Category Archives: philosophy
And he does. Which he has proven time and time again; and has, unsurprisingly, furnished us with more evidence of it:
In defense of Lawrence Krauss’s latest piece of intellectual self-immolation, Jerry argues:
“But if in fact one construes science broadly, as a combination of reason, empirical study, and verification, yes, existence of God should show up in “scientific” inquiry.” [But it does not, he goes on to argue].
If one “construes science” in such a manner, then yes, the existence of God, contra Jerry Coyne, does show up in “scientific inquiry”, for if we were to take, say, the argument from first cause, then we’re starting from principles that are not only based in reason, but are also empirically verifiable, and have in fact been empirically verified before the process of ’empirical verification’ had even been conceptualized.
But it’s even worse than that for Jerry, since “science”, so broadly construed, makes everyone a scientist — yes, even the theologians he expends great effort to criticize — for (almost) everyone goes about his merry way using reason, empiricism and verification. Apparently for Jerry, the mere act of mixing peanut butter and chocolate because reason and empirical verification has determined that the result can be extremely pleasing to the palate is already to do science.
And since Jerry is defending Krauss’s piece where Krauss argues all scientists must be militant atheists because “Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature . .”, then Jerry (and Krauss for that matter) might as well ride the crazy train all the way and argue all bakers need to be militant atheists given that belief or nonbelief is like totally irrelevant to making a cake.
And these guys — these scientists, no less! — claim to be rational and evidence-based.
As an aside, I can certainly say I used reason and have empirically verified that on matters philosophical Jerry Coyne demonstrably does not know what the hell he’s talking about. So, really, it’s just science.
But, yes, I’m sure other Christians like myself will be vastly amused to know that, as per Jerry, we can all start happily referring to each other as fellow scientists, since his broad definition of science not only grants us the status of scientist, it also grants theology the status of science.
Notify the media! Call a conference of Astrophysicists.. or er.. Theoretical physi.. I mean.. just call some scientists who know stuff about planets and stuff!
Wait.. hold on.. no.
I’ve just been told what it is and it appears to be quite.. how shall I put this.. dumb beyond comprehension.
I read this to the end only to be disappointed that the answer which the author kept teasing he had to the question of why the universe’s constants are so finely tuned was so terribly unsatisfying:
In short, the reason we see the values that we see is that, if they were very different, we wouldn’t be around to see them.
Why does light travel at a specific speed, or why do the universal constants hold the seemingly arbitrary values they do? Well, after about 3 thousand words, the answer, apparently, is that this is what we observe because had they been different, nobody would be around to observe them! — nobody would be alive to observe them, essentially.
Thanks for that, Mr. Scientist! You sure answered the hell out of that one.
This would be like surviving a nuclear bomb exploding in your face, only to be told that you shouldn’t wonder how you survived — it would be ridiculous, in fact, to ask why you survived — because if you didn’t, oh yesiree bob, you wouldn’t be around to be curious how you did! So strike that from your list of curiosities, you apparently should.
It’s clear that the universal constants can only be the way they are because they were either designed or just happen by chance to be that way. The problem with the latter is that given the unbelievably large spectrum of possibilities, it’s more probable that a chimp banging its fist on a typewriter will be, by chance, churning out lines from Shakespeare.
Of course, to avoid the rut of having God as a hypothesis (as most are keen on doing) some people have ingeniously come up with the theory of the multiverse, where — get this! — everything that can possibly happen has happened and will for all practical purposes happen again (and again.. ad infinitum) in one of the infinite universes that exist. And of course that merely puts the problem a step back since we can still ask how the devil this large ensemble of infinite universes came to be, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.
But if you can forget those annoying little details and believe that a universe within that large ensemble of infinite universes exists where another me had typed this very piece, only this time while standing on my head, then goodluck with that. Surely — surely! — that’s an easier swallow.
Arguing with Lawrence about matters that don’t require the use of bunsen burners, the Hubble telescope or integrated calculus, is increasingly proving to be more than a bit sisyphean. The guy might be smart on matters scientific, but on everything else, he’s downright incapable of learning. As others have already written on his inimitable incoherence, I will, in this piece, skip his mistreatment of Kim Davis and Planned Parenthood, and concentrate on his central claim, which is that “all scientists should be militant atheists”.
