I have to object to you calling politicians “ideologues”. While I will concede that some, maybe even many, are, you cannot paint all of them with the same brush without committing some sort of logical fallacy yourself. There are policiticians who are defenders of science and there are others, who might fit into a more moderate range, who may hold beliefs but aren’t extreme enough to be referred to as ideologues.
Anyway, I agree with the rest of your article and it is amazing how ideology can distort a person’s sense of reality.
“Idealogue” is a rather loaded and ambiguous term. That said, in what sense are politicians “idealogues”? And did you mean to include all politicians or just some, like those who attempt to pass laws that challenge the scientific consensus (whether the issue be creationism, global warming, or something else)?
Micro time vs macro time:
I can see the second hand move on my watch, so micro time of seconds is real, but I cannot perceive the movement of the hour had on my watch, so the macro time of hours does not exist.
As to the distinction of species, I suggest the representative look up “ring species” in Wikipedia or Google.
The word species is a term invented by humans, not nature. It is normally a very useful term and concept, but nature is not bound by our definitions of words or the labels we use, such as the words planet, sun, moon, or species.
The nature of an object is not defined or controlled by our definition of that object. Pluto is what it is, regardless of how we label it.
I still think this law is pointless.. we know science teachers across the country are terrorified of their creationist students and their parents. This law won’t change that.
My great high school biology teacher taught evolution in the context of teaching about the scientific process in general. first we learned about some of the other origin theories (eg Lamark) and then Darwin, Mendel inheritance etc. so she would be fine with this law as well.
so really I think if this is the best they got, then we can say we won defensively in the state capitols. The battles of this cultural war are now in the classroom, I’m not sure you can legislate on the problem of fearful teachers one way or another.
Nikola, “discovery and revelation” may be the ideal language of the scientist. Do all scientists live up to it? I doubt it, but I agree that they should.
Similarly, I would say that the ideal language of the politician is (to borrow from linguist George Lakoff) that of a “moral mission” towards “protection and empowerment.” Promoting creationism in the classrooms does not (as far as I can tell) fit that mission, and any politician who pursues that goal is an embarrassment to the profession.
Fortunately, not all politicians fit that description (particularly in my region of the country). And the share of them that do seems to be concentrated in the Bible Belt, where a different view of government’s mission is also dominant; namely, one that accords with a Strict Father model of morality, which emphasizes obedience to authority (e.g. the Lord, as interpreted by clergy and Scripture).
While of course there is a spectrum, and some politicians manage to be quite pragmatic – politics is an inherently ideological game. Still – I should have added some qualifiers to that sentence so that it did not come off so absolute.
Steve, I now feel obliged to cite some definitions (using the Merriam-Webster online dictionary), starting with “ideological”:
1: relating to or concerned with ideas
2: of, relating to, or based on ideology
According to the broad implications of 1, even science is “an inherently ideological game”, so I suppose that we should turn to “ideology”:
1: visionary theorizing
2a : a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture b : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture c : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program
Here again, 1 may characterize certain tasks in science (e.g. the hypothesis and interpretive stages); 2a may characterize the “systematic body of concepts” of specific fields, like evolutionary biology and “especially” the social sciences; and 2b the “manner or the content of thinking characteristic” of individual scientists or the scientific community, in general.
That leaves 2c, about which I would agree that, in this sense (and only in this sense), it is fair to say that politics is “an inherently ideological game” in a way that science is not, or at least is not supposed to be, given the norms of the latter profession.
This law is far from pointless, since if it is passed school boards will be able to design curriculum with specific questions like “how could the eye have evolved if all it needs all its parts to work together?” or “why does nature work if its the product of random chance?”
even if most teachers shy away from evolution, now they will be required to give anti-evolution arguments the appearance of credibility.
Within the context of this post, the “ideologue” comment seems perfectly reasonable to me. You are, after all, drawing a contrast between scientists (understood generally) and a group of people who are inalterably wedded to an ideology. Do scientists, being human, sometimes act or speak from ideological motivation? Sure. Do politicians, also being human, sometimes exceed our expectations and act or speak from evidence and reason? Absolutely. The fact that exceptions may be found in both camps does not make the broad conclusion invalid.
Here’s another example from the bill:
Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrator shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.
Well, I’m sure that some of us are relieved that administrators will now have to stop prohibiting teachers from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review. Others among us may consider this to be the best example of weasel-wording to come down the pike in several moons. Still others among us may object: “Hey! What’s wrong with weasel-words? Weasel-words are the only thing that separates us from the animals. Except, of course, the weasels.”
PS: I suppose that one could broaden my interpretation of “sociopolitical program” to include any body of evidence- or science-based political issues/causes, such as those that drive the Union of Concerned Scientists). Granted, the “assertions” part of that same definition is particularly problematic for scientists, but only insofar as they claim to state facts. Insofar as they merely state their values (e.g. public health), they are on safe ground – as are politicians.
The process of politics is dominated by ideology, in the sense politicians adhere to a certain philosophy or world view as the determining factor in their political choices. The number of legislative votes that are largely or completely down party lines is good evidence in support of this. There is an “ideological to pragmatic” spectrum among politicians, and I prefer the pragmatists, but this is within a spectrum already skewed largely to the ideological side.
Whereas the very nature of science is anti-ideological – it is the use of observation and experiment to figure out how the world works, and to control for bias and ideology – even to break free from ideology.
I don’t think a narrow reading of Webster is reflecting these nuances.
I never cease to be amazed by you atheist ‘skeptics’. You are inveterate censors, using professional destruction and legal force to prevent people from asking questions about your ideology that you (thinly) disguise as science.
The academic freedom bills like the ones in Tenn and Louisiana mean just what they say. They protect teachers (from people like you) who help students:
“understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.”
What, exactly, is wrong with that? Of course, you don’t like their ‘motives’, although you don’t seem to have a problem with the atheist motives of 99% of evolutionary biologists who proclaim their materialist creation myth a ‘scientific fact’. If motives, rather than evidence, is the problem, your motives are every bit as ‘unconstitutional’ as are the motives of the creationists.
And if it’s facts, not motives, that matter, why do you have a problem with critical discussion of facts?
Why not let people speak freely, in schools and everywhere, and you can make your best argument, and they’ll make theirs, and people can decide for themselves. That’s how a free society works.
I am astonished and enraged by the censorship that has become the default tactic of the atheist ‘scientific’ community. No scientist should ever be opposed to an academic freedom bill. I don’t give a damn what the “motives” are. Academic freedom, especially for ideas you don’t like, is the indispensable foundation of science.
And if the “creationists” (i.e. the taxpayers and the parents of the schoolchildren) try to teach “creationism”, you can always railroad them into federal court, get an injunction, and threaten them with financial ruin and jail to shut them up. You’ve done it many times; no reason to stop now.
I’m not convinced that addressing those kind of questions “gives anti-evolution arguments the appearance of credibility” as you say. In fact, I think it’s a good idea, especially for teachers in communities where most kids are hearing creationist propaganda outside the classroom. It is probably impossible to teach evolution to kids who have already been biased against it if you *don’t* explicitly address creationist arguments.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
That’s how your response came across to me (Webster’s be damned!).
Anyway, I agree that science aspires to those goals (as it should). But I would also say that its mission is inherently different from that of politics, and that to judge one profession strictly by the standards of another seems like a categorical error.
Better, I think, just to acknowledge that politics is more obviously influenced by the moral values and interests of those involved (as it should). And, ideally, the policies that follow will also reflect the best (scientific) information available. But, sadly, it seems like that’s too often not the case.
Censorship of critical discussion in science classes won’t work anyway, and will probably backfire on you in the long run. Kids have extraordinary access to information about this debate (parents, friends, churches, internet, etc). Your censorship of discussion in classrooms is largely irrelevant to the educational issues, which will be determined by forces that are way beyond your control.
If I were an atheist and I were gullible (stupid) enough to believe that evolution was unguided, I would still support critical discussion in classrooms. My reasons:
1) I’d want the kids to hear the issues in a science classroom where I (an atheist scientist) had at least a little bit of influence.
Ideology can be a set of beliefs, or attitudes that form an individual’s social network, including political or economic theories. Politicians have a base of support, ( electability). If some politicians are pragmatists, then those prefer to negotiate their positions (reasoning towards a goal for their base of support.) Politicians are elected on their ideology unless they are running on their name for power/ glory.
Scientists can be ideologues, for example, in social psychology I had two Catholic professors who presented their anti-abortion views in a manner as follows: 1. I was only allowed to do a meta-analysis of abortion studies which presented the females as mentally disturbed by the abortion experience or 2. I presented a research project on abortion with projected mathematical predictions of beliefs based on positive integers. The consensus of the professors felt the study had potential. The Catholic professor insisted on the use of negative integers. That style of research was not reasonable for me, I’m pro-choice.
You make a good point, but the point of the law is to allow teachers to raise doubts, not to have teachers pose these questions and then give the answers that clearly refute them. If I had to design a highschool biology curriculum (which I am in no way qualified to do) I would have a section on evolution, and a section afterward debunking anti evolution arguments.
The whole idea here is to change ID into ID? under the guise of critical thinking and just asking questions.
2+2=5 is not promoting critical thinking in math, giving Kennedy and 9/11 conspiracy arguments treatment in history class is not freedom of information its lending a superficial veneer of credibility to crackpots.
Opposing creation arguments having a forum in public schools is not about censoring creationism because the kids couldn’t handle it, its ensuring good curriculum. I personally don’t have a problem with kids being exposed to an evolution faq where they see creationist questions are either answerable that yes evolution is true, or improper framing (has Darwin stopped beating his wife?).
“I would have a section on evolution, and a section afterward debunking anti evolution arguments. The whole idea here is to change ID into ID? under the guise of critical thinking and just asking questions.”
To debunk “anti-evolution” arguments in a classroom, you must concede that such arguments are constitutionally permissible in a classroom. You can’t debunk something that you’re not permitted to discuss.
And I’m amused by your choice of the words “under the guise of critical thinking” to describe your approach to curriculum. Is ‘the “pro-evolution” viewpoint merely the “guise of critical thinking”? Do you mean it’s not really arrived at by critical thinking? What then could motivate it, pray tell?
“Do you mean it’s not really arrived at by critical thinking?”
Actually evolution arrived at by critical thinking and multiple lines of evidence, each of which requires more education to understand than can be covered in a single year of high school biology.
“you must concede that such arguments are constitutionally permissible in a classroom”
This depends on intent and context if they are presented in the same way as the flat earth or Aristotle’s physics i don’t see a problem, allowing a rebuttal from those theories and leaving it at that is bad policy.
“2+2=5 is not promoting critical thinking in math, giving Kennedy and 9/11 conspiracy arguments treatment in history class is not freedom of information…”
Actually, there’s a ton of leftist bullshit taught in public schools, especially in history and social studies, but that’s a matter for local people to decide for their own kids in their own schools. I don’t think that teaching that promotes Kennedy or 9-11 conspiracies (those exceptional leftist tropes that aren’t in the curriculum) is good education.
On the other hand, a reasonable argument can be made for including discussion of such matters in social studies curriculum and pointing out the factual problems with such conspiracies. The kids are going to hear them anyway. You might as well discuss them in a rational forum.
What is beyond dispute is that federal judges have no role in such curricular matters whatsoever.
“Opposing creation arguments having a forum in public schools is not about censoring creationism because the kids couldn’t handle it, its ensuring good curriculum.”
No. Teaching scientific theories without discussing the strenghs and weakness of those theories is bad educational practice. Science is about questioning and about skepticism. Period.
“I personally don’t have a problem with kids being exposed to an evolution faq where they see creationist questions are either answerable that yes evolution is true, or improper framing (has Darwin stopped beating his wife?).”
Again, you are admitting that creationist arguments can be introduced into science classes. Now you can drag yourself to federal court and sue yourself. Isn’t censorship a bitch?
“This depends on intent and context if [creationist arguments] are presented in the same way as the flat earth or Aristotle’s physics i don’t see a problem, allowing a rebuttal from those theories and leaving it at that is bad policy.”
