Beginning May 1, 2015, and continuing through July, TheBestSchools.org will host an in-depth Dialogue on the Nature of Science between post-materialist biologist Rupert Sheldrake and renowned skeptic Michael Shermer.
TheBestSchools.org is a leading online educational website. Besides helping to guide prospective students in choosing schools and degree programs, we also underscore what is best and most noteworthy in education. It is in this connection that we are hosting this in-depth discussion on the nature of science.
Drs. Sheldrake and Shermer have agreed to take part in this dialogue over three consecutive months, with each month devoted to a particular topic:
DIALOGUE BETWEEN RUPERT SHELDRAKE AND
MICHAEL SHERMER ON THE NATURE OF SCIENCE
MAY 2015: Materialism in Science
- Sheldrake: Science needs to free itself from materialist dogma; indeed, science misunderstands nature by being wedded to purely materialist explanations.
- Shermer: Science, properly conceived, is a materialistic enterprise; for science to look beyond materialist explanations is to betray science and engage in superstition.
JUNE 2015: Mental Action at a Distance
- Sheldrake: Telepathy, ESP, and psychic/psi phenomena in general are real and backed up by convincing evidence; their investigation deserves to be part of science.
- Shermer: Psychic or psi phenomena are artifacts of poor experimental procedure or outright fraud; no convincing evidence or experiments support their reality.
JULY 2015: God and Science
- Sheldrake: There is no conflict between science and the existence of God; evidence from conscious experience renders belief in God reasonable.
- Shermer: Science in no way supports the existence of God; in fact, science undercuts the reasonableness of belief in God.
Structure of the Dialogue
At the beginning of each month, we will simultaneously post opening statements from Drs. Sheldrake and Shermer. These will run between 2,000 to 2,500 words.
Both participants will then have 10 days to submit a response of 1,000 to 1,500 words, which will be posted simultaneously.
Finally, around the 20th of the month, each will reply to the other’s response with 500 to 750 words, the replies being posted simultaneously.
In each case, neither Dr. Sheldrake nor Dr. Shermer will see the corresponding statement of the other until both are posted online.
All statements in this dialogue will appear on TheBestSchools.org website and be linked to from this page. The statements will appear in full and unaltered. Comments from readers will be enabled for the duration of the dialogue—we encourage a vigorous, albeit civil exchange.
We stress that this is to be a dialogue, in which difficult issues are to be explored with clarity and precision. We resisted calling this a “debate” because debates too often devolve into trying to score points rather than get at the truth.
Interviews with Sheldrake and Shermer
In order to provide a suitable context for this dialogue, Drs. Sheldrake and Shermer graciously agreed to be interviewed here at TheBestSchools prior to their dialogue: