Drowning Hippasus:
Reductionism and Religiously-Based Explanations

Neocalvinism — By on November 7, 2005 at 4:07 am

[Note: This is the third post in a discussion on the role of religious beliefs in theory-making. The other two can be found here and here.]
In ancient Greece a religious controversy once broke out over the square root of two. The Pythagoreans, a Hellenic organization of thinkers who believed that all things were essentially reducible to numbers, had an irrational aversion to irrational numbers. Because they believed that numbers represented a realm of invisible mathematical entities upon which the visible world depended, the Pythagoreans insisted that there could be no genuinely irrational numbers and attempted to keep such knowledge a secret. Legend has it that Hippasus of Metapontum, a disciple of Pythagoras, was at sea when he discovered that the square root of 2 is irrational. His fellow Pythagoreans, outraged by the finding, threw him overboard.
Today, of course, we are more enlightened and rarely drown mathematicians who disagree with a theory (instead he ‘



  • http://blog.burtonia.com Jeff Burton

    Joe, do you have any specific examples of Christians applying such correction?

  • Darrell DeLaney

    Ok, I think I follow the argument a little better now. The example of the Greeks with irrational numbers is a good example of how a worldview makes people more or less predisposed to accepting or rejecting a theory. But where I still have a problem with the argument is that no matter the predisposition, ideas in the arena of math and science can still be proven or disproven through logic and evidence, showing an objective right or wrong no matter how one feels about it.
    I

  • Meph

    Joe,
    Just wondering. What are your thoughts on process theism? Would process theism not fit the bill (making a way for naturalism, yet forming a ground for some of our basic “hardcore common-sense beliefs” about reality?
    Why does it have to be specificaly orthodox CHRISTIAN belief that provides such grounding for fully adequate thinking? Again, just wondering.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    As generally useful as it might be, though, common grace can only carry us so far. Whereas the Christian believes that all aspects of reality* (physical, social, biological, spatial, physical, etc.,) are dependent upon God

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Examine any theory from the social or natural sciences that were later discredited and you will find a common thread: they all reduce at least one aspect of reality to another and treat one aspect as primary. The problem with this, as philosopher Roy Clouser notes, is that it assigns some part of creation the role of lawgiver to creation. Because the non-theists denies a role for a self-existent creator and sustainer, they must invoke some aspect of creation to perform those essential functions.
    OK, I thought we were going to get specifics but I guess we won’t. Can you show me using an example how the above is true? Let’s use as a discredited theory ether that Einstein blew out of the water. As a comparision can you show me how the above is NOT true of a theory that has not been discredited such as Relativity.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Meanwhile, and evidently on-topic, the Vatican has again come down on the side of Darwin, and evidently against “biblical literalism.”
    There’s grist for the mill…

  • Paul

    All:
    I have neither the time nor the energy to keep up with the posts & comments over here. (Over 100 comments on the other post!)
    But…
    A lot of Christian philosophy is published in Christian journals, and is hard to locate. But for those of you at uni, with an interest in maths & logic, you may like to check out the application of a non-reductionist Christian philosophy in DFM Strauss’s article *The Ontological Status of the Principle of the Excluded Middle* in the mainstream journal *Philosophia Mathematica (II)* 1991, vol 6, pp. 73-90.
    Dooyeweerd’s philosophy, especially his ontology, is very sophisticated, and one cannot do it justice with a few blog posts (as I’m sure Joe will admit).
    - Paul
    PS. I happen to have in front of me another article in a mainstream journal which some of you guys can look up: Uko Zylstra, *Living Things as Hierarchically Organised Structures*, *Synthese*, 1992, vol 91, pp. 111-133. This outlines Dooyeweerd’s theory of enkaptic relationships (a central element of his non-reductionist ontology).

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (Gryph)

    Yet for the most part, such presuppositional beliefs remain unexamined even among Christians. Although we should know better, we too often fail to understand the guiding role that religious beliefs and other presuppositions have on theory-making.

    This can be a moral failure as well. It’s one of willful ignorance. Those who did not actively support the removal of segregation laws and customs were not simply neutral on the subject, although they may have thought of themselves in that way. They failed to consider even the most remote possiblilty that everything they thought was true, was in fact wrong. They treated the idea of “thats just the way things are, and have always been”, as a fact, not an opinion. This is why I think people of faith who have doubts are much more virtuous in character than those without any doubt at all. They are willing to walk into their own Garden of Gethsemene. Most people pass it by unwilling to take the chance.

  • Larry Lord

    For all serious thinkers and honest Christians and non-Christians alike, the closing arguments from the plaintiffs’ attorney in the Dover case is a must-read:
    http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/ClosingArgument.pdf
    The cult of Johnsonite Christianity is dying — like a vampire, when exposed to the light it quickly fades away.
    Rest in peace.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Mumon,
    Thanks for the link to the Vatican story. Many evangelicals (I count myself among them) find Catholic perspectives on issues like this helpful. It’s a bit overstated, though, to say “the Vatican has again come down on the side of Darwin.” Note what else Cardinal Poupard said:

    We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link. . . .”

    Also, you need to put the Cardinal’s comments in context. They aren’t “official” Vatican teaching in the sense of being binding or authoritative on all Catholics; they were made in the context of a conference on faith and science. All practicing Catholics in some sense believe in “intelligent design,” as the doctrine of creation is central to Catholic teaching. Some Catholics also are proponents of the empirical project we call “Intelligent Design” here in the U.S., while others aren’t. And, certainly, the Catholic church generally seems to have less trouble living with ambiguities between the Biblical text and observations from natural history than does much of the American evangelical movement. In that regard, we American evangelicals can do well to learn from the Catholic church.

  • Larry Lord

    We have the freedom to produce robust and coherent theories about the natural realm because we are not forced to square circles.
    Is “I don’t understand therefore God did it” an example of a “robust and coherent theory about the natural realm” ?
    I assume so. Otherwise, I have no idea what this “square circle” business is alluding to.
    You want square circles?
    Go find Mr. Bonsell and Mr. Buckingham from the Dover School Board. They can tell you all about how “intelligent design” and creationism are the same thing when the room is full of sympathetic evangelicals, but totally different things when someone from ACLU is present.
    That’s an extremely odd way to discuss a “scientific theory” isn’t it?
    Almost everyone thinks so. I am quite certain that Judge Jones thinks so.
    Do you Justice John Roberts thinks so?
    I do. He’s a smart man.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    All practicing Catholics in some sense believe in “intelligent design,” as the doctrine of creation is central to Catholic teaching
    We should be careful to respect the property rights of those who have successfully laid claim to words and phrases. I wouldn’t start a ‘gay rights group’ to defend the rights of happy people, for example. Catholics believe that the universe was made per the wishes of God and that God is intelligent. The image created by the Intelligent Design movement, though, of the nerdy God constantly tweaking DNA every couple of years trying to get the right ‘design’ is not Catholic doctrine…although I don’t think it would violate Catholic doctrine.
    Often where disputes erupt is the notion of ‘blind chance’ & evolution. The evolution of life on earth was directed by ‘blind chance’ just as everything else is. It is, after all, only by ‘blind chance’ that a rock didn’t fall out of space and crush you a moment before you read the end of this sentence!
    Taking religious doctrine seriously, though, if one accepts chance anywhere then you have to reconcile it to God. If you believe blind chance and not God decides what tonights lottery numbers are then you must reconcile that belief to God as surely as if you believe that chance resulted in something as grand as life on earth or a model human being like Joe.
    Now I’m sorry to be a pain but I think Joe should provide us with practical examples of what he is talking about. What exactly would a ‘Christian thought’ based scientific research project look like? Again I ask is this just a request for more Christians in academic philosophy programs?