Oh, now I get it. Presenting pro-religious arguments in science classes is constitutionally prohibited is the intent is to endorse them, but presenting pro-religious arguments in science classes is constitutionally permissible if the intent is to rebut them.
The “separation of church and state” only applies to me, not the thee.
Does it bother you that in each example of ring species the creatures at the ends of the rings can and do mate?
It bothers me because this is not what is supposed to happen- this is not what Mayr was looking for at all.
It seems these examples are equivocal and are being promoted as definitive.
I find this bothersome.
Carl Woese has questioned for some time whether there even is a tree of life.
As I read it, the tree of life can’t be produced by the actual physical evidence.
If well known, highly regarded scientists can question the ‘tree of life’ and ‘common decent’, then I would think it would be OK for a student to do so.
If it is OK to teach that there are questions about a theory (including some of its foundational hypothesis), then it must be possible to do so without allowing pseudoscience to replace science- how else would science be able to advance?
I imagine in most schools, this language will be of no interest to anyone. On the one hand, it is nice to have the debate, since it brings up all the scientific fallacies of creationist theory. It gives a good teacher the opportunity to teach kids scientific theory, critical thinking and decision making. Of course, those teachers already do that.
However, the bill is probably designed to protect a small minority of teachers who would use their teaching position as a pulpit. And that is unfortunate.
I agree with sonic. Students get a much deeper understanding of a theory if they understand the conceptual issues at the core of the science.
The issue of common descent is not closed, and there are arguments that can be made for both sides. Students will understand the science underlying the theory of common descent much better if they have a detailed and critical understanding of the evidence and logic that are used to address it.
Good science, at all levels, is a discussion, not mere rote.
Ideology, on the other hand, is perhaps best left undiscussed. That’s why you bastards are such censors.
It’s cherry-picking time, already? Let’s all mine the web for comments by lone individuals, which seem to cast doubt on the dominant ideas within evolutionary biology (or those of any other scientific field), and assign them more weight than the dominant (or near-consensus) views of that field.
It’s one thing if a child raises the question. But if one of my children reported to me that her science teacher did likewise, I would object that the teacher is wasting valuable classroom time, and probably using his/her position to promote a personal agenda.
Wow Mike, I cant believe you admitted creationsim/ID is religious, in that case it is a separation of church and state does apply. I was going to point out that irreducable complexity, “it couldn’t have happened by chance”, something from nothing, no trasitional fossils etc. were criticisms that science has firmly refuted, and that the students are to be taught science in science class… but since you were kind enough to say it was all religion, and therefore teaching why its wrong violates the first amendment, fine then by the first amendment it cannot be promoted either.
I was even going to put something in about being so open minded your brains fall out, and how pro vs con, strength and weaknesses, should be based on controversies in the respective field of study and not somebody somewhere who comes up with a new story about stuff with no evidence. But alas we must exclude both promotion and criticism of religion, and creationsim/ID must not be mentioned positively or negatively…
“Wow Mike, I cant believe you admitted creationsim/ID is religious, in that case it is a separation of church and state does apply.”
All theories of biological origins are religious, in the sense that all such theories presume either the teleological (theist) or non-teleological (atheist) nature of evolution. To assert that living things manifest evidence of intelligent design is obviously tending to theism, and to assert that living things lack evidence for intelligent design is tending to atheism. ID (teleology) is the denial of Darwinism (ateleology), and vice versa.
It could quite plausibly be said that all scientific theories, and all worldviews, are closely intertwined with metaphysical assumptions, some theist, some not. You can’t escape religion. You can (and do) only lie about your own assumptions.
“teaching why its wrong violates the first amendment, fine then by the first amendment it cannot be promoted either.”
No. The first amendment is quite clear about the religious constraints on government. There are two religion clauses:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..”
“…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
There is no constitutional doctrine of ‘separation of church and state’. That doctrine has been applied to the constitution, but it is not part of the constitution. The actual constitutional doctrine is quite specific: it prohibits an establishment of religion- a National Church, like the Church of England. An establishment of religion is a very specific entity: it entails coercive financial support, official government sanction, mandatory assent to doctrine, etc.
Discussion of the strengths and weakness of evolutionary theory in a school classroom is not an Establishment of Religion. Every understanding of evolution (Darwinist, adaptationist, non-adaptationist, ID, Creationist) has religious implications and presumptions, but the discussion of the scientific issues does not Establish a National Religion in any way.
An example of something that I believe would violate the establishment clause would be to teach students that God did/didn’t create species, and to require the ‘correct’ answer on an exam. That would entail teaching a religious doctrine and requiring assent, which I believe violates the establishment clause.
The free exercise clause can be summed up succinctly: government should stay out of religious disputes.
Teaching about the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin’s theory is not a violation of the establishment clause, nor is teaching about the strengths and weaknesses of ID. It’s still a free country (despite your best efforts), and it’s chilling when Federal Courts use legal force to silence discussion of scientific theories in schools.
Why are you so afraid of debate that you are willing to censor people?
Is it unconstitutional to critique creationism or ID in a public school classroom?
If the (theist) motives of creationists or ID proponents preclude their discussion of their views in science classes, why don’t the (atheist) motives of evolutionary biologists preclude discussion of their views in science classes?
And if it’s the facts, not the motives, that matter, what is wrong with critical discussion of those facts? After all, if those sneaky creationists sneak in something you don’t agree with, you can just censor them and drag them into court to shut them up. No reason to stop now.
I’d love to hear more about why you oppose academic freedom.
Ideology, on the other hand, is perhaps best left undiscussed. That’s why you bastards are such censors.
Hee, hee! This is why people who actually understand the science roll their eyes.
I did a quick search on my local university library’s catalogue for “evolutionary biology.”
I got 1027 hits for those exact keywords alone.
Needless to say, there are many more books with “evolution”, “evolutionary processes”, etc.
This is not a terribly important result in itself, but it serves to illustrate the size of the body of knowledge related to biological evolution, and how oblivious its ideological opponents are to what they’re up against.
I use the word “ideological” consciously, because it seems to be a rallying point in this thread, and because these comments shed some light on what it means.
No — whether they be bastards or not, advocates of science education are not in favor of censoring anything; just the opposite.
PaceMike12, the issue of common descent is closed, at least in the sense he intends it. It is closed because over the course of two hundred years, within the fields of geology, paleontology, population genetics, molecular and developmental biology (among others), multiple independent lines of evidence have arisen lending overwhelming support to the proposition that the living things of the earth are related by descent. It is not “proven”, simply because in science (outside mathematics) nothing is ever proven. Rather, a scientific proposition is considered to be well-established when the evidence supporting it is so strong that it would be unreasonable, understanding that evidence, to withhold assent. That’s where we are at today with regard to evolution. That mountain of evidence is so large, and so compelling, that anyone with no ideological axe to grind is going to be convinced by it.
Presenting all the evidence, censoring nothing, is to make a powerful case for the reality of evolution. That, and precisely that, is the reason advocates of this cockamamie Tennessee bill are properly described as “ideologues.”
“Presenting all the evidence, censoring nothing, is to make a powerful case for the reality of evolution.”
So do it. Present it. In every classroom you can find. Make your case, with abandon. The Academic Freedom legislation protects you.
You say that you have no fear of open critical discussion, because genuine critical discussion makes a “powerful case for the reality of evolution”. Yet you sneer that the Tennessee Academic Freedom bill is “cockamamie”. What is it about legislation that protects academic freedom that so frightens you?
Is it that the legislation protects everyone’s freedom, not just yours’?
“The “separation of church and state” only applies to me, not the thee.”
Shouldn’t that be “‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;’ applies to me and not to thee” then?
Or is that not just the definition of irony?
The establishment clause has a broader meaning, much like freedom of speech and the press applies to more forms of communication than speaking with ones voice and printing with a printing press. It’s there to keep the government from promoting religious policies on citizens of differing views, by the 14th amendment it is applied to the states.
To address your post-modern outlook, just because one or several religions claim to be theories of everything does not imply all beliefs outside of those worldviews are religious in nature, believe it or not evolution just means that the diversity of life on earth is the product of random mutation and natural selection.
Because this conflicts with a scriptural literalist view you assert it must be the work of atheism when infact it was the result observations such as the fossil record, selective breeding, differences among finch beaks based on the source of food, etc.
The facts are that there is a natural world, it behaves in certain ways, thats science, it is fact. The questions of “why”, and is this all there is are open for subjective interpretation. Mine is that the natural world is all there is, this doesn’t change what it is.
This “dispute” is religion versus everything not in that religion, which in this case includes multiple independent lines of evidence. If you wish to say that this evidence is satan burying dinosaur bones feel free to do so in your home, your church, on the street, in your workplace, or just off school grounds but don’t try to peddle “it’s all subjective truth” and “everything is a religion” when both are not the case.
“The establishment clause has a broader meaning, much like freedom of speech and the press applies to more forms of communication than speaking with ones voice and printing with a printing press. It’s there to keep the government from promoting religious policies on citizens of differing views, by the 14th amendment it is applied to the states.”
When the government prohibits critical discussion of only one scientific theory (evolution), and no other, and it does so in such a way that it shelters the atheist presumptions and implications of an ateleological understanding of biology from scrutiny, then it is promoting atheism on citizens of differing views.
All sciences have an “ateleological” understanding of reality sodium does not bond with chlorine to make the ocean salty, they bind because of chemistry.
The notion that god made sodium and chlorine want to bond so the ocean would have salt would be unconstitutional if you had thousands of people trying to put their religious views into chemistry curriculum.
Of course chemistry doesn’t present the vexing problems to a handful of religions the way evolution does, so that is not a widespread problem. If such people were beating down the door to try and have it taught chemistry would also have protection from creationists.
Of course sodium bonding with chlorine is a scientific fact as opposed to the notion that is the Earth element in saltwater, along with air, water, fire, and aether which are just as scientific as ID.
If, as some believe, the universe is made out of information, rather than “matter,” then it would not be far-fetched to say that intelligence is what nature is made of. And if nature is made of intelligence, then the origin and evolution of life would not be a haphazard unguided process. It would be an expression of the evolving creative intelligence of the universe.
The controversy between Intelligent Design and “evolution” is really a controversy over whether evolution is guided or unguided. Intelligent Design says it is, and the currently accepted neo-Darwinist theory of evolution says it is not.
Biblical creationism is really not on the table. Anyone who has read more than one book or taken at least one high school science course knows that the bible cannot be taken literally.
As physics and biology continue to evolve, the support for the idea that the universe is made of information, not little pieces of “matter.” We also have an ever-increasing sense that things are infinitely more complicated and strange than scientists ever imagined a hundred years ago.
Teleology merely means directedness in natural change. Whether the directedness presupposes God is a matter of debate that goes back 2300 years. Aristotle thought it didn’t; Aquinas thought it did.
Darwinists have asserted that their theory eliminates the need for teleology, which it doesn’t. They also generally assert that teleology necessarily implies God, which is a matter of debate.
You understand none of this, of course. That’s (in part) because you were educated in a system in which such important matters were censored from school curricula, leaving you ignorant. Which seems ok with you.
“All theories of biological origins are religious, in the sense that all such theories presume either the teleological (theist) or non-teleological (atheist) nature of evolution.”
False. Dichotomy. Period.
The teleology (or lack thereof) of life or gravity or whatever has no bearing on observation about what it is they are or how they behave. Weather or not facts have meaning they are what they are.
“It could quite plausibly be said that all scientific theories, and all worldviews, are closely intertwined with metaphysical assumptions, some theist, some not. You can’t escape religion. You can (and do) only lie about your own assumptions.”
Sorry if I missed the nuance there, but if answers to religious questions are inescapable, what is excluded from having religious implications?
When I was in high school, we were taught evolution as fact. Do you know what the kids took away from that? That: people used to be monkeys. That’s it.
Then, in religious ed, which I attended by crossing the street from the public school to the catholic church once a week, I experienced: a nun trying to get the attention of a fidgety boy by abruptly asking him: “what’s the difference between you and a dog?” When the boy said “I don’t know” the nun said “OK Lassie” and everybody laughed.
