Why Don't They Agree?
(Investigator 15, 1990 November)
"Why don't religious leaders talk things over and then all teach the same things?" is a question often asked.
The same question could be asked of scientists. Why don't scientists all talk things out and then say the same thing?
A debate about how far away "Quasars" are was arranged by the American
Association of Science for December 30 1972 in Washington.
The result was considerable division among astronomers. Concerning two
of these astronomers, Allan Sandage and Halton Arp, the book THE RED LIMIT (1979, T. Ferris) says:
Sandage and Arp, who
had been close friends, were no longer speaking. They worked in offices
fifty feet apart in Pasadena, assaying cities of stars in a language of
mathematics and physics not more than a handful of individuals fully
understand, and did not talk to each other.
'I don't talk cosmology at the office any more,' Arp
said one dusk, at home, as he watched the sun set. 'It's a very touchy
subject. The people committed to the other side take it pretty
seriously. Part of it is ego. I have a friend who says, "Any man who's
egotistical enough to think he can figure out the whole universe is
pretty damn egotistical." The other part is that the success or failure
of your theories gets associated with the success or failure of your
scientific career, and most people here have their whole lives wrapped
up in their careers...
'Sooner or later we will find out what quasars really
are, but whether we find out how to communicate with and trust one
another, well, that seems to me much more important.'
I suspect that religious leaders fail to agree with for similar reasons
that astronomers fail to do so. Religious leaders have the added
problem that much of what they teach as "truth" is untestable.