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Boonton,
    Catholic teaching, like all Christian teaching, rejects the proposition that “blind chance” is responsible for life. As the Catholic church’s statements indicate, there is room within Catholic teaching for belief in natural selection as the mechanism by which God created. As you’ve further noted, there is room within Catholic teaching for the view that God used natural selection without ad hoc intervention. We could call this “chance” in the sense that we don’t have a statistical correlation between this activity and any discernible outside agency. However, in the Catholic or any Christian theistic evolution perspective, you can’t call it “blind chance” in the sense of being utterly purposeless and undirected.

  • http://http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Catholic teaching, like all Christian teaching, rejects the proposition that “blind chance” is responsible for life.
    Not really; it’s more nuanced than that: Catholic teaching doesn’t discard necessarily the use of probabalistic mechanisms in the creation of life.
    “God does indeed play dice,” as a quantum mechanic whom I met lectured recently.
    What folks often don’t understand is that there is structure in stochastic phenomenon (as I’ve said here and on my blog til I’m blue in the face).
    However, in the Catholic or any Christian theistic evolution perspective, you can’t call it “blind chance” in the sense of being utterly purposeless and undirected.
    Ummm… so – and maybe this can help Joe Carter answer Boonton…what’s the “purpose” of a black hole? Or the width of the human pelvis…

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    What exactly would a ‘Christian thought’ based scientific research project look like?
    I’m having some trouble with this too. Christians might draw some different conclusions from some data than non-theists based on our differing a priori commitments. We might also sometimes engage in a research project with some different motivations, ideally because we believe learning about creation inherently glorifies God and benefits others. But at least in the area of basic research, our methods of empirical observation and verification aren’t likely to differ. We would in fact say that those methods derive from the rational and perceptive faculties God gives, in greater or lesser measure, to everyone.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Mumon,
    What folks often don’t understand is that there is structure in stochastic phenomenon (as I’ve said here and on my blog til I’m blue in the face).
    True. I’m not suggesting Catholic teaching or any other Christian teaching says there’s no such thing as statistical randomness. The presence of structure in stochastic phenomena is quite interesting from a theistic perspective. There is order even to that which to us appears random. To me, that suggests our perception of randomness is due to the limitations of our perception rather than to an absence of any guiding intelligence.
    Ummm… so – and maybe this can help Joe Carter answer Boonton…what’s the “purpose” of a black hole? Or the width of the human pelvis…
    We’re using “purpose” diffently. In terms of nature, black holes are necessary, for example, to the formation and structure of galaxies, and the anthropic principle demonstrates that the nature and structure of our galaxy is essential to support life as we know it, so there’s some clear purposes there. As to the width of a human pelvis, it would be pretty difficult to have sex and reproduce, not to mention stand, sit and walk around, if it were significantly bigger or smaller. None of this in itself explains exactly why the universe and life was created and/or evolved just as they did, but as far as they go, these observations are consistent with a theistic view as well as a strictly materialistic evolutionary view.
    When I mentioned “purpose,” however, I was referring to a telos — a metaphysical purpose towards which the universe is directed. Catholic teaching, and all Christian teaching, hold that there is a telos to creation, and that it did not in that sense arise through strictly “random” processes.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    dopderbeck :
    Thanks for the thoughtful answer; it’s refreshing after Soup, even if we still disagree.
    The thing about the human pelvis is that its dimensions make birth difficult. It’s not clear that its dimensions make the best tradeoff to support human life.
    The thing about black holes is more subtle; of course they can exist without galaxies.
    But – you get to the nub of what will be my response when you say “anthropic principle,” which is to say that the laws of physics can indeed be constructed differently – and with string theory hypotheses currently being bandied about, such things might just be “existable.”
    And many of these – a continuua of them, in fact- would support intelligent life.
    (By they way, why not the “dolphinic principle?”)

  • The Raven

    Joe: One of the last contributions made by Stephen Jay Gould was his notion of science and religion occupying discrete segments of “non-overlapping magesteria.” That is, what we acscribe to science – the known, the perceivable, the physical, the mathematical – are forevery and always the realm of reason.
    Ideas like heaven, the soul, and gods (to be inclusive), are the subject of religion. You, as an evangelical Christian, are free to pontificate upon religious concepts, and you can cite passages from an ancient book, speculate on matters pertaining to “why we are here,” and so forth, and in your discrete realm are free to opine on such matters. This is your sphere of operations.
    In areas such as mathematics, wherein Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and atheist mathematicians compare theories and calculations, the participants can and do perform operations that produce identical results regardless of their ideologies.
    As to what numbers mean, you’re in your magesterial camp, but as to what numbers do, religion plays no role. This distinction carries over into other academic fields, and the barrier of authority ought to be considered an inviolate wall. You must check your private beliefs at the door, as it were, before you can communicate with other members of the human race upon scientific matters, and likewise those who do share your particular religious views must set aside their views before engaging you upon subjects germane to Christianity.
    The field of discussion is clear and unambiguous when demarcated in this fashion, and while Gould sustained a great deal of criticism for his theory (as he expressed it), his overarching description of the nature of the engagement is remarkably sound.
    Larry Lord: Thanks for that link to the Dover summation. Fascinating reading and very much to the point.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Raven,
    That is, what we acscribe to science – the known, the perceivable, the physical, the mathematical – are forevery and always the realm of reason. Ideas like heaven, the soul, and gods (to be inclusive), are the subject of religion. You, as an evangelical Christian, are free to pontificate upon religious concepts, and you can cite passages from an ancient book, speculate on matters pertaining to “why we are here,” and so forth, and in your discrete realm are free to opine on such matters. This is your sphere of operations.
    So you “reasonable” folks get a corner on all objective knowledge? Sorry, but no. It’s one thing to say there are metaphysical claims that what we define (arbitrarily) as the scientific method can’t adequately assess. It’s quite another to say that only knowledge reached through application of the scientific method counts as meaningful knowledge. For me, this is the nub of the issue, more so than whether Intelligent Design theories meet Popper’s falsifiability criterion. We shouldn’t deify our present scientific method any more than we should demonize it.
    Thanks for that link to the Dover summation. Fascinating reading and very much to the point.
    Actually the plaintiff’s summation in the Dover case has little to do with the point of the present discussion. That summation is all about whether ID is a “religious” viewpoint within the meaning of the first amendment. That’s an interesting question in its own right, and certainly the plaintiff’s attorney did a brilliant job of lawyering in his summation. He effectively invoked the “the other side are all liars” angle, which is one of the oldest lawyering trial tricks in the book. But really, the narrow issue of how ID fares under the first amendment has nothing to do with what a specifically Christian research program would look like.