The more information we can give to kids, the better. Tell them EVERYTHING. Facts, theories (be careful to label them properly – kids trust teachers) and then trust the kids.
Science is about questioning and about skepticism. Period.
Damn shame you don’t actually even have the faintest whisper of a vapor of the shadow of an electron as to what that actually means.
I’d jump in more on this, but is seems robm is handling things quite nicely. But reading Mike’s absolutely inane babble and obvious to the point of pain religious motivation and ideology behind his babble – I had to speak up.
No it, isn’t odd that Novella hasn’t spoken up. He is actually a busy neurologist and I’d be shocked if he took the time to try and refute the… well, there isn’t a word that adequately describes how incredibly asinine and duplicitous your “arguments” are.
Suffice it to say, there is no controversy or question on the concept of common decent. PERIOD Anything said otherwise is the product of uniformed, unintelligent, religiously driven piffle.
Robm – keep up the solid work. I spent all of last year “debating” creationists and IDiots and am pretty spent from doing so. I say “debating” because it is like explaining to a 6 year old why they can’t eat chocolate instead of dinner.
“The teleology (or lack thereof) of life or gravity or whatever has no bearing on observation about what it is they are or how they behave. Weather or not facts have meaning they are what they are.”
Teleology in nature is simply a matter of fact. Natural change is generally directional, which is teleological. You can do quite a bit of science without explicit reference to teleology, just as you can do quite a bit of science without reference to quantum mechanics. Yet teleology and QM are how nature works. Period.
Newtonian mechanics seemed (to poorly educated scientists) to minimize the importance of teleology, because a mechanical model of nature emphasizes efficient causation and de-emphasizes final causation. That is somewhat useful for the manipulation of nature, although it hampers understanding of nature.
Einstein and the founders of quantum mechanics reintroduced teleological concepts in physics. The motion of a body along a world-line determined by the curvature of space is a teleological concept (the motion of the body in space-time has a directedness imposed on it). Quantum entanglement is another concept that is unintelligible without explicit recourse to teleology.
Your education has been stunted by materialism and atheism. Censorship hasn’t served you well.
Actually my education was “stunted” by a minimal interest in philosophy. Care to give any examples as to how teleology is a fact and how teleology is as necessary as quantum mechanics?
Hint, you might not want to try and shift directedness to mean direction, where something is headed in space is not the same as purpose, end, final cause, or finality, thats kinamatics.
oh btw if what you are now referring to as “teleology” is part of science and not inherently religious, then I have no problem with your current theism-optional, necessity to science teleology being taught in school.
“…But reading Mike’s absolutely inane babble and obvious to the point of pain religious motivation and ideology behind his babble – I had to speak up.”
And I’m glad you did.
“No it, isn’t odd that Novella hasn’t spoken up. He is actually a busy neurologist and I’d be shocked if he took the time to try and refute the… well, there isn’t a word that adequately describes how incredibly asinine and duplicitous your “arguments” are.
I guess if I were just a teeny bit smarter, Dr. Novella would deign to point out my errors.
“Suffice it to say, there is no controversy or question on the concept of common decent. PERIOD Anything said otherwise is the product of uniformed, unintelligent, religiously driven piffle.”
The Scientific Method, circa 2011. So would you agree that all funding of research on common descent should end, now that it is proven?
“I spent all of last year “debating” creationists and IDiots and am pretty spent from doing so. ”
These right-wing creationist-IDiots are sooo frustrating… I can see how angry you are. How about this, Nybgrus: boycott their money. Refuse to accept research grants etc from creationist-IDiot taxpayers, which means pretty much all taxpayers. It’s a matter of principle, appropriate for an elite scientist like you.
Well, these discussions do tend to descend into food fights, don’t they?
Which is fine by me, so PASS THE DINNER ROLLS!
So do it. Present it. In every classroom you can find. Make your case, with abandon. The Academic Freedom legislation protects you.
Thanks. Science teachers do it every day, protected fairly adequately by the US Constitution. What’s your point?
Yet you sneer that the Tennessee Academic Freedom bill is “cockamamie”.
Perhaps I was too kind. The Tennessee Academic Freedom bill is, on the one hand, silly and transparently dishonest — cockamamie, if you will — because it attempts once again to slide public teaching of religion under the Constitutional tent with a pretense administrators are likely to “prohibit [teachers] from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.” Do you have any idea how silly-assed that sounds? No; I guess not. We’ve got one of those two-cultures things going on here. But this bill is far worse than that. It presumes that each of us among we, the public, cares most about his or her most cherished personal beliefs, and is willing to see the freedoms of everyone else sacrificed in their service. Pass this bill and you’ll be swindled by the next demagogue, and the next one after that, who sees political advantage in exploiting religious division. Bills like this one are a recipe for a pig-ignorant public. So I’m sorry that I only called the bill “cockamamie.”
Oh, so you’re asserting that the NCSE and most evolutionary biologists believe that Federal Courts should not impose restraints on discussion of evolutionary theory in classrooms?
Yes, I’m asserting it.
And you would be asserting … what, exactly?
You see, Mike12, the problem you need to overcome here is that the entire history of creationism is one of shameless dishonesty. The claim that this bill protects “academic freedom” is a towering pile of steaming hooey. You know, and I know, and the dogs, the rocks and the trees know, that this bill is about teaching students in science class that God created everything. Period. You are within your rights to teach that in your church (the Constitution protects that, after all) but not in science class (sorry, it doesn’t).
I’m actually fairly new to skepticism, so I enjoy it, hopefully I wont get tired of debating these cranks. But then again I’m under no illusion I will convince mike12 of anything, except that he must retreat to ever more nebulous fallback positions, and insult my education (it’s in progress) to try to score points.
“… the entire history of creationism is one of shameless dishonesty.”
Right. Those creationists are shameless. Haekel’s fake embryos, Piltdown Man, Kettlewell’s moths, Archaeoraptor… At long last, sir, have creationists no shame?
“The claim that this bill protects “academic freedom” is a towering pile of steaming hooey. You know, and I know, and the dogs, the rocks and the trees know, that this bill is about teaching students in science class that God created everything. Period. ”
If criticism of evolution demonstrates that “God created everything”, what was it that evolution demonstrated?
“You are within your rights to teach that in your church (the Constitution protects that, after all) but not in science class (sorry, it doesn’t).”
I propose only this: to teach children in science class that evolutionary theory is a theory, and that it has strengths and weaknesses. Thats precisely what the law protects.
“If criticism of evolution demonstrates that “God created everything”, what was it that evolution demonstrated?”
it demonstrated that the diversity of life is explained by natural selection on random variation within a population.
I hate to disappoint you but science is not a grand ideology handing down pronouncements on the ultimate questions of life and human existence, it understanding the natural world, but that appears to mundane for you.
“Care to give any examples as to how teleology is a fact and how teleology is as necessary as quantum mechanics?”
Teleology obvious in nature. It simply means that natural change tends to an end- acorns become oaks, not flowers; struck matches burn, not freeze; the earth turns on one direction, not another. Classical philosophers observed that this seemingly commonplace characteristic of nature was quite remarkable. It is from these concepts of ‘directedness’ in nature that the concept of ‘laws of nature’ emerged.
Aristotle, although he was a theist, do not believe that teleology implied the existence of God. Aquinas did (his Fifth Way). The debate continues. I agree with Aquinas.
Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon in which one of a pair of entangled particles assumes a final state in accordance with the final state of it’s paired particle, even if the paired particle is not in proximity to it. Traditional ‘mechanical’ science is unable to account for this ‘retrocausation’. In the traditional Aristotelian view, this is simply final causation (teleology), and makes perfect sense. Many of the founders of quantum mechanics were not philosophically illiterate, and they wrote quite a bit on these issues (Heisenberg explicitly noted that quantum mechanics was a vindication of Aristotle).
“you are now referring to as “teleology” is part of science and not inherently religious, then I have no problem with your current theism-optional, necessity to science teleology being taught in school.”
Yes, it now seems that you will let me speak. How open-minded of you.
“To assert that living things manifest evidence of intelligent design is obviously tending to theism, and to assert that living things lack evidence for intelligent design is tending to atheism. ID (teleology) is the denial of Darwinism (ateleology), and vice versa.”
(surprise its a full sentence) contradicts what you later said:
“Teleology merely means directedness in natural change. Whether the directedness presupposes God is a matter of debate that goes back 2300 years. Aristotle thought it didn’t; Aquinas thought it did.”
You contradicted yourself, that sucks, learn to argue better with all your supposed education. Either teleology is religion or its not, no creator(or director, prime mover, purposer, final cause maker etc), no problem.
Your argument that teleoolgy is science is that aristole was a quantum physicist? or are you just shoehorning 2300 year old philosophy into modern physics hoping to win by appeal to quantum mechanics?
Teleology is understood by most philosophers and theologians and educated laypeople to imply theism, but there are many who take the Aristotelian view that it doesn’t imply theism (Aristotle believed that God exists and that His existence can be demonstrated by the Prime Mover argument, not by the argument from teleology).
“Your argument that teleoolgy is science is that aristole was a quantum physicist? or are you just shoehorning 2300 year old philosophy into modern physics hoping to win by appeal to quantum mechanics?”
The only metaphysical understanding of nature that is consistent with quantum entanglement is Aristotelian teleology. Heisenberg also noted that Aristotle’s concept of potency and act was the best paradigm to understand quantum states (potency) and the collapse of the wavefunction.
That’s not ‘shoehorning’ anything. It’s pointing out that the philosophical view that is the underpinning of modern science continues to have astonishing relevance.
It’s a view of which you are utterly ignorant. But you’re an atheist, so one shouldn’t expect much except bluster and censorship.
No one has censored your trolling to my knowledge. You change what you mean and what is discussed to suit your creationist world view. teleology only came into the discussion when you promoted it as a theism then change to aristotles non-theistic understanding when that didn’t fly.
“It’s pointing out that the philosophical view that is the underpinning of modern science continues to have astonishing relevance.”
You claim that Aristotle is the underpinnig of modern science is just plain wrong in almost any sense, except that aristotle made huge contributions to philosophy 2300 years ago, and other philosopher came later. The enlightenment empiricists are the underpinning of modern science, since modern science is based on empiricism (a tautology, but it had to be said.)
Mike, I like what neverknow commented on earlier to the effect that:
>Biblical creationism is really not on the table. Anyone who has read more than one book or taken at least one high school science course knows that the bible cannot be taken literally.
As physics and biology continue to evolve, the support for the idea that the universe is made of information, not little pieces of “matter.” We also have an ever-increasing sense that things are infinitely more complicated and strange than scientists ever imagined a hundred years ago.<
Add the teleological views of such as A N Whitehead and your more simplistic versions of "directedness" will be rendered harmless.
Actually it explains genetics, anatomy, physiology, biology, ecology, selective breeding in agriculure (unless that too is a tautology since survivors survive maters mate and desireable traits are desirable). All these fields have benefited and gained understanding, and can make sense of the crazy stuff they discover because of evolution.
“You claim that Aristotle is the underpinnig of modern science is just plain wrong in almost any sense…the enlightenment empiricists are the underpinning of modern science, since modern science is based on empiricism.”
Empiricism is indeed important to modern science. Roger Bacon and Albert Magnus, working in the High Middle Ages, are the fathers of Enlightenment empiricism.
Magnus was one of the earliest Christian Aristotelians, and was the teacher who introduced Aquinas to Aristotelian metaphysics. Bacon was a lecturer on Aristotle at Oxford. Both were Aristotelian to the core, and both were the pillars of empiricism that would give rise to enlightenment science.
You’re ignorant of science, philosophy, and now history. A combox hat trick.
““Survivors surviving” changes the traits of a population.”
Tautologies don’t change anything. Preditation, disease, mating patterns, luck, etc change the traits of a population.”
And surprise surprise they are the survivors that survive.
““benefit is specific to the cricumstances of population.”
As opposed to, say, the circumstances of other populations? Evolutionary science never ceases to inform.”
If it is so obvious why don’t you accept evolution. Other population won’t have the same traits selected for over time these changes accrue. See its not so hard.
