Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tom Gilson analyzes the fourth L in the LLL argument

LLL, is, of course, Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. It is based on C. S. Lewis's argument in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

It is sometimes thought you can refute it just by adding a logically possible fourth option, such as Legend. However, in a Presidential election, adding a third party does not make it less likely that either the Republican or the Democratic candidate will win the election. The additional alternative has to be plausible, and Gilson here argues that the Legend option is not. This is his blog treatment of it.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Old Earth Ministries on the Intelligent Design Movement


8. What Do You Think About the Intelligent Design (ID) movement?
   Any Christian who believes God created the world, in either the young or old earth system, believes in an intelligent designer. We support the ID movement in concept, but not necessarily its tactics.

Making Science Political Again


Saturday, January 07, 2017

Exchange with David Brightly

David Brightly: Science, science, science! Why is it such a bugbear? Does science have to be diminished in order to make room for faith? 

VR: Not if you make a distinction, as you and I both do, between science and scientism. The actual doing of science goes on with no problem without scientism, and the founding fathers of modern science, and some of the best practicioners today, are religious believers.

Suppose we take methodological naturalism to be a voluntary constraint on inquiry that rules out explanation and understanding in terms of persons. Science is then that body of understanding that eschews personhood as an explanatory factor. So there can be no science of world war one, say, and hence scientism is ruled out. Metaphysical naturalism becomes the doctrine that there are no persons other than the likes of us. Science then neither requires nor implies metaphysical naturalism, and there is plenty of space within naturalism for lines of inquiry that lie outside science.

VR: The only thing is that scientific enterprises get funded in ways that others do not.  But we have to ask what the scientific community is trying to accomplish. The scientific community can draw the limits of their own inquiry any way they choose. However, if they put something outside the realm of scientific inquiry, and then make heavy weather out of the fact that science hasn’t produced evidence for it, then we have a problem.  It’s no insult to a metal detector that it can’t find a $100 bill you might have left on the beach.

With this understanding of naturalism isn't it just a bit odd to speak of religious faith and 'faith in naturalism' in the same breath, as Lennox does? I would have thought that if someone's faith in Christ were on a par with my faith in naturalism it would amount to such a meagre, milksop kind of thing as to be not worth having. 

VR: But there are people out there with far more zeal and dedication to atheistic naturalism than a lot of Christians I know have with respect to their faith.  Atheism matters to these people, they want others to embrace it, and they are willing to deny access to positions of scientific or philosophical authority to those who disagree with their naturalism.

Surely the essence of much religion and certainly Christianity is the conviction that personhood lies at the very heart of things. Faith in Christ involves a relation with a person with all the emotional and moral implications that has. Atheists just don't feel this way.

I would agree in the sense that a Christian’s faith is a different kind of thing from faith in naturalism. On the other hand, I think it is epistemologically similar. On the other hand there are epistemological similarities. One considers the reasons for and against, and one commits to naturalism, or some religious view. Because a large part of a person’s life is structured around the decision one makes, it is understandable that people will be slow to reconsider their positions once taken. I do not see any less obstinacy of belief on either side of the issue. 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Humanist Manifesto II on sexual conduct

SIXTH: In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized. While we do not approve of exploitive, denigrating forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit, by law or social sanction, sexual behavior between consenting adults. The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered “evil.” Without countenancing mindless permissiveness or unbridled promiscuity, a civilized society should be a tolerant one. Short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire. We wish to cultivate the development of a responsible attitude toward sexuality, in which humans are not exploited as sexual objects, and in which intimacy, sensitivity, respect, and honesty in interpersonal relations are encouraged. Moral education for children and adults is an important way of developing awareness and sexual maturity.

Interestingly enough, Humanist Manifesto III didn't include anything like this. 

Are there limits on scientific inquiry

But here is the problem. People speaking for science, or as Ilion likes to say, Science!, don't accept the idea that science is subjected to a constraint. 

What you get is a shell game. "Why should we be naturalists?" Because there is no scientific evidence for anything other than the physical world. "But what about the bacterial flagellum? Isn't that evidence that there is something outside the natural world?" No, you IDiot, to infer from the bacterial flagellum, or the fine tuning of the universe, to a being beyond nature is to violate the canons of scientific inquiry." It is the science defenders who seem to think that belief in anything beyond the natural is somehow a threat to their enterprise, but in fact such heresy hunting, if effective, would deprive the scientific community of some of its best practicioners, such as Francis Collins and Donald Page. 

Further, for many atheists, commitment to atheism is something really important to them. I know many atheists who have ten times the zeal most Christians have for their belief. For them it isn't heaven or hell, it's progress or regression. 

The scientific community has the right to define the limits of its own inquiry any way it sees fit. To then say that their domain is the complete realm of rational inquiry is to make not a scientific claim, but a philosophical one. And to reject that claim is not to be what they insist one should not be, a science denier.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Dare we ask if naturalism is a philosophy brought to science?

Questions about the status of this naturalistic story do not readily
go away, as the level of public interest shows. So, is naturalism actually
demanded by science? Or is it just conceivable that naturalism is a
philosophy that is brought to science, more than something that is entailed
by science? Could it even be, dare one ask, more like an expression of
faith, akin to religious faith? One might at least be forgiven for thinking that
from the way in which those who dare ask such questions are sometimes
treated. Like religious heretics of a former age they may suffer a form of
martyrdom by the cutting off of their grants.--John Lennox, God's Undertaker

Lion Hudson plcMar 29, 2011

What would science say in a world in which young earth creationism was true?

Surely there is a possible world in which YEC is true, in which humans develop science. What would scientists in that world say?

There seem to be three possibilities.

1) Science would say the world was created in 6 days approximately 6,000 years ago by a omnipotent supernatural being.

2) Science cannot say how speciation took place.

3) Science must invent an evolutionary theory, even though it is false.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

How scientism poisions everything

It is actually the half-truths of scientism that truly poison everything by offering in general and its followers in particular a fatal scientistic concoction of half-poison and half-water as though it were pure water. In other words, in the biblical world-view, the counter-claim is Anti-God Secularistic Scientists are not Great, How Scientism Poisons Everything.

-Dr. Ron Rickards, Eternal Harmony: Volume 1: the Unity of Truth in God


Is the Christian role in the founding of modern science relevant?

Lawrence Krauss says no. In response to Lennox he said: 

Let me even agree with you for the moment and say, “Okay, science owes its origin to Christianity.” Thanks very much. We don’t need you anymore. You did a great job. You got us here. Now get out of the way.”Let me even agree with you for the moment and say, “Okay, science owes its origin to Christianity.” Thanks very much. We don’t need you anymore. You did a great job. You got us here. Now get out of the way.”