  • The Raven

    So you “reasonable” folks get a corner on all objective knowledge?
    Yes. That’s exactly right. Because reason is always subject to analysis and proof. If anything I say is incorrect, you have the means at hand to disprove me.
    Religion – namely, Christianity in this instance – has absolutely no such quality. You could not, in any conceivable way, explain to me what a “soul” is, for instance. You cannot even describe God. These are not things of reason, hence they belong to the “magesteria” of religion. When we discuss such matters, we check reason at the door. All logic, proof, experience (tangible) and replicability are out the window.
    I ask you: “What is a soul?” You tell me (if I may be so bold): “That which remains after the body is dead” or somesuch. And on that ground you have absolutely zero information. That’s OK, though, because that’s the province of religion.
    In the realm of reason, I can make a claim and you are free to refute my ideas in ways that are eminently demonstrable. If I am wrong, I cannot “believe” that I am incorrect. “Oh…” I will realize. “You are right, 2+2 = 4″ and there can be no argument about it. The point here is that Joe is attempting to intrude into an area where Christianity has no voice, no place, no authority, and that’s perfectly fine and not a disrespect to his philosophy. We’re merely noting a line of demarcation, an area of relevance.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Raven,
    Because reason is always subject to analysis and proof.
    Problem is, you can’t prove this statement, nor are analysis or proof value-free and merely objective. Reason rests on foundations of faith, like all other knowledge claims.
    Religion – namely, Christianity in this instance – has absolutely no such quality…. [snip] All logic, proof, experience (tangible) and replicability are out the window.
    Nonsense. If you really believe this, you have no concept whatsoever of the truth claims made by Christianity (or other religions) or of the historic development of Christian doctrine (or the doctrines of other religions). Christian doctrines such as sin, the nature of God, the essential nature of man (including the “soul”) are grounded in thoughtful reflection on the data of history and human experience. You might disagree with the conclusions about these data reached by Christian doctrine, but to assert that they throw reason out the window is just ignorant.
    If I am wrong, I cannot “believe” that I am incorrect. “Oh…” I will realize. “You are right, 2+2 = 4″ and there can be no argument about it.
    Well, as some of the discussion in Joe’s prior post illustrates, there’s been a significant amount of argument among rationalist thinkers about what the statement “2+2=4″ means; some think it doesn’t really mean anything at all. So, you fail to understand even the analytic tool you want to deify.

  • Larry Lord

    dopderbeck
    That summation is all about whether ID is a “religious” viewpoint within the meaning of the first amendment.
    … which encompasses a factual question as to whether “intelligent design” has any utility for scientists, or is it just a “fancy” (read: misleading) term for “God did it” (soon to be replaced by the code-phrase, “sudden emergence”).
    The answer to that question is plainly the latter. The conclusion with respect to the First Amendment follows as night follows day, given the obvious religious motivations of those who peddled the ID bogusness.
    He effectively invoked the “the other side are all liars” angle, which is one of the oldest lawyering trial tricks in the book.
    There’s nothing “tricky” about impeaching the credibility of witnesses by showing that they are willfully misrepresenting their knowledge of particular facts to the court, dopderbeck.
    Why would you refer to this as a “trick”?
    But more importantly, how can you, as a self-identifying Christian, read about the behavior of the self-identifying Christians in Dover without gagging? These Christians flat-out lied and they were caught out doing so. The Judge himself busted them in his courtroom.
    What is that all about? Why were these people — who claim to be so worried about the influence of “atheistic science” on their children — willing to tell bald-faced lies in Federal court? Isn’t lying a violation of the Ten Commandments (not to mention the the law, in this instance)?
    Why is exposure to the overwhelming scientific consensus about the history of life on earth such a horrible thing, but exposure to lies, half-baked nonsense, incompetence and disregard for the law a positive thing for Dover’s children?
    the narrow issue of how ID fares under the first amendment has nothing to do with what a specifically Christian research program would look like.
    What is a “Christian research program”? Is that where evangelicals sit around and argue philosophy and political strategies for promoting their anti-science agenda?
    The issue of an ID research program was thoroughly explored during the trial. There is no such program. One of the leading charlatans in the ID scheme, Michael Behe, testified that continuing research on the development of the human immune system was a waste of time.
    So how does a “Christian research program” differ from a scientific research program planned and carried out by Christians?
    Seriously. I, and the many Christians I know who are scientists, are very curious about your answer to this question.

  • Larry Lord

    dopderbeck
    Problem is, you can’t prove this statement, nor are analysis or proof value-free and merely objective.
    Blah blah blah. I can’t “prove” that everything I see, including your baloney on my computer screen, isn’t just part of some dream from which I will wake up in a minute or two. Nobody cares. Why? Why does no sane person care, dopderbeck, that we all might be living in a dream? Hint: the answer has to do with fresh water.
    Can we come back to earth now and discuss whether the scientific method is the most useful tool for understanding and testing natural phenomenon?
    And whether Christians have a different method that is objectively more useful, i.e., that provides practical results that both Christians and non-Christians can use to improve our understanding of the natural world AND that make testable predictions about the natural world that are more accurate than those made by the scientific method?
    there’s been a significant amount of argument among rationalist thinkers about what the statement “2+2=4″ means; some think it doesn’t really mean anything at all.
    What do they say about the statement, “drinking from toilets is unhealthy”? Does that mean anything to these “rational thinkers”?

