is good that you are religious
And I will personally defend your right to believe
Whatever it is you do in fact believe,
And I affirm that it is OK to put
Phrases regarding your beliefs on my money
And for you to assume that
I will swear to your god
when I am on jury duty
when I am drafted into the army
when I am elected to office
when I am in the witness stand
and whenever else I must affirm
that I am moral and will not lie.
i Will Capitalize Your Word for God
And the Name of Your Holy Book
And Other Entities and Documents
As You Dictate These Rules To me.
I offer this pandering to your particular beliefs,
regardless of what they may happen to be,
despite the fact that your cultural ancestors,
the mavens and leaders of one church or another,
burned at the stake or otherwise humiliated mine,
The early scientists and freethinkers,
I affirm this because I cannot at the moment
Remember where I put my spine.
Being confronted with questions of faith and spirituality when thinking about science is like being confronted with a dead mackerel while trying to remember where you put the medium sized Phillips screwdriver. Utterly unrelated. Not only is it not necessary to phrase any statement about science in terms of or in reference to religion, but it is offensive to be required do so. Yes, offensive. Technically, this is not in fact required, but it is culturally expected.
Imagine if we expected a priest, minister, rabbi, whatever, to make reference to the scientific fact that there is no such thing as a burning bush, the Red Sea simply could not have parted as described in the bible, there is not one iota of evidence for the existence of angels, etc., whenever these particular fairy tales are mentioned in sunday school or on the pulpit. This, in fact, would be more reasonable than scientists feeling pressured, as I believe they do, to pander to religion whenever discussing evolution. The churches and temples (and here I mean the institutions, not the buildings, of course) are handing out lies and getting donations for it. If you want to read tarot cards or peer into a crystal ball for money, you have to have a disclaimer openly visible to whomever comes into your establishment, in most states, and if you fail to do so you are subject to a fine. The holy men and women are making promises based on impossibilities and gaining tax exempt status for it. Is that really OK? I for one do not think so, and I'd love to see the churches, and the businesses they run, taxed, and I'd love to see a disclaimer posted outside of any building in which a religious ceremony may be held. And, my arguments for these things may even be constitutional!
I agree; having a warning notice up at the local place-of-religious-worship should not matter to the faithful anyway; the point is they believe on faith, with no evidence needed (and huge dollops of anecdotal feelings that It is True).
I don't think Canada has anything like those fraud-laws against people claiming to be psychics.
Your suggestion might sound to some like an advancement of the government into private businesses; I wonder why it could not be extended further, into homeopathic 'doctors' offices. At least a warning that nothing is proven...?
As Tertullian wrote, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" I think scientists should carry on their reality-based research without apologizing for the fact that the implications of their research are distasteful to some. What else are they supposed to do? Apologize every time the evidence doesn't support one particular set of bronze age myths that by happenstance managed to survive into the modern era while other such myths fell by the wayside?