Brian on the joy of religion needing to acknowledge science

Brian Micklethwait has been prolific of late, for reasons detailed at the bottom of this post. That’s great for people like me, who enjoy his narrative style of blogging: I really like hearing about why he took the photo he took, what he likes about the photo he took, and why he was where he was to take the photo he took. It makes you feel involved, like a part of the story.

Last Thursday, he was on the new upper concourse at Waterloo Station in London (because he needed to use an ATM) when he noted (and photoed) these two billboards:

QuranAdverts2s    QuranAdverts3s

Bigger here and here

And he has responded to them. Rather nicely too, I think.

I was reminded of Dara O’Briain’s “Science knows it doesn’t know everything; otherwise, it’d stop” quote in Brian’s answer to the first question:

Science… has changed over and over again.  And this is a sign of science’s intellectual seriousness and intellectual vitality.  Lack of change, century after century, signifies the opposite.

There’s more, so go there and read, but I particularly liked this bit from his thoughts on the second ad:

The good news here is that the claim that the Qur’an is as scientific as real science is a huge concession to the acknowledged intellectual superiority of science.  “We have been right all along, and science proves it!” But if they really thought that the Qur’an was the last word on everything, they wouldn’t be dragging science in to back the claim up.  Science would be ignored.

Yes, good point. What exactly is the quranproject’s gold standard then? Are they really claiming that the fact that “we were here first” negates scientific theory? Or are they suggesting that scientific theory proves them right?

Either way, as Brian points out, comparing verses in the Qur’an to science’s version of the origins of the universe surely tacitly grants the latter a huge degree of legitimacy in their eyes, which is either a big step forward or a bit of an own goal.

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