The Death of Science

Original Article for Palatinate – Durham’s Independent Student Newspaper

“Publish or perish” is a popular saying in the world of academia.

There is a reason why the phrase gets tossed around so cheerfully: like most clichés, it is descriptive and accurate. Before the success of modern academic research during the Second World War, scientists numbered a few hundred thousand. Today, to forge a career in science, academics must compete with several million fellow researchers.

Science is a trusted source of truth – it has earned that trust through self-policing. But with increasing graduates vying for limited scientific occupations, could research quality be giving way to quantity?

The deluge of studies submitted for publication means that leading journals must reject most manuscripts they receive. Editors are more likely to print striking findings on hot topics, which in turn tempts academics to exaggerate or cherry-pick results. Continue reading “The Death of Science”

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Are Science and Religion compatible?

The Durham Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (DASH) hosted an event this evening with guest speaker Prof Chris Done entitled “Are Science and Religion compatible?”, and I came back with so many thoughts I had to write them down.

First, let me give you a bit of context. Prof Chris Done is both a professor of Astrophysics at Durham University and one of the leaders of Emmanuel Church Durham, which describes itself as a “charismatic, family church”. The focus of her talk was to explain how, as a “gabby, seventeen year-old atheist”, she became a Christian only when presented with “evidence” of Jesus Christ’s divine identity. For her, Jesus —specifically, Jesus accepted as the son and embodiment of God— is the only way us humans can know that God exists. God is above anything we can understand, so He reveals Himself to us through Jesus, who shares our human nature while retaining the identity of God.

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9)

She therefore presents herself as living proof that science and religion are, indeed, compatible.

As an atheist scientist, I don’t actually have a problem with her position. That is, I do believe that science and religion can be compatible — just not in the way she proposes. Hear me out. Continue reading “Are Science and Religion compatible?”

On the ‘science’ in ‘science-fiction’

I don’t think I could write science fiction. My imagination would stall at the boundaries of science and I wouldn’t end up producing anything entertaining.

I guess the bottom line is that sci-fi becomes much more enjoyable once you get over the impossible premises (or, better still, if your ignorance never had a problem with them!). I take the facts too seriously and spoil it for myself.