Lawrence M. Krauss on Ben Carson

He says it better than I can (and of course with more authority).

Ben Carson’s Scientific Ignorance

It is hard to find a single detailed claim in his diatribe that is physically sensible or that reflects accurate knowledge about science. His central claim—that the second law of thermodynamics rules out order forming in the universe after the Big Bang—is a frequent misstatement made by creationists who want to appear scientifically literate. In reality, it is completely false.

When Carson says that scientists rely on “probability theory” to explain how multiple Big Bangs, taking place over “billions of years,” have resulted in our “perfectly ordered” universe, he’s profoundly misstating the theory of the Big Bang. (In fact, he seems to have gotten his ignorant arguments confused—his metaphor about a hurricane creating a 747 in a junkyard is often used to deride evolution, to which it is equally inapplicable.)

It is one thing to simply assert that you don’t choose to believe the science, in spite of a mountain of data supporting it. It’s another to mask your ignorance in such a disingenuous way, by using pseudo-scientific, emotion-laden arguments and trading on your professional credentials. Surely this quality, which reflects either self-delusion or, worse still, a willingness to intentionally deceive others, is of great concern when someone is vying for control of the nuclear red button.

Last week, when he was confronted, during a speech at Cedarville University, about his failure to understand basic and fundamental scientific concepts, Carson responded, “I’m not going to denigrate you because of your faith, and you shouldn’t denigrate me for mine.” What Carson doesn’t seem to recognize is that there is a fundamental difference between facts and faith. An inability to separate religious beliefs from an assessment of physical reality runs counter to the very basis of our society—the separation of church and state.

This is yet another example where one might easily conclude that conservatives, who are amenable to these kinds of arguments from incredulity (or from ignorance), are simply not very bright. Or, that Carson is appealing to a least-informed/intelligent base.

Jerry Coyne responds to the Krauss essay here.

Carson continues to insist, as do many religionists, that science, like religion, is simply a form of faith. I’ve picked the meat off that canard before, both in Slate and in Faith versus Fact, and we needn’t belabor it here. What’s funny about that argument is that it boils down to this claim by believers: “See! Science is just as bad as religion!” If they truly were equivalent, theology would have made as much progress in understanding God as science has in understanding the universe. But the score is zero for the former and a gazillion for the latter.

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