Monday, November 20, 2006

The Crazy Old Aunt

From the photo in the New Scientist article covering the recent symposium in California on science and religion, which debated whether or not the scientific community should try to abolish religion entirely, it appeared as if there was only one female in an audience entirely populated by greying and balding men. I wonder what this lone woman made of cosmologist Steven Weinberg's personification of religion as a "crazy old aunt" who tells lies and stirs up mischief, but who has been around for a long time and will probably be missed when she goes. Considering that religion (at least since the ancient priestess cults died out) has been run by men, it's an odd comparison.

Perhaps if women had been in charge of religion, we would not be having this religion-v-science debate; religion would probably have developed as a natural collective affirmation/celebration of human ideals and ethics that are probably innate, in the sense that they evolved naturally in human societies, but need to be identified, nurtured and maintained by men and women alike. We might have had religious organisations that, instead of instilling fear of the supernatural, promoted deep reverence for the natural world; a reverence not antithetical to science.

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