Need info on science vs religion in the sixties – USA

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Discussion by: Hellio

Does anybody have info/link on any important case related to the science versus religion wars in the USA during the sixties?

Thank you for any help,

Helio

14 COMMENTS

  1. There was Lemon v. Kurtzman in 1971. Too late, I know, but the case likely draws on events and other cases that happened in the 1960s. There are also elements of the civil rights movement that tend to be glossed over in contemporary popular accounts, such as pushes for labour right and reduction or elimination of militarism. It wouldn’t be surprising if there were efforts to promote secularism there as well. Don’t forget that religious people can favour secularism and that the dominance of the theocratic movement is comparatively recent.

  2. In my view (someone born in the 80s on the other side of the globe). the generation of the 60s/70s are the greatest, the western civilization has ever been able to produce. From the hippies of Berkeley to the monty pythons of England to the Red Army Faction of Germany. Dare I say, a pinnacle of liberty, freedom and progress.

    Excerpt from Professor Dawkins’ BBC Interview on 22-10-2009,

    Now you went to Oxford in the early ’60s. By the late ’60s you were in California – and we’re talking of the decade of student tumult – the questioning of everything. How did this wash over you?

    Well I got pretty much involved in it. It was at the height of Vietnam war resistance and most of the students and indeed most of the faculty at the University of California at Berkley were against the war in Vietnam and there was a lot of unrest, there was a lot of demonstration and I got pretty heavily involved in all of that.

    Does any one know if the professor has said or written anything about this era? I am huge fan of the anti-war protest movement of the 60s in Berkeley. This generation offers us a good template to emulate around the planet considering the potential nuclear armageddon and global conflicts that are simmering in our shared xenophobic volcano. As Jared Diamond puts it, our propensity to commit genocide combined with our ability to produce weapons of mass destruction makes it urgent that we need to adapt a rational, kinder and scientific approach to solving our problems. After all, this is the only home we have ever known, the pale blue dot :)

  3. What I’m about to say is a gross generalization (science and religion have always been at odds at least going back to the enlightenment and especially in the US) but IMO there wasn’t much of a “science vs religion war” in the US in the 60′s, at least compared to the way things are now. The 60′s were in many ways one of the best times for science in the US. Nothing gets Americans motivated like fear of someone else and in the 60′s Americans were afraid that the commies were leaving us behind in science. The fears were mostly irrational and stoked by people who had economic motives for wanting to encourage fear of the Soviets (and hence continued spending of the US military at WWII levels) but the effects on the general perception of science were quite good.

    Science in the US in the 60′s was seen as the engine that drove our economy and made us “exceptional” you know its what made us “the best country on earth”. After the Soviets beat the US into space with Sputnik in 1957 there was serious investment in teaching science from a very early age and in encouraging boys to see scientists and engineers as role models. As a kid in the sixties I didn’t have posters of sports heroes on my walls I had posters of space capsules and mission trajectories.

    The real war in the US between science and religion started in the 80′s. That is when the Republicans enlisted the “moral majority” (that is what they called themselves then) evangelical fundamentalist Christians and turned them into their core political base that could always be depended on to vote and turn out others. Its also when the Republicans started to transform their party from the actual conservative pro-business views they had into the irrational “if the facts don’t fit our narrative change the facts” world view they have now. Such a world view is by definition at war with science.

  4. In reply to #3 by kbala:

    I am huge fan of the anti-war protest movement of the 60s in Berkeley. This generation offers us a good template to emulate around the planet considering the potential nuclear armageddon and global conflicts that are simmering in our shared xenophobic volcano. As Jared Diamond puts it, our propensity to commit genocide combined with our ability to produce weapons of mass destruction makes it urgent that we need to adapt a rational, kinder and scientific approach to solving our problems. After all, this is the only home we have ever known, the pale blue dot :)

    Hmmm, those same hippies were probably the same ones who kindled the rebirth of ‘Alternative Medicine’ such as Homeopothy aswell as all the new age crap. Yep, those there 60s are such a good template.

  5. In reply to #3 by kbala:

    In my view (someone born in the 80s on the other side of the globe). the generation of the 60s/70s are the greatest, the western civilization has ever been able to produce. From the hippies of Berkeley to the monty pythons of England to the Red Army Faction of Germany. Dare I say, a pinnacle of liberty, freedom and progress.


