There’s a rather good article recently published on Aeon, “Why religion is not going away and science will not destroy it“. Since we often circle around the question of the relationship between science and religion, and since most TSZ contributors seem to assume the conflict thesis — that science and religion tend to, and perhaps even must, conflict — I wanted to bring this article to your attention. Discuss — or not!
…from: “having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one”?
Welcome all after vacation!
I have been reviewing many different articles recently and it hit me like a bolt of lighting: How did materialist who promote the Darwinian theory of evolution get to spontaneous emergence of life from what Darwin himself wrote in the Origin of Species:
“There is grandeur in this [natural selection] view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved”
One would think that scientific, experimental evidence convinced Darwinists to change their mind… Unfortunately, just like many of my posts and comments have revealed, no such evidence has emerged…. So, my question is: what prompted the Darwiwnists to change the fundamental idea about the origins of life originally written by Darwin himself, if no evidence for such a change exists?
Various creationists and ID proponents, myself included, have raved about the work of elite scholar and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson who connected the rise of Christianity with concepts in evolutionary theory. His recent 2.5-hour interview was profound on many levels. I provide a link to the interview below.
Even though Peterson is an die-hard evolutionist, many ID proponents and creationists have said they were blessed to hear what he had to say. I know I was. Since I know VJ studied the topic of animal intelligence, I thought Peterson’s work might be of interest to him since Peterson ties the rise of Christianity to behavioral and neurological traits he sees deeply conserved in the mammalian kingdom.
A charge has been made that evolution seems to be a popular religion here at TSZ and that it is difficult to separate the ideology from the science.
During my research on consciousness I have come across more than a few of the so-called mysteries of evolution mainly uttered by Richard Dawkins who seems to have no problem at all that science has not been able to explain them in terms of evolutionary processes… (More of them in my upcoming posts).
What I’ve found really interesting was Dawkins’ public statements that Darwinian evolution and its main mechanism–natural selection–are non-random.
Really? Why didn’t he say so 40 years ago? Continue reading
In a recent comment, Vincent writes that
However, I would argue that if we believe in human freedom, then that freedom has to include the freedom to bind oneself to a particular vision of humans’ ultimate good – whether it be one that includes God as its core or one which excludes God as a hindrance to unfettered liberty.
I’m very interested in theories of freedom and this idea of atheism as somehow involving “unfettered liberty.”
The resident professional ‘philosopher’ of TSZ recently wrote this:
“’memes!’ is a dumb explanation.”
Yes, I agree! (Although that person doesn’t seem to know the difference between ‘memes’ and ‘memetics.’ – e.g. I don’t mind ‘memes’ used for popular shared internet links, but that’s not ‘memetics.’)
Well, given the weekend’s significance for a billion+, let’s ‘crucify’ memetics then. Why is ‘memetics’ a dumb explanation? And there’s no need to hold back with merely ‘dumb’. If one is an ideological ‘naturalist’, isn’t one forced into something like ‘memetics’ because they share the same materialist, naturalist, agnostic/atheist worldview as (chuckling at his own supposed lack of self-identity!) Daniel Dennett? Isn’t the built-in materialism of ‘memetics’ what made it so attractive to certain people and for the same reason obviously not attractive or believable to most others?
Contradictions are rife in the Christian bible. Here at The Skeptical Zone we have recently discussed those surrounding how Saul died. We’ve also noted the two conflicting accounts of Judas’ death and what he did with the thirty pieces of silver. There are dozens more.
The Skeptics’ Annotated Bible and The Thinking Atheist are two of several excellent resources on biblical contradictions and absurdities. The sheer volume of contradictions, though, is best demonstrated visually as is done at BibViz:
The creators of this site started with a cross-index of topics in the bible and pulled out those that contradict each other. You can click on the links to get more detail. As a bonus, the site includes references to the sections in the bible that contain Scientific Absurdities & Historical Inaccuracies, Cruelty & Violence, Misogyny, Violence & Discrimination Against Women, and Discrimination Against Homosexuals.
Obviously most Christians aren’t foolish enough to claim their bible is inerrant. Those that do, in the words of Desi Arnaz, have “got some ‘splainin’ to do.”
Lately I’ve been reading Outline of Pyrrhonism by Sextus Empiricus. Sextus collects the arguments for Skepticism as practiced by ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. Since the notion of “skepticism” seems to play some small role here, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what Sextus means by it.
Is anyone here skeptical of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES) in biology/biological sciences? If so, why? If not, why not?
Background: A couple of days ago I interviewed one of the participants in the Royal Society’s recent ‘New Trends’ meeting (audios now available), who is obviously pro-EES ,as part of a nearly completed research project from the past couple of years.
My interviewee gave the (ahem) ‘brilliant’ answer of a stone when asked to speak about ‘things that don’t evolve’ (one of those interviewer places where it’s really hard to mask a delighted smile with neutrality!) after claiming not to understand the question: “What are the limits of evolution as a scientific theory?” (we had already been discussing its ‘possibilities’ and I explained earlier that I would ask both about the possibilities and the limits of evolutionary theories). Undergrad students around the world chuckle when they hear the Rock answer (as if geological evolution doesn’t exist in the minds of biologists)!