  • Paul

    All, if you want some background in philosophy of maths:
    I just remembered that my ex-lecturer Alan Weir has his article on “Naturalism Reconsidered” (in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic) online from here:
    http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofPhilosophicalStudies/AboutUs/StaffListingsProfiles/AlanWeir-PersonalPage/
    (He’s an agnostic, and a formalist who defends naive set theory, by the way).
    Notice that the naturalist usually wants to reduce everything to the physical, and has problems. But from a Christian perspective we can say that the physical is but one aspect of an entity (and is the “qualifying” one, in a lot of cases). See, e.g., http://www.dordt.edu/publications/pro_rege/crcpi/119717.pdf
    for another application (though I don’t like parts of this piece).
    If you want to find out about what a Christian research program would like, check out the bibliography given in Roy Clouser’s *The Myth of Religious Neutrality*. The main scholars (by no means the only ones) working in this area are DFM Strauss and MD Stafleu, though getting hold of their work is often hard.
    Best,
    Paul

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Larry,
    There’s nothing “tricky” about impeaching the credibility of witnesses by showing that they are willfully misrepresenting their knowledge of particular facts to the court, dopderbeck. Why would you refer to this as a “trick”?
    It’s an unfair, but common, practice in a summation to tell the court or jury that everything about a party’s position should be disregarded when questions about that party’s credibility are raised. That’s exactly what the PACLU’s lawyer did in his summation. It’s of course not hard to find inconsistencies with which to impeach a witness’ credibility over the course of a long litigation. Have you litigated cases BTW Larry? I have, lots of them. It really isn’t hard for a good litigator to make the other side appear dishonest in almost any contested case.
    But more importantly, how can you, as a self-identifying Christian, read about the behavior of the self-identifying Christians in Dover without gagging? These Christians flat-out lied and they were caught out doing so. The Judge himself busted them in his courtroom.
    It does make me gag. I think the Dover school board folks are naifs and that they’re doing serious damage to the causes they want to promote. I never supported their political or litigation strategies.
    So how does a “Christian research program” differ from a scientific research program planned and carried out by Christians?
    Read what I said a ways back in this thread. I’m not sure that it necessarily does differ.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    What do they say about the statement, “drinking from toilets is unhealthy”? Does that mean anything to these “rational thinkers”?
    So your epistemology is strictly pragmatic — if it tells you something about drinking from toilets, it’s fully adequate, even if it doesn’t tell you anything at all about other large swathes of life?

  • The Raven

    dopderbeck: [N]or are analysis or proof value-free and merely objective. Reason rests on foundations of faith, like all other knowledge claims.
    I understand your thinking here to an extent. I would forward, however, that reason-based claims are subject to examination, whereas religion-based claims are not. As has been noted exhaustively here before, religious claims are, ipso facto, extraordinary, yet not subject to question. For instance, to take but a single notion, what is a “sin”?
    In the realm of reason, we could, to give a particular, discuss morality. Kohlberg sets out discrete stages of psychological development that are fairly uniform across cultures, and his findings are replicable; i.e., they are not merely opinion or dogma, but results that you or I could determine independently. The religious notion of “sin,” however, is a matter of pure dogma to be taken without question or verification.
    [Y]ou have no concept whatsoever of the truth claims made by Christianity (or other religions) or of the historic development of Christian doctrine (or the doctrines of other religions).
    A “truth claim” is not a truth, only a claim. I take all religious statements to be claims, but as to their truth, if there is such, it must be demonstrable, definable and explicable. Forward such evidence if you have it.
    Christian doctrines such as sin, the nature of God, the essential nature of man (including the “soul”) are grounded in thoughtful reflection on the data of history and human experience.
    You are describing “belief,” but not reason. Tradition and history do not lend force to these concepts. We could, if you like, work toward a mutually agreed-upon definition of “good” and “bad,” from a value-based viewpoint, and construct a framework that would be intelligible to us both. Yet the concept of a religious “sin” (to take but one element), is not something we could agree upon because the notion is not definable in terms outside of religion. Being non-religious, I would fail to grasp your meaning.
    Part of the problem here is that the religious man can stride with equanimity to and fro across the borders of Gould’s “non-overlapping magesteria.” You can be devout, pious, and rational, as circumstances dictate. Much of our misunderstanding is a function of your experiences in the rational world coloring your religious beliefs, which you then ferry back to the land of reason. You can pray to God, and do math, but I can only do math.
    So, you fail to understand even the analytic tool you want to deify.
    Another key point: The atheist deifies nothing. I would always want to question you closely and sharply on the questions of why you believe there is a God, why you think a person named “Jesus” is the son of a god, why you believe the Bible was written by authors unlike any others, why you think we have “souls” and what evidence you have that we possess them. For starters. I imagine, based on what I’ve learned to date, that these are not matters you would accept as legitimate of inquiry nor would any cogent answers be forthcoming.
    Yet in my weltanschauung, there is not one single idea I possess that is not questionable, and I would willingly discuss any viewpoint I hold – freely and openly. Moreover, I accept that any idea I hold could be proven false. If presented with such proof, I would change my opinions as a matter of course because I do not wish to live a life based on false opinion. This is not the definition of “deification.” Let’s look at a case close to this discussion: natural selection vs. ID. I do not deify Darwin’s theories. They are not important to me beyond their utility of explaining the physical world we observe. If you could present me with credible evidence that there is an Intelligent Designer, evidence that Darwin was mistaken, and such evidence was credible, observable, and demonstrable, then I would gladly and rapidly conform to your view.
    I very much object to your assertion that I hold items of “faith.” If you feel that I do sustain such beliefs, please name them concretely and explain why I have no evidence to believe them. “Evidence,” in this sense, is not to be construed as a subjective feeling or intuition.

