In a recent post, I talked about Richard Dawkins’ discussion in his Delusion about why children gravitate towards fantasy and myth, etc, and alluded to GK Chesterton’s arguments about the ‘thought that ends all thought.’ This sentiment emerges in Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy in a chapter appropriately called The Suicide of Thought. The previous post was …
if one applies a higher standard of inquiry against claims that they might deem extraordinary, then claims they find to be ordinary will ordinarily be accepted- without demonstration at all. Here again we see skepticism turned on its head: the skeptic is not skeptical about the things he is prepared already to believe. It is only the things he deems unlikely that he is skeptical about- God alone knows how the skeptic determined something was ‘unlikely.’
It is a fact of human nature, I think, to quickly accept things that one is already prepared to accept. If I am told tomorrow that some Democrat in high office has failed to pay his taxes- again- I will pretty much accept it as a fact because I have become accustomed to Democrats doing such things (eg here, here, here, and here). We should expect nothing less from the people who believe that we should all pay higher taxes; by ‘we all’ it is known they mean us all. I am prepared to believe it as a pretty ordinary claim in the realm of things and therefore will demand very little evidence to support it. So you see, I am not exempting myself from this human tendency.
This ministry hosts a regular online round table discussing matters of substance and controversy. Christians and NonChristians are invited but it is not necessarily an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ debate. Past topics have included matters of controversy only amongst Christians and due to the flexibility of the discussion, topics can change on a dime. The next …
Over the last three hundred years unbounded skepticism has been applied to religion and Christianity especially. Atheist philosopher David Hume was one of the prominent voices calling for stringent criteria in evaluating miracle claims, and the like. Not everyone thought very highly of this criteria. One such person was the Reverend Richard Whately, who skewers Hume’s reasoning by showing how if it were applied consistently, one could not be reasonably certain that Napoleon existed- a public figure that was said to be alive and roaming Europe even as he spoke!
This playful little book is not a treatise by any means, but it provides a glimpse into the conversations of the 1800s and challenges the ‘enlightened’ skeptics to decide: If they won’t apply their principles thoroughly and consistently, but choose only to apply them to certain claims (and how did they choose which ones?), are those principles worth their salt?
I think it goes to my larger point. Story moves. Yes, Story can move more than evidence. And yet even if that is the case, nowhere do I suggest that I think that is good! Indeed, this whole event illustrates just how unfortunate it can be when evidence is divorced from Story. Oh yes, there is a Story here. There is a Narrative. This Narrative is one that Myers and his many fans are drenched in, so much so none of them actually need evidence to know that me and my stories are [fill in your favorite pejoratives here]. The Narrative fills in the gap. It is the skeptical storyline: Christians, dumb. Christians, blind faith. Skeptics, geniuses. Skeptics, reason and evidence. Nothing more needs to be said because everyone is already agreed on how the story ends, anyway. The ‘evidence’ ends up being just a ‘literary’ flourish that adds little to the accepted Narrative.
This Narrative appears to be driving Dave’s response, though to his credit, he is exceptionally mild and measured compared to many of the other responses I observed.
Atheists have a problem. Ok, they have lots of problems. 🙂 But this one is a big one: how to explain morality. Now, for some reason atheists remained confused on some basic aspects of the issue. It is common to hear from their camp something to the effect, “We do not need God to be …
I have been involved in apologetics for more than fifteen years, coming in almost literally the moment after Al Gore invented the Internet. The following represents some conclusions I’ve drawn during this time. To be clear, when I say the ‘Five Greatest Challenges to Christianity’ I do not mean it as, ‘here are five great challenges among others.’ What I mean is, THESE. ARE. THE. FIVE. GREATEST. CHALLENGES. I do not suggest that they are all that new. I do propose, however, that apologetics has no answer to them. Is that a surrender by a Christian apologist? Let’s find out.
From US Congressional Committee Report: INTOLERANCE AND THE POLITICIZATION OF SCIENCE AT THE SMITHSONIAN (full report):
In a series of emails on August 30, Dr. Ferrari and Dr. Sues discussed the Smithsonian’s procedures for hiring and firing a Research Associate and how Dr. Sternberg was approved for his RA position. Sues lamented that “The Sternberg situation could not have been prevented by senior management because his CV looks credible and does not reveal his interactions with the creationist movement.”44 Dr. Sues seemed to be suggesting that if Sternberg’s supposed interactions with the “creationist movement” were known, he would not have been approved as an RA, and the “situation” would have been prevented. [More…]
Dr. Ferrari’s comments also suggested a very real bias in the selection process: “I wonder, however, if we might consider a more open process of vetting nominees? For example, while a post doc here Sternberg was listed in an advertisement in the NY Times as a scientist at the Smithsonian Institution who did not believe in evolution. I saw that page and certainly would have spoken up had I known he was a prospective research associate.”45 Ferrari seemed to be suggesting that questioning evolution would disqualify a candidate for a position.
The Internet is abuzz with the revelations that global warming proponents have been… lying, hiding data, and deceiving. The whole notion that ‘climate change’ is an emergency requiring drastic and immediate action now hangs in the balance. I was reminded of a post I wrote last year responding to a global warming skeptic comparing the global warming proponents to creationists. I said that in fact it was the other way around. Today, with ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ in particular being smacked around, it is good to revisit the issue.
