Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My short letter to the physicist Lawrence M. Krauss (9-9-2015)

Dear physicist Lawrence M. Krauss,

Thank you very much for the sharing of your piece titled “All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists” which appeared online in The New Yorker on 8 September 2015./*/ Interesting enough. Here are my responses to the article.

In my opinion, you are entirely wrong when you say that “science is an atheistic enterprise”. For all the scientists who do not follow militant atheism (currently represented by the New Atheism movement), science is free from any ideologies, including both the ideology of atheism and the ideology of theism. After the next several lines, in the same paragraph, it is extremely weird that you state something which fatally and totally contradicts what you have said previously. You write very clearly that “belief or non-belief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature”. I am not sure about whether you are aware or unaware of this internal contradiction happened in your cognition.

If I am not wrong, it seems that you very weirdly do not understand English, even though it is your mother tongue. You mistakenly equate the act of “ridiculing”, “attacking” and offending with the act of “questioning”. “Ridiculing” is a childish and undignified action intended to insult, mock and underestimate other people who are not in harmony with your points of view. “Attacking” and offendingare done only by your enemies who have no compassion, wisdom and understanding toward yourself. So far as I know, the major characteristic of the New Atheism movement is the barbaric, harsh and uncivilized ridiculing, offending and attacking religious believers and their religions. 

We all agree that one of the most critical functions of scientists all over the world is to question the validity of any established views in the world of science and in any realms of life, including in the world of religions, on the basis of new scientific facts. “Questioning” anything is, therefore, the noble duty of every scientist. But, questioning is fundamentally and practically not the same as ridiculing, offending and attacking. Your obligation as a scientist is, in my opinion, to question, not to ridicule, offend or attack anything. Not only to question, but also to prove whether something is right or wrong. That is your duty, a dignified and great duty.   

Finally, you sadly write that “If that is what causes someone to be called a militant atheist, then no scientist should be ashamed of the label.” This statement, I am totally convinced, will be endorsed happily and victoriously by, for instance, the fundamentalist atheist Prof. Richard Dawkins (I borrow this label for Dawkins from the respected and humble atheist Prof. Peter Higgs whom I love). It looks like that you do not understand what the meaning of the phrase “militant atheist” is. 

For so many people of good conscience in the world, a “militant atheist” is presently the same as a religious radical, though both hold contrasting worldviews. Do you wish yourself to be equated with a religious radical? There is no meeting point at all between a true scientist and a religious radical or a militant atheist. Science and theistic or atheistic fundamentalism cannot meet forever. Both collide. A militant atheist scientist is, unfortunately, an oxymoron. Do you want to live in the world of this oxymoron? I hope you don’t. If you do, you live in the self-contradictory worlds, in a schizophrenic world.

In conclusion: As a true scientist, you cannot ridicule, offend or attack any people and their viewpoints; you can only question them critically and prove them wrong or right scientifically. You can only be a true scientist, and cannot be a militant atheist scientist, for all eternity. Behavioral ethic matters in the world of all scientists.

Jakarta, 9-9-2015

ioanes rakhmat 

/*/ Lawrence M. Krauss, “All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists”, The New Yorker, 8 September 2015, at