  • Larry Lord

    dopderbeck
    Have you litigated cases BTW Larry?
    At the risk of being asked a million times where I want to law school: maybe.
    I have, lots of them.
    That’s nice.
    It’s of course not hard to find inconsistencies with which to impeach a witness’ credibility over the course of a long litigation.
    Um, sure, but this was not a very complex case and the main witnesses for the defense (the school board members) were caught making statements which flatly conflicted their deposition testimony about matters which went straight to the heart of the case. These weren’t “sidebar” issues.
    …odd that you might suggest otherwise …
    I think the Dover school board folks are naifs and that they’re doing serious damage to the causes they want to promote. I never supported their political or litigation strategies.
    Well, oddly enough, your arguments in these comments seem very similar to those used by the ID peddlers to support their political strategy.
    So your epistemology is strictly pragmatic — if it tells you something about drinking from toilets, it’s fully adequate, even if it doesn’t tell you anything at all about other large swathes of life?
    I think I just heard a goalpost squeaking as it was dragged across the ground. Where did this “fully adequate” business come from? And who gets to define the number of size of the “other … swathes of life”?
    Christian doctrines such as sin, the nature of God, the essential nature of man (including the “soul”) are grounded in thoughtful reflection on the data of history and human experience.
    I think that “sin”, “the nature of God”, the “essential nature of man” and the “soul” are vacuous concepts created and developed by witch doctors or their equivalents, for the purpose of exploiting and/or controlling ignorant and/or fearful people who have difficulty coming to terms with their existence without resorting to an overarching mythos.
    Not that there’s anything “wrong” with that …
    Let’s be clear: you can’t “research” these topics. You can’t do “research” on “the soul”. You can’t do research on “original sin.” You can’t “research” the “nature of God.”
    All you can do is say a bunch of stuff about what these terms mean or what they don’t mean and then you can ask for a show of hands: who agrees? Then all the people that agree on the meaning of terms A, B, C, D and E but not F, G, and H can call themselves “RELIGION 1″. And someone writes down all the stories favored by people in RELIGION 1 and that becomes THE HOLY BOOK. And the people who think that term C means something different from RELIGION 1 are “heretics” according to the people from RELIGION 1 but “true believers” according to the people who belong to RELIGION 2.
    And so on.
    That’s it. There is no “research” unless by “research” you mean poll-testing to see whether re-defining one of those religious terms would benefit the religion.
    What’s weird about the fanatics is that they seem to believe that they can redefine a process to make it do something that it cannot, namely, to turn religious claims into science. This is an implicit recognition of the relative power of science but it is utterly misguided because by subjecting religious claims to scientific tests, the relative utility of religious claims versus scientific claims is drawn into stark relief.
    Did the Rev. Jim Jones do any “Christian research” before he perfected his KoolAid recipe? Were his “research methods” flawed? They seem flawed to me … but can you prove they were flawed by “research”? Can you prove that none of the “souls” of Rev. Jones or any of his followers are in “paradise” in “the afterlife”?
    I mean, good luck with that.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Raven,
    You are describing “belief,” but not reason.
    No, I’m describing beliefs based in part on rational arguments.
    Yet the concept of a religious “sin” (to take but one element), is not something we could agree upon because the notion is not definable in terms outside of religion. Being non-religious, I would fail to grasp your meaning.
    You can’t understand an argument simply because it arose in the context of a religion? I don’t get that at all. How is that “reasonable”?
    I imagine, based on what I’ve learned to date, that these are not matters you would accept as legitimate of inquiry nor would any cogent answers be forthcoming.
    Huh? All of the questions you list are things my faith tradition has been inquiring about and wrestling with for over 2000 years. Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, C.S. Lewis — ever heard of them?
    I very much object to your assertion that I hold items of “faith.” If you feel that I do sustain such beliefs, please name them concretely and explain why I have no evidence to believe them.
    For starters, you believe you are capable of making accurate observations about reality and that your faculties of reason can adequately process those observations. “Prove” this without engaging in an infinite regress. You have to accept these things as a matter of common sense faith. This is pretty basic epistemology, really.
    “Evidence,” in this sense, is not to be construed as a subjective feeling or intuition.
    Why? Prove to me that this assumption is justified.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Larry,
    Well, oddly enough, your arguments in these comments seem very similar to those used by the ID peddlers to support their political strategy.
    Huh? Where? Put the broad brush away big guy.
    Let’s be clear: you can’t “research” these topics. You can’t do “research” on “the soul”. You can’t do research on “original sin.” You can’t “research” the “nature of God.”
    Who cares? The only “true” things are things we can “research?” There’s nothing in the universe that’s beyond our capacity to “research?” And what do you mean by “research” anyway? Rational arguments can only be based on “research” and never on history or experience? Is an argument based on human history and human experience inherently irrational because it can’t be subject to a controlled experiment?
    What’s weird about the fanatics is that they seem to believe that they can redefine a process to make it do something that it cannot, namely, to turn religious claims into science.
    And what’s weird about the fanatics on the other side is that they seem to believe they can use a limited set of pragmatic reasoning tools, namely the scientific method, to stretch beyond any reasonable limits, and thereby to turn “scientific” claims into a religion.
    Did the Rev. Jim Jones do any “Christian research” before he perfected his KoolAid recipe? Were his “research methods” flawed? They seem flawed to me … but can you prove they were flawed by “research”? Can you prove that none of the “souls” of Rev. Jones or any of his followers are in “paradise” in “the afterlife”?
    Why do they seem flawed to you? I thought this is the sort of thing you believe is beyond the pale of “research.” You seem to be implying that what Jones did was “wrong,” though you don’t seem to have any “scientific” basis for doing so. What’s your “research”-based reason for condemning Jones? I can condemn Jones based on concepts of human freedom, the value of human life, murder and such, which are drawn from an ancient tradition of natural law reasoning extending all the way back to Aristotle and confirmed by thousands of years of human experience and history. Do you have a “research” program to explain your apparent revulstion to Jones’ conduct that beats that tradition?

  • Amy

    Joe writes:
    “Examine any theory from the social or natural sciences that were later discredited and you will find a common thread: they all reduce at least one aspect of reality to another and treat one aspect as primary…. Naturally, such attempts to treat an aspect of creation as

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Amy,
    There’s been a sustained movement away from foundationalism and reductionism toward system theoretics in philosophy of mathematics and symbolic logic for quite awhile now.
    I think you’ve overstated the extent to which there is a “sustained movement” against foundationalism. But, I’d agree with you that even soft foundationalism is problematic. There are certain coherency theories that I find appealing. Even more so under those theories, Raven and Larry’s deification of the scientific method fails.