    Well I got pretty much involved in it. It was at the height of Vietnam war resistance and most of the students and indeed most of the faculty at the University of California at Berkley were against the war in Vietnam and there was a lot of unrest, there was a lot of demonstration and I got pretty heavily involved in all of that.

    Does any one know if the professor has said or written anything about this era? I am huge fan of the anti-war protest movement of the 60s in Berkeley. This generation offers us a good template to emulate around the planet considering the potential nuclear armageddon and global conflicts that are simmering in our shared xenophobic volcano. As Jared Diamond puts it, our propensity to commit genocide combined with our ability to produce weapons of mass destruction makes it urgent that we need to adapt a rational, kinder and scientific approach to solving our problems. After all, this is the only home we have ever known, the pale blue dot :)

    I disagree about the political movements of the 60′s being something rational people should look to emulate. Now we have to separate emotions from reason here. Emotionally, I agree those movements resonate even today and the commitment of those students compared to today’s can be depressing. I mean I chose to live walking distance from Haight Ashbury in San Francisco for a reason. I love the music and lots of good things (women’s rights, gay rights, etc.) really got going in the 60′s. But there was IMO a fundamental failing in those movements and you can see it in the “Occupy” movement today. And that failing was a disdain for reason and critical thinking.

    Most of the new age nonsense that we deal with today also really got going in the 60′s. And when you look at the core principles (when they even bothered to write them down) of these groups they are laughable.Remember “levitate the pentagon”?? I remember having conversations with people who still thought this way in the 70′s and even as a high school kid I would come away shaking my head. They usually went something like this:

    Hippy: We are going to change the world

    Me: How?

    Hippy: We are creating a whole new way of doing things man, we are going to revolutionize everything.

    Me: Wouldn’t it also be a good idea to register people to vote?

    Hippy: You are thinking like the Man, man, you need to free your soul, real change comes from within…

    And when I’m in the mood to get really depressed I will occasionally have debates with Occupy people and the funny thing is they more or less go exactly the same. Reason and critical thinking are as essential for political discussions as for all others and most of the people from the 60′s and most of the people on the true left wing of the spectrum in the US still don’t get that.

  6. *In reply to #6 by Red Dog:

    Hippy: We are going to change the world

    Me: How?

    Hippy: We are creating a whole new way of doing things man, we are going to revolutionize everything.

    Me: Wouldn’t it also be a good idea to register people to vote?

    Hippy: You are thinking like the Man, man, you need to free your soul, real change comes from within…

    And when I’m in the mood to get really depressed I will occasionally have debates with Occupy people and the funny thing is they more or less go exactly the same. Reason and critical thinking are as essential for political discussions as for all others and most of the people from the 60′s and most of the people on the true left wing of the spectrum in the US still don’t get that.

    The documentary series “The Century of the Self” and “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” have sections that cover the origins of that kind of thinking quite well. They’re not necessarily what you’d expect.

    The dysfunction of Occupy is in part caused by a lack of engagement and leadership by rational groups, IMO, but also by the popular libertarian myth that order emerges automatically from the “freeing” or “liberation” of particular appropriate behaviours and emotional states (be that altruism or selfishness, depending on the flavour).

  7. Templates are meant to be reshaped and reconfigured to fit the needs. Of course, new age nonsense needs to be squashed through rational discussion and public discourse.

    But it is undeniable that there was seismic cultural shift in the west during the 60s/70s. For the first time after Classical Greece, universal human rights and civil liberties took center stage in the west. What other generation could we compare it to, the generations of the US apartheid era (ending in the 60s) or the generations of the British genocidal imperialism (ending in the 50s) or the generations of nationalist xenophobic Germany (ending in the 70s)?

    In reply to #6 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #3 by kbala:

    In my view (someone born in the 80s on the other side of the globe). the generation of the 60s/70s are the greatest, the western civilization has ever been able to produce. From the hippies of Berkeley to the monty pythons of England to the Red Army Faction of Germany. Dare I say, a pinnacle of liberty, freedom and progress.


    Well I got pretty much involved in it. It was at the height of Vietnam war resistance and most of the students and indeed most of the faculty at the University of California at Berkley were against the war in Vietnam and there was a lot of unrest, there was a lot of demonstration and I got pretty heavily involved in all of that.