“Selection “explains” nothing, because ‘survivors survive’ is a tautology. “A is A” explains nothing about A or about anything else. It’s a trivial logical assertion, not an empirical observation.”
But the fossil record is, and it shows that at different times there were different species, whats more some recent fossils look like different versions of modern mammals, these are followed by fossils that look more like the modern version. And that is damning, hard to refute, empirical observation predict only by evolution and the devil burying dinosaur bones.
Actually [evolutionary theory] explains genetics, anatomy, physiology, biology, ecology, selective breeding in agriculure (unless that too is a tautology since survivors survive maters mate and desireable traits are desirable).
Modern genetics began with Mendel, who worked independently of Darwin and who ignored him. Watson and Crick used molecular biology, biochemistry, and crystallography, not evolution, to unravel DNA.
Anatomy dates to at least Galen. Biology was made a science by Aristotle. Ecology dates to pre-history, as does animal breeding.
Darwin used some of these disciplines to formulate his theory. He depends on them; they, not much on him.
The ‘success’ of Darwin’s theory was summed up nicely by Dawkins a couple of decades ago: it allows one to be an intellectually satisfied atheist.
Lets not forget Hume, and is saying aristotle had remote and indirect influence really disproven because you can name 1 empiricist who was an Aristotelian, and another who taught a class where he was to recite Aristotle (its how they taught philosophy back then).
Why are all my zingers ignorant? And further more why do you need inform me of that whenever I point out that your assertion is flawed or incorrect?
Inherited traits are necessary for Darwin theory, and guess what they are fact.
Common descent predicts animals will share genes and have similar genes that are different, guess what, Fact!
Animals have similar structures, vestigial structures, and the development of structures in an embryo looks similar at first then differentiates. What might best explain that, organs have purpose so they assembled animals?
Further more these structures are far from elegant the eye flips things upside down and the brain flips them rightside up. Ducks grow webbed feet, lose their webbing and then grow it again. the list goes on and on.
“And further more why do you need inform me of that whenever I point out that your assertion is flawed or incorrect?”
Most of the viewpoints you have expressed are unworthy of a high school student. New atheism is a remarkably ignorant ideology, and regrettably you are in thrall to it. I regret the personal allusions, but the public square has been polluted by this crap for several decades now, and Christians and informed non-theists are fighting back.
I also insist that people who censor the viewpoints of others deserve to be called out, without the gentleness that one might accord to non-totalitarians.If you think that your viewpoints are so well established as to be the basis for the legal silencing of teachers and other educators, be prepared for a fight.
Fighting back against a fraction of >2% of the population? I think thats called shouting down gnu athiests. Perhaps my inferior education has prevented me from understanding how the topic changed from history of philosophy of science to the terror of new atheism?
All I want is the current consensus of the field of biology taught in the public schools without religious viewpoints or unscientific assertions that agree with religious viewpoints, or false doubts about the current scientific consensus encumbering the educational process. The plus side is that would leave time for aristotle. What about that is the cruel censorship of the totalitarian gnu atheists elite?
I also insist that people who censor the viewpoints of others deserve to be called out, without the gentleness that one might accord to non-totalitarians.
Again, to state the simple truth, no one’s viewpoints have been, are being, or will be censored. This relentless whining about an imaginary injustice wears thin after a while. It is unfortunate, and unfair, that Tennessee is likely to be humiliated and caricatured yet again in the public mind as a province of the self-righteous ignorant, but hey — it’s your choice. Have at it.
“Again, to state the simple truth, no one’s viewpoints have been, are being, or will be censored.”
Bullshit. If you copy this comment thread and give it to any one of several school districts in the US that are under federal court injunction, those educators will be in violation of federal law and will face fine/imprisonment if they showed our discussion to students in their schools.
Succinctly, this comment thread may not be shown to students in any public school, under threat (or actuality) of federal litigation.
School districts across the US have been threatened and intimidated by you bastards with litigation and financial ruin if they critically assess evolutionary theory or mention ID. The Dover school district alone was wrecked financially. Here’s the ‘lesson’ from you brownshirts:
“Richard Katskee, assistant legal director for Americans United, said of the trial’s cost, “Any board thinking of trying to do what the Dover board did is going to have to look for a bill in excess of $2 million,” and “I think $2 million is a lot to explain to taxpayers for a lawsuit that should never be fought.”"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District
I despise totalitarian thugs who silence people and destroy them financially.
Mike, you say that “We are finding that a deep understanding of nature is remarkably complex and is best described by elegant mathematics.”
That’s a big part of the problem. Mathematics describes dimensions, but has no explanation for the rise of functions and the purposes they serve.
“Teleology is not being rendered harmless; it’s being understood as beautiful, in a mathematical sense.”
I didn’t say that it’s being rendered harmless, just your versions.
Whitehead’s versions were much better and that was four score and more ago – and both his mathematics and philosophy were better then than yours are now.
“The ‘success’ of Darwin’s theory was summed up nicely by Dawkins a couple of decades ago: it allows one to be an intellectually satisfied atheist.”
That was then when Dawkins and the like were easy targets.
This is the new now.
You missed the part of the case where it was proven that the Discovery Institute and several dover school board members intended ID as a way of legally teaching creationism and promoting the christian faith.
btw calling people who believe in science “brownshirts” is goebbels-esque propaganda.
Perhaps my inferior education has prevented me from understanding how the topic changed from history of philosophy of science to the terror of new atheism?
No robm, it is the fact that it is pure an unadulterated ideology and religious fanaticism that completely ignores science and bends the history of philosophy to its depraved religious means. It is discussed quite nicely in Liars for Jesus which is exactly what the likes of mike do. He unintelligently parrots the abdolute drivel issuing forth from his mentor William Lane Craig with an obvious lack of any clue as to what evolutionary theory or the history of it is all about. This sort of blatant lying is exactly what Dr. Novella was writing about and what makes the likes of the “cdesign proponentists” like mike a lying sack of pond scum intentionally using obfuscatory language to make the average American confused and think there actually is a controversy (hint: there isn’t) and the religious IDiots cheer and applaud thinking they have someone intelligent speaking on their behalf.
Anyone who can cite the Dover vs Kitzmiller case as anything but a pure and simple example of religious lying and decption to censor scientific consensus and try and wedge religious creationist doctrine into schools as a “science” is clearly either incredibly misguided or lying through their teeth.
Your blatant lies and intentionally erroneous and obfuscatory intent sicken me mike. And no amount of down-talk about “atheist science” is going to negate the fact that my 7 year old nephew knows more about evolution than you do.
Why do you say that Dr. Novella is in favor of censoring academic freedom? He clearly stated that the reason he’s against this bill is because students should already be being taught to think critically, so there’s no reason to pass the law in the first place.
It’s not academic censorship to be against passing a law that would protect the teaching of something that is not science in the science classroom. This isn’t about silencing someone one disagrees with, it’s just a matter of keeping science in the science classrooms, and religion and philosophy in their respective classrooms.
“Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon in which one of a pair of entangled particles assumes a final state in accordance with the final state of it’s paired particle, even if the paired particle is not in proximity to it. Traditional ‘mechanical’ science is unable to account for this ‘retrocausation’. In the traditional Aristotelian view, this is simply final causation (teleology), and makes perfect sense.”
How exactly does teleology make any more sense than entanglement.
At least those who use the term entanglement are honest in the sense of just putting a label on the phenomenon and not pretending that doing so solves any problem, real or imaginary.
Time dilation, space contraction, and the constancy of the speed of light don’t make sense either. They are just observed realities of the world of the super quick. Just like entanglement and uncertainty are just observed realities of the super small.
There’s no reason why the super quick and super small should behave anything like the objects of our everyday experience.
“If, as some believe, the universe is made out of information, rather than “matter,” then it would not be far-fetched to say that intelligence is what nature is made of.”
Depends on what you mean by intelligent.
Are computers intelligent because they contain information?
Are libraries intelligent because they contain information?
“And if nature is made of intelligence, then the origin and evolution of life would not be a haphazard unguided process. It would be an expression of the evolving creative intelligence of the universe.”
A first order far-fetched begets a second order far-fetched begets a third order far-fetched.
Let’s all mine the web for comments by lone individuals, which seem to cast doubt on the dominant ideas within evolutionary biology (or those of any other scientific field), and assign them more weight than the dominant (or near-consensus) views of that field.
Mike12-Churches in the US probably outnumber schools by 10 to 1 at least,and are dedicated entirely to teaching only a religious point of view.Religious channels are numerous on our airwaves/cable TV (not so atheist only channels),so your crocoduck tears about how the big bad atheist bastards are preventing your message from getting out is pure nonsense.Your real agenda is to keep the science of evolution from being taught,and you and your Godwin shirt friends are knowingly using this as a wedge issue to undermine the teaching of evolution,and you know this to be true.
Wow, this thread quickly took off. I might have known.
I like when BillyJoe said: There’s no reason why the super quick and super small should behave anything like the objects of our everyday experience.
Ah, but there’s good (evidence-based) reason to believe that reason itself is partly a product of everyday (concrete sensory-motor) experience (and partly a product of our biological and cultural heritage). This cognitive tool helps to get us through the night (so to speak), but there is no good reason to believe that reason (or any other human faculty) can connect us to metaphysical or transcendent truths (which, assuming they exist, are probably even weirder than the super quick and super small). It’s only our hubris that leads us to believe otherwise, and that comes in different varieties: both religious and secular.
>BillyJoe7 on 04 Jun 2011 at 6:56 am
“If, as some believe, the universe is made out of information, rather than “matter,” then it would not be far-fetched to say that intelligence is what nature is made of.”
Depends on what you mean by intelligent.
Are computers intelligent because they contain information?
Are libraries intelligent because they contain information?<
Computers are "made of" and intelligence, they contain intelligence and they impart intelligence. Libraries are "made of" and intelligence, contain intelligence and provide intelligence.
Is it making good use of intelligence to argue otherwise?
Reason works well enough as a tool in everyday life, but it is far from flawless and is by no means reliable enough to be trusted as a lighting rod to “metaphysical or transcendent truths.”
Even in the knowledge-garnering professions of science and engineering, (a priori) reason alone (e.g. definitions and intuition) is not deemed trustworthy, which is why a hypothesis must pass a battery of tests before it is deemed worthy of provisional acceptance.
The problem is an epistemic one: I have no way of knowing whether a metaphysical assertion is true or false. It’s just that: an assertion, and a highly speculative one at that.
I don’t even claim to know that scientific “discoveries” are true or false in the strict sense. I’ve simply come to trust that the various research communities have arrived at certain evidence-based conclusions, which could change in the future, depending on various factors (not the least of which is more evidence).
IOW, scientific “truths” are at best provisional truths, which is a far cry from the eternal, transcendent claims of arm-chair philosophers, both religious and secular.
“Mathematics describes dimensions, but has no explanation for the rise of functions and the purposes they serve.”
True. That is why some who support teleology don’t believe that it can be used as an argument for theism Teleology means directedness; it doesn’t necessarily mean purpose, in the sense of being guided by a Mind.
I think that Aquinas’ Fifth Way (the Teleological Proof) is valid. It’s based on the hylemorphic concept that the final cause is a form, and that forms that do not exist in a substance can only exist in a mind.
There are some very thoughtful people who wouldn’t agree, though.
“Whitehead’s versions were much better (than Mike 12′s and Aristotle’s) and that was four score and more ago – and both his mathematics and philosophy were better then than yours are now.”
I don’t know Whitehead’s views well, but I don’t doubt that much of what he wrote is much better than mine. I merely assert that teleology is true, and that Aristotle provided a strong framework for understanding nature and metaphysics. Many have surpassed and will surpass him.
“That was then when Dawkins and the like were easy targets.
This is the new now.”
Darwinist remain very easy targets, as you may have noticed.
I trust reason enough to look both ways before crossing the street (e.g. based on the experience of witnessing and visualizing the potential consequences of not doing so), and I also trust it insofar as it’s proven itself useful in other applications (e.g. in designing new technologies).