  • Mark

    The Raven’s point that “reason-based claims are subject to examination, whereas religion-based claims are not. As has been noted exhaustively here before, religious claims are, ipso facto, extraordinary, yet not subject to question,” goes to the heart of the argument that has developed here. There is such a thing as “science,” and it does not require “faith.” Wordy attempts to obfuscate this issue are not convincing.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    dopderbeck,
    Catholic teaching, like all Christian teaching, rejects the proposition that “blind chance” is responsible for life.
    I was at Barnes and Noble last night and the magazine First Things had an excellent article on this which I suggest strongly. Catholic teaching rejects blind chance period. By definition God knows everything including the outcome of ‘blind chance’ events like flipping coins or shuffling cards. What is happening is that because the origin of life is viewed as somehow more important than other topics philosophical types are misreading the language. ‘Blind chance’ exists in a scientific context…there is nothing wrong with the probability textbook using chance to describe coin tosses and other events. It does not exist from God’s point of view since God, again by definition, knows everything there is to know.
    I think you get this when you conclude:
    However, in the Catholic or any Christian theistic evolution perspective, you can’t call it “blind chance” in the sense of being utterly purposeless and undirected.
    In the past I used the lottery example. A woman wins the lottery and the first words out of her mouth are ‘thank God’. Do you think she is being foolish? I doubt it. But that doesn’t mean all the mathematics textbooks are wrong when they describe the lottery results using a ‘blind chance’ model.
    When I mentioned “purpose,” however, I was referring to a telos — a metaphysical purpose towards which the universe is directed. Catholic teaching, and all Christian teaching, hold that there is a telos to creation, and that it did not in that sense arise through strictly “random” processes.
    True but a metaphysical purpose is not a scientific statement that can be refuted thru observation. The black hole forms, in a scientific context, out of necessity because of its nature (large amount of matter compacted in a small space)…not because the atoms are saying “we gotta do our part to help form the galaxies so the humans can evolve!”.
    Christian doctrines such as sin, the nature of God, the essential nature of man (including the “soul”) are grounded in thoughtful reflection on the data of history and human experience.
    I agree with you here. If you read theology for example you’ll see that serious religion is not just ‘we believe X’ but proceeds in a very logical fashion. It is different from science, though, in that religious statements are not statements about the physical world. In some ways scientific statements are less grand because their subjects are usually rather mundane things (toilet water, for example) but Larry is correct, science has a great track record.
    And what’s weird about the fanatics on the other side is that they seem to believe they can use a limited set of pragmatic reasoning tools, namely the scientific method, to stretch beyond any reasonable limits, and thereby to turn “scientific” claims into a religion.
    Again this doesn’t seem the be the focus of scientists. This seems to be the take of some religious people on the science. Even someone who is very vocal about athiesm like Dawkins is clear about the difference between showing how science is consistent with his beliefs about religion and the false claim that science can or has proven athiesm or any other religion.
    Again I’m going to ask is this really about ‘Christian science’ or is it really Christian ideas in philosophy? Just about everything presented so far appear to be philosophical arguments rather than scientific ones.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I think I should be clear about the difference between being consistent with and proving. Take a theory of ‘how to make the best cake’. Most likely this theory will be consistent with Christian as well as other religious beliefs since it is very unlikely such a theory could challenge or contradict any serious dogma. However the fact that the cake theory is consistent does not mean it demonstrates Christian or anything else is true.
    Well what if part one of the theory is “contact the reincarnated soul of Julia Child”. Well gee if the cake theory appears to be true then Christian dogma, which rejects reincarnation, has a serious problem. Hindus and Buddahists, on the other hand, won’t have a problem.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    Boonton,
    This seems to be the take of some religious people on the science. Even someone who is very vocal about athiesm like Dawkins is clear about the difference between showing how science is consistent with his beliefs about religion and the false claim that science can or has proven athiesm or any other religion.
    I agree with most of what you said, except for to some extent for this. Look at what Raven, channeling Dawkins, said: “…what we acscribe to science – the known, the perceivable, the physical, the mathematical – are forevery and always the realm of reason. Ideas like heaven, the soul, and gods (to be inclusive), are the subject of religion.” Raven’s position isn’t simply that science is the most useful method for certain areas of inquiry, like whether to drink toilet water. He’s saying science is objective, reasonable fact, religion is subjective, non-reasonable opinion, the two never meet, and the only basis for any rational decision-making is science. As (I think) we’ve agreed, it’s just not that simple.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Even when the importance of Christian-based scholarship is acknowledged it is generally for the wrong reasons. While we may not use such language to describe our intentions, we tend to take a postmodern view in which we are offering an alternative

  • Larry Lord

    dopderbeck, re religion:
    No, I’m describing beliefs based in part on rational arguments.
    I know you are.
    Let’s talk more about the “in part” aspect of religious beliefs and why the “in part” aspect of religious beliefs limits “religious research programs” to the production of endless philosophical musings without zero practical application to non-believers.
    This is the key distinction, dopderbeck, between religion and science, and it is a distinction that favors science.
    That is why science is practiced around the world by people of all religions, whereas the predominant religion in any particular religion is the result of historical accident (like whether you drive on the right or left side of the road).
    Now, as a human being, you have a choice: live with this incontrovertible fact with the GRACE that Gordon Mullings pretends to understand, or make a fool out of yourself by attacking science as a “threat” to your personal religious beliefs.

  • Larry Lord

    dopderbeck refuses to answer questions about Jim Jones’ methodology, but instead asks:
    Why do they seem flawed to you?
    I’m alive. He and his followers are not.
    I thought this is the sort of thing you believe is beyond the pale of “research.” You seem to be implying that what Jones did was “wrong,” though you don’t seem to have any “scientific” basis for doing so.
    I’m alive. He and his followers are not.
    What’s your “research”-based reason for condemning Jones?
    I’m alive. He and his followers are not.
    I can condemn Jones based on concepts of human freedom
    Is Jones in paradise? You believe in Heaven, don’t you, dopderbeck? Is Jones in Heaven? Please provide the evidence from your “research.”
    Do you have a “research” program to explain your apparent revulstion to Jones’ conduct that beats that tradition?
    Like all sane humans, I prefer to be alive and healthy rather than dead. You don’t need a Ph.D. in philosophy or history in order to be repulsed by Jim Jones and other sick preachers who brainwash rubes in order to exploit them.
    You don’t disagree that Jim Jones was a preacher, do you? And that he manipulated his followers with references to the Bible, fear of going to hell, fear of angering God, and promises of eternal life in paradise if his people obeyed what he told them were God’s wishe? Right? You don’t dispute these historical facts, do you?
    So is Jones in “paradise” or not? What about his followers?
    This seems to be something that a “Christian research program” should be able to address. So where does the research begin? What is the first experiment that you conduct?

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    or make a fool out of yourself by attacking science as a “threat” to your personal religious beliefs.
    Never said science was a “threat,” don’t think it is, and never “attacked” science. My position is that science is one way of knowing, but not the only one; religious beliefs aren’t inherently irrational simply because they’re informed by religion; truth ultimately is unified and not compartmentalized by the methodology we use to investigate it.
    What I do think is a “threat” is the effort to classify everything other than a narrow type of empiricism as the product of “witch doctors.” Plato, Aristotle, Moses, Maimonides, Heschel, Augustine, Buddha, Ghandi, Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Solzhenitzn, John Paul II, the six billion or so people who are Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Buddhists, and on and on… all “witch doctors” or the deluded followers of witch doctors. This is the kind of fundamentalism that scares me.

  • Larry Lord

    He’s saying science is objective, reasonable fact, religion is subjective, non-reasonable opinion, the two never meet, and the only basis for any rational decision-making is science. As (I think) we’ve agreed, it’s just not that simple.
    Actually it is that simple.
    What you seem to be hung up on is that idea that irrational decision-making is all bad. It ain’t. Sometimes it’s all we have because we don’t have the necessary facts to make a rational decision.
    As to why you are hung up, let me suggest that you have been converted by preachers who seek to ride on the success of science by claiming either that science “owes” something to religious dogma or that religion is a form of science (or vice versa).
    It’s bogus. Those preachers are full of it and we can see the result of their preaching in Dover: religious people are made to look like asses.