Lawrence Krauss, as you might recall, is the author of A Universe From Nothing, where he purports to have solved how universes can come from nothing, only to say that ‘nothing’ is actually something, and in fact turns out to be a whole lot of something from which universes can emerge. That book itself is enough evidence that this guy is a hack. I mean, if I sincerely proposed that cars can come from nothing, only to say that by ‘nothing’ I actually meant large production assembly lines, I’ll be put into a mental asylum.
I won’t bother to link to his intellectually sloppy diatribe, you can google that for yourself, but let’s allow him to make his case and see if, like he claims, “all scientists should be militant atheists”.
So far as I can see (and, indeed, one would have to look past Himalayas of play-ground rhetoric) his primary argument for the claim is that science does not — indeed, cannot — have “sacred” ideas, as everything should be open to criticism, thusly somewhat precluding, by fiat, subscription to any religious idea. Therefore holding religious views alongside scientific ones (the case for a religious scientist) is to be cognitively dissonant at such an epic scale as to be laughable and worthy of not only dismissal, but outright derision.
Of course, Lawrence makes no distinctions — and is likely ignorant of the distinctions — between methodological and metaphysical naturalism. A fatal error, as we will see.
Since science is the study of nature, it is by it’s very nature methodologically naturalistic in that it needs to presuppose naturalism to work. That is because in science, for every phenomena under study, the required explanans is a natural one, and this axiomatically rules out the supernatural from the getgo. Again, that is simply how science is done, else it’ll cease to work and render us unable to build upon knowledge already acquired. Because a supernatural explanans, unlike a natural one, wouldn’t be within our ability to understand, let alone control, a scientist needs to find natural causes against which he can test and compare other natural facts about our universe. So, every scientist, to do science, needs to adhere to a strictly naturalistic methodology. That is simply what science requires — that scientists, to put it trivially, use the scientific method.
Lawrence, however, does a little sleight of hand, citing that very requirement and extrapolating it to argue for the philosophical position known as metaphysical naturalism, which is the position that only the natural, or in his case, only the physical, exists. This is, needless to say, illogical, since one simply cannot infer from study of the natural that the supernatural does not exist.
So, his conclusion that ‘metaphysical naturalism’ — atheism — is true, or that it’s a view that scientists ought to hold (making them, of course, atheists) is non sequitur.
Or to spell it out in simpler terms (let’s see if you can immediately spot the illogic): As per Lawrence, belief in naturalism is the logical entailment of presupposing naturalism to do science!
Again, here is what he’s saying, further simplified: To be a scientist, you have to believe science is the only way to describe reality.
Or here, again we can go on and simplify Lawrence’s claim until his logical misstep becomes clear to even the most moronic of individuals:
Scientist = Someone who believes science is the only way to describe reality.
Of course one could be pedantic and point out the self-refuting nature of that statement in that it is a statement that purports to describe reality but isn’t itself knowledge that was acquired through science, but let’s overlook such abstract arguments for now.
So far so good?
It is but incumbent then for us to investigate what it means to hold the view that science is the ‘only way to describe reality’. And I’d say the best way to do this is to look at the nuggets of wisdom these “militant atheist-scientists” impart.
On meaning and purpose:
“the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” — Steven Weinberg, scientist; militant atheist.
“[The world] is physical and purposeless” — Jerry Coyne, scientist; militant atheist.
“DNA just is. And we dance to its music” — Richard Dawkins, scientist; militant atheist.
“Nihilism—even my “nice nihilism” is a public relations nightmare. Most of my fellow travellers think that if the scientific worldview saps morality of its truth, correctness, justification.. They might be right. It’s an empirical matter.” — Alex Rosenberg, Philosopher, Militant Atheist.
“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” — Richard Dawkins, scientist; militant atheist.
On freedom of the will:
“Sam Harris says the concept of free will is incoherent. Humans are not free and no sense can be given to the idea that we might be” — Paul Pardi, on (scientist and militant atheist) Sam Harris’ book Free Will.