    Does any one know if the professor has said or written anything about this era? I am huge fan of the anti-war protest movement of the 60s in Berkeley. This generation offers us a good template to emulate around the planet considering the potential nuclear armageddon and global conflicts that are simmering in our shared xenophobic volcano. As Jared Diamond puts it, our propensity to commit genocide combined with our ability to produce weapons of mass destruction makes it urgent that we need to adapt a rational, kinder and scientific approach to solving our problems. After all, this is the only home we have ever known, the pale blue dot :)

    I disagree about the political movements of the 60′s being something rational people should look to emulate. Now we have to separate emotions from reason here. Emotionally, I agree those movements resonate even today and the commitment of those students compared to today’s can be depressing. I mean I chose to live walking distance from Haight Ashbury in San Francisco for a reason. I love the music and lots of good things (women’s rights, gay rights, etc.) really got going in the 60′s. But there was IMO a fundamental failing in those movements and you can see it in the “Occupy” movement today. And that failing was a disdain for reason and critical thinking.

    Most of the new age nonsense that we deal with today also really got going in the 60′s. And when you look at the core principles (when they even bothered to write them down) of these groups they are laughable.Remember “levitate the pentagon”?? I remember having conversations with people who still thought this way in the 70′s and even as a high school kid I would come away shaking my head. They usually went something like this:

    Hippy: We are going to change the world

    Me: How?

    Hippy: We are creating a whole new way of doing things man, we are going to revolutionize everything.

    Me: Wouldn’t it also be a good idea to register people to vote?

    Hippy: You are thinking like the Man, man, you need to free your soul, real change comes from within…

    And when I’m in the mood to get really depressed I will occasionally have debates with Occupy people and the funny thing is they more or less go exactly the same. Reason and critical thinking are as essential for political discussions as for all others and most of the people from the 60′s and most of the people on the true left wing of the spectrum in the US still don’t get that.

  8. In reply to #8 by kbala:

    Templates are meant to be reshaped and reconfigured to fit the needs. Of course, new age nonsense needs to be squashed through rational discussion and public discourse.

    I usually don’t quibble about the definition of a word but I’m going to on this one. A template is NOT meant to be reshaped. A template is meant to capture an idea in a form that can be replicated while still being true to the original concept. A template is meant to be configurable, to have parameters that you can set depending on preferences and local requirements but once you start “reshaping” it you are pretty much losing the value of the template. And if you decide that you want to “reshape” the template, change some fundamental part of it in a way it wasn’t designed for, you are almost always just better off doing it from scratch rather than trying to squeeze a square requirement into a round template.

    A good example is the template for a web site. You choose a template and it dictates the look and feel. Your web site will still look very different then someone else who uses the same template because all the content will be different but the basic look and feel are still the same.

    My problem with the Occupy movement is that they ARE using the 60′s radical movements as templates for their movement which is why they waste so much time, get almost nothing useful done, and alienate lots of people who should be on their side.

    But it is undeniable that there was seismic cultural shift in the west during the 60s/70s.

    I agree. I never denied it, thought that was clear in my previous comment.

  9. I would just like to speak to something that bugs me from time-to-time. The comments about “science” in the various posts often confuse science with engineering. The stupendous Apollo project of the sixties was based, largely, on the science of orbital mechanics developed hundreds of years before. There was very little real science in the sense of new developments and research. Politicians of all persuasions understood the “mechanics” of job creation and technological leadership and funded NASA appropriately.

    It was the largely hidden world of the biological sciences that were about to make the real difference over the next decade or so. The politicians, and majority of citizens, of the time failed to see the danger to their ideology of the biological sciences (see anything by RD over the next twenty years). When they did take notice all hell broke loose and has left us with a knee-jerk reaction from the woo merchants resulting in, amongst other things, the anti-science legislation being enacted in some US States today.

  10. In reply to #8 by kbala:

    But it is undeniable that there was seismic cultural shift in the west during the 60s/70s. For the first time after Classical Greece, universal human rights and civil liberties took center stage in the west. What other generation could we compare it to,

    How about the generations responsible for: the abolition of slavery? Female suffrage? The Labour movement?

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