That said, if you feel it’s appropriate to characterize this limited trust as a “metaphysical” position (even though I think “epistemological” is more apt), then go right ahead – so long as you’re clear on what I actually mean by it, which is that I do not put much trust in claims that cannot be empirically tested (e.g. gods, immortal souls, karma, platonic forms, etc.).
PS: That limited trust (or limited skepticism, depending on how you look at it) extends to teleological claims (i.e. regarding final causes in nature), which seem to be beyond anyone’s ability to test empirically.
“If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”
This is the archetype of mufi’s distrust of metaphysics and reason. But think of the absurdity of Hume’s assertion; Humes assertion itself didn’t contain quantitative abstract reasoning nor experimental reasoning.
Hume’s assertion was unbelievably stupid self-refuting gibberish. Of course, although Hume was a fool and a swine, he wasn’t the least bit stupid. I prefer Elisabeth Anscombe’s characterization of Hume as a “mere-brilliant-sophist.
I enjoy the controversy you bring the the forum, and would like clarification on a couple of your arguments.
“They also generally assert that teleology necessarily implies God, which is a matter of debate.”
Can you explain how they start with the (self-evident) premise that the universe is changing (or a better word would be ‘rearranging’) and deduce a God. If this deduction if free of logical errors, I am curious what such a deduction could say about the nature of God.
While listening to a philosophy lecture by Peter Millican at Oxford about Aristotelian ideas about properties of matter, it seemed analogous to what you think about teleology. According to Millican, Aristotelian’s believed earth fell towards the center of the universe and objects in the heavens made perfect circles because it was the nature and desire of earth to fall towards the center of the universe and it was the nature and desire of heavenly objects to make circular orbits. Millican pointed out that this doesn’t provide a deeper understanding of matter which is why Galileo and Newton’s contributions to the understanding of matter is superior to Aristotle.
Just as Aristotle anthropomorphized matter (e.g. matter ‘desired’ to be in a certain state), it appears to me you are anthropomorphizing teleology (e.g. configuration of matter desires change). Can you tell me if this is a valid criticism of your argument?
“Darwinist remain very easy targets, as you may have noticed.”
Mike, Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been augmented over time by auxiliary theories, some of which, a la Weismann’s, Dawkins’ and the like, diminished it, but the new adaptive mutation theories and their theorists have resurrected it to steal any thunder left in your version of the teleological cosmosphere.
By the way, according to my dictionary, teleology doesn’t mean directedness, or directed for a purpose, as you suggest it does.
teleology |ˌtelēˈäləjē; ˌtēlē-|
noun ( pl. -gies) Philosophy
the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.
Purposes served need not have been in any sense directed to have served them.
I am aware of where my biases come from, it called reality, my assumption is that the external natural world is real and thoughts I think about it are not, even the thoughts I think concerning my thoughts. How to determine what is true or not is to look to the surest measurements and observations and draw the most bare minimum of necessary conclusions then test the implications of that. If a greater overarching theory is devised than it should be tested and believed until it is contradicted.
That is an approach that seems antithetical to your of arguments (when your not name calling), you seem to view philosophy as more real than observable reality, then get angry when others dont buy that.
just a heads up but mike shifts his meanings when he doesn’t feel he’s winning, he switches from purpose by God to purpose of the acorn to become a tree, to “directedness”, to direction, and if you believe in direction all his previous definitions win.
Mike, you accuse the non-religious of censorship in the area of science.
The problem I notice here is that you have a basic misunderstanding of how science works.
Science, unlike politics is not egalitarian, all people and ideas are not equal in science, furthermore, the high-school classroom is not the place to have scientific debates. The science being taught in a high-school classroom is typically years behind what researchers are currently working on because it can take decades for a new theory or or idea to build consensus and make its way to pre-undergrad text books.
If you believe that Intelligent design or whatever it is you believe in has scientific promise then by all means people may get involved in the scientific process, do the research and prove their case to the scientific community.
If your evidence is strong then you will get there eventually, when Eisenstein first published relativity physicists thought he was nuts, but over several decades his theories one out through use of the scientific method. Relativity is now in high-school textbooks, but it wasn’t in the 1950′s
The problem we all have is that creationists want to skip the scientific process and have their ideas taught without being tested properly. There is no censorship involved, you have freedom to preach or teach you’re ideas in a wide variety of venues, but to teach it as science you must be able to make testable predictions consistently for a long period of time.
Evolutionary biologists have done this for well over 100 years, while a few minor changes have happened to the theory, by and large the lines of evidence, genetics, taxonomy, paleontology, etc. have all supported the predictions made in evolution.
Why are you too good for that process? Why do you feel that you have the right to call ID science while refusing to follow the process that every modern scientific theory has managed to follow and prove itself using?
The real problem here is not even about evolution, ID’ers and creationists want to change the entire scientific method to allow for metaphysical and/or supernatural causes to be considered. Oddly enough, scientists do not claim these do not exist but simply to not consider them because one cannot test for them.
robm, my purposes are served when Mike sees the necessity to shift his meanings, since if these meanings have been used as links in his chain of reason, changing them will make any goal they hope to be tied to unreachable by that method of argument.
Mike: I’m aware that Hume plays a role in the development of a kind of skepticism. But neither he nor any other dead philosopher is the main source of strength for scientific skepticism (which I’ll use interchangeably with the “limited trust” that I described earlier). Rather, its strength comes from its usefulness (a.k.a. utility or pragmatic value, relative to human goals and purposes). And far be it from me to argue that usefulness equates with truth (in any eternal, transcendent, or objective sense of the word).
BTW, if you know of evidence for immortality, then by all means put it up. I’m interested in seeing what qualifies in your mind as “evidence.”
“Mike, Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been augmented over time by auxiliary theories, some of which, a la Weismann’s, Dawkins’ and the like, diminished it, but the new adaptive mutation theories and their theorists have resurrected it to steal any thunder left in your version of the teleological cosmosphere”
Evolution is a fascinating and important science, but the traditional Darwinist trope about ‘natural selection’ is banal. The real question is about how ‘heritable change’ occurs, and in what sense (if any) it is ‘random’. The issue is best summarized by observation that it is “the arrival of the fittest, not the survival of the fittest” that is the fundamental question in evolution.
How the fittest “arrive” is of course a question about the nature of change in the world, and thus evolutionary theory, properly understood, is heavily informed by the metaphysics of philosophers like Aristotle, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Hume, Kant, Quine and many others who have investigated what we can say and understand about change in nature.
The scandal of evolutionary biology is that it’s scientific practitioners are almost to a man utterly ignorant of the real questions at the core of their science. It’s like recruiting deaf men to study music.
“BTW, if you know of evidence for immortality, then by all means put it up. I’m interested in seeing what qualifies in your mind as “evidence.””
There are several lines of evidence for immortality, of varying rigor:
1) Millions of people have had experiences with life after death (near-death experiences, ghosts, revelations, etc). These experiences are obviously of varying and highly disputable credibility, but they are evidence nonetheless. And there are very many of them. Make of it what you will.
2) Christians believe in eternal life because of revelation. We believe in revelation because we believe in the Christian worldview based on many different lines of evidence and reasoning. We accept the doctrine of life after death because we accept the credibility of the system of beliefs from which that doctrine emerged. It’s not all that different than accepting belief in multiple universes based on acceptance of cosmological science and trust in the cosmologists who formulate the doctrine. Alternate universes and eternal life are both notoriously difficult to test empirically. Keep in mind that you’ll almost certainly know the truth of the latter before you know the truth of the former.
3) Philosophers have defended the eternal nature of the soul by pointing out that aspects of the soul (such as the intellect and the will) are intrinsically immaterial, and that the soul is metaphysically simple and not composed of parts, as a material substance is. Material things composed of parts ‘cease to exist’ because they lose their substantial form and the parts assume new substantial forms (wood rots, stones break up, etc). But the immaterial soul is metaphysically simple, so it cannot break up into parts, and it is not material, so it cannot lose it’s substantial form.
I doubt that you will accept any of these lines of evidence, but there are lines of evidence, of debatable quality.
at survival>The issue is best summarized by observation that it is “the arrival of the fittest, not the survival of the fittest” that is the fundamental question in evolution.<
If the new breed of scientific practitioners were as utterly ignorant of that question as you claim, they wouldn't have had it finally dawn on them that the fittest arrive at survival by their own calculative efforts rather than by the precalculated efforts of your gods to propel them to unthinkingly survive to fit.
Mike, I’m familiar with (although by no means expert in) all of those lines of argument for immortality, and you are correct to surmise that I’ve thus far found all of them wanting (to put it mildly).
Mind you: I’m describing myself as of the past 12 years or so; that is, the period since I abandoned my own faith and drifted towards the outlook that I’ve presented here. Prior to this period, I was as fervent to prove (rationally) that my religion is true as you are now (in Internet forums like this one, too, although back then they were “news groups” rather than blog comments). And, as you might have already guessed, that mission backfired, although (unlike some other secular types), I still see some value in religion. It’s just not for me.
More to the point, if any force were to draw me back to religion, my guess is that it would be more emotional than rational in character – not that there’s anything wrong with that (!)
looking backwards has led to thinking backwards. The outcome of natural selection is in no way determined in advance without a gene pool and selective pressure, to claim otherwise is simply an act of faith not fact.
Why does it never occur to people to confront these legislators with the awesome science education statistics from East Asia where (correct me if I’m wrong) there’s never been an atom of creationism taught? Maybe we need a good media stunt. Every time one of these bills gets proposed, I think maybe someone should propose an amendment that says, “Let’s go one better. In the State of Tennesee, teaching creation is mandatory, and evolution is outlawed, and the State will pay to resettle families outside the State where there are real education systems.”
“More to the point, if any force were to draw me back to religion, my guess is that it would be more emotional than rational in character – not that there’s anything wrong with that (!)”
My own faith has been emotional as much as rational, as it is I think for most people. I became a Christian about 7 years ago; before that I was an atheist, or perhaps an agnostic, depending on my mood. I have worked in science all of my life, and took it to be the most reliable source of truth.
I had always found a deep attraction to Christ, but I had always believed that I would have to leave my brain at the church door if I went in. I was (and still am) repulsed by televangelists, and I thought that Christianity was for gullible people. (Of course, I knew a lot of Christians, and they didn’t seem gullible at all- in fact, I rather admired many of them).
For a variety of reasons (an illness in the family, a sense of emptiness, a sense that there was something important about life that I was missing), I began going to churches. I had a rather profound religious experience during prayer one night, and entered the Catholic Church and was baptized.
Part of my decision to take God more seriously was my awareness through much reading that many of the tropes that I had been taught and believed– that Darwin had explained life without God, that cosmology and quantum mechanics had explained that the universe came from nothing, etc– were utter nonsense. I came see that atheism was rank bullshit– a pitiful intellectual construct that was the antithesis of genuine thoughtful inquiry.
The real rigor and insight was in the theist and Christian arguments– the great philosophers and theologians. For a while I was afraid to read debates between Christian theologians and atheists (the debate between JP Moreland and Kai Neilson comes to mind) because I feared that the atheist arguments would destroy my faith.
I found the opposite. For example, Moreland (the Christian philosopher) destroyed Neilson (atheist philosopher). The only argument Neilson could make was that ‘God’ was incapable of definition. Moreland pointed out that this has been the Christian argument for 2000 years, and then Morland destroyed Nielson on every other point.
The more I read the less respect I had for atheism. It’s central claims are sophmorish drivel that no thoughtful person would take seriously (the universe just happened, things like right and wrong, or truth, or beauty are just evolved superstitions, etc.) What crap.
But my primary commitment to God is my love for Him. The logical arguments are permissive for me, meaning that I can bring my brain into church with me now, and it feels right at home.
“Why does it never occur to people to confront these legislators with the awesome science education statistics from East Asia where (correct me if I’m wrong) there’s never been an atom of creationism taught?”
The most ‘creationist’ Western country is the United States, by far.
The United States is also the world’s leader in science, by far.