“..but in the end we are simply federations of molecules, tissues, and neurons whose morphology, physiology, and behavior are determined by interactions between genes and environment..” — Jerry Coyne, scientist; militant atheist.
So, to be a “scientist“, these are, from the horses’ mouth, the logical entailments:
1. The universe is “pointless“, “purposeless“, any meaning we can derive from this “pointless” and “purposeless” universe can only be subjective (“personal” for Jerry Coyne), and ultimately as valid — that is to say, equally as “pointless” — as anyone else’s subjectively derived meaning.
2. We have no free-will — every belief we have and choice we make had been determined by temporally prior states that are essentially traceable to some initial state moments before the big-bang. In other words, it’s all an elaborate kabuki dance, as none of us are free to choose or believe anything.
3. Morality is an illusion; there is no good and evil. These feelings of right and wrong are merely illusory; sentimental predispositions that are the result of our particular evolutionary history.
Yet, suddenly — suddenly! — when it comes to religion, evil suddenly can exist, as long as it’s in the form of religion, of course!
Suddenly, we have purpose; to point out religion is evil.
Suddenly, there are moral absolutes! — religion is absolutely immoral.
And suddenly, meaning can be made to be objective, as the meaning derived from religion is often said by them to be objectively wrong.
And yet, according to Lawrence, we, the indoctrinated sheeple, seem to be afflicted with some debilitating form of cognitive dissonance.
[On evil not existing on naturalism:]
Actually, it does. Just like it does for you. Evil is simply a word you use to describe an action or outcome, such as large amounts of suffering. Just like a theist, we can recognize this suffering and label it.
[On morality as an evolutionary bi-product:]
I don’t understand why theists are so scared of this prospect – the idea that we are responsible for our own behavior and as a society or civilization or species, we decide what is ethical and unethical. If you looked around, you’d see this is already the case, since each country varies somewhat or in some cases, wildly in what they deem lawful.
Religious people subjectively pick and choose what they find to be evil or not in their respective holy books. One Christian might point to Leviticus and say gays are abominations, while another points out that Jesus said to Love your neighbor.
It’s okay, you can think for yourself. I know it seems easier to wish it was all written down in a book, but even that book is written by other human beings who are also writing what they found to be distasteful. They just happened to tell you that their societal or personal rules were backed by an almighty God and you bought it.
On the one hand soda fizzes, on the other, innocent people are killed. You might call the latter “evil”, but on naturalism, there is no ontological difference between the two, they are two ontologically indistinct events that merely have, as you say, different labels.
You might personally find one of those confluence of atoms distasteful. Someone else might not. If naturalism were true, the both of you might as well be arguing about which between chocolate or vanilla is tastier. Because, in the end, it’s merely your opinion that one particular atomical arrangement is better than the other. So the difference between you and someone else who prefers the other arrangement of atoms reduces to merely one of taste. Making every single one of your moral claims extend no farther than yourself.
Which invariably means that you objectively have no business telling others what they should or should not do. Or you could, if you want to, but with the qualification that anyone else’s opinion on the matter is as valid as yours.
And this is why it’s a bit amusing you think your “we decide what’s ethical and unethical” bit is an adequate and clever response. Since with this, you merely rebut your own argument in a manner you did not anticipate: Because if that is the case, then what the hell are you complaining about?
All those immoral things Christians do of which you speak are merely what they’ve decided was ethical. Why is their ethical decisions any less valid than yours when you admit all moral claims are merely what we “pick and choose” and “what we decide”? And if it’s just a matter of us “deciding what’s ethical and unethical”, then morality is simply a case of might makes right, in which case who are we to say someone like Chairman Mao, say, was doing it wrong? After all, he has simply “decided what’s ethical and unethical”.
That above is an atheist catchphrase that seems to never die, despite that it can very easily be demonstrated to be missing the salient point.
We’re not suggesting that people will be raping and pillaging with wild abandon the moment theistic ideas are jettisoned. Rather, we are pointing out the contradiction between what they say and what they believe.
They say they reject theism because of the lack of evidence. They believe absence of evidence is evidence of absence because of a prior metaphysical commitment to naturalism. In fact most intellectual atheists — or the more reflective of them, at least — admittedly subscribe to a naturalism of one sort or another.