Because the raw fact is that the ‘science’ behind global warming is just as shady as the ‘science’ behind macroevolution. Just as we see in this current case where scientists worked not merely to suppress data but also suppress viewpoints, trying to manipulate the peer review process to exclude dissenters and refusing to debate them in order to deprive them of credibility, so too in evolution.
This was exposed by Ben Stein’s Expelled, which I already discussed here.
But there are even more dramatic similarities between the ‘science’ behind evolutionary theory and global warming. It is my hope that when people see how reputable scientists tried to buffalo the entire world, hiding behind ‘consensus,’ and ridiculing those who think other wise- regarding global warming- that they will spot the same patterns of behavior regarding evolution… and approach it with more skepticism.
I have already addressed this in several places- here, and here- so I won’t dwell on things much. Instead, I want to reflect on an article I just read regarding the Vatican participating in an astrobiology conference to discuss the question.
In my previous posts, I argued that if aliens appeared, they might fly in the face of current expectations that are drenched in an evolutionary (and atheistic) outlook. Namely, we may find that these intelligent agents believe in God. They may not, as Richard Dawkins smugly posits, inquire first as to whether not humans have ‘discovered’ evolution. Let us allow that it is a possibility… but they may also possibly have a concept of God and creation that is identical, in theological principle, to what we see in the Christian Scriptures. Naturally, they may have a belief system identical to other systems.
My point is that they may deviate a great deal from the common narrative of aliens either being hostile consumers of resources or super-intelligent, highly technological and benevolent agents that have transcended petty human foibles and myths. In this narrative, both sides assume not just evolution but atheistic presuppositions.
So ABC’s “V” was on again tonight. I enjoyed it. It lacked the same punch as the first episode but I still liked it. It seems a little hurried to me. Maybe there are too many commercials? I’ve seen other hour long shows that seemed to really carry a narrative so I know its possible. I can’t put my finger on it with “V” but it isn’t enough (yet) to push me away from future viewings.
In my previous post, I hoped that I would see some metaphysical conversation. Perhaps its too early in the series, but there wasn’t much in that regards. Ie, unlike the first episode, this one seemed to lack substance. It still got me thinking anyway. I will now outline some of those thoughts.
The visual effects are far superior to the previous incarnation of the series. Indeed, far superior to any show from the 80’s and earlier. The miracle of CGI!
But isn’t it interesting that we are able to recognize that just because the space ships we see hovering over American cities in this show, despite their incredible life like detail, are fictional? This uncanny ability (most) people have is interesting given our “Seeing is believing” society. There is a great deal on television, movie, and computer screens that appears to be absolutely real. Yet, we know it isn’t.
Here is a short story I wrote inspired by the comments in this thread on PZ Myer’s blog. Enjoy!
Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Knowledge
“I got here as fast as I could!” gasped the old man. He put one hand on the hood of the squad car and bent over as he tried to catch his breath.
The annoyed chief stared at the man waiting for him to explain who he was because the chief didn’t recognize him at all. At last, the balding and sweating gentlemen stood erect and stared back at the chief expecting some word of thanks or gratitude from him. But the chief was silent.
“Well, don’t you want my help?” the old man snapped.
“I don’t know who you are,” the chief grumped back.
“Don’t you know who you’ve got up there?” the old man gestured in the direction of the top of a seven story building that was the object of all the attention.
The chief shrugged, irritated, “Two people threatening to jump?”
The old man scowled.
“This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, chief,” said a police officer standing nearby.
“What? Just tell me already!” the chief cried out, slapping his hand on the hood of the car.
“That’s Adam and Eve,” the old man snarled, “and I’m Dr. Stein Franken.”
This story is a perfect illustration of scientism and its dangers to our society. The idea that something is intrinsically morally correct by virtue of being ‘scientific’ is a non sequitur, certainly, but nonetheless coming to be quite common. Science gave us the atom bomb, too, but it is self-evident that the decision to use it should be political. But can the decision to use it ever be scientific? (The movie IRobot comes to mind, here).
Is there any way to get from an observation of reality or increase in technology to “And you ought…” ?
Of course not. In short, just because the morning after pill is effective and it is only ‘unlikely’ to have the result that conservatives fear, it doesn’t follow that it should be used at all, or that it should be made available to people who are not yet legal adults. Cars are effective, too, but that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be in the loop as to whether or not their underage children should be allowed to drive them.
In light of what I have said above it may come as a surprise that I have a very high view of science. But it’s true. I believe that you need the right tool for the job and in many cases that tool is empirical scrutiny. But other jobs require other tools and no hemming and hawwing will change that. For some jobs a hammer, for others a screwdriver and others, pliers. You may have found that sometimes one gets lucky- a screwdriver is best for screws but at last resort a hammer did the trick. But try changing your lightbulb with a hammer and tell me how that goes. 😉
Let the hammer pound nails and the screwdriver drive screws and air compressor pump up the tire: the right tool for the job, and be wary of anyone who insists on using just one tool for all jobs, and watch out especially if they don’t want anyone looking over their shoulder while they are ‘at work’ and even berate you for suggesting other approaches.