Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lawsuit filed against one of my former teachers

Well, not exactly. This suit was directed against the college, and one of his followers who teaches it his college. 

One of my first philosophy teachers was Surrendra Gangadean, way back in the spring of 1973 (!), at Phoenix College. I took a logic class from him. I was 19 at the time. It was interesting to me to meet a Christian in philosophy. However, I spent much of the semester arguing against his Calvinism.

I was rather surprised to learn that a course at his present institution, Paradise Valley Community College, not him, but an adjunct at that college, was sued for using his book as a text, which the plaintiffs thought violated the establishment clause, because it advocated Christianity.

Now, using the classroom to advocate my own positions is certainly not my style of teaching. I have this nutty idea that if I do my best to fairly present all viewpoints, students will have the best chance to reach the truth, which, of course,accords with my beliefs. You can't keep your own positions in the closet completely, however (especially if you're a blogger).  But lots of professors advocate their own positions. A lot of people have the image of the atheist philosophy professor who does everything he can to convert his class to atheism. Some 25 years ago I heard of a well-known philosopher at the University of North Carolina who taught a philosophy of religion classes with the expressed purpose of destroying the faith of his students.

If Mr. Gangadean got sued, why don't these people get sued also? Oh, wait, it doesn't violate the Establishment Clause, because atheism is to religion what not collecting stamps is to hobbies. Yeah, right.

149 comments:

Tony Hoffman said...

"Oh, wait, it doesn't violate the Establishment Clause, because atheism is to religion what not collecting stamps is to hobbies. Yeah, right."

Has it been determined somewhere that atheism is a religion? You seem dismissive of the notion that it is not -- what's the best reference you can link to that makes an argument for atheism being as much a religion as what we understand to be proper religions?

I would expect that you have a well thought out definition for the word "religion," and would like to know what that is as well.

Boz said...

"If Mr. Gangadean got sued, why don't these people get sued also?"

They should get sued.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

From page 7 of the suit:

41. Ms. Burton's uncritical teaching of Surrendra Gangadean's ten Moral Laws was not directly relevant to an objective, religiously neutral presentation, as stated in the course catalog published by PVCC, of "Major theories of conduct. Emphasis on normative ethics. Theories of good and evil from Plato to the present," MCCCD's course competencies or MCCCD's course outline.

What counts as "an objective, religiously neutral presentation"? Whatever it might be, the courts seem like one of the worst possible places to adjudicate the matter.

Anonymous said...

I recently graduated from a "Top 10" university in which I took a supposedly "comprehensive" philosophy of mind course during my sophomore year. Besides the standard opening number featuring Descartes' Meditations, every single author we read was a naturalist, and every theory of mind we studied was a naturalistic theory. No books were assigned that featured non-naturalistic articles. Additionally, as the semester was winding down, I vividly remember her telling our class the following one day:

"Naturalism represents a thoroughgoing secularism..[5 sec. pause].. Naturalism is good. It is good to be a naturalist."

And the class quietly absorbed her statements, totally unperturbed. They were unaware of the indoctrination, because they were unaware of the other options available to them outside of the framework of naturalism. As for me, I found it humorous to wonder whether a similar reaction would have occurred if, instead of advocating naturalism, she had promoted theism instead.

Hiero5ant said...

@Anonymous:

I had the same experience!

In chemistry class. And physics. And the history of China. And shop. And economics. And audio engineering.

Truly, the conspiracy runs deep.

Papalinton said...

"If Mr. Gangadean got sued, why don't these people get sued also? Oh, wait, it doesn't violate the Establishment Clause, because atheism is to religion what not collecting stamps is to hobbies."

Yeah. That seems about right. So, what's your beef, Victor?

Papalinton said...

Tony asks: "Has it been determined somewhere that atheism is a religion? "

Perhaps it is timely to remind people what a religion entails. A religion is a class of social activity centred around the adulation of the immaterial. It is an organized, systematized social enterprise in which humans relate and socialize with non-natural other-world entities on a regular basis. And any contrived comparison of atheism with religion simply does not hang. With atheism there is no doctrine, no 'good' book, no dogma, no catechism, no organised tradition, no institutional body or theological administrative organisation underpinning the ritual and  ceremony; there is no  procedural observance; no service, no sacrament, no liturgy, no organised and regular worship; no custom or atheistic tradition, and there is no formalised convention, procedure or established protocol. There are no 'church' officers, no hierarchy of promotion of clergy/ministers, no administrators or CEOs of centralized management arrangements, there is no career service in atheism as is called for in managing the plethora of religious systems. 

All these are emblematic characteristics of a religion.  Atheism is not, in and of itself, a systematized process through which the direct support, and the administration of, such a system is appropriate or required.  There is no dedicated requirement for infrastructure support to maintain, co-ordinate and administer the various elements of a religious franchise as is clearly evident in the Roman Catholic organisation, or the Southern Baptist Convention, or any of the myriad mega-church industries. 
 
Atheism is not an industry.  By contrast all religions are in the 'eternal insurance' industry through which customers buy insurance to cover travel and entry visas into the next world [putatively heaven], following their demise in this one.  The clergy are ostensibly insurance salesman.  [Benny Hinn is a religious insurance hawker/insurance loan shark of a particular stripe. The pope is another]
I am reminded of Joseph Lewis, American author, writer, who noted:  "Religion is all profit.  They have no merchandise to buy, no commissions to pay, and no refunds to make for unsatisfactory service or results  .... Their commodity is fear;  their inventories are lies ..... their deferred tax assets are guilt and self-abasement."

Anonymous said...

So what is atheism, then, Papalinton?

Papalinton said...

Anonymous says, "And the class quietly absorbed her statements, totally unperturbed. They were unaware of the indoctrination, because they were unaware of the other options available to them outside of the framework of naturalism. As for me, I found it humorous to wonder whether a similar reaction would have occurred if, instead of advocating naturalism, she had promoted theism instead."

Little did the class know that early in Anonymous's life, that he too was subjected to indoctrination, but more germane to that period, it was at a time when he would have been far too young to understand and appreciate his guinea-pig status.

And the intent of the lecturer's message was a very fair one. Naturalism is true. It is verifiable. It is not destructive. It accounts for wysiwyg [what you see is what you get]. There is nothing evil in this perspective.

Anonymous goes on, "As for me, I found it humorous to wonder whether a similar reaction would have occurred if, instead of advocating naturalism, she had promoted theism instead."

I too am amused by your thought, Anonymous. I would hope there would have been a very lively debate should the lecturer have tried to spin a theological yarn to this seemingly level-headed bunch of graduates [I assume they graduated seeing that you did]. But it does seem you learned nothing for the experience.


And Hiero5ant, your response to Anonymous is a classic.

ANC said...

In chemistry class. And physics. And the history of China. And shop. And economics. And audio engineering.

Economics, history, chemistry, physics, and audio engineering are not "naturalism".

But if you want to get cute, in each and every one of those classes, you did learn quite a lot about intelligent design. ;)

B. Prokop said...

To read an excellent case for why atheism should be considered a religion, read Stephen Prothero's "God is Not One", a book I highly recommend.

finney said...

Actually, atheism is a religion for various constitutional purposes. There was a case a few years ago that asserted a prisoner's rights to express his atheism by giving him access to atheistic literature, etc. The court held that it was protected by the free-to-exercise clause of the 1st Amendment.

So I think that should apply here as well.

finney said...

Kaufman v. McCaughtry:

"But whether atheism is a “religion” for First Amendment purposes is a somewhat different question than whether its adherents believe in a supreme being, or attend regular devotional services, or have a sacred Scripture"

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1467028.html

If atheism is a religion for purposes of the free-to-exercise clause of the First Amendment, then it must also be a religion for the purpose of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. You must have it both ways. Thus, if atheistic practices deserves first amendment protection, it shouldn't be promoted or taught under the guise of philosophy.

Karl Grant said...

I am with finney on this one.

B. Prokop said...

Ditto here. After all, "What's sauce for the goose..."

Either naturalism and atheism are banned from the public classroom, or religion is allowed in!

Victor Reppert said...

Whether atheism counts as a religion does depend on the definition of religion, and here the Buddhism of the Buddha has to be dealt with.

I am glad someone mentioned the free exercise clause, because you could argue that while a professor who takes a strong Dawkinsian line in class, and uses his authority in the classroom to push that kind of nonbelief isn't violating the Establishment clause, he most certainly is interfering with the students' right to practice their religion freely. At least that is the conclusion you would have to draw if you accepted the reasoning of the plaintiffs that Gangadean and Burton violated the Establishment clause.

But the fact is that both believing and unbelieving professors know that however forcefully they advocate for either their religious or non-religious viewpoints, students can and will reject those viewpoints and think for themselves.

Both theistic and anti-theistic perspectives are those to which people are passionately committed.

Gangadean takes some positions on religion that are unpopular, such as presuppositionalism, but I am worried that the reasoning behind this lawsuit could have been used against someone like Robert Adams during his long career at UCLA, and whether this could result in open season on Christian professors in secular departments.

Steven said...

Papalinton:

"A religion is a class of social activity centred around the adulation of the immaterial."

This excludes materialist Jainism as well as older, materialist forms of Vedic belief from the category of "religion," of which they are clearly members.

B. Prokop said...

The only workable definition that I've ever come across of religion is "If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck!" Using that as a guide, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Atheism are all religions.

More seriously, students who expect a philosophy professor to have no personal opinion on the most fundamental questions, such as "Why are we here?", "What is the Meaning of Life?", or "Is there a God?" are too stupid to be in class, and those who expect him to never express it are too naive.

One Brow said...