The rise of modern science and excellence in science correlates very closely with Judeo-Christian culture. Science education is quite good in many Asian countries. But it’s science from our ‘creationist’ country that their kids are learning. Other cultures borrow our science.
And, hey, since we’re talking about religion and science, let’s look at the scientific output from atheist countries, like North Korea, or Cuba, or Vietnam. Lots of great science coming out of atheist culture, like new ways to dispose of human corpses, concentration camp construction, nuclear weapon physics, etc.
It’s amusing to hear atheists whine about the damage that ‘creationism’ does to science, when the most creationist county in the Western world is the world’s unparalleled leader in science.
“cosmology and quantum mechanics had explained that the universe came from nothing, etc– were utter nonsense.”
Let us assume the universe did not come from nothing. How do you go from not knowing were the universe comes from to knowing where the universe comes from and that is a God. The only way I can rationalize that deduction is if you define God as anything unknown – but I don’t think that’s how you define God.
“The logical arguments are permissive for me, meaning that I can bring my brain into church with me now, and it feels right at home.”
Can you please use those logical arguments to show me how you started from the above premise and reached the conclusion of a God created universe and likewise with my previous post regarding teleology implying God.
Ever thought that whichever culture develops and utilizes the scientific method will be the one to correlate with science, basically up until the 1400′s science and technology correlated with non-christians, and between 1400 and 1940 scientific progress correlated with Britain, France, and Germany, all of which got blown up between 1939 and 1945, followed by the cold war where science correlated with both christianity and atheism, communisim and capitalism, and totalitarianism and freedom. Not to mention atheist china has maglev trains and the worlds most powerful super computer.
scientific benefit goes to those who practice science the most, yet another tautology that must be pointed out to you. your assertion seems to be based on cherry picking, but hey thats where blind faith gets you. I admire the fact you think science is so self evidently good that you try to shoehorn it into your religion that ask you to take everything it says on faith.
Mike: I’m sorry to hear that hold such a negative view of atheism, but thanks for sharing your story.
I’ve long entertained the view (which I think is loosely attributable to Bertrand Russel) that, technically speaking, we’re all agnostics on the God question – it’s just that some of us (for whatever reason) are more uncomfortable with that condition than others, which leads them to take a more confident (or “gnostic”) stance.
Dawkins has mocked this view as “Tooth-Fairy Agnosticism”: in other words, even he (despite his usually strong-atheist stance) admits that he is an agnostic on the God question, but only in the same sense that he is agnostic on the Tooth Fairy question. Of course, the joke derives from the common understanding that the Tooth Fairy is a human invention and we would not take seriously any group or individual who argues otherwise.
Sorry to say: I believe the analogy to theism holds merit. It’s just that theism is old and entrenched enough in our culture that it garners more respect in civic life than toothfairyism likely would, were it to suddenly emerge on the scene.
“I enjoy the controversy you bring the the forum…”
Thanks. It does liven things up a bit.
“Can you explain how they start with the (self-evident) premise that the universe is changing (or a better word would be ‘rearranging’) and deduce a God.”
The best argument from natural change to God is Aristotle’s Prime Mover argument, which Aquinas developed as his First Way. The argument has a long genealogy of pagan, Christian, Jewish, and Islamic philosophers, and it has much purchase today with theist philosophers.
The Prime Mover/First Way argument is this, succinctly:
Nature is always undergoing change, with things changing from one state to another. Acorns become oak trees, green leaves turn brown, rocks crumble, etc. Each thing has potential for change (its potencies) and each thing has that which it actually is (its act).
A potency of a thing is something that it does not have (an acorn does not have a real oak tree in it), but that it can have, under the proper conditions. Everything in nature is a composite of potencies (what it might be) and act (what it is).
When a potency is actualized, it must (by definition) be actualized by something other than itself. Potency is non-existence; only act exists, and therefore potencies are actualized by other things (acorns need sunlight, water, nutritive soil, etc to grow into oak trees).
The classical adage is ‘everything that is moved (changed) is moved (changed) by another.’
In nature, causes typically come in a series: one thing causes another, which causes another, which causes another, etc. In a causal series, a potency in each cause is raised to act by the raising to act of a potency in the preceding cause, which is raised to act by a potency that is raised to act in the preceding cause, etc. The series is like dominoes: in each cause, potency is raised to act, which causes a potency in the next thing in the series to be raised to act, and so on.
There are two different types of causal natural series- accidental and essential. Accidental causal series don’t require the continuing existence of each preceding cause to be effective. The causal series of a father begetting a son who begets a son who begets a son etc is a classical accidental series. The grandfather could die, and the chain still goes on.
Some causal series in nature are essential, which means that the components of the causal series all must continue to exist for the casual chain to work. Hitting a nail with a hammer is an essential series of causes: hitting the nail requires the impact of the hammer, which requires the movement of the hand holding the hammer, which requires the contraction of the muscles in the arm, which requires an action potential in the nerve in the arm, which requires the activation of the neurons in the brain, which requires ATP, etc. In an essential series, all components of the causal chain must be active together for the series to work. If the nerve is cut, or the hand slips, the nail is not hit.
Aristotle asked this question: can an essential series of causes that raise potency to act in nature be infinite backwards, without origin? He observed that it can’t, because if all of the preceding causes are in potency, they could never get started. There must be a beginning in an essential causal series that is itself in pure act, and is not raised to potency.
Aristotle called this pure act at the origin of natural change (essential series of natural changes) the Prime Mover.
Aquinas adapted Aristotle’s logic, and observed that this Prime Mover-Pure Act at the ground of nature “is what all men call God.”
“If this deduction if free of logical errors, I am curious what such a deduction could say about the nature of God.”
Aquinas spent a lot of time on this (a couple of hundred pages of Summa), and developed the concept of the inter-convertibility of transcendentials. He observed that we can only speak of God by analogy. We cannot understand that which is outside of nature as He really is, but merely by comparing His attributes to things with which we are familiar. Aquinas showed that a close look at what we mean by Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Power, Love really seems to boil down to one and the same thing in God (Pure Act), and that our sense that these things are distinct is an artifact of our natural limitations. Aquinas asserted that God was simple, not composite, and that His Truth is His Beauty is His Goodness is His Power is His Love.
“There are two different types of causal natural series- accidental and essential. Accidental causal series don’t require the continuing existence of each preceding cause to be effective. The causal series of a father begetting a son who begets a son who begets a son etc is a classical accidental series. The grandfather could die, and the chain still goes on.”
Mike, I can’t help but interrupt and suggest that your reconsider this notion of the difference between what would appear accidental to an observer, and what would be an accident from the point of view of nature (if it had one) or the point of view of the God that would have existed (in your view) while at the same time having some affect on those events.
In any case there are no causal series that are sequentially accidental, either from the view of any credible philosopher or creditable scientist.
“I’ve long entertained the view (which I think is loosely attributable to Bertrand Russel) that, technically speaking, we’re all agnostics on the God question – it’s just that some of us (for whatever reason) are more uncomfortable with that condition than others”
I agree. We as creatures of nature cannot be ‘gnostic’ about ultimate reality in this life. Absolute certainty about anything is probably not in our grasp (except perhaps the Cartesian “I Exist”).
So we’re all agnostics, in the sense that we all live with uncertainty. Yet we must act in many aspects of our lives as if we had at least modest certainty: we love our spouse and kids, we work to earn a living, we don’t step in front of speeding trucks, we try to take care of our health, etc. We all have near-certainties that ground us. Heck, for all any of our know, we could be brains in a vat, the only existing thing, etc. Who can really be certain that we don’t live in the Matrix?
But we plug on, because not to seems crazy. And we do so because of faith. Faith that the world is real, faith the we really love our families, faith that speeding cars will hurt us if we step in front of them. Scientists live with faith that atomic theory is true, that relativity is true, faith that physiology is true.
Atheists profoundly misunderstand faith. None of us has absolute certainty about anything. We could just be a brain in a vat. We have to take some things for granted just to live life.
Faith is not belief without warrant. Faith is not credulity. Faith is fidelity to a worldview that we have decided, for a host of reasons, makes sense.
Some people have faith (fidelity to a worldview) that nature is all there is; others have faith in God. All views about the truth of existence are faith, atheists no less than theists, scientists no less than priests. And the argument that scientists don’t use faith because they have evidence is nonsense. They have no evidence that they aren’t brains in vats, and that all ‘science’ isn’t just the way our Overlords are tweaking the wires in our cortices.
We’re all agnostics. We all have and need faith. We reach different decisions as to what to believe, but it’s all faith, at the bottom.
“Dawkins has mocked this view as “Tooth-Fairy Agnosticism”: in other words, even he (despite his usually strong-atheist stance) admits that he is an agnostic on the God question, but only in the same sense that he is agnostic on the Tooth Fairy question.”
Toothfairy faith doesn’t appeal to me, because Toothfairyism has no explanatory power. Theism in general, and Christianity in particular, has a lot of explanatory power (c.f. most of Western philosophy, logic, science, etc).
Atheism, which is the view that ‘shit just happened’, is on the level of Toothfairyism. Makes me chuckle.
Of course, the joke derives from the common understanding that the Tooth Fairy is a human invention and we would not take seriously any group or individual who argues otherwise.
Sorry to say: I believe the analogy to theism holds merit. It’s just that theism is old and entrenched enough in our culture that it garners more respect in civic life than toothfairyism likely would, were it to suddenly emerge on the scene.
“Mike, I can’t help but interrupt and suggest that your reconsider this notion of the difference between what would appear accidental to an observer, and what would be an accident from the point of view of nature (if it had one) or the point of view of the God that would have existed (in your view) while at the same time having some affect on those events…In any case there are no causal series that are sequentially accidental, either from the view of any credible philosopher or creditable scientist.”
I’ve never grasped the providence of the terms “accidental” and “essential” to describe the two kinds of casual series. All “accidental” means is that the continued existence of causes prior in the series is not necessary for the perpetuation of the series. “Essential” means that all prior causes must continue to exist and act for the perpetuation of the series. A chain letter is an accidental series. A biochemical pathway consisting of enzymes is (generally) an essential series. If you throw away an old chain letter, the current chain can still continue. If you remove an enzyme from the Krebs cycle, the cycle stops.
Mike said: “Toothfairy faith doesn’t appeal to me, because Toothfairyism has no explanatory power. Theism in general, and Christianity in particular, has a lot of explanatory power (c.f. most of Western philosophy, logic, science, etc).”
Well, therein lies the debate, doesn’t it? Atheists (or, more technically, non-theistic agnostics) would dispute that theism (and Christianity, in particular) lacks sufficient or satisfactory explanatory power.
I tend to agree (which is not to suggest that any alternative is necessarily stronger, just because it’s non-theistic in character).
It seems you would object if a teacher presented a reason for your child to question current orthodoxy.
This is why the law is needed.
“Attribute” (brand name) corn is absolute certain disproof of your statement about how all life on Earth evolved (selection on random variation).
How about that?
I think you have good points to make.
I’m sorry if this next is off base, but it seems you have some anger associated with this subject and it clouds your arguments.
If you make the same arguments without the anger, I think they would be more clear.
I hope you continue to bring your points.
I never made a claim that things are immune from change, I did say point out aristotle has a premise that (whether he stated it or not) that things don’t change without external cause. over the past 500 years scientific discoveries like gravity, bodies in constant motion remain so, electromagnetism, chemistry, strong and weak nuclear forces, general relativity, quantum mechanics, show that space time mater and energy are in constant change that is explained their properties.
The forces and potential energy within objects do work and that produces change, to say it all needs a source from beyond is both unproven and extraneous. If you wish to believe that it all requires a prime mover and that this prime mover is god feel free, but also recognize a simpler satisfactory answer exists.
“I never made a claim that things are immune from change, I did say point out aristotle has a premise that (whether he stated it or not) that things don’t change without external cause. over the past 500 years scientific discoveries like gravity, bodies in constant motion remain so, electromagnetism, chemistry, strong and weak nuclear forces, general relativity, quantum mechanics, show that space time mater and energy are in constant change that is explained their properties.
