It was interesting to see the plethora of reactions to last week’s column, wherein I demonstrated that the arguments commonly made against religion cannot only be made against science, but can be made more conclusively against science than against religion. And it was particularly amusing to see how individuals who attack religion with these sorts of arguments were incapable of recognizing their own logic when applied to a different target.

Here are a few of the more common responses engendered by the column:

It is not fair to blame all scientists, or science itself, for the evil actions of a few scientists.

Of course it is not. And therefore it is obviously not fair to blame everyone who possesses religious faith, or religion itself, for the evil actions of a few religious people. Yet anti-religious individuals such as Sam Harris actually attempt to blame Christian moderates for the actions of Islamic extremists.

You are a lunatic/kook/Luddite/nut if you believe that science is not inherently good.

A most persuasive argument. I somehow find it hard to believe that any of the individuals making this argument would seriously consider an identical case made for the existence of God to be conclusive. While I am always a fan of a creative slur, I suggest they are best used in addition to making a substantive case, not as a substitute for one.

Science can’t be blamed for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because scientists only designed and built the bomb, they didn’t actually drop it themselves.

If we accept this reasoning, then the Catholic Church should no longer be blamed for either the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades, since the Church only pronounced guilty verdicts in the Inquisition’s heresy trials and publicly advocated the recovery of Jerusalem, it neither burned anyone at the stake nor invaded the Holy Lands.

Furthermore, I note that this attempted defense of science is inaccurate anyhow, since there was a scientist, William Parsons, who was a member of the Enola Gay’s flight crew and served as the bomb commander and weaponeer when Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima.

Science is good because antibiotics and vaccines it has developed have saved millions of lives.

And science is bad because the weapons it has developed have ended millions of lives. It’s important to remember that scientists only create antibiotics and vaccines, they don’t personally administer them any more than they personally go out and shoot people with the weapons they create. If scientists wish to claim responsibility for the good things they have contributed to mankind, they must take responsibility for the evil things they have contributed as well.

Science can’t be blamed for scientific socialism or Nazi science because socialism and Nazi science weren’t really true science.

Then how can religion be blamed for patently irreligious actions carried out “in the name of God”? If religion is responsible for every evil carried out “in the name of God,” then science must be likewise responsible for every evil carried out “in the name of science.” Therefore, scientists must be held responsible for scientific socialism, scientology and the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow; perhaps we can agree to split the difference on Christian Science.

As for Nazi science not being science, it seems rather strange that the U.S. should have made a priority of acquiring the non-scientific talents of so many of the non-scientists who worked on the V2 rocket program.

There may be frauds in science, but science is self-correcting. When was the last time we heard of religious frauds being exposed by someone in the fold?

Jim Bakker was exposed by investigative journalists and auditors hired by Jerry Falwell. Many, if not most religious frauds are exposed by other religious individuals connected to the person committing the fraud, as this example from Atheist Revolution shows.

Doctors only kill 225,000 people per year. And they’re trying to save lives, so that doesn’t count.

The specific number depends upon how you define iatrogenic deaths. If you are inclined to take issue with the 783,000 statistic, I suggest you take it up with the authors of this report. As for the 225,000 number, I simply note that Wikipedia has been known to be less than entirely accurate.

If one does not accept the “I had to destroy the village in order to save it” logic from soldiers, why would one accept it from doctors?

It’s the stupidity of people like Vox Day that’s preventing humans from progressing.

That’s interesting – just how does that work? And toward what, precisely, are humans progressing?

Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet, you idiot!

No, really? I stand corrected.

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