A philosophy professor who asserts the correctness of their own beliefs, at the end of a semester and in a context where it will not affect grades, does no harm, and as far as I can tell does not violate the Establishment clause, whether the statement is religious or not. A professor who strongly and explicitly encourages a specific beleif system, in a manner that makes it clear the students are expected to adopt such a system, does violate the Establishment clause, whether the statement is religious or not.

How bad does a rpofessor have to be to get a student to sue them?

finney said...

Right, defining atheism is important, but these debates over what the definition of atheism is overlooks the fact that any term in the constitution means something that it wouldn't mean outside the constitution. In fact, some terms in one article of the constitution won't mean the same thing in a different article. For example, a "person" could be a corporation in the 1st Amendment, but a corporation is not a person for the purpose of Article 1's requirements for officials. Stopping a person on a street for brief questioning is a "seizure" under the 4th Amendment but is called by us ordinary people a "conversation".

So, Papalinton, instead of arguing that religion should be defined in a way that includes naturalism or materialism, I'll simply ask you this. Do you want atheistic prisoners to have access to atheistic literature and to assemble with other atheists in order to "study" and discuss atheism?

Ilíon said...

"A lot of people have the image of the atheist philosophy professor who does everything he can to convert his class to atheism."

Or, in my case, the atheist/Marxist sociology prof ... whose "atheism" was much like What's His Name's; you know, the old story: ditch your wife, take up with a chickadee, not necessarily in that order, become an 'atheist' ... and whose Marxism was equally as deep.

But, he sure wasn't shy about calling me "that religious not" to pther people, like my roommate.

Crude said...

I'm just showing up here to say, "Ilion used the word 'chickadee'? Heh."

Got nothing more to contribute for now!

Anonymous said...

Ilion for President.

Ilíon said...

Actually, it's "Ilíon for Dictator!"

Papalinton said...

Finney says, "Actually, atheism is a religion for various constitutional purposes." And then goes on to cite a court case.
Another pious convenient half-truth, advocated by the theists on this site.

I'm quite amazed at how pissed off christians were when the prisoner cleverly received a ruling in his favor under the Establishment Clause. And Brian Fahling in the following item is disgusted that the Establishment Clause, the very same which was to protect religious freedom turned around and bit christian arse bigtime. So which is it faitheist? Is Fahling expressing genuine christian sentiment or is he talking through his rear end?


A federal court of appeals ruled yesterday Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate's rights because they did not treat atheism as a religion.
"Atheism is [the inmate's] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being," the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said.
The court decided the inmate's First Amendment rights were violated because the prison refused to allow him to create a study group for atheists.

Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy [a conservative fundamentalist christian organisation], called the court's ruling "a sort of Alice in Wonderland jurisprudence." "Up is down, and atheism, the antithesis of religion, is religion," said Fahling.

The Supreme Court has said a religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being. In the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the court described "secular humanism" as a religion.

Fahling said today's ruling was "further evidence of the incoherence of Establishment Clause jurisprudence." "It is difficult not to be somewhat jaundiced about our courts when they take clauses especially designed to protect religion from the state and turn them on their head by giving protective cover to a belief system, that, by every known definition other than the courts' is not a religion, while simultaneously declaring public expressions of true religious faith to be prohibited," Fahling said.

Read more: Court rules atheism a religion http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=31895#ixzz1Yg3dOmj5

Brenda said...

This is where I as an agnostic come down on the side of religious freedom.

Atheism is a belief system. It is the belief they feel justified in asserting that the statement "god exists" should be rejected.

Professors should advocate for a position they feel is the correct one. That is their duty. They should do that because there simply is no final authority on what is or isn't true. The last thing academia or any system of free thought needs is for a committee of atheists deciding what is or isn't true and which prof should be fired for teaching untruths.

The New Atheists are intolerant True Believers and are just as dangerous as any religious fanatic.

HuffPo has an article on this issue today:

Scientists Negotiate Boundaries Between Religion and Science

Brenda said...

Is Atheism a religion? The issue is deeply confused for a number of reasons. An inadequate definition of atheism, a glib and superficial definition for religion and a confused understanding of how language works.

The garden variety atheist today has a mish-mash of dubious beliefs about his/her belief system. One is that it doesn't exist. Two is that atheism = science. Three is that we can give absolute definitions of words. Four is a tacit assumption of the tenets of logical positivism. Five is a failure to understand or acknowledge the analytic/synthetic dichotomy.

Atheism exists because there exist people who believe in atheism and self identify as atheists. There are no groups, clubs or organizations who get together and talk discuss all the issues and controversies surrounding not collecting stamps. The converse is true, therefore atheism cannot be like not collecting stamps.

If I ask you "what is that fruit you have there" you have not answered me by telling me it is a not(orange). That just isn't how language, people and social norms work.

When I was young (sigh!) we were all rebellious teens who rejected authority, the establishment, standards of dress, standards of behavior, religious standards, and pretty much anything our parents believed in. And yet as I recall that time we all wore the same "uniform" the uniform of non-conformity. We all talked to same way, acted about the same, held about the same nebulous set of fuzzy beliefs. Did we exist as a definite social group that could be characterized has having a core set of beliefs, attitudes and ways of being in the world? Why yes, you could.

Atheism exists and it is valid to characterize or classify the beliefs, attitudes and ways of being in the world that most atheists share. The fact that you can never capture everyone is not a problem anymore than it is a problem that no definition of religion can capture every religious individual.

I blame George Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God" for all this nonsense. As an Objectivist he tried to define atheism as not(theism) which it is not. To do so he relied on a move that is typical of Objectivists which was to gloss over analytic/synthetic distinctions to serve the interests of his philosophical cult. Subsequent atheists have picked up his definition without acknowledging that definition depends on an Objectivist epistemology. One that few serious people today believe.

finney said...

Papalinton,

I'm sorry. I missed your point, if there was one, in your reply to me.

Was it merely that you were amazed at the pissed-off-ness of Christians toward that ruling?

Point granted. How amazing. Moving on..., as I repeated before, atheism is a religion for the purpose of the first amendment free-to-exercise clause, and so should be a religion for the purpose of the establishment clause. The two clauses are reciprocal, and create a ceiling and floor between which religious expression is protected.

Anonymous said...

"Ilion for President."

Talk about Hell on Earth.

Crude said...

"Ilion for President."

Talk about Hell on Earth.


Hope and change, anon, hope and change!

Ilíon said...

Change you can hope in! Hope you can change in!

One Brow said...

Brenda said...
There are no groups, clubs or organizations who get together and talk discuss all the issues and controversies surrounding not collecting stamps. The converse is true, therefore atheism cannot be like not collecting stamps.

There are no groups, clubs, or organizations which are not specficially devoted to stamp collecting and yet specifically exclude non-stamp-collectors. There are no groups, clubs, or organizations that claim America is a stamp-collector's country. I've never heard a stamp collector say non-stamp-collectors have no basis for morality.

Atheists gather because there is a social stigma and price attached to being an atheist.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit! There is no price to pay in this country for being an atheist. Indeed the rewards are many. Endless puffed up ego gratification, baseless yet enjoyable feelings of superiority to the ignorant deluded masses, and lucrative book publishing contracts and speaker's fees. Some price!

shiningwhiffle said...

If I remember correctly, Stanley Fish pointed out a few years ago that the Establishment Clause was ratified the same week the first Congressional chaplains were hired. The application of the clause has always been a deeply incoherent affair.

That said, I strongly agree that there is a symmetry between religious expressions and anti-religious expressions that ought to be reflected in equal treatment under the law, not the least of which reason is the point that anti-theism often functions like a religion (many atheists are, if you will, trapped in the same fundamentalist paradigm they were raised in, having merely rearranged the furniture and set the sofa on fire).

I think this case just reinforces, from the opposite end, the point that atheists have traditionally championed: that freedom of religion cannot be separated from freedom from religion.

Papalinton said...

Hi Brenda
"Atheism exists because there exist people who believe in atheism and self identify as atheists."

Not quite right, and your statement describes the result rather than the cause for atheism. The actuality of atheism is a direct causal result and consequence of the existence of theism. There would be no atheism if there was no theism.

Atheism is the ground of all being. Everyone is an atheist to everyone else.

If one has belief, knowledge is lacking. If one has knowledge, belief is unnecessary. So, you see Brenda, an atheist is not a person who knows too little about religion. An atheist is a person who knows too much about religion. Since there are so many religions and none of them can claim a majority of humanity, whatever theists believe, they will always remain in the minority.

I might add, religion is not so bad - unless you believe it. And another thing, if people, as you and others on this site are suggesting, say that atheism is a religion, do they mean that as a compliment or an insult?

With really genuine people who happen to be also believers, like Bob Prokop and Victor Reppert, and dicks like Ilion and Anonymous, it is clear religion is neither all good nor all bad. But it is all human [contrived] - and therefore diverse, ambiguous, and contradictory.

One Brow said...

Anonymous said...
Bullshit! There is no price to pay in this country for being an atheist. Indeed the rewards are many. Endless puffed up ego gratification, baseless yet enjoyable feelings of superiority to the ignorant deluded masses, and lucrative book publishing contracts and speaker's fees. Some price!

Charming, and disconnected from reality. No doubt you also think there is no racism or sexism.

Ilíon said...

"Charming, and disconnected from reality. No doubt you also think there is no racism or sexism."

Hmmm ... how many logical fallacies are in those two sentences?

=======
"... Some price!"

You're not looking at the Big Picture, Anonymous. So-called atheists pay a horrific psychic price to live in America; for, unlike in Soviet Russia, they are unable to sent those "ignorant deluded masses" to the death camps.

Ilíon said...

"If I remember correctly, Stanley Fish pointed out a few years ago that the Establishment Clause was ratified the same week the first Congressional chaplains were hired. The application of the clause has always been a deeply incoherent affair."

The application is incoherent because it is intentionally misinterpreted and misapplied.

