An outspoken atheist and social commentator, Mano Singham is currently Director of Case’s University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education (UCITE) and Adjunct Associate Professor of Physics. He obtained his B.Sc. from the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in theoretical nuclear physics from the University of Pittsburgh. He has researched and conducted seminars and workshops for university faculty on teaching and learning, and has conducted workshops around the country on Active Learning methods for science teachers at pre-college and college levels. Singham is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and in 2001 he won Case Western Reserve University’s Carl F. Wittke award for distinguished undergraduate teaching. He has written articles and given invited talks on The Achievement Gap in Science and Mathematics Education, Active Learning, and Science and Religion at professional meetings of scientists and educators. His recent research interests are in the fields of education, theories of knowledge, and physics and philosophy. His books include God vs. Darwin: The War between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom (2009), The Achievement Gap in US Education: Canaries in the Mine (2005), and Quest for Truth: Scientific Progress and Religious Beliefs (2000),
In his newest book, God vs. Darwin, Mr. Singham dissects the legal battle between evolution and creationism in the classroom, beginning with the Scopes Monkey Trail in 1925, ending with an intelligent design trial in Dover, Pennsylvania, in 2005. A publicity stunt, the Scopes Monkey Trial had less to do with legal precedence than with generating tourism dollars for a rural Tennessee town. Still, the trial successfully sparked a debate that has lasted more than eighty years and simply will not be quelled, despite a succession of seemingly definitive court decisions.
- Mano Singham's Machines Like Us interview
- Mano Singham's articles on Machines Like Us
- Mano Singham's web journal
- Mano Singham's Facebook page
- The New War Between Science and Religion, by Mano Singham
Mano Singham Quotes
In a 2001 survey, the National Science Foundation found that only 53 percent of Americans agreed with the statement: "human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals." It is hard to believe that there could be any good news behind this mind-boggling statistic that implies that up to 47 percent of Americans are unwilling to accept a fundamental tenet of evolution and believe that human beings appeared by a special act of creation about 10,000 years ago.
If you reject the age of the universe for whatever reason, then you are also rejecting all the other results associated with the theory of gravity and other physics theories that go into arriving at that age.
The idea that the mind is purely a product of the material in the brain has profound consequences for religious beliefs, which depend on the idea of the mind as an independent controlling force. The very concept of 'faith' implies an act of free will. So the person who believes in a god is pretty much forced to reject the idea that the mind is purely a creation of the brain.
Believers in a god will often explain away disturbing facts by arguing that we mere mortals cannot really understand god's ineffable plan, but at the same time argue that they know god's nature. The reality is that people are choosing a god that is congenial to their world-view.
Intelligent Design advocates, like their predecessors in having failed to convince the scientific community of the merits of their case, now argue that the scientific community is conspiring to unfairly keep their theory out, and that this is why they need to appeal to legislative or judicial bodies to get their way. In making this argument, they reveal a profound misunderstanding of the way science operates. The agenda of scientists is not a secret. It is, simply, to have good science. And few will deny that science has delivered the goods in spectacular ways. It has achieved this by allowing the scientific community to achieve consensus as to what is the best paradigm to govern research activity in any given field at any given time.
Belief in a god rests on a foundation that requires one to postulate the existence of a mind/soul that can exist independently of the body (after all, the soul is assumed to live on after the physical death of the body) and freely make decisions. The idea that the brain is all there is, that is creates our consciousness and that the mind/soul are auxiliary products of that overall consciousness, strikes at the very root of belief in god.
While most people have a sense of awe in the presence of unexplained phenomena, atheists have a sense of awe at the power of the mind that can comprehend the phenomena.
Atheists have to do some reflective introspection to construct a philosophy of life, and in that sense, being an atheist requires a certain level of intellectual effort.
What science has taught me is that we are one universal humanity, inseparably linked together. For me the distinction that matters is that between exploiter and exploited, between oppressor and oppressed. The distinction depends on context of course. It is perfectly possible, and not at all unusual, for a single person to be oppressed in one time or place or situation and to be an oppressor in another. The only struggle that really matters to me is the one that seeks to eliminate those divisions.
Once you concede the idea of a god, you have ceased to think rationally in that area of your life, and are prey to those who preach extreme forms of religion.
People are always going to encounter wrong information. After all, the history of science is the story of scientists believing wrong things thinking that they were right. And yet science survived and even prospered. We cannot shield people from wrong information. The best we can do is give them the tools to recognize when something seems not quite right, to investigate questions for themselves, and to arrive at judgments based on evidence and reason.