The forces and potential energy within objects do work and that produces change, to say it all needs a source from beyond is both unproven and extraneous. If you wish to believe that it all requires a prime mover and that this prime mover is god feel free, but also recognize a simpler satisfactory answer exists.”
Aristotle made a simple observation: change in things in nature involves the actualization of potentiality in those things. He observed that actualization of potentialities must come from something that is actual, because potentialities by definition aren’t actual.
The Prime Mover argument merely points out that there must be something that is actual, not itself in need of actuation of potency, to start certain kinds of causal sequences in nature.
It’s a fairly simple argument, and it is a logical deductive argument, and modern science has strengthened it, not weakened it. Potential quantum states are nice examples of Aristotle’s potencies, and collapse of the quantum waveform is a nice example of Aristotelian act.
Aristotle’s doctrine of potency and act in natural change has been remarkably validated by quantum theory, and this strengthens his Prime Mover argument by validating the Aristotelian understanding of natural change on which the Prime Mover argument is based.
thats because corn was developed through selective breeding, creating profound change, unless you also want to make that argument about bananas (domestic varieties lost the ability to sexually reproduce) in which case I’ll do my best to prevent hilarity from ensuing.
Someone is going to have to inform Aristotle. He’s going to take it hard.
Mike’s entire argumentation hinges on a few things.
1) quoting and using old philosophers as if their ideas were still valid. The older, the better. Since Aristotle is the oldest in his repertoire he is also the most infallible.
2) Using lines of “evidence” like “people have seen ghosts” and other argumentum ad popularum
3) Gish-gallop and goal post shift, bob, doge, and weave.
4) straw-man argumentation
5) ad hominem
6) re-hashed bulls*** arguments from William Lane Craig
Every single piece of garbage that comes forth from him falls into one of those logical fallacies. The funniest line for me ever was
I doubt that you will accept any of these lines of evidence, but there are lines of evidence, of debatable quality.
Of course we won’t accept them mike, because they aren’t lines of evidence! – you even know how garbage your “evidence” is which is why you even state they are “of debatable quality.”
Ken Ham, WLC, and Kent Hovind would be proud of you. Lying through your teeth for Jesus. Hallelujah!
Oh, and mike, no I would NOT be opposed to teaching ID and creation in science class as an example of total BS that is disproven. The same way I learned about Lamarckian inheritance, Haeckel’s embryos, the Piltdown man, and Aristotilean physics. Using examples of BAD SCIENCE is a great way to teach about good science. And that has been perfectly acceptable since I was a wee lad. What this bill does is allows for teachers to teach that stuff AS SCIENCE. BIG BIG BIG difference.
Evolution is “just at theory.” I want to vomit every time I hear that. Gravity is “just a theory” as well. The notion that bacteria and viruses cause illness is “just a theory.” You claim this high and mighty “I know so much philosophy and you are intellectually bankrupt” stance and yet you don’t even know what a “theory” actually is. And no, just because common descent is settled doesn’t mean we stop doing research in evolution. It means we stop debating whether common descent is valid. It is. It is done. Move on. And that is what evolutionary theory has done. The likes of you are left behind trying to decide what has already been decided. You claim you know the scientific method – please. You can’t even realize that a THEORY builds on its past successes and becomes more refined. ALL of evolutionary biology (and medicine) are based in the already proven assumption of common descent. But of course, you are so dense and so gleeful to lie for your religion none of that matters.
robm – I remember when I first got really fired up in the skeptic arguments. I was truly astonished that the likes of mike actually existed. It was like reading fairytales about monsters and trolls and suddenly realizing they really do exist! It truly boggles my mind that mike could actually believe one single word rattling around amongst the rocks in his head. But what I have come to learn is that he probably does – through such cognitive dissonance that it might actually rip a hole in the fabric of the cosmos, but he does.
I’m glad you realize you won’t educate the likes of mike. It took me a couple months of frustration to realize it myself, and then I realized it was a great opportunity to learn the arguments, learn the science, and help out fence sitters and the uneducated. I learned more about evolutionary biology debating these people in a year and a half than I did in most of my undergrad and that was an amazing experience. I elegance and nuance of evolutionary theory is so beatiful that I still get fired up when idiots like mike spout off gibberish about it. Much anything else these days doesn’t get me quite as riled up and so I leave it to aspiring young skeptics like you. Keep up the strong work!
It’s a fairly simple argument, and it is a logical deductive argument, and modern science has strengthened it, not weakened it.
“It’s a fairly simple argument, because it was made by an ancient thinker who didn’t know any better at the time, and modern science has destroyed that line of thinking, but I use it anyway since nothing modern can actually support the drivel I am claiming.”
“Mike12-I think you have good points to make.
I’m sorry if this next is off base, but it seems you have some anger associated with this subject and it clouds your arguments.
If you make the same arguments without the anger, I think they would be more clear. I hope you continue to bring your points.”
Thank you. I’ve thought a bit about how to engage these issues, and I believe that snark is appropriate in some circumstances. The notion that Christians must be milquetoast isn’t true.
The things that get my ire are:
1) Insults and arrogance directed against decent people. Mdcaton’s insulting assertions that the ‘creationists’ in Tennessee are ruining science education is offensive. Most of the good people are ‘creationists’, and a fair number of them are more decent and well-informed than anyone on this thread. If you’re going to call Christians anti-science or stupid, I’m going to call you out, and rudely. It’s what you deserve.
2) I hate censorship. Dover really pisses me off. A bunch of atheist brownshirts blackmailed a small school district for $2,000,000 and got an asshole federal judge to silence criticism of atheism’s creation myth based on… the first amendment (ya know, the one that guarantees freedom of speech).
If atheists don’t want their kids (the few they have) to question Darwin, I don’t give a shit. But when atheists tell me that my kids can’t question Darwin in my school funded with my taxes, it’s time for a fight.
I’m not the only one angry about this. If you look at the legislative votes on these academic freedom bills, it’s nearly unanimous in every state, Democrats and Republicans. There is a big backlash building.
If you are polite and ask sane questions, I’m the nicest guy you’ll meet. Insult my fellow Christians, or use force to censor me, and I fight.
sonic: If by “orthodoxy” you mean “the dominant views of the fields”, then, yes. My impression is that science teachers at the primary and secondary school levels are challenged enough just by trying to teach those to the kids.
But ID is not even a minority view in biology – it’s just a religious belief dressed up as biology, which would raise constitutional flags even if it weren’t a waste of valuable science classroom time.
A correction to myself: I meant to say that “Atheists (or, more technically, non-theistic agnostics) would dispute that theism (and Christianity, in particular) has sufficient or satisfactory explanatory power. “
“Aristotle made a simple observation: change in things in nature involves the actualization of potentiality in those things. He observed that actualization of potentialities must come from something that is actual, because potentialities by definition aren’t actual.”
Actualizing potential is a tautology, since a thing does what it can do, its looking at the present state of things and declaring it to be the reason for the past states, ie back asswards. This is completely different from potential energy since a force must already be acting on the object in question. Again you go on saying aristotle is a quantum physicist, particle wave duality is not about “actualizing potential” its about a particle being and acting like a wave, and vice versa.
>“Essential” means that all prior causes must continue to exist and act for the perpetuation of the series. A chain letter is an accidental series. A biochemical pathway consisting of enzymes is (generally) an essential series. If you throw away an old chain letter, the current chain can still continue. If you remove an enzyme from the Krebs cycle, the cycle stops. <
Mike, essential means essential to attain a purpose, so you've simply made an assumption that there must have been a first purpose and rationalizing what that would mean to us now from the prospect of that purpose having been (so you've assumed) achieved, success thus due to a linear series of directed and unbroken events from the time that first purpose was somehow enabled to proceed on its inevitable way.
Mike, you say you used to be an atheist, but you seem to have a profound misunderstanding about atheism.
I have rarely, if ever, met an atheist who has suggested they are absolutely certain there is no god. Most are well aware that all knowledge is provisional. So your suggestion that atheists do misunderstand faith is somewhat of a strawman.
For one, this is a bit of a semantic argument, you rely on the inherent vagueness of the definitions of belief/faith. Yes faith can be defined as you define it, but you seem to depend on this vagueness to construct a rather post-modernest argument in which you seem to suggest that all beliefs are equally valid because none can be held with 100% certainty.
I am an atheist, and interestingly enough I had the opposite experience to you. I was a Christian for years and became dissatisfied with the lack of logic and lack of answers to be found in my religion. I was also dissatisfied at its tendency to assume certainty on topics one could never be certain of.
I am well aware that all beliefs are provisional, one of the things I appreciate about atheism is that by and large atheists admit this, and are comfortable admitting we do not have all the answers. I can name quite a few atheists who have spoken about this if you require evidence of such.
However, while we may not be 100% certain of much, aside from logical tautologies perhaps, to suggest that all beliefs are inherently equal because of this is rather silly. As an atheist I merely reject a claim that has not been proven by those who make the claim.
The claim that if I step in front of a bus I will get injured is empirically verifiable, and to suggest that the belief of such is logically equivalent to the belief that a magic man created the universe has all the stink of post-modernest drivel.
I would openly admit that I cannot prove that a magic man did not create the universe, but that alone is not a sufficient reason to believe it happened.
P.S. the Aristotelian prime mover argument has a major logical problem you should already be aware of, but even without that problem the major issue is how does one go from this deist god of Aristotle to the god of the bible, that is a big gap I have never seen anyone cross. Care to elaborate on how you got from “something created the universe” to “Jesus is god?”
It seems there are real questions here (as I hoped my earlier examples made clear), but we get lost in discussions of religion and so forth.
I don’t care about your religion.
If you want to argue that something in science should not be questioned, then please don’t talk to me- I have nothing but questions.
Earlier I mentioned what I see as the failure of the ring species examples of evolution theory.
This is bothersome to me, as these examples are often touted as the best, most complete and inarguable examples. Karl- who is usually spot on with his references- used them, for example.
I agree that if the salamanders (for example) in the Washington to S. Cal. ring species could not mate when they came together in S. Cal, this would be proof beyond question.
But the salamanders in S. Cal. can and do mate.
What am I missing?
you do little to promote the Christian faith by calling people bastards, assholes, etc.
also, I would encourage you not to rely on the”permissiveness” of a logical argument to assuage the ongoing conflict between the heart of the mind and the mind of the world.
“in the world, but not of the world”.
Although theological and philosophical discussions are important, they never rise to justifying disdain for anyone, including atheists. Aren’t atheists to be loved and prayed for? That they too might experience that “profound religious experience?” that you were so fortunate to have?
What an admirable man was Thomas Aquinas.
“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”
We can’t legislate belief in the divine. And we absolutely MUST use worldly reason and evidence in our science classrooms. The implications of scientific knowledge can be debated in the social sciences and philosophy classrooms. Just as our constitution is built on reason for the rights of man and the peace of our society, and is made to change and develop by righteous and faithful men like Martin Luther King, Jr..
I feel as though your original complaint had to do with the omission of ID from the evolution curriculum. I personally think that certain tenets of ID should be discussed as they were raised as qualifiers of natural selection – BUT – it is my understanding that irreducible complexity and specified complexity (the most credible tenets IMHO) must by definition become philosophical arguments. (how do you define complexity? It becomes a matter of qualification itself, and outside the natural evidence – moving it to another classroom, or to a special chapter inside the evolution discussion – which I personally think is a good place for it: to help set human context for evolution)
You support an unadulterated quest for truth and knowledge. You’re irritated because it seems that many atheists simply stop seeking once they have something that allows them to kill God, even if there are still unanswered questions. I submit that “never the twain shall meet.” Argue the scientific facts – which are treasured by reasonable men, atheist and worshipper alike. And argue the law, as it’s written (I say this for the benefit of atheists who may read this as well – don’t read INTO the law – the law “is” only as it is enforced and adjudicated by the courts) There can be no refutation in anything of this world for the ultimate works of God. Christians should not, by bringing God into science, themselves kill the expansion of material knowledge (which they can see as learning about God, after all, if he is its “creator”)
Evolution doesn’t do away with God any more than ID brings God “back”.