Papalinton said...

shiningwhiffle
"That said, I strongly agree that there is a symmetry between religious expressions and anti-religious expressions that ought to be reflected in equal treatment under the law, not the least of which reason is the point that anti-theism often functions like a religion (many atheists are, if you will, trapped in the same fundamentalist paradigm they were raised in, having merely rearranged the furniture and set the sofa on fire)."

This is a somewhat insightful comment. But perhaps a little different to that which you portray [that is, if your 'fundamentalist paradigm' of the atheist upbringing connotes an 'atheist paradigm']. Taking a contemporary perspective and parroting Dr David Eller's rather elegant reflection: " 'Normal' theism operates on the god-paradigm, but 'normal' atheism [also] operates on the same paradigm, only in the negative [arguing against gods]. The revolution in atheism, a truly new atheism, will only come when we have a paradigm shift - when we discard the god-paradigm and stop speaking god-talk at all."

When one considers the overwhelming imbalance of a vastly theistic society as is the USA, atheism is only [and can only be] recognizable by christians as just another religion. They have no other frame of reference. They have not built an intellectual history or the academic background of scholarship to consider atheism as anything other than just another competing, false religion. It is easier for them [theists] to regard alternative standpoints to their worldview as toxic and pernicious. It is also a somewhat lazy attitude to regard atheism as a 'negative' religion. After all, their whole battle has been about fending off all the other 'false', 'heretical' religions throughout history. That's all they have been trained to do their entire lives. Theists do not have the intellection to perceive of a world without the contrivance of gods and other-world, non-human [putatively live] entities with which they engage and socialize at least once a week, usually a Sunday.

Papalinton said...

Erratum
"The actuality of atheism is a direct causal result and consequence of the existence of theism."

What terrible editing. Should read, "The actuality of theism is a direct cause for atheism, And atheism is a consequence of the existence of theism. "

Papalinton said...

finney
" .. as I repeated before, atheism is a religion for the purpose of the first amendment free-to-exercise clause, and so should be a religion for the purpose of the establishment clause. The two clauses are reciprocal, and create a ceiling and floor between which religious expression is protected."

Interesting isn't it? The law may have considered 'atheism' as a religion. But I am certain that there is no atheist organization that can, or is allowed to plug into the largesse of federal funding, the enormous tax breaks and exemptions and massive grants available as religions are able to stick their snouts in the public trough.

And nor should they. But equally important, nor should religions unseemly wallow in this feedlot.

Anonymous said...

And nor should they. But equally important, nor should religions unseemly wallow in this feedlot.

U JELLY?

finney said...

Papalinton,

Churches don't get taxed partly because pastors can't sue their church for their tithes, whereas employees and stockholders sue all the time successfully for their wages and dividends. A moral obligation to pay is not a legal obligation to pay, so not-for-profits, churches, charities, civic organizations organized to play baseball, etc. (none of which are legally entitled compensation), aren't taxed.

And atheist organizations could certainly be tax-exempt, if they're organized as "corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes."

26 USC Section 501. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode26/usc_sec_26_00000501----000-.html

Anonymous said...

Gangadean uses his classroom to teach Christian apologetics (Presupposition argument for the existence of God)as objective fact in order to recruit receptive students into his cult, Westminster Fellowship Inc. Please visit Debunking Surrendra Gangadean on Facebook for details.

Victor Reppert said...

I happen to think that the Argument from Reason is an objectively good argument, and it is an apologetical argument for the existence of God. I think it appropriate to talk about historical evidence for (and against) the resurrection of Jesus, and I do think that some arguments along those lines have merit.

Atheist philosophers think that the argument from evil, or the argument from divine hiddenness are objectively good arguments, and they teach those things as true in class. They also teach naturalistic evolution as objectively true in class. You may think they are right about these things, but I think I'm right about my arguments, and Gangadean thinks he's right about his, and atheist professor think they are right about the case for atheism.

Now, Gangadean has a religious fellowship he heads, I take it, where he directs people who come to believe what he does. But I don't think he sits around thinking, "These arguments are really fallacies, but I'm going to use these arguments to get people to believe in what I do, so that they can join my cult."

Now, I don't have a particular religious group that I would direct students toward if they came to agree with me that my arguments are good ones. But I'm not sure what difference that makes.


Suppose an atheist professor was the head of a local humanist club,
and when he discovered students who were convinced that he was right about humanism, he directed them to join his humanist club. This is not the sort of thing I would do, or even dream of doing. But, I don't think that would be academic malfeasance.

Now, if you had hard evidence that students who agreed with him were advantaged gradewise, that would be problematic, but such claims are inherently difficult to prove, and there are plenty of offenders in this area of all persuasions.

I'm concerned about a potential attack on academic freedom here, an attack that may be directed unequally between religious and anti-religious professors.

Ilíon said...

VR: "I happen to think that the Argument from Reason is an objectively good argument, and it is an apologetical argument for the existence of God."

One hopes so! Else it would be intellectuallt dishonest of you to advocate it.

One Brow imagines he has refuted it.

Ilíon said...

VR: "Suppose ..."

Surely, you must understand that you're trying to reason with persons who are asserting a double standard. Moreover, the stringent standard they assert applies to “religion” is of recent provenance, and follows from a deliberate misreading of the US Constitution.

*Never* justify oneself or one's position to such dishonest persons, for all that accomplishes is to empower their dishonesty.

Brenda said...

Papalinton said...
The actuality of atheism is a direct causal result and consequence of the existence of theism. There would be no atheism if there was no theism.

Yes, that is my position also. Atheism is clearly the rejection of religious beliefs. If atheism cannot exist without theism then it cannot be "the ground of being". Which btw is Heidegger's metaphor for God so to me that sounds like a tacit declaration that atheism is indeed a belief system. IF atheism cannot exist in the absence of religion AND atheism is the ground of all being THEN no society can exist without religion.

That is a clear contradiction to the claim made by many atheists that atheism is the lack of religious belief and that therefore every newborn is an atheist.

If one has belief, knowledge is lacking. If one has knowledge, belief is unnecessary.

This is false. Belief and knowledge not only can co-exist, they compliment and depend each on the other. Knowledge cannot exist without some kind of basic posit. Belief without knowledge is empty and hollow.

We are not logic machines that crank out our algorithmic responses to input stimuli. There are many aspects of daily life that cannot be reduced to an algorithm.

An atheist is a person who knows too much about religion.

I might add, religion is not so bad - unless you believe it.


These are not arguments. These are statements reflecting your beliefs.

But it is all human [contrived] - and therefore diverse, ambiguous, and contradictory.

Therefore atheism must be inhuman. See... I don't accept your Manichean ideology. I don't think that all that is not science is evil. I am a both/and type of person and in today's polarized environment that places me outside a lot of the discussion.

Papalinton said...

Btrenda
PapaL: "An atheist is a person who knows too much about religion." plus another fact.

Brenda says: "These are not arguments. These are statements reflecting your beliefs."

No Brenda. They are not statements reflecting my belief; rather they are substantiated by recent surveys. As below:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tomchivers/100047527/atheists-and-agnostics-more-knowledgeable-about-religion-than-the-religious/

and:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/omeoflittlefaith/2010/09/atheists-know-more-about-the-bible-than-christians.html

Anonymous said...

Gangadean is an out of control instructor who has no business teaching philosophy. Students complain all the time that all this is is a religion class masked as philosophy. Yet because there are so few philosophy sections at the college, you have to take his or a class from one of his protoge's which is equally biased towards Calvinism.

All of this would be fine, except that it pretends to be philosophy. And the fact that he uses this as a recruitment mechanism for his church is just downright unethical.

Steve Lovell said...

"An atheist is a person who knows too much about religion".

This strikes me as a useful premise in the following argument.

(1) An omniscient person knows all truths (by definition)
(2) An omniscient person does not know too much (seems obvious)
(3) An atheist knows too much about religion
(4) Therefore, an atheist knows some falsehoods about religion.

Only half serious ... or perhaps a smaller fraction.

Papalinton said...

Brenda
PapaL says: "If one has belief, knowledge is lacking. If one has knowledge, belief is unnecessary."

Brenda says: "This is false. Belief and knowledge not only can co-exist, they compliment and depend each on the other. Knowledge cannot exist without some kind of basic posit. Belief without knowledge is empty and hollow."

No. Not false; far from it. The 'belief and knowledge can co-exist' paradigm is largely the premise by which theists get around the issue of cognitive dissonance, by allotting some element of equity between the two concepts, 'belief' and 'knowledge', as well as some form of symbiotic dependency in that relationship.

Well we all know that is bunkum. And you somewhat draw the tenuous nature of that relationship in your next statement Brenda; "Belief without knowledge is empty and hollow." That's what I say, too. Interestingly though, there is a direct relationship between 'faith' and 'belief'. They are synonymous. Faith and belief are interchangeable. And faith [belief] is the bedrock of christian thinking, not knowledge. In fact the bible draws to it:

"What is the difference between faith and belief?
There is no difference between ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ — they are the same thing.
Although the words are different in English, the New Testament, for example, only has one family of words (from the root peithō (Strong’s #3982) in Greek) that are translated as both ‘faith’ and ‘belief’.
Part of the reason why the Greek (in the New Testament and Hebrew in the Old Testament) words are translated as ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ is because English doesn’t have a word ‘faithed‘ or ‘faithing‘, so it has to use ‘believed’ and ‘believing’.
A useful passage to see the interchangeable use of the words ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ is Rom. 4: {3} … Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” … {5}… his faith is counted as righteousness … {9} … faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.
Faith and belief are exactly the same."

From: http://bibleq.info/answer/2427/

I would also add; Faith is not different from belief, nor is it the basis of belief. It is the same thing as belief; accepting the false and unfounded as true. Knowledge stands head and shoulders above faith/belief. And I repeat; If one has belief, knowledge is lacking. If one has knowledge, belief is unnecessary.