  • Larry Lord

    religious beliefs aren’t inherently irrational simply because they’re informed by religion
    Nope.
    The existence of religious beliefs is explainable. Relying on a religion belief is not an irrational way for a human behave, e.g., if the goal is maintain a certain state of mind under trying circumstances.
    But the asserted matter of the religious belief is irrational. It’s made up, by the human mind.
    You’ve read the Popol Vuh, right? The religious claims in the Popol Vuh are every bit as true as the religious claims in the Bible. You cannot prove they are not. You can only say that they are not.
    There is nothing “wrong” with doing so, but I think it is better to simply admit this essential fact than to pretend that religious beliefs are rational in the way that the practice of science is rational.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    I’m alive. He and his followers are not.
    And so the sina qua non of a so-called “research” program is how it relates to Larry Lord. That is disinterested empirical work at its finest.
    Is Jones in Heaven? Please provide the evidence from your “research.”
    Nice try, I never suggested there is a way to research this. I suggested an evaluation of Jone’s conduct has to be based on something other then merely emprical research, such as natural law theory. You’ve provided some of the basis for the natural law view by admitting you’re repulsed by Jone’s conduct.
    So, where is your objective, empirical “research” on the morality of Jones’ conduct? Why does it repulse you? Like you said, you’re still alive, so why should you care if Jones & co. aren’t? And why should we care if Larry Lord is repulsed? Keep your sentimental feelings to yourself and show me the scientific reasons why what Jones did is wrong.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    You’ve read the Popol Vuh, right? The religious claims in the Popol Vuh are every bit as true as the religious claims in the Bible. You cannot prove they are not. You can only say that they are not.
    Wrong. The historically contingent claims made by different religious systems can be compared, as can their coherency, logic, and resonance with human experience. If you mean the same type or degree of proof used to show there are harmful bacteria in toilet water, you’re right, that doesn’t exist. However, I wouldn’t consign everything but stuff like toilet water to the subjective dust bin.

  • Larry Lord

    dopderbeck
    What I do think is a “threat” is the effort to classify everything other than a narrow type of empiricism as the product of “witch doctors.”
    My reference to witch doctors was hyperbole to balance your extraordinary claim that “Christian doctrines such as sin, the nature of God, the essential nature of man (including the “soul”) are grounded in thoughtful reflection on the data of history and human experience”.
    But the fact is, dopderbeck, that (at least for the time being) we’ve crossed the Rubicon. The “narrow type of empiricism” you refer to is, at the end of the day, the only type of empiricism that matters.
    That is why in America (but not Iran) we don’t find references to God or Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha or statements by the Pope used to determine a particular outcome in our legal decisions. Instead, we refer to findings of FACT.
    And this is the way it will remain until some fundamentalist Christians throw down the guantlet and we either amend the Constitution to restate the separation clause more explicitly and severely (which I would favor), or fight a civil war (seems unnecessary).

  • Amy

    dopderbeck wrote:
    “There are certain coherency theories that I find appealing. Even more so under those theories, Raven and Larry’s deification of the scientific method fails.”
    I agree with you.

  • http://www.davidopderbeck.com/throughaglass.html dopderbeck

    The “narrow type of empiricism” you refer to is, at the end of the day, the only type of empiricism that matters.
    I do agree with you on one thing: we’ve crossed the Rubicon. And besides, I’m too tired and busy to keep this up right now. We differ on reducing everything to one type of empiricism, and we won’t convince each other otherwise.

  • Don

    Religion can and should be well reasoned, in the sense of being internally consistent. For example, a Christian hears a window breaking in his house in the middle of the night, runs downstairs with gun in hand, and sees a person fleeing his property. Would it be consistent with the sixth commandment for the Christian to attempt to kill the person? Would it make a difference if the intruder were inside the house? How to most reasonably apply one

  • Larry Lord

    Raven and Larry’s deification of the scientific method
    I am not deifying or worshipping anything. One can appreciate the power of a process without worshipping it or pretending that the process is anything more than a useful tool for solving particular problems.
    The reason you think that I am deifying science is likely because you can’t conceive of a universe without a deity.
    I, on the other hand, can conceive of a universe without a deity just as easily as I can conceive of universe with a hundred deities or a thousand deities.
    The latter universes, of course, exist only in my mind. I’m not ashamed to admit that because my personal happiness is independent of the existence of any of those deities.
    That is not true for everyone.
    But that does not mean that “research” on “deities” and their “works” can proceed “rationally.” You can construct an imaginary world where deities are bound to behave according some “logical” principles, but you can construct an imaginary world where deities are not bound to those “logical” principles.
    Is that “research”? I guess it could be if you wanted to be generous. I used to be a member of one of those J.R.R. Tolkien Societies where we would discuss the proper placement of diacritical marks in Elvish text and the possibility that Tom Bombadil was an angel. Eat your heart out, Maimonides.

  • Larry Lord

    Just read this on CNN
    Many scientists and other critics contend creationists repackaged old ideas in scientific-sounding language to get around a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1987 that banned teaching the biblical story of creation in public schools.
    Would anyone here like to provide an alternative explanation for the undisputed facts presented to Judge Jones in Dover these past several weeks?
    I’m just fascinated by the state of modern journalism. Scientists “contend” that the earth goes round the sun, in spite of the fact that millions of Americans believe otherwise. Is that the way we expect journalists to present incontrovertible facts?

  • The Raven

    Thank you for your recent comments, Larry. Re: the “deification of science”:
    I am not deifying or worshipping anything. One can appreciate the power of a process without worshipping it or pretending that the process is anything more than a useful tool for solving particular problems.
    I tend to agree. And I’d underscore the point by noting that a secular outlook and philosophy still leaves one with a sense of mystery and wonder about life.
    In the past few discussions here, many have suggested that people like you and I must be operating on some kind of faith-based system because we claim that science explains everything, and in response we’ve both been consistent on the point that it doesn’t. What we don’t know about the universe far outweighs that which we do – if, in fact, we know anything at all.
    By the way, in the news this morning we learn that the Dover school board has been completely ousted. All eight Republican members have been sacked and replaced with Democrats who do not support ID. This is a very clear voter mandate: Leave religion out of the science classroom.
    I’m sure that the majority of those voters are religious people, people who believe in God and think that He had a direct hand in creating us. But they also appear as a group to affirm the notion that in school, we teach what we know. I take these results as very heartening – not because they indicate an anti-religious mindset (far from it), but because they suggest that the notion that matters pertaining to God are matters of the church.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    I took a look. I doubt on track record that it will make much difference to some commentors to point out the following, but, it’s worth putting the following on the record:
    1] Mr Jones — from recall of the news at the time as it unfolded — was a Marxist [thus probably actually atheist], pseudo-religious manipulator who willed his wealth to the USSR. Evidently, he used force to make most members of the cult drink poison, having first practised them inthis mass suicide tactic. The event was triggered by an investigation of the Cult in Guyana, and the murder of the Congressman, Ryan I believe, when he was leaving.
    2] Is Design Theory simply repackaged religion in the guise of science, as the NSCE anfd Co are quick to assert?
    Let’s compare two spokesmen on the two sides of the issue:

    Dembski: intelligent design is not a religious doctrine about where everything came from but rather a scientific investigation into how patterns exhibited by finite arrangements of matter can signify intelligence.
    Dawkins:

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    More spam from one note Gordon.

  • Don

    Raven, I would guess even many ID supporters were unhappy with the school board members. It seems that before it become school policy, teachers often mentioned informally that evolutionary theory was controversial and that an alternative was ID. The seemingly inevitable result of this case will be to forbid that practice.
    Personally, I would very much like to see a philosophy of science class in high school that would teach students what makes science science. An excellent case study would be why evolutionary theory is a robust scientific theory versus why ID is not a scientific theory. It would also be relevant to discuss why it is particularly the United States where opposition to evolutionary theory is popular, and why some Christians comfortably fit evolution into their worldview while others do not. The course could additionally discuss the ethics of science, an area where religious tenets legitimately come into play.