For atheists and Mike12: even though ID may be a ruse for creationism, there are religious scholars, like Rabbi Natan Slifkin and Kenneth miller, who do not support ID taught in the classroom because “[T]he struggles of the Intelligent Design movement are best understood as clamorous and disappointing double failures—rejected by science because they do not fit the facts, and having failed religion because they think too little of God.”
It’s unfortunate that lots of taxpayer money was awarded to the victorious plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. Pro- and anti-evolution citizens alike are punished in that way.
i think it’s legitimate to continue to try to define “intelligence”, and look for a way to decide whether or how much of it exists in the universe (something about this strikes me as funny), but unless and until we can have some sort of measurable evidence – intelligence is only a theory!
PS – Mike12, I don’t understand the examples of accidental vs. essential cause. Isn’t grandpa essential for grandkid in the same way that brain enzyme is essential for nail strike? neither one happens without the pre-existence (but not necessarily continuing) existence of the other. They are both seperated by time, although one is a longer amount of time. Are there some other examples of “accidental” to help me understand? thanks
sonic, by all means, raise questions about evolution. You don’t need a law in order to do so.
Besides, as far as I know, neither of us are experts in the relevant field(s) of biology, so our having questions is unsurprising.
What’s more, the science teachers in the public schools aren’t experts, either (although I hope that they are better informed of the subject than the average lay person). We can allow politicians to dictate to them that they teach the “scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught”, but then that only begs the question of who is qualified to determine what those weaknesses are. If the answer is (as I believe it ought to be): the experts in the relevant field(s) of biology, then we’re back to Steve’s objection that evolution (via natural selection) “is not controversial within the scientific community, the overwhelming majority of whom accept evolution as a scientific fact”, so any “weaknesses” that are actually taught are bound to strike the bill’s creationist proponents as, well, weak.
That said, perhaps a victory for them would be little more than symbolic.
whats missing is the nuance that species is a rather tricky concept to create a concrete and clearly defined definition for infact there are multiptle species concepts , the wikipedia ring species article links to the species problem article:
I just want to add that Rabbi Natan Slifkin books have been banned within his own community (i.e. by haredi Jews, of which I am a former member, btw).
I’ll also add that, while I’ve not read Slifkin’s books in particular, I’m familiar with Orthodox Jewish views to evolution, and what normally happens in these attempts to harmonize Torah with science (a.k.a. Torah u’Madda), the more the writer embraces modern science, the more he has to read messages into the Torah that defy its plain meaning.
In other words, they face the choice of offending modern biblical scholars (like Richard Elliot Friedman) or offending modern biologists and cosmologists.
Yes, I am well aware of the species problem. I guess I would consider that problem indicative of a weakness in a theory that purports to explain the ‘origin of species’, but that is not my main point.
Clearly it is true that if two life forms can’t mate (a horse and a horseradish, for example) these are different species.
When Mayr discussed looking for ways to demonstrate evolution he purposed the ring species as a means of doing so.
He felt this phenomena would be ubiquitous- as the theory more or less demands it should be- and that the creatures at the ends of the rings would not be able to mate.
He found 19 such examples- the salamanders I mentioned earlier being the best known and most explicit example.
But in no case is it true that the creatures can’t mate upon reconnecting. The salamanders do mate–
But this is contrary to what the theory predicts.
When a theory predicts a phenomena and upon inspection that phenomena can’t be found, that is generally considered a weakness in the theory- no?
sonic: the salamanders example is not contrary to the theory. It is simply an example of how complex the issue of evolution is and exactly why creationists can’t grapple with it. Take a look at the Asiatic Warblers:
“‘Ring species’ occur when one species grades into two at the overlap of a circular population distribution. Good examples are rare, but one case has now passed some rigorous tests.”
But that is not the point. The point is that a theory encompasses many lines of evidence converging on a testable, verifiable, and falsifiable hypothesis – not a “guess” as the likes of mike would try and claim. There is no one “silver bullet” that succinctly, completely, and adequately “proves” evolutionary theory. You must integrate things like molecular biology, genetics, ecology, paleontology, and real life examples like ring species to be able to say that common descent is de facto the only legitimate explanation for the diversity of species on this planet. The fact that it is hard to find a “perfect” example of a ring species does not weaken evolutionary theory – it strengthens it because the very nature of speciation and the definitions thereof are a requirement of the theory.
If you want to argue that something in science should not be questioned, then please don’t talk to me- I have nothing but questions.
Science should always be questioned. That is how it works. The very nature of faith and religion is not to question, not to update, and to ignore contradictory evidence. Hence why certain idealogues here keep pushing millennia old ideas as valid “evidence” for back asswards ideas.
But another tenet of scientific progress is to utilize established empirical knowledge – not to willy nilly question something but to question it intelligently. Something plainly lacking in mike’s discourse. Metaphysical BS to try and claim that evolution is “just a theory” is complete and utter nonsense.
but then that only begs the question of who is qualified to determine what those weaknesses are. If the answer is (as I believe it ought to be): the experts in the relevant field(s) of biology, then we’re back to Steve’s objection that evolution (via natural selection) “is not controversial within the scientific community, the overwhelming majority of whom accept evolution as a scientific fact”, so any “weaknesses” that are actually taught are bound to strike the bill’s creationist proponents as, well, weak.
Exactly the point. There doesn’t need to be a law protecting doing something that is already inherently done. You aren’t taught evolution as “Darwinism” or by dogma. You are taught that Darwin started the notion of common descent, you are taught how to contrast that with Lamarckian theory, you are taught how Mendelian genetics were added to Darwinian theory to make it more robust and complete. Teaching creationism as anything but another failed attempt at describing the diversity of life is the antithesis of science. Period.
And no, mike. If I thought Christians were milquetoast I wouldn’t care at all. The fact is that you are a loud, large, and stupid group that can actually get your inane anti-scientific ideas passed as laws and indoctrinated into children who can’t know better. That is why I will fight dogmatists like you tooth and nail every day.
Insults and arrogance directed against decent people. Mdcaton’s insulting assertions that the ‘creationists’ in Tennessee are ruining science education is offensive. Most of the good people are ‘creationists’, and a fair number of them are more decent and well-informed than anyone on this thread. If you’re going to call Christians anti-science or stupid, I’m going to call you out, and rudely. It’s what you deserve.
Ah yes. That old canard. “Newton was a christian and he contributed mightily to scientific understanding. So was Maxwell. And so was…”
“Most good people are creationists…” NO. Most people are indoctrinated in religion and thus are creationists and also happen to be good. And just because someone is “good” in one aspect of their lives does NOT make them right or “good” in another. I may become the best doctor in the world but I would never be so arrogant as to say that I would also be the best lawyer. A christian may be a great parent, a good member of their community, a caring individual, and the best CPA in their town. That in now way, shape, or manner informs their outlook on creationism vs evolution. Yet another one of the logical fallacies rife in religious ideology.
And I will call Christians anti-science and stupid. As a collective, that is the basis of the political and legal tack they take. On an individual basis there are many exceptions and I have many good Christian friends. But the obvious ethos of any religion, not just Christianity, is intentionally anti-scientific and pandering to the stupidest and least informed members of society.
So go ahead and bring it mike. Because you and your ilk are nothing more than a loud, blustering, crowd of loons with metaphysical legs of BS to stand on. Which is why you can’t argue the science and instead invoke the “persecuted christian” mentality, use metaphysical nonsense, and ancient arguments that have been repeated and destroyed so many times it makes zombies look like milquetoast in comparison.
But as a group, you are most certainly not milquetoast. The problem is that your ilk starts with “majority rule” and leaves out the “minority rights” and adds a heaping helping of “teach my doctrine in lieu of science.”
Keep rambling. I’ll let robm handle the science and I’ll gladly keep calling you out as a sickening liar and purveyor of scum and ideology.
Thank-you for the reply.
I have read about the warblers. While it is true they have not been observed mating at the ends, the researchers didn’t spend much time looking (I read the original report sometime ago– your link is to 2001, I haven’t seen anything newer). I would agree that this is a possible example, but given the history I remain skeptical until a longer observation is made. Given where these things live and how long it took to notice the salamanders doing the deed, I’m not holding my breath. Further, I’m think that just because the songs are different, if it was the last bird on Earth…
(I don’t blame the researchers for not wanting to spend numerous years in the part of the world where these warblers live- I can’t imagine living in horrible conditions watching to see if two birds ever engage in sexual activity–my tendency to voyeurism apparently does have some bounds– but I’m not a biology researcher, either.)
I can’t help but think they are trying to fit a square peg (tree of life- common descent) into a round hole (the actual DNA evidence.)
Clearly the TOL is not evident from the actual evidence. Perhaps that’s because the TOL isn’t really a truth.
Perhaps Woese and Ventor are correct– life has had many beginnings.
Being as I have no idea how life could come from non-life, I would happily admit my ignorance is profound on this issue.
Anyway- I hope teachers are allowed to speak freely.
“1) Insults and arrogance directed against decent people. Mdcaton’s insulting assertions that the ‘creationists’ in Tennessee are ruining science education is offensive. Most of the good people are ‘creationists’, and a fair number of them are more decent and well-informed than anyone on this thread. If you’re going to call Christians anti-science or stupid, I’m going to call you out, and rudely. It’s what you deserve.”
I don’t personally care what you think I do or do not deserve, but if someone says that the earth is only 6,000 years old then I don’t know how one can say they are not Luddite in some way, I don’t care what religion they subscribe to. Sure, plenty of Christians are decent people, plenty of Atheists are too, none of that has any relevance to evolutionary theory or whether or not a god exists.
I am confused why someone who claims to be rational on this topic is bringing up such a non-sequitur.
“2) I hate censorship. Dover really pisses me off. A bunch of atheist brownshirts blackmailed a small school district for $2,000,000 and got an asshole federal judge to silence criticism of atheism’s creation myth based on… the first amendment (ya know, the one that guarantees freedom of speech).”
I ridiculous characterization of the Dover trial. Have you actually read ANYTHING about the trial? I have. Did you know that “asshole federal judge” was a bush appointed conservative?
The ID science books had just pasted over the word “creationism” with the phrase “intelligent design” from a 10 year old creationist science book?
Secondly, evolution is not a creation myth for atheism, that is such a stupid assertion that my brain hurts just reading it, even if evolution was proven wrong tomorrow I wouldn’t automatically become a Christian or join any other religion for that mater, and I seriously doubt that anyone has ever became an atheist based merely upon a study of evolution.
What about the large number of Christians out there who believe in evolution? Kenneth R. Miller the biologist comes to mind. You set up a false dichotomy trying to make it sound like there is some shadowy conspiracy of scientists propping up a clearly false theory to undermine your religion.
It stinks of rank conspiracy theory. Why don’t you tell us about area 51 and how aliens built the pyramids too? How you manage to feel persecuted as a Christian in a country full of Christians is beyond me. Tell us again how hard you have it now that You only have most of the power instead of all of it.
“If atheists don’t want their kids (the few they have) to question Darwin, I don’t give a shit. But when atheists tell me that my kids can’t question Darwin in my school funded with my taxes, it’s time for a fight.”
wow, are you really suggesting that atheists have fewer kids or something? I’m not really sure, but I personally don’t care who questions Darwin, he was actually wrong about a few things, unsurprising since they hadn’t even discovered DNA yet.
You’re kids can ask any questions they want, no one at the Dover trial ever said otherwise, they simply said that the TEACHERS could not teach religion in the science classroom. I am really doubting you know anything about the Dover trial, or how church state separation works?
“I’m not the only one angry about this. If you look at the legislative votes on these academic freedom bills, it’s nearly unanimous in every state, Democrats and Republicans. There is a big backlash building.”
So there is a big backlash building because some of us have the gall to suggest the constitution be defended? Because we refuse to let you use the legal system to shove your religion on everyone else? Politicians, both, Democrats and Republicans both have a tendency to be morons when it comes to science so no surprise there.
“If you are polite and ask sane questions, I’m the nicest guy you’ll meet. Insult my fellow Christians, or use force to censor me, and I fight.”
Really, you are nice guy? You don’t seem like it here, you seem insulting, judg