Papalinton said...

Steve Lovell
"Only half serious ... or perhaps a smaller fraction."

Yes, but it is also the funny half. A little like the following take:

1. God is love
2. Love is blind
3. I have a loving blind uncle
4. Therefore, my uncle is god.

Crude said...

Just popping in to share this one: Atheism and autism linked.

Ilíon said...

Yeah, the article exposes-in-passing some important, thou false, beliefs about human persons which emerge naturally, ad like clockwork, from atheism (see here).

Brenda said...

Papalinton said:
"The 'belief and knowledge can co-exist' paradigm is largely the premise by which theists get around the issue of cognitive dissonance"

Cognitive dissonance cannot be eliminated. It is a feature of the universe. You should at least understand my position by now. I accept the analytic/synthetic distinction or if you like, the fact/value, Is/Ought divide. The logical positivists tried to eliminate it essentially by jettisoning all synthetic statements as meaningless. The consequence of that was they lost science. They tried to save it by their verification principle but that move failed.

When you make a claim that rejects belief, which is what science is, a belief, you are making the same move the logical positivists did and it fails for the same reasons. Your claim that there exist only knowledge or belief IS the analytic/synthetic distinction. And it will always fall apart the same way and for the same reason that logical positivism did.

The New Atheists are guilty of Scientism, which is the refusal to acknowledge the analytic/synthetic divide by the move of giving science a special status and making it exempt. This is the same move that fundamentalists make when they elevate their own belief tradition to a higher level, the level of the sublime, beyond this one. Mathematical Platonists again make the same move. In an attempt to remove uncertainties and contradictions they elevate maths to the sublime. An abstract plane of existence.

Both New Atheism and fundamentalism are at root an emotional reaction to cognitive dissonance, the presence of antinomy or paradox as a fundamental feature of the world. I accept this basic reality and move on. Hence I am either agnostic or the kind of theist that both atheists and fundamentalists abhor.

"Well we all know that is bunkum."

Well, no we don't. You have to *prove* that claim and you have not done so yet.

B. Prokop said...

I can't believe I'm about to praise a comment by Anonymous, but here goes.

Anon wrote (I've edited it): "The rewards [for being an atheist] are many ... ego gratification ... feelings of superiority ... and lucrative book publishing contracts and speaker's fees."

I thought that sounded familiar. Well, it should have been. It sounds almost exactly like the scene in Lewis's "Great Divorce", where the apostate ecclesiastical ghost, after he claims his skeptical views were courageous, is told by the Spirit: "[How so]? What was likely to come of [them] except what actually came - popularity, sales for your books, invitations, and finally a bishopric?"

Hmm... it seems that "anonymous" has C.S. Lewis in his corner on this one!

Papalinton said...

Brenda
You predilection towards positing discussion along the analytic/synthetic dichotomy, reads pretty much like a recent graduate from a Kantian Philosophy 101 course.

The synthesis/analysis simply distinguishes the semantics between two propositions in philosophy, basically for the sake of argument. There are many critics of the method.

Brenda, please, science is not a belief. It is a methodology. Science is a system of skepticism, debugging, questioning, and doubt. No true scientist believes. Even to this very day we see belief being thrown on the scrap heap with the latest findings from CERN - the Large Hadron Collider -

See: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100106792/faster-than-light-extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-evidence/

From the article, the frame of science is captured in the following statement: Antonio Ereditato, a spokesman for Opera, made it clear that while the team had looked hard for any measurement errors or other mistakes that could explain it, and found none, the results still needed careful checking: “After many months of studies and cross checks we have not found any instrumental effect that could explain the result of the measurement. While OPERA researchers will continue their studies, we are also looking forward to independent measurements to fully assess the nature of this observation.”

and,

"This could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the physical sciences of my lifetime. Or it could be a measurement error. I hope it's the former. But – six-standard-deviation result or not – it's still, at this stage, probably the latter (the guys over at Neutrino Blog are sceptical). "

When one has knowledge belief is unnecessary.

Papalinton said...

Brenda
As a follow-up on the analytic/synthetic dichotomy you might wish to read Boghossian: "This is what many philosophers believe today about the analytic/synthetic distinction: In his classic early writings on analyticity -- in particular, in "Truth by Convention," "Two Dogmas of Empiricism," and "Carnap and Logical Truth" -- Quine showed that there can be no distinction between sentences that are true purely by virtue of their meaning and those that are not. In so doing, Quine devastated the philosophical programs that depend upon a notion of analyticity -- specifically, the linguistic theory of necessary truth, and the analytic theory of a priori knowledge."

at: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/boghossian/papers/AnalyticityReconsidered.html

However, Boghossian makes a distinction between metaphysical analycity and epistemic analycity. For him metaphysical analycity is dead in the water but he tries to make the claim for epistemic analycity.

But then Eric Margolis and Stephen Laurence have put paid to that in:

http://web.mac.com/ericmargolis/primary_site/publications_files/Analyticity.pdf

Both treatises are well worth reading.

Brenda said...

Papalinton said
When one has knowledge belief is unnecessary.

So... if it turns out to be true then all those times people claimed that the speed of light is an absolute.... was that knowledge? If I said last week that "nothing can travel faster than light" and if challenged said that I know it is a true statement because of Einstein did I have knowledge or did I merely believe that Einstein got things right?

"science is not a belief."

Is it a belief that nothing can move faster than light or is it knowledge? How can knowledge be wrong? How can it change?

"It is a methodology."

You are confusing the practice of the scientific method with the facts it produces. Is it or is it not a fact that nothing can travel faster than light? Facts are a series of guesses that approximate the truth.

"Quine showed that there can be no distinction between sentences that are true purely by virtue of their meaning and those that are not."

Yes I know. I think he was wrong.

Anonymous said...

No true scientist believes.

Don't you mean no true scotsman? ;)

Crude said...

Brenda,

A few comments.

Cognitive dissonance cannot be eliminated. It is a feature of the universe.

With respect to the Cult of Gnu / theist divide - where is this showing up with theists? I'd ask where it's showing up with the Cult too, but I can think of one clear example of cognitive dissonance, and it comes from Jerry Coyne's own position on free will given his 'philosophical' beliefs. Dawkins too, if I recall right.

I see this 'cognitive dissonance' thing slung around in these discussions, but it always seems abused. Who are the people who 'hold conflicting ideas simultaneously'?

The New Atheists are guilty of Scientism, which is the refusal to acknowledge the analytic/synthetic divide by the move of giving science a special status and making it exempt.

This is another one I see slung around, and I have to ask: Are they really? Do you mean certain Cult of Gnu leaders specifically? Or the comment box drones? Because in either case, I don't really see this Scientism.

What I *do* see is a lot of lip service paid to science, even while utterly abusing it or ignoring it. I think quite a lot of New Atheists are to Science what Cult of Reason members were to Reason. People who wouldn't shut up about the object in question, but actually either couldn't care less about, or outright abused, the object in many situations.

So... if it turns out to be true then all those times people claimed that the speed of light is an absolute.... was that knowledge? If I said last week that "nothing can travel faster than light" and if challenged said that I know it is a true statement because of Einstein did I have knowledge or did I merely believe that Einstein got things right?

This reminds me of William Valicella defining knowledge as, loosely, a belief in something about which a person cannot be mistaken. But given that all scientific knowledge is provisional...

Papalinton said...

Hi Brenda
"So... if it turns out to be true then all those times people claimed that the speed of light is an absolute.... was that knowledge?"

Yes it is. But it is knowledge consistent with the level of scientific discovery at the time. But there is no sense of absolutism about knowledge in science; it is always a work in progress, just as it should be. Science is substitutive and eliminative. Old ideas are replaced with new ideas. Old ideas only remain viable until they are proved falsifiable. This is the very foundation of science inquiry. There is no absolutist mindset as is the required fundamental of christianity.

As William Lane Craig, the arch sycophant of untestable knowledge [?] says in his signature book, 'Reasonable Faith': "We know Christianity to be true by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit. I mean that the witness, or testimony, of the Holy Spirit is its own proof; it is unmistakable; it does not need other proofs to back it up; it is self-evident and attests to its own truth. The testimony of the Holy Spirit trumps all other evidence. A believer who is too uninformed or ill-equipped to refute anti-Christian arguments is rational in believing on the grounds of the witness of the Spirit in his heart even in the face of such unrefuted objections. Even such a person confronted with what are for him unanswerable objections to Christian theism is, because of the work of the Holy Spirit, within his epistemic rights—nay, under epistemic obligation—to believe in God.”

In his debate with Austin Dacey, Craig says, "You can know that God exists apart from any arguments simply by experiencing him....For those who listen, God becomes an immediate reality in their lives."

Brenda, now how is that for schizotypal behaviour? As he has indicated above, who needs knowledge when you have faith?

Religion, unlike science, is additive and/or schismatic. New ideas proliferate alongside old ideas. Old ideas are never discarded. They are simply interpreted and re-interpreted. That is the reason Aquinas, and Augustine and others [thinkers who died over a thousand years ago] continue to be referenced as if contemporary. The development of Protestantism did not put an end to Catholicism, and the development of Christianity did not put an end to Judaism. With science we get better. With religion we get more. Since there are so many religions - and more every day - that are not only different from but contradictory to each other, it makes no sense to talk about better or true religion. The only thing that makes sense is to talk about 'local' religion, the religion that people follow in one place or time as opposed to someplace or sometime else. This is why you also repeatedly hear christians say, 'Well, that's not what I personally believe ...."

Crude said...

Yes it is. But it is knowledge consistent with the level of scientific discovery at the time.

And earlier...

