Is Scepticism a Worldview?

During the recent debate with Gpuccio at one point he claimed was that it was my prior adoption of particular ideology or worldview that led me to exclude design as an explanation. Thus reducing our disagreement to a choice of worldviews.  I am not sure I know what a worldview is – but scepticism falls far short of being an ideology.  All it amounts to is the demand for strong evidence before believing anything.  This is just an approach to evidence and is compatible with all sorts of beliefs about the nature of reality.

To take the particular issue of whether life is designed.  Scepticism does not exclude design. It just asks that a design explanation is evaluated by the same standards as any other explanation. It is not sufficient that other explanations are considered to be inadequate.  If you happen to believe in a designer with the appropriate powers and motivation then you may well accept that as the best explanation for life. If you happen to believe in a designer with evil motivations and sufficient power then that is a perfect explanation for natural disasters. But these are beliefs which need to be separately evaluated with their own evidence. You cannot use the fact that a designer is a good explanation for life as evidence for that designer.

What has Gpuccio’s challenge shown?

(Sorry this is so long – I am in a hurry)

Gpuccio challenged myself and others to come up with examples of dFSCI which were not designed. Not surprisingly the result was that I thought I had produced examples and he thought I hadn’t.  At the risk of seeming obsessed with dFSCI I want assess what I (and hopefully others) learned from this exercise.

Lesson 1) dFSCI is not precisely defined.

This is for several reasons. Gpuccio defines dFSCI as:

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Upright Biped’s “Semiotic Theory” redux.

I have been having an exchange with Upright Biped here about his perception of how his “semiotic theory of Intelligent Design” has fared among sceptics. In the hope that he will be prepared to re-engage with us in addressing a few outstanding points, I post his argument, originally published at lawyer Barry Arrington’s Uncommon Descent blog

1.  A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc).


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Moderation release

As a temporary fix, until Lizzie returns, anyone who is being moderated and can’t comment is invited to leave a comment here and I will approve it, hoping that it will work as a fix for all commenters in all threads. Perhaps other thread authors could also check to see if they can do the same. I note that Lamont has approved my comment in his thread but this has not stopped my comments in other threads (including my own) ending up in moderation, so maybe it won’t, but you never know!

Added in edit:

Seems that author approval releases moderated comments in that thread only. As Lizzie is, I suspect, the only one with administrator permissions, we are stuck with the status quo.

Added in edit:

Seems it is worse than I thought. Author approval is apparently needed for each comment which is really impractical. Mark Frank has already suggested continuing on his blog but perhaps we could open an ad hoc wordpress blog with shared admin among volunteers and open authorship as this seems to operate well here. The level of abusive posting (apart from one notable exception) has been minimal and I think we should err on the side of open-ness. I will try and be alert to checking moderation.

Added in edit:

Just a thought. It could be democratic with shared admin (volunteers, please) and all members having author status by default as that seems to work well here. Keeping a wordpress format should make it easy to transfer active threads if need be.

Added in edit:

The moderation glitch appears to be fixed!


Skepticism and Atheism

Since this is the Skeptical Zone, I think it is appropriate to apply a little skepticism to atheism itself. How could anyone know if they were deceived by an evil demon into believing that God does not exist? Furthermore, if a person was trapped inside a matrix of evil lies and deception, is there anyway to escape and come to know the truth about God?

Certainly it is more likely that an atheist could be deceived by an evil spirit into not believing in God, than it is that all of us could be completely deceived about everything as Descartes proposed in his Meditations. Hence, this is an argument that the atheist should take seriously.

It should also be noted that the empirical sciences are of no help here because for the deception to be successful demons could not leave behind any testable evidence. If there was proof that demons existed, that would constitute strong evidence for the existence of God. So demons must remain hidden and work through nonphysical means.

So what would the deception look like? It would begin by asserting that all knowledge is acquired through the senses with the aid of the scientific method. Scientism, materialism, and naturalism provide the foundation for the deception. Knowledge of God is ruled out a priori.

Secondly, it would promote immorality as normal. Nothing keeps the mind from thinking about God any better than the vices of greed, lust, and pride.. A culture that promotes mindless consumerism, sexual promiscuity. and narcissism is perfect for this.

Finally it would mock religion in general and seek to place restrictions on religious speech and expression. Militant secularism and freedom from religion would be promoted as necessary for a healthy society. If a person never hears about God, then it is much less likely that they will think about God or believe in God.

Since all the elements of the deception are already in place, only a fool or a willing participant in the deception would refuse to investigate the unthinkable alternative. Maybe God actually exists.

Escape from the deception can come about in many ways. The first step is for the atheist to acknowledge the fact that he might be wrong and may have been deceived.

A second step is to consider the fact that everything that actually exists either came from something that actually exists or, is self-existent and exists eternally and immutably. The material things that science studies are all made of parts that can be put together to make something and broken apart and reformed to make something new. There is nothing in the material world that is eternal or unchangeable. The universe that we know is not eternal, it came from something else. That eternal something else that produced our universe cannot itself be composed of material parts for then it would not be self-existent or eternal. It must be immaterial. The immaterial, eternal, and immutable something else is what philosophers call God.

But what sort of being is immaterial and eternal? The one thing that we know of that is like that is our own minds or souls. Our minds are not bound by time. We can think of the past, the future, and the timeless. Our minds are not bound by space. Our bodies and our brains are in one place and our experience is limited to that place at that time. Our minds however, can be anywhere and we can think about anything that we choose to think about including abstract immaterial things that are not in any particular place or time. Most importantly we can choose to think about God.

Religion is the result of our thinking about God, and even though most of our thoughts about God may be wrong, it is possible that God is also thinking about us and wants us to know him. That is a possibility that is worth investigating. I believe that everyone who seriously seeks to undertake this investigation will eventually know the truth about God and be freed from all deception, but first you have to want the truth and nothing but the truth,

Admin: Everyone In Moderation

I don’t know if anyone will be able to see this.  I posted a similar message on the Sandbox, but it didn’t appear.

If you are a logged in, registered user and click on the little speech bubble on the dashboard bar, you’ll get a list of comments awaiting moderation.  You’ll also see this warning message:

Akismet has detected a problem. Some comments have not yet been checked for spam by Akismet. They have been temporarily held for moderation. Please check your Akismet configuration and contact your web host if problems persist.

This suggests that either Akismet is unreachable, possibly due to the recent storm, or that bit rot has set in and we need to summon Lizzie back somehow.