It’s just a ‘play of scales,’ after all, that slips us into the ‘evolution of everything,’ don’t forget 😉
It amazes me how often I hear that Jesus never existed or that scripture is just fiction.
So here are a few rather recently published books for the skeptic who claims to have never seen any evidence that scripture is not fiction or that Jesus ever existed.
By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.’ All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. – Isaiah 45:23-24
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. – John 1:9
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ – John 1:29
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:17
A very interesting blog post by William Dembski:
The old Dembski returns — the one was an old earth creationist before his run-in with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
I don’t find this surprising. I never really believed his capitulation to the fundamentalists. It always looked like saving his job rather than changing his beliefs.
Still, I found the post quite interesting. And maybe it will give some folk something better to do than flinging poo at Dawkins’ software.
A few times I’ve referred to my view about “the God question” as “radical agnosticism.” I thought it might be fun to work through what this means.
For the purposes of this discussion, by “God” I shall mean follow Hart’s definition of God as “the one infinite source of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things” (The Experience of God, p. 30).
Next, I shall stipulate that our assertions about the world fall into two classes: those that take a truth-value in all possible worlds and those that take a truth-value only in the actual world. This is a contemporary version of “Hume’s Fork”: there are “relations of ideas”, “truths of reason”, analytic a priori claims and then there are “matters of fact”, “truths of fact,” synthetic a posteriori claims. (There are some reasons to be skeptical of this neat distinction but I’ll leave that aside for now.)
Whether or not God exists would therefore seem to be either a “truth of fact” or a “truth of reason”. I shall therefore now argue that it cannot be either.
Moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the museum’s Hayden Planetarium, put the odds at 50-50 that our entire existence is a program on someone else’s hard drive. “I think the likelihood may be very high,” he said…Somewhere out there could be a being whose intelligence is that much greater than our own. “We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence,” he said. “If that’s the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just a creation of some other entity for their entertainment.”
Historically and conceptually, modern Genetics and modern Evolutionary Theory are closely intertwined. Mendel and Darwin both published their masterpieces in the mid-1800s and both were promptly misunderstood and discounted for half a century. Both theories required several more “kicks at the can” before final acceptance. Put simply: the Theory of Evolution itself evolved in response to an emerging understanding of Genetics.
Some quick questions:
Question: Name the scientist that first suggested “the effects of use and disuse” were passed from one generation to the next?
Answer: Charles Darwin and NOT Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who actually had a somewhat different theory.
Question: Name the scientist who first to employed the term evolve/evolution while also suggesting human beings had “evolved” from apes?
Answer: That would be Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. (Lamarck in fact invented the word “evolution”, a word which never appeared in Darwin’s Book “Origin of the Species”). Continue reading
There’s a deep and fascinating question about whether we need “foundations” in our philosophical system, and if so, why and what kind.
First question: is the foundationalism primarily epistemological (foundations of knowledge) or ontological (foundations of being)?*
Second question: insofar as foundationalism implies a hierarchy, is the grounding or fundamental principle at the top of the hierarchy or at the bottom?
These two questions give us four positions:
top-down epistemological foundationalism: rationalism
bottom-up epistemological foundationalism: empiricism
top-down ontological foundationalism: theism/idealism
bottom-up ontological foundationalism: materialism
The ontological foundationalism can be reductive or non-reductive. Hence:
reductive top-down ontological foundationalism: idealism
non-reductive top-down ontological foundationalism: emanationism
reductive bottom-up ontological foundationalism: physicalism
non-reductive bottom-up ontological foundationalism: emergentism
Likewise, anti-foundationalism can also be epistemological or ontological:
epistemological anti-foundationalism: pragmatism (or: the good parts of Hegel/Peirce/Sellars)*
ontological anti-foundationalism: process ontology (or: the good parts of Spinoza/Whitehead/Deleuze)*
The main reason why I have resisted efforts to interpret me as an empiricist or materialist is that both empiricism and materialism are forms of foundationalism. Since I am an anti-foundationalist (both in epistemology and in ontology) I am as opposed to empiricism as I am to rationalism, and as opposed to materialism as I am to theism. My views might look like those of an empiricist/physicalist, but only if one insists on interpreting those views through the lens of the foundationalism that I reject.
As time permits I’ll explore the arguments for epistemological anti-foundationalism and ontological anti-foundationalism. For now I just wanted to get the conversation started.
*I’m leaving aside ethical and political versions of foundationalism and anti-foundationalism, though I think that’s where the philosophical action is really at.
** I’m only citing philosophers in the Western canon here, but Nagarjuna in the Madhyamika tradition of Tibetan Buddhism developed a consistently anti-foundationalist epistemology and ontology one and a half millennia before it was even conceived of in the West. Within the West, probably Nietzsche and Dewey would be the first consistently anti-foundationalist philosophers.