Saturday, May 17, 2008

Alanyzer: The Theologian's Fallacy

Alanyzer: The Theologian's Fallacy

Alan Rhoda on the Theologian's fallacy, which is relevant to some of the discussions I have been having here.

6 comments:

Jason Pratt said...

Well, I don't much like having it called the Theologian's fallacy (as if it had something intrinsically to do with theology); but I have to admit our crew is guilty of it more often than other groups, as far as I can tell. (Though this might be a good time to hunt up and adduce that famous Lewontin quote, Vic, which is hardly about theologians in any sense. {g})

JRP

Alan Rhoda said...

Jason,

Fair enough. I don't think the "theologian's fallacy", as I call it, is either unique or inherent to the discipline of theology. Not all gamblers commit the "gambler's fallacy either. It just happens to be more common in certain contexts.

The Lewontin quote you're alluding to is a good one to illustrate the point that even some atheists have their Trumps. In Lewontin's case it's metaphysical naturalism.

Jason Pratt said...

Out of curiosity (Alan or Vic either one, or anyone else who knows): I've never seen the full context of the Lewontin quote, so I was wondering--is he engaging in in-house criticism, or is he actually advocating that professionals engage in "unsubstantiated just-so stories" et al? (I find it hard to believe the latter, btw, and strongly suspect the former is true instead. But as noted I don't recall ever having seen the context, so...)

JRP

mattghg said...

Jason,

The Lewontin quotation I assume you're referring to comes from this review. He doesn't seem to be suggesting that his colleagues drop their "absolute commitment to materialism", but rather that they at least admit they have such a commitment. The review's also worth reading for some amusing comments about Dawkins.

Ilíon said...

Matt,
Thanks for that link.

I'd long ago read the full review (here), but at some point it became unavailable, and so I could no longer reference it.

Ilíon said...

To be more precise, I'm pretty I first read it on the website of the New York Times Book Reviews, but at some point it becamre either unavailable or "premium content."