Now, of course, with respect to the evidence for theism, I disagree, and that above is fine as far as it goes.
Until they deign to educate us on the immorality of our beliefs. Because the problem is that on naturalism, which is on which their atheism is predicated, good and evil simply do not exist.
What a naturalist sees as evil is really just a confluence of atoms that he happens to find personally distasteful. And he happens to find them personally distasteful because he’s been hardwired by evolution to do so, viz. his feelings of personal distaste, or any opinion he may have on what or what is not moral for that matter, are merely dispositions he had inherited that are the residue of an evolutionary history.
In other words, they are illusory.
He only has these set of moral opinions because they are, by mere chance, what made his ancestors, on the aggregate, survive. It thusly becomes not an objective fact of reality that, say, murdering babies for fun is wrong. In fact we can imagine an alien race having evolved in a way that would make them think that that’s a completely moral thing to do. Or a more terrestrial example would be the members of ISIS, say, who would opine to be moral that which we find immoral. And who are we to say they are wrong? Who are we to say they are evil? After all, these “evil” people are merely acting in accordance with how the atoms that comprise them happen to be arranged, and who, given naturalism, can say that one particular confluence of atoms is to be preferred over another?
So when an atheist-naturalist natters on about the ‘evils of religion’, it is a matter of logic that he might as well be nattering on about his choice of drapery, or about his choice of textile, or about the superiority of vanilla over chocolate. Because religion, or anything else for that matter, cannot possibly be evil in a universe where evil does not exist.
..because: these types of churchians (ex-pastor pictured above):
“I’ve been a deep believer my whole life. 18 years as a Southern Baptist. More than 40 years as a mainline Protestant. I’m an ordained pastor. But it’s just stopped making sense to me. You see people doing terrible things in the name of religion, and you think: ‘Those people believe just as strongly as I do. They’re just as convinced as I am.’ And it just doesn’t make sense anymore… If a plane crashes, and one person survives, everyone thanks God…..God saved her for a reason!’ Do we not realize how cruel that is? Do we not realize how cruel it is to say that if God had a purpose for that person, he also had a purpose in killing everyone else on that plane? And a purpose in starving millions of children? A purpose in slavery and genocide?… You say there is a purpose to their suffering. And that’s just cruel.”
His complete ignorance of key concepts of Christianity, it’s difference to mere churchianity, and of basic philosophical concerns in ethics and morality, which in no small part is why he’s able to readily say what he said, can actually be excused, because, like most everyone else, they are matters of which he knows not a single whit, but it necessarily calls into question the competency of the church, where people like him — who have a kind of faith that is miles wide and yet mere inches deep — can be ‘pastors’ to begin with.
Why should it surprise him that people do terrible things in the name of religion when it has been written that they would? And that they do, how is that an indictment of religion, or of Christianity in particular, and not of the people themselves, or of people in general? On this score, It would — it should — suffice to point out to him that there’s a difference between Christianity and mere churchianity.
He sees an implication where simply none exists, viz. he regards the actions (or the theological ignorance) of the religion’s self-proclaimed adherents as the standard against which the religion (or in this case, Christianity) should be judged.
But that is simply illogical, not to mention, un-biblical, since, contrary to what he surmises, it’s a confirmable fact that religious hypocrisy is one of the more pertinent themes of the bible:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ — Matthew 7 : 23-27
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” — Matthew 23:13
He (as do I, in fact) rightly sees cruelty in someone who pontificates on the nature of a divine plan that involves the death of the innocent. But that the average churchian is too unsophisticated to know any better than to blather on about things of which he has no idea should have been of no surprise, and should have again been, rather than an indictment of Christianity, a testament to the every-man’s ineptitude on matters theological. After all, he is a long-time pastor who ought to have known that theological consistency is not to be expected from your average churchian.
But the salient question is why this ex-pastor saw these things as forming a disproof for the truth of Christianity.
While a more salient one still, is how this man, whose understanding of Christianity barely even rises to the level of Narnia, and who cannot rationally be said to grasp fundamental aspects of Christian theology, was once a pastor.
