Weekly Newsletter from Christian Vegetarian Association CVA - August 15, 2019
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)


  1. On Science and Faith
  2. All-Creatures.Org Ministry

1. On Science and Faith

The scientific method, which involves using observations to derive hypotheses and then testing hypotheses with experiments, has been extremely effective at understanding the world around us and finding ways to improve our lives. Skepticism is crucial to scientific progress, and we should not assume that a scientific consensus is tantamount to the truth. However, it seems that many people, while using the products of science, such as airplanes, computers, and medicine, selectively reject certain conclusions about which there is a consensus among scientists. These include the finding that humans are significantly contributing to climate change and that vaccination does not put children at greater risk of autism. An extraordinary claim, which in these cases is the claim that the scientific consensus is wrong, requires extraordinary evidence. These are among the claims for which I am convinced that there is no such extraordinary evidence.

Religions also make extraordinary claims, and in general the evidence is weak, at best. This is one reason that there are so many religions in the world whose tenets irreconcilably clash with each other, even though people with conflicting belief systems are often absolutely convinced that their religion is the correct one. It is not, in my opinion, a virtue to be absolutely convinced “on faith” of the truth of claims for which there is dubious evidence. Such faith, immune to contravening evidence, can easily lead to harm. For example, many people have interpreted the Bible as condemning homosexuality. This has encouraged ostracism of homosexuals and fortified the false beliefs that homosexuality is a choice, that homosexuality can be “taught” to children, and that homosexuality can be “cured” by conversion therapy.

Similarly, many otherwise kind and compassionate people interpret humanity’s “dominion” over animals as license to abuse and kill them. Physicist Steven Weinberg once said, “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” I would describe “religious beliefs” more broadly as any ideology that is not well grounded in evidence and can include relatively benign secular ideologies such as secular humanism and malignant secular ideologies such as Nazism’s National Socialism. It has been my impression that people tend to be better at identifying weaknesses in logic or evidence for other religions than the one to which they adhere. Since people tend to adopt the religion of their family or their local community, social factors seem to play a strong role in religious convictions. With these observations in mind, the position of agnostics and atheists is understandable. However, I do think there is a proper and important place for religious faith, and I will turn to that next week.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.


2. All-Creatures.Org Ministry


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