I would also add; Faith is not different from belief, nor is it the basis of belief. It is the same thing as belief; accepting the false and unfounded as true. Knowledge stands head and shoulders above faith/belief. And I repeat; If one has belief, knowledge is lacking. If one has knowledge, belief is unnecessary.

So, scientific knowledge is knowing something which may not be true. As opposed to belief, which is belief in that which may not be true. Belief is bad, because you accept that which may be false. As opposed to scientific knowledge, which involves accepting that which may be false.

Well, glad we cleared that up.

Brenda, now how is that for schizotypal behaviour? As he has indicated above, who needs knowledge when you have faith?

But that's not faith according to Craig. Craig is claiming it as knowledge - truth. So by your standards, Craig is asserting that those with the HS testimony have knowledge. Not belief, not even faith.

Funny how that works.

Science is substitutive and eliminative. Old ideas are replaced with new ideas. Old ideas only remain viable until they are proved falsifiable.

I imagine there are no true scientists, as was said earlier

This is an idealization of a process, a description. Better than that, a non-scientific description. Science, only so useful, I suppose.

Religion, unlike science, is additive and/or schismatic. New ideas proliferate alongside old ideas. Old ideas are never discarded. They are simply interpreted and re-interpreted.

And some of those interpretations involves a discarding of old ideas. You give the example of the Reformation - are you honestly saying the protestants discarded no ideas? That would be a ridiculous claim.

That is the reason Aquinas, and Augustine and others [thinkers who died over a thousand years ago] continue to be referenced as if contemporary.

Really? So referencing old teachings, ideas and thought in a contemporary setting is indicative that a person's thinking is flawed? I'll keep that in mind with regards to Newton. But I'll especially keep it in mind when the Euthyphro dilemma comes up.

With science we get better. With religion we get more.

Because, what - Judaism can exist alongside Catholicism? As opposed to science, where competing theories cannot exist side by side with each other? What crazy science is this? Not the one even the physicists practice, that's for certain.

Ilíon said...

One of the 'Science!' worshipping fools: "Science is substitutive and eliminative. ..."

[As I intentionally ignore everything the intellectually dishonest fool posts here, I know of this odd assertion only because Crude commented upon it.]

Crude: "This is an idealization of a process, a description. Better than that, a non-scientific description. ..."

There is another amusing thing about the odd assertion. In another context, you could bet your bottom dollar that the 'Science!' worshiper -- since he is intellectually dishonest -- will be faulting someone for offering "eliminative arguments" intended to prove the falsity of some scientistic assertion that the fool desires be true (*) and desires be beyond rational critical evaluation.

Crude: "But that's not faith according to Craig. Craig is claiming it as knowledge - truth. ..."

Craig or no Craig, 'faith' has never meant "baseless belief"; that "definition" is simply one more 'atheist' lie.

=====
(*) The very concept of 'truth' is one these fools imagine they have "outgrown".

We assert, as do all sane and honest persons, that 'truth' is itself (it doesn't reduce to anything else), and indivisible (no true proposition can possibly contradict another true proposition). We assert that it is the duty of all men to do the best they can to know and to not contradict the truths within their purview.

They assert that 'truth' is whatever they are asserting, and that one “truth” can contradict another “truth”. They assert that it is the duty of all men to submit to whatever “truth” they are asserting right now, regardless of the contradictions with actual truth.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Crude
Given the level of your contrived explication, Crude, I can see now why you would imagine theism as being of some value or worth. Your misuse, even abuse, of the word 'true' bespeaks of the limits of your knowledge and understanding of the world outside the boundaries of theist thinking. Only a theist would couch the following: "So, scientific knowledge is knowing something which may not be true."
Indeed the statement is emblematic of the religious lens through which you posit your remarks about science, about facts, about knowledge. The statement additionally epitomizes the theist's incapacity to engage in discourse in fields other than theology in a language and vocabulary commensurate with that field, and which is not theologically idiolect in nature. To make it simple, Crude, you are only capable of a take on science through religious analogies and jargon. For example: "But that's not faith according to Craig. Craig is claiming it as knowledge - truth. So by your standards, Craig is asserting that those with the HS testimony have knowledge. Not belief, not even faith."

Crude you also say: "And some of those interpretations involves a discarding of old ideas. You give the example of the Reformation - are you honestly saying the protestants discarded no ideas? That would be a ridiculous claim." Why? The reformation was not about the substance of the christian mythos; it was about who should interpret the bible, the church and its layer of official office-bearers [clergy] as in the case of catholicism, or by the people themselves, individually, with a personal relationship with god [the protestants]? The reformation was about office politics, how the 'firm' should operate, who was running the show; you know all those temporal things.

Crude, you also say: "Really? So referencing old teachings, ideas and thought [Aquinas, Augustine etc] in a contemporary setting is indicative that a person's thinking is flawed?
No. But it is when old teachings, ideas and thought are presented as contemporary. And they frequently are by theists on this site. And the Fesers and Harts, van Inwagen, Barth, Craig etc are still trotting out this 1000 year-old stuff to this very day as if was only discovered yesterday. The manner by which Apologetics bandies around Aquinas, Augustine in contemporary literature, there is little doubt that christian theism hit its peak at around the 13thC.CE. From there it has all been downhill.

C'mon Crude. You're flogging a dead horse.

Brenda said...

Papalinton said...
Yes it is. But it is knowledge consistent with the level of scientific discovery at the time. But there is no sense of absolutism about knowledge in science; it is always a work in progress, just as it should be.

Hi, so, yes, I believe that too. You're right, science doesn't make absolute claims but when people say that it is knowledge they are. That's inconsistent. Because knowledge isn't the kind of thing that can be "a work in progress" and that changes or adjusts to the times.

I know that 2 + 2 = 4. That IS absolute and true in all possible worlds AND I can prove it. I'm not going to wake up one day and hear that mathematicians have got together and now say we had it all wrong. 2 + 2 is four sometimes. Other times it it's something else.

That's never going to happen, not ever. But it could happen about the statement "nothing can travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum." We think that's true today but it could be false tomorrow. I know that there are people who say that experiment could be wrong. Maybe they made a mistake. That's also possible. It's also just as possible that all the scientists in the world could say, "yup, they were right, in spite of our initial doubts, and we were right to have those doubts, we've done further tests and it turns out that Einstein was wrong. There are some things that can travel faster the light."

That could happen.

Because it could happen the statement "nothing can travel faster than light" cannot be knowledge, it is a belief supported by the weight of history but a belief nonetheless.

There is no absolutist mindset as is the required fundamental of christianity.

FALSE. Fundamentalism is not the same thing as Christianity (or any other religion). I'm agnostic now but I was raised Lutheran ALC synod. We also didn't have an absolutist mindset. I was taught the Bible is not the literal word of God, it's the inspired word of God.

It is because atheists I meet on the internet consistently claim that fundamentalism is the one and only true form of religion and that I must choose between being a Christian fundamentalist or an atheist that I lump New Atheists in with fundamentalists. Fundamentalism is the belief that there is only one true religion. That is categorically false.

As William Lane Craig, the arch sycophant of untestable knowledge [?] says

I don't give a flying crap what he says. Is he the only apologist or theolgian you've ever heard of? Do you seriously believe he speaks for all Christians simply because he has a lot of YouTube vidoes? Are you really that intelectually shallow? I don't think you are, you're just being silly.

Religion, unlike science, is additive and/or schismatic. [...] With science we get better.

That's because there is an objective external world independent of our desires. Science is the attempt to describe that world but no description is ever complete or absolute. You can get it wrong, like thinking nothing can ever travel faster than light. Religion is on the other side of the fact/value, is/ought divide. It is not about what is or is not the case, it's about our hopes, dreams and desires as human beings. It attempts to answer "How should we then live?". Yes there are some who go too far just like there are atheists who do.

Some atheists, not all, try to dictate how other people should think and live. Some theists, not all, do the same. Both are just assholes trying to rationalize their need to dominate others and be a f*%&ing prick all the time. All that crap, all that religous orthodoxy or athist kant, that's just people tring to lord it over other people and then spinning some BS about why they think they can.

Brenda said...

Crude:
Who are the people who 'hold conflicting ideas simultaneously'?

Poets, artists, literature or any other human creative adventure. I read a lot of poetry when I was young. Virtually all of truly fine art sets up a conflict. The very best leaves it unresolved.

Are they really? Do you mean certain Cult of Gnu leaders specifically?

Certainly the cult of Ayn Rand. There are, I believe, many others who accept her militant atheism but reject her delusional political and economic ideas. I also blame Objectivist George Smith for the current confusion with the "atheism is a lack of belief" nonsense.

There are very few tenured philosophers who are militant "New Atheists". It tends to be mostly scientists out of their depth and 14 year old boys (give or take 10 years) who are the most strident and dogmatic in their atheist beliefs.

What I *do* see is a lot of lip service paid to science

Science is how we fix facts. There really is an external world independent of our needs. If there is an external world then we can say something about it. Statements about that world are true if and only if they correspond to it. Science is that activity by means of which we determine what is or is not the case.

Religion doesn't and should not try to do that. It is just people coming together trying to figure out how we should all survive on this rock. How should we live here? How on Earth do we all get along? The answer to that is an opinion, not fact. The universe doesn't give a rip whether we make it or not. It's up to us.

---------------

I have to say. It is nice to have these conversations here. I can't have these kinds of discussions on places like Pharygnula. I tried, it was a disaster. Not on John Loftus' blog either, tried that. Atheists are too intolerant of anyone who doesn't fit in with their dogma about what people should beieve.

Ilíon said...

Brenda: "That's never going to happen, not ever. But it could happen about the statement "nothing can travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum." We think that's true today but it could be false tomorrow."

If it turns out tomorrow to be false, then it is already false today. Truth *cannot* become false, nor falsehood true.

"... Fundamentalism is the belief that there is only one true religion. That is categorically false."