And it’ll be less useful to call into question the rational basis for his rejection of Christianity than it would be to use him as reminder for the church that they are doing something wrong, but for which the remedy is simple: equip your churchians, and especially your leaders, with knowledge of the relevant philosophy.
Else, it’ll be for you — for us — the way of the dodo.
presciently foretold the coming of people like Bruce Jenner:
“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by precedent, by implication, by erosion, by default, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other—until the day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.” – Ayn Rand
For all her nauseating blowhardiness and philosophical ineptitude, she at least got a couple of things right. The tactic is really simple: defining yourself in terms of what you indulge in gives you warrant in taking any criticism of your behaviour as a personal affront. Anyone who disagrees with what you do can now be said to be an intolerant bigot. Because, by spinning the narrative as progressives are wont to do, what you do, or rather what you like doing, has magically now become who you are. We are reliably informed by ‘progressives’, however, that the exception is religion, where it’s possible to mock the idea and not the person. Sounds familiar, does it not?
When we said abortion is infanticide, we were met with laughter and derision.
When we told them there’s no difference between an abortion and the killing of an infant, they called us stupid. We were said to be woefully misinformed.
They said it was all primitive religious foolery; we were said to be against science.
In wanting to remove a woman’s right to choose, we were told that we hate women.
We were labelled misogynists, and the women among us were said to have ‘internalized misogyny’.
But now, though, the sufficiently intelligent among them belatedly realize that WE WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG — that there is no ontologically significant difference between a newborn infant and a fetus — and so now we’ve gone from “abortion is not infanticide” to “yes it is, but infanticide is O.K!”:
“Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.
The article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.”
The lesson here is that when dealing with people who are proven to be morally depraved, not an atom should be ceded–not a single one.
They will call you words like ‘bigot’ to scare you into submission and shut the conversation in their favor.
They will call for boycotts against anyone who’s insufficiently subordinate to their liberal ideology.
They will inflict all manner of wound.
However, now, more than ever, you must stand your ground.
People often think that if someone — a scientist, perhaps — is able to adequately explain the manner by which particular mental states occur in the brain, then they’ve successfully called into question whether those mental states are objectively what we suppose them to be, if not outright proven they aren’t. They can’t be real, apparently, because they were the result of such and such neurons firing, or because of such and such materialistic explanations of how similar mental states occur. This is wrong-headed, of course, as it commits the genetic fallacy. Needless to say, what makes it doubly annoying is the fact that the people who make these logical fallacies claim to have lost their faith as a result of ‘rigorous thinking’.
So this atheist ex-pastor who wrote this blog post a friend of mine shared on fb is claiming, among other things, that the experience of the holy spirit — any ‘God experience,’ in fact — is merely a series of neurological events in the brain that’s been set off by some manner of hypnosis. This makes him conclude that it’s all superstitious foolery. I mean, it can’t be real — how can it be? — since we’ve got an adequate, step-by-step, causal account (from the words spoken by the evangelist to the very experience itself of the audience member) of how the experience came to be.
The problem here is that I can use that same kind reductionism and tell this guy he doesn’t actually love anyone; “Look, you don’t really love your wife — those are just the neurons firing!”
“Also, no, you’re not hungry — that is, again, just these other set of neurons firing!”
And reductio ad absurdum.
Of course, the more reflective will say, ah, but those neurons firing just is what we call love. Or those other neurons firing just is what we call hunger. But so can the silly chap who says he just experienced the holy spirit; he can likewise say that those neurons firing just is what happens when you experience the holy spirit!
I don’t even for one nano-second doubt that most, if not the overwhelming majority, of these claims to have experienced the holy spirit are nothing but a result of some kind of group hypnosis. I myself am skeptical of a lot of these claims. I think evangelists like Benny Hinn are frauds, and the people epileptically flailing-about around his pulpit have been duped, pretty much in the covert manner this ex-pastor describes. But to claim to have ‘debunked’ all ‘God experiences’ because you were able to give an account of how other experiences that can be mistaken for the genuine one can occur is just shoddy reasoning. Nobody but the sufficiently unintelligent is of the mind that people aren’t capable of being misled. And that people can be misled is the trite conclusion of this ex-pastor’s kilometric blog post.