  • Roger

    Gordon
    Thanks! I went to the site you linked to and found the article facinating. Good stuff! Maybe Larry Lord would take the time to read through it and give us his comments!
    The site is
    http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=8543

  • Don

    That link leads to an article with lots of misrepresentation, Roger. Stuff that has been thoroughly refuted by many posters at this website. All one has to do is read previous threads, starting back in September. But the article does contain some insightful items:

    Genesis told the story of how God created the heavens, earth, and life. The complexity, beauty, and order we see in life and the cosmos was confirming evidence of his hand at work, and a reflection of his glory.
    But if atheistic materialism is true, life on Earth by definition cannot have been designed by an intelligence.

    There, in a nutshell, is the motive for contriving non-evolutionary explanations of life on Earth. Due to court rulings, these explanations must masquerade as science. Though many theists do not have a problem with believing in God as the Creator and evolution as the process. It puzzles me my some theists prefer to think of an omnipotent Being who must constantly tinker with His creation, rather than using His boundless power to set in motion a process that would inevitably unfold as He desired.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    To my knowledge Larry has never bothered to directly counter Gordon’s probability and complexity based arguments, his position has been that they are essentially nonsense.
    tgibbs did an excellent job, though, going after Gordon’s arguments. The detail can be found on http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/archives/001602.html near the end of the very long thread.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    But if atheistic materialism is true, life on Earth by definition cannot have been designed by an intelligence.
    There, in a nutshell, is the motive for contriving non-evolutionary explanations of life on Earth.
    Indeed and the irony is it is based on a pretty obvious fallacy. Let’s drop the word atheistic from the above passage. What is it basically saying is “If materialism is true about life on earth then God can’t exist”.
    In a refreshing act of intellectual honesty the above writer isn’t trying to con us into believing that ID means UFO’s or ET’s as the designer but a deity. But let’s probe this thought a bit more.
    What they are saying is that if life can be explained by the natural behavior of atoms…in other words physics and chemistry…then God could not have had a hand in it. Yet this is obviously a blatently false statement. By definition God could set up the universe so that the behavior of matter results in living things if he wanted too. The writer is trying to trick us into the false choice fallacy “either give up God or evolution”.

  • Larry Lord

    To my knowledge Larry has never bothered to directly counter Gordon’s probability and complexity based arguments, his position has been that they are essentially nonsense.
    I’ll start paying attention to those arguments after Gordon or one of his ID peddling heroes gets a couple articles in Nature or Science, and some serious awards from the scientific community. If Gordon or his heroes have shown what Gordon claims has been shown, such achievements are the inevitable result.
    On the other hand, if Gordon and his heroes are brimming with it, then they’ll continue to “toil” away in blogs and obscure journals that sincere scientists have no time to read, along with the “scholarly writings” of the world’s Sasquatch and poltergeist “experts.”
    I’m pretty certain that all of Gordon’s spewage is thoroughly debunked over at http://www.talkorigins.org anyway.

  • Larry Lord

    “I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city,” Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, “The 700 Club.”
    “And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there,” he said.
    The 700 Club claims a daily audience of around one million. It is also broadcast around the world translated into more than 70 languages.
    Cue the sound of chirping crickets as “rational” “evangelical Christians” give voice to their scorn for this influential fanatic weirdo, Pat Robertson.

  • http://gideonstrauss.com Gideon Strauss

    Thanks for pointing to Roy Clouser’s stuff, Mr. Carter.
    I must confess that the discussions in your comments sometimes confuse me. Can it be that many of your conversation partners often fail to read the actual text of your blog entries, instead riffing off on some tangentially related pet topic of their own?
    Ah, well.

  • http://reformatorsiche.blogspot.com Baus

    For more information on distinctively Christian scientfic and philosophical scholarship see REFORMATORISCHE.
    Larry Lord asserted:
    “But the asserted matter of the religious belief is irrational.”
    Quite on the contrary, the central matter of religious belief (a belief in something as onticly ultimate) is the inescapable basis for ALL rationality and theoretical thought. You can find out why this is so at the link above.

  • http://reformatorsiche.blogspot.com Baus

    For more information on distinctively Christian scientfic and philosophical scholarship see REFORMATORISCHE.
    Larry Lord asserted:
    “But the asserted matter of the religious belief is irrational.”
    Quite on the contrary, the central matter of religious belief (a belief in something as onticly ultimate) is the inescapable basis for ALL rationality and theoretical thought. You can find out why this is so at the link above.

  • http://reformatorsiche.blogspot.com Baus

    For more information on distinctively Christian scientfic and philosophical scholarship see REFORMATORISCHE.
    Larry Lord asserted:
    “But the asserted matter of the religious belief is irrational.”
    Quite on the contrary, the central matter of religious belief (a belief in something as onticly ultimate) is the inescapable basis for ALL rationality and theoretical thought. You can find out why this is so at the link above.

  • http://reformatorsiche.blogspot.com Baus

    For more information on distinctively Christian scientfic and philosophical scholarship see REFORMATORISCHE.
    Larry Lord asserted:
    “But the asserted matter of the religious belief is irrational.”
    Quite on the contrary, the central matter of religious belief (a belief in something as onticly ultimate) is the inescapable basis for ALL rationality and theoretical thought. You can find out why this is so at the link above.

  • Larry Lord

    Quite on the contrary, the central matter of religious belief (a belief in something as onticly ultimate) is the inescapable basis for ALL rationality and theoretical thought.
    Hahahaahah.
    Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Sadly, it’s a bunch of baloney and saying it four times in a row doesn’t make it any more compelling.
    Here’s your bogus argument in a nutshell: deities must exist or we wouldn’t be here discussing the fact that they are imaginary.
    Man, that’s really really stupid.
    Try a new salad dressing. And ask for a refund from the school that provided you with your weak humanities education.

  • Rob Ryan

    “Cue the sound of chirping crickets as “rational” “evangelical Christians” give voice to their scorn for this influential fanatic weirdo, Pat Robertson.”
    Muslims and Muslim theologians are often criticized for their reluctance to speak out against those who would hijack their faith to use it as a political weapon against their ideological enemies. I find that few evangelical Christians speak out against nutbags like Robertson and Oral Roberts and Jerry Falwell. Do they agree with such nonsense, or do they merely fail to voice their opposition? Either way, it can be seen as enabling extremists. I’ll never forget Falwell’s immortal “…I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America…I point the thing in their face and say you helped this [the 9/11 attacks] happen.”
    Like the Robertson gaffes, the Falwell quote received media attention, but created little stir in the pulpits of America.