... said the fundamentalist so-called agnostic.

"... Some atheists, not all, try to dictate how other people should think and live. Some theists, not all, do the same. Both are just assholes trying to rationalize their need to dominate others and be a f*%&ing prick all the time. ..."

And *all* so-called agnostics do likewise.

Most so-called atheists on the internet are “f*%&ing prick[s]” (along with being intellectually dishonest, which is far more important than either their prickliness or their f*%&itude). *All* so so-called agnostics on the internet are “f*%&ing prick[s]” (along with being intellectually dishonest).

"... Science is the attempt to describe that [objective external] world … [but] Religion is on the other side of the fact/value, is/ought divide. It is not about what is or is not the case, it's about our hopes, dreams and desires as human beings …"

Nonsense. “Religion” is even more about what is or is not the case than “science” ever can be. This is true even of an utterly false religion, such as that enslaving the Aztecs.

B. Prokop said...

What is the "cult of gnu", which has been referenced several times on this thread? I'm not familiar with that term.

B. Prokop said...

Paplinton,

You apparently disapprove of anyone referencing Augustine or Aquinas purely on the grounds that they lived centuries ago. But that is chronological snobbery in its most blatant, naked form. By that reasoning, I should pay zero attention to anything that anyone says today, on the grounds that 10 centuries from now, that will be "so old".

As Ilion wrote (Gasp! I can't believe I'm quoting Ilion approvingly!!!), "If it turns out tomorrow to be false, then it is already false today. Truth *cannot* become false, nor falsehood true." I quote Aquinas because (most of*) what he said was true then, true today, and will be true next year.**

*I don't agree with 100% of Aquinas.

**I apparently don't disagree with 100% of Ilion.

Karl Grant said...

Bob,

Cult of Gnu is internet slang for the New Atheists. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Denett, PZ Meyers and their little fan clubs.

Ilíon said...

"Cult of Gnu is internet slang for the New Atheists. ..."

And, seemingly, it is slang that *they* invented/promoted.

When I first started seeing the phrase, I had assumed that "Gnu Atheists" was a semi-witty turn-of-phrase and mockery of "New Atheists". But, when I finally got around to asking about that, someone pointed me to one of them approvingly referring to their whole silly project as "Gnu Atheism".

B. Prokop said...

Thanks, I was getting increasingly frustrated, tying to expand an acronym that apparently never existed! I guess I got close, however, because one thought was "Godless Nincompoops United"!

Ilíon said...

'Gnu' is a term of art in the freeware software world.

I suspect that the "New Atheists" were intentionally trying to hitch their star to that philospohy.

Crude said...

Papalinton,

To make it simple, Crude, you are only capable of a take on science through religious analogies and jargon.

I was pointing out some problems with what you said, man. The problems - or, if you prefer, your apparent clarity issue (let's put a band-aid on it) - won't go away by you pontificating.

C'mon, you gave me a big non-response here.

The reformation was about office politics, how the 'firm' should operate, who was running the show; you know all those temporal things.

The Reformation was about a lot of things. Welcome to humanity, where someone can be an atheist because daddy was mean to them, because their autism makes religion too confusing, because they have intellectual objections to the idea, and more.

But it damn sure 'threw out' or 'eliminated' some things, certainly for the protestants. Contrary to what you seem to be saying here.

No. But it is when old teachings, ideas and thought are presented as contemporary.

What in the world are you talking about? "Presented as contemporary"? No, I'm pretty sure they make it clear he lived hundreds of years ago, they explain the developments that have happened since his arguments, they explain arguments that have been directed against these guys throughout the centuries. Why, they even point out where these guys got some things wrong, or could have done better.

You're flogging a dead horse.

A) Flogging dead horses is fun.
B) Have more self-respect, man. You're not a dead horse!

Crude said...

Brenda,

Poets, artists, literature or any other human creative adventure. I read a lot of poetry when I was young. Virtually all of truly fine art sets up a conflict. The very best leaves it unresolved.

But mere conflict is not "cognitive dissonance".

I have to say. It is nice to have these conversations here.

It's a nice place, run by the nicest (if sometimes too tolerant) guy on the internet.

Ilíon said...

Dead horse, horse's ass ... is there really that much to recommend the latter over the former?

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

Decades ago there was a great sitcom with Dabney Coleman, "Buffalo Bill". Probably one of the best TV shows of all time, but that's another story. The point of the show was that in every episode, just when you thought the title character (played by Coleman) might possibly possess some slight redeeming personality feature, he unfailingly demonstrated himself to be a total asshole. Loved that show!

But in any case, whenever I read your comments, I eventually get around to thinking of Buffalo Bill Bittinger.

Ilíon said...

Whereas I know better than to imagine that you have even a slight redeeming quality.

Ilíon said...

... also, I couldn't have watched such a show. Why am I not surprized that you'd think such a show was the best ever made?

Crude said...

Bob, I'd be careful throwing around TV character comparisons. I can think of several characters that'd fit you, and they're all played by Alan Alda. ;)

Crude said...

Actually, let's run with that.

Bob Prokop - Hawkeye Pierce
Victor - Father Mulcahy
Ilion - Frank Burns

It fits!

Anonymous said...

"Gangadean takes some positions on religion that are unpopular, such as presuppositionalism..."

He actually argues against presuppositionalism as it's associated with Cornelius Van Til, recognizing its insufficiencies as it begs the question. He instead advocates what he calls "rational presuppositionalism," where reason is a test for the meaning of basic belief. Assumptions are analyzed by reason and argument for coherence of meaning.

Ilíon said...

"Bob Prokop - Hawkeye Pierce
...
Ilion - Frank Burns
"

Really?

Frank Burns is a passive-aggressive pussy, as I am not.

Hawkeye, while more compicated than Burns ... is also more complicated than Prokop.

B. Prokop said...

I guess I should be glad you didn't pick someone from "South Park" for me!

Papalinton said...

Hi Brenda
You put some good arguments. But in some cases it might be that your use of some terms, such as 'knowledge' may be too restrictive to what comes under its definition. Eg. you say, "Because it could happen the statement "nothing can travel faster than light" cannot be knowledge, it is a belief supported by the weight of history but a belief nonetheless."

Yes it is still a form of knowledge, and knowledge itself is not restricted to absolutes like 2 + 2 = 4. Indeed the word 'knowledge' incorporates a range of things or circumstances under which it is perfectly feasible to consider 'knowledge, such as:

1. Facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject : 'a thirst for knowledge' | 'her considerable knowledge of antiques'.
• what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information : 'the transmission of knowledge'.
• Philosophy true, justified belief; certain understanding, as opposed to opinion.

2 Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation : 'the program had been developed without his knowledge' | 'he denied all knowledge of the overnight incidents'.

And of course, Brenda, there is theological [christian] knowledge, a kind of knowledge that is anathema to science, and most of which is based on mythology, on stories and legends. Some of the stories of course are accreted around a kernel of history which makes them interesting. But what constitutes history and what constitutes mythology has been a raging debate in theological apologetics for centuries. You only have to read over the comments on the Biologos website to gauge the emotions over what is metaphor and what is supposed to be 'real'.


Fancy that, I too was raised a Lutheran before being confirmed in the Uniting Church.

Brenda, from what you say, "Fundamentalism is the belief that there is only one true religion", can I take it then if this is a definition then all moderate and other christians believe there are any number of 'true religions'?

Brenda, you also say, "Do you seriously believe he speaks for all Christians simply because he has a lot of YouTube vidoes? Are you really that intelectually shallow? I don't think you are, you're just being silly."
I say, sometimes I think I AM silly to imagine this, but then I read of the swathe of christians who see WLC as a dragon-slayer extraordinaire against the godless. But then you challenge me and think I am just being silly. You're right of course, because we all know WLC is a windbag and that I, too, shouldn't "give a flying crap what he says."

Brenda, you make good sense.

Ilíon said...

"You put some good arguments ..."

... which illustrate the silliness and/or falseness of what I mave asserted. Therefore, I shall give you a patronizing pat on the head, after which I shall totally ingonre what you have argued as I continue to assert the silly and/or false things I assert.

B. Prokop said...

That was fun, but getting back to the original topic of this thread. The real problem here is not professors evangelizing from the lectern for whatever they personally believe (or don't believe), but our society's readiness to tolerate such frivolous lawsuits as this one. The ONLY possible justification for clogging up our courts and fattening our lawyers' pockets would be if the student could prove that his grades were affected (or some other form of tangible harassment - and I don't mean "Waah, my feelings were hurt!"). Other than that, this should never have been a matter for the courts.

And if the student disagrees with the professor, well, that's what classroom debate is for! As long as the professor doesn't grade on WHAT the student believes, but rather on how cogently he presents his case.

Brenda said...

Ilíon said...
If it turns out tomorrow to be false, then it is already false today.

And if it is false today then you do not have knowledge today. But you claim you do, that claim is clearly false. The solution here is to drop talk about "Truth" because there is no such thing as scientific truth (which would be scientism), and to talk instead about having a justified belief. But atheists stake a claim on not having any beliefs, yet science itself cannot give us truths about the world. It can only give us justified beliefs that our facts correspond to the world.

Truth *cannot* become false, nor falsehood true.

Well... that's what we would believe. Then perhaps even later experiments would overturn established truths again. It has happened many times in the history of science. It is an historical fact that what was once taken as unambiguous evidence for the truth of one theory can one day be used to refute that theory and confirm it's successor.

One Brow said...

Brenda said...
I know that 2 + 2 = 4. That IS absolute and true in all possible worlds AND I can prove it. I'm not going to wake up one day and hear that mathematicians have got together and now say we had it all wrong. 2 + 2 is four sometimes. Other times it it's something else.

You'll also never hear that "2" was witnessed at CERN. "2" is a human construct; the reason that 2 + 2 is always 4 is that we decide what a "2" is, what "+" means, etc. It's like saying "we will never wake up and discover that the chess bishop moves in rows and columns".

One Brow said...

Ilíon said...
Frank Burns is a passive-aggressive pussy, as I am not.

I agree. You're much closer to Col. Flagg.

Brenda said...

Paplington said:


Knowledge as it is used by philosophers that I am acquainted with like David Hume refers to necessary truths. Statements that are true in all possible worlds. Scientific facts are contingent. They may be true in this world but not others. I'd be ok with calling science factual knowledge as long as we understand that it is not certainty.

I think there is a pretty big difference between someone who thinks they can give a rational justification for their beliefs verses someone (Dawkins) who says that we should purge science of all religious believers because they are evil and everything they believe is false.

I take it then if this is a definition then all moderate and other christians believe there are any number of 'true religions'?

I think that most progressive congregations, Christian, Jewish etc., would say while they have their beliefs they do not presume to dictate to others their truth. They would assert (or many would) that there are many paths to god.

The New Atheism is not multicultural. They are mono-cultural, which is a form of totalitarianism. After all, if there really is only one truth then it makes perfect sense to fire professors for failing to teach it or for teaching error.

A mathematics prof who teaches 2 + 2 = 5 should be fired. A physics prof who teaches that some things can travel faster than light had better be able to provide evidence for his belief. A humanities prof should teach accurate history but how that should be interpreted should be given considerably more latitude than we do for the sciences.

Students should be exposed to what their professors believe. That's the whole point of an education.

B. Prokop said...

2 Cor 8:18 "we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Heb 11:3 "the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear."

Nicene Creed: "Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipotentem,
Factorem caeli et terrae,
Visibilium omnium et invisibilium."

B. Prokop said...

That last posting of mine was supposed to follow on to One Brow's comments on the number two, but other fingers were faster.

B. Prokop said...

Also, my point was that "two" is not a human construct, but one of the invisible things created by God.

(The Number "2" is, of course, man made, but the "ens" represented by our number was created ex nihilo.)

B. Prokop said...

Can anyone tell that I am now in the eighth week of a course in Ecclesiastical Latin? So buckle up, folks!

One Brow said...

Brenda said...
Knowledge as it is used by philosophers that I am acquainted with like David Hume refers to necessary truths. Statements that are true in all possible worlds.

That's basically the class of formal truths and deductions. Any formal truth can be converted to a tautology. So, you're saying all knowledge is eseentially tautologies.

Ilíon said...

Wow! Two post-modernists trying to argue with one another about 'truth'. Anyone have any popcorn?

Crude said...

Brenda,

I think that most progressive congregations, Christian, Jewish etc., would say while they have their beliefs they do not presume to dictate to others their truth. They would assert (or many would) that there are many paths to god.

So, what - this is the ground level requirement to be 'open minded'? What if I believe there's only one path to God but I acknowledge the possibility I can be wrong and I don't want my theology imposed on others?

Students should be exposed to what their professors believe. That's the whole point of an education.

What? Since when? This makes the professor central to education, not... the actual education. The information. A person can receive a tremendous amount of education while entirely circumventing professors.

The solution here is to drop talk about "Truth" because there is no such thing as scientific truth (which would be scientism), and to talk instead about having a justified belief.

Is that really scientism? Again, I stand by my criticisms of this 'scientism' claim re: Cult of Gnu.

As for WLC - he really is one hell of a debater, and he's severely wrecked numerous atheists in debates. You can find many atheists who agree with as much. But this idea that WLC is some kind of furious fundamentalist is hilarious to anyone who actually reads him. Yes, he thinks Christ is necessary for salvation. He also is quite open to the truth of evolution, non-strictly-literal readings of Genesis, and he's theologically very open-minded - willing to state openly that Christians can disagree with him and still be Christians.

Really, give the man credit where it is due. I say this as someone with some considerable disagreements with the man.

Crude said...

Also,

Religion is on the other side of the fact/value, is/ought divide. It is not about what is or is not the case, it's about our hopes, dreams and desires as human beings. It attempts to answer "How should we then live?". Yes there are some who go too far just like there are atheists who do.

What? No, religion is about what is or is not the case. "Religion" may not be able to demonstrate utter undeniable truth, but neither can science, and empirical methods are not the only route to justified belief.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton repeatedly complains that Christians quote thousand year old authorities like Aquinas, wondering (I have to assume) why we don't "move on". Well, like I wrote earlier, truth remains truth, no matter how many times it's repeated, or how "old" it may be. But by the same token, error remains error, no matter how many times it raises its ugly head.

Case in point: Brenda's championing of "Two Truths - one for science, and one for religion". This is nothing more than the tired old heresy defended by Siger of Brabant and decisively (DECISIVELY !!!) crushed by St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th Century, for Christ's sake (I used those words deliberately).

Why, oh why, must we re-invent the wheel for the nth time?!? Brenda, read Aquinas! Your ideas are dead, dead, dead! And yet, like zombies in B-grade horror films, they keep rising from the grave to suck out our brains.

So, Papalinton, please don't be surprised when you see "ancient" authorities cited in contemporary battles. As H.G. Wells (a man I greatly admire, despite our many points of disagreement) said, "History is a race between education and catastrophe." As long as error keeps tiresomely returning with each fresh generation, it will have to be stamped out using the best weapons at hand. And when a matter is so thoroughly settled as this particular one has been (700 years ago!!!), I will gladly resurrect the winning argument in a heartbeat.

So excuse me now, as I rush off to Latin class (so as to be able to read Aquinas in the original).

Ilíon said...

Einfach: "I agree. You're much closer to Col. Flagg."

... said the man who daily offers a superb reprise of Corporal “Send me Home, can’t you see I’m crazy!” Klinger.

Papalinton said...

Hi Crude
""Religion" may not be able to demonstrate utter undeniable truth, but neither can science, and empirical methods are not the only route to justified belief.'

What is 'justified belief'? Take for example parents of a very sick child who do not present that child for medical attention but have justified belief in the power of prayer. Take for example the mother of a girl child who not only allows but willingly orchestrates genital mutilation of that child on the basis of 'justified belief'. Take for example the Jewish practice of painfully excising a lump of highly sensitive skin off the end of a child's penis somehow translates into entering a covenant with god on the basis of 'justified belief'. The questioner must ask, justified by whom? The questioner must ask, what is the truth of the claim? Physical harm is morally repugnant and ethically abhorrent and such practices do nothing but demonstrate how the religious are morally compromised. Crude, these are not isolated occurrences. These happen every day, right into the 21st C CE.

I would advise all sane and reasoned people, if it came down to a choice, go 'empirical methods' rather than 'faith-based methods', every time, no matter what the situation or circumstance. Err on the side of caution. There is a far greater return of benefit for the decider going empirical on the route to 'justified belief'. And if there happens to be no commensurate benefit, one can always default to superstition of the christian shaman.

As Darra O'Briain, Irish comedian, retorts, "The Bible? The Bible? It's only a book, for christsake! It's not gospel."

One Brow said...

B. Prokop said...
Case in point: Brenda's championing of "Two Truths - one for science, and one for religion". This is nothing more than the tired old heresy defended by Siger of Brabant and decisively (DECISIVELY !!!) crushed by St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th Century, for Christ's sake (I used those words deliberately).

I did a smidgen of research, and it said Aquinas specficially attacked the ideas of monopsychism/panpsychism. It mentioned nothing about Aquinas attacking the two truths idea (although if the former was used to justify the latter, it could seem that way). Do you have a reference?

One Brow said...

Ilíon said...
... said the man who daily offers a superb reprise of Corporal “Send me Home, can’t you see I’m crazy!” Klinger.

Flatterer!

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Papalinton repeatedly complains that Christians quote thousand year old authorities like Aquinas ..."

No, no; not a complaint. An observation. You say, "And when a matter is so thoroughly settled as this particular one has been (700 years ago!!!), ..." That 'truths remain truths'? What truths do you mean that have been settled so long ago?

I suspect it is more the case that theological scholarship and thinking has simply stultified, and there has been no advance in christian theological thought since that time. Indeed it has been in hiatus for a millennium. The only new stuff that has emerged, and continues to emerge, is all stuff on the other side of the ledger; history, anthropology, archeology, neuroscience, cosmology, physics, biology, civics, etc. have all contributed to the wider and greater understanding of the human condition which has largely resulted in christian theology retreating from greater and greater areas it once claimed as within its domain.

Bob, in science, a falsified hypothesis gets tossed on the scrap heap; in religion, a falsified hypothesis becomes a metaphor.  And it also suggests that Jesus died for that metaphor.

How ironic! As I look to publish this comment, the word verification prompt reads, 'sharrea' [sharia?] For all those christians out there, this must be a message of some prophetic significance, surely.

Crude said...

Papalinton,

What is 'justified belief'?

You have no idea? Really? You seemed to understand it clearly enough with Brenda.

Take for example parents of a very sick child who[...]

Who said their belief was justified or not? You? On what basis? An appeal to subjective morality? Your personal preference?

Take for example the Jewish practice of [...]

As opposed to the secular practice of painfully (you know, infant pain - that thing we care about, which is why I'm sure Peter Singer suggests that infanticide be very rapid when we decide to do it) removing foreskin for purposes of cleanliness and health? Do you think circumcision is something only jews, or even only religious people, do? If so, wow - you have been misinformed.

Wonderful, Papalinton. You are aware of a handful of religious practices, some of which I personally find abhorrent, others of which I do not. But then, there are also a host of secular practices that are abhorrent - child prostitution, infanticide, abortion, etc.

In other words, 'People having beliefs which justify things others find abhorrent' isn't something specific to religion. And plenty of religious practices are downright praiseworthy, even by many secularist rights (hence the attempt to insist 'atheists can do those things too in principle!' with reference to charity and almsgiving, or self-sacrifice, or...)

Again, the world's a lot more complicated than you seem to want to treat it. Hell, we can just look back at your (fumbled) distinction between religious and scientific knowledge to see that.

These happen every day, right into the 21st C CE.

21st century AD. ;)

I would advise all sane and reasoned people, if it came down to a choice, go 'empirical methods' rather than 'faith-based methods', every time, no matter what the situation or circumstance. Err on the side of caution.

What, endorse Pascal's Wager? We went over that on this site weeks ago!

And what happens if 'empirical methods' aren't available for the question at hand, or are not decisive? What if the results of the empirical inquiry are unclear, and depend in part upon the beliefs you come into the conversation with? You know, as is the case in many, many situations? For instance, there is no empirical method for discerning or ruling out teleology in evolution. I suppose, then, we should err on the side of caution and not describe evolution as a non-teleological process, eh?

Incidentally, Papalinton - you said earlier that 'no true scientist' believes.

But this study pastes an interesting picture. From the link:

But a majority of scientists interviewed by Ecklund and colleagues viewed both religion and science as "valid avenues of knowledge" that can bring broader understanding to important questions, she said.

...

They interviewed a scientifically selected sample of 275 participants, pulled from a survey of 2,198 tenured and tenure-track faculty in the natural and social sciences at 21 elite U.S. research universities. Only 15 percent of those surveyed view religion and science as always in conflict. Another 15 percent say the two are never in conflict, and 70 percent believe religion and science are only sometimes in conflict. Approximately half of the original survey population expressed some form of religious identity, whereas the other half did not.

So - at least given this summary - a majority of scientists considered religion along with science 'valid routes to knowledge', only 15% believe religion and science are always in conflict.

I'm getting the impression you oppose the apparent consensus of scientists on this question!

Crude said...

That 'truths remain truths'? What truths do you mean that have been settled so long ago?

Uh, I think Bob's point was that "truth remains truth" is itself the truth. It's not like 2 plus 2 equaled 5 until some professors had a vote back in 1972 and decided that 2 plus 2 equals 4.

Bob, in science, a falsified hypothesis gets tossed on the scrap heap; in religion, a falsified hypothesis becomes a metaphor.

Oh really? We never see falsified hypotheses getting reworked to accommodate the data? We never see results that would falsify a hypothesis being questioned and explained away? Again and again I ask - what idealized version of science are you dealing with? Because it's apparent off in Platonic Heaven, as opposed to the science in practice down here, which does have some considerable historical flaws.

The only new stuff that has emerged, and continues to emerge, is all stuff on the other side of the ledger; history,

"The other side"? Who made up this dividing line? You make it sound as if, say... applied physics was somehow taught straight from the bible until fairly recently. The bible had a limited domain right from the beginning - go no further than, oh wow... Augustine, Aquinas and others to see that. ;)

B. Prokop said...

One Brow,

For an excellent popular account of the Aquinas-Siger debate, see G.K. Chesterton's "The Dumb Ox", Chapter Three. You can read the text online at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks01/0100331.txt .

B. Prokop said...

Since we're bringing up consensus among scientists, I might bring up this rather interesting tidbit from personal experience. I happen to have a "social in" to medical circles at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and frequently meet at social occasions very many doctors, medical researchers, public health statisticians, etc., and have found (somewhat to my surprise, because of all the apparently false propaganda saying otherwise) that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY (approaching 100%) of professionals in the medical field are theists, and most of them are churchgoers (in other words, actively theistic).

I would assume that Paplinton would include medicine as one of the sciences.

Papalinton said...

Poor old Crude. Swinging at shadows. His commentary akin to the blades of a fan splattering dung asunder, directionless, aimless, purposeless. A scattergun approach to quelling the godless. But I can understand the futility and the impotence and the powerlessness he feels when his god doesn't come forward to smite'em. And one only has to review history.

As Jerry Coyne, from WEIT, recounts, "Science continues to invalidate the claims of faith.  First special creation went by the board, so theologians—at least the rational ones—were forced to show that of course God would have used evolution to fulfill his Big Plan to Produce Humans.  Now Adam and Eve have also become metaphors, leading to all kinds of humorous theological speculations about who were humanity’s parents and what, exactly, was the nature of their Original Sin.  Next on the agenda are morality and free will, staples of religious doctrine but items that are starting to be explained purely by science.  We now see morality as having a purely secular origin, perhaps involving evolution; and we don’t really have the freedom of choice envisioned by many faiths.
All of this shows that science is dominant to religion, for when they clash, as they inevitably must, “sophisticated” theologians must frantically revise their doctrines to comport with scientific truth.  And they hate that. This innate recognition of the precedence of science over faith is, I think, one reason why so many religious people and faitheists are picking at science, claiming that the methodology of science is based just as strongly on faith as are the “truths” of religion.  But if that were the case, why does religion inevitably bow before science?"

As regard the Ecklund religion/science survey, it was wholly funded by the Templeton Foundation. Enough said.

Papalinton said...

Bob
Re medical doctors and religiosity. You would be pretty right. From a recent survey of 1,044 doctors nationwide, 76 percent said they believe in God, 59 percent said they believe in some sort of afterlife, and 55 percent said their religious beliefs influence how they practice medicine.
Dr. Farr Curlin, a researcher at the University of Chicago’s MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics,
“There’s certainly a deep-seated cultural idea that science and religion are at odds,” and previous studies have suggested that fewer than half of scientists believe in God, Curlin said Wednesday.

A previous survey showed about 83 percent of the general population believes in God.

"But while medicine is science-based, doctors differ from scientists who work primarily in a laboratory setting, and their direct contact with patients in life-and-death situations may explain the differing views", Curlin said.

[From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8318894/ns/health-health_care/t/survey-most-doctors-believe-god-afterlife/#.ToHCiq50sUx }

Bob, the only worrying concern I have with this report is that over half of the respondents admitted that their religious beliefs influenced how they practiced their medicine. Now whatever that might entail, it is a worry. Bob, while I appreciate your socializing with the medical staff as a good thing, the 100% figure you surmise for the range of medical specialisms in your social milieu, perhaps that figure is a product of all those who socialize on a regular basis simply because of their common religious outlook.

Just musing. Also the %s seem to be generally in line within the normal distribution of the US population. Therefore more likely a product of earlier social enculturation rather than establishment of religious belief through the medical sciences. Like you, most would have brought that baggage to their profession.

One Brow said...

B. Prokop,

Thank you for the link. The details on Aquinas-Siger were sparse in it.

By contrast, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13784a.htm paint the picture much more strongly on the monopsychism.

B. Prokop said...

"Bob, the only worrying concern I have with this report is that over half of the respondents admitted that their religious beliefs influenced how they practiced their medicine."

Boy, I would HOPE their religious views influenced what they actually did in life. Otherwise, what's the point? I am HUGELY in favor of a secular government, but am equally strongly in favor of one's faith infusing every last aspect of one's personal life and the way he connects with the rest of humanity.

Perhaps those doctors surveyed allowed their faith to inspire them to donate time and resources to patients in poor neighborhoods (as several doctors I know do). Maybe their faith provided the original impetus to go into the medical field in the first place (so they could be of help to others). It's just possible that their faith gives them that extra ounce of patience required to deal with a difficult or even hostile patient. Maybe it encourages them to be the very best they can be.

Crude said...

Poor old Crude. Swinging at shadows.

Not my fault your thoughts on these matters are lacking substance. ;)

I love you how blather and then... no response. But hey, you're used to these "The Papalinton Has No Clothes" moments, so it's all good.

As Jerry Coyne, from WEIT, recounts,

Oh, boy! Pontification from a guy who admits he knows little relevant philosophy, theology, or even history! But here's the crowning gem, the beautiful jewel in your reply...

As regard the Ecklund religion/science survey, it was wholly funded by the Templeton Foundation. Enough said.

Rational thinking here, folks. Quote Coyne's internet ejaculations as gospel. Encounter a scientific study, and reject it out of hand because of its source and conclusion.

Reason on display here, folks. The love of science.

Papalinton just handed me a great example of why I actually dispute the "scientism" charge regarding the Cult of Gnu. These guys don't love science. They don't even respect it. They like science and won't shut up about it when they think it backs their views. When they think it doesn't, they attack the source, they don't engage it, they dismiss it - and they quote diatribes from their favorite preachers.

Gosh. Sounds a lot like the harder young-earth creationists, now doesn't it? ;)

Ilíon said...

Crude:Rational thinking here, folks. Quote Coyne's internet ejaculations as gospel. Encounter a scientific study, and reject it out of hand because of its source and conclusion.

Reason on display here, folks. The love of science.


Or, to put it another way, it’s a succinct display of why I do my best to avoid reading anything that certain persons write. Reading (or listening to) much of such “reasoning” is very uncomfortable and distressing to me; it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard, but worse.


Crude:Papalinton just handed me a great example of why I actually dispute the "scientism" charge regarding the Cult of Gnu. These guys don't love science. They don't even respect it. They like science and won't shut up about it when they think it backs their views. When they think it doesn't, they attack the source, they don't engage it, they dismiss it - and they quote diatribes from their favorite preachers.

Well, sure (and I, too, have pointed this out before, many times). But, is that really inconsistent with scientism?

The thing about scientism is that it demonstrates or reflects an unbalanced, and false, understanding of what science is and is not, and what it can and cannot do. Whoever said that scientism can be expressed *only* as total slavish devotion to the assertions that scientists make?


Crude:Gosh. Sounds a lot like the harder young-earth creationists, now doesn't it? ;)

I’m not seeing it. I’m thinking that most YECs who are into the science route are going to try to use further science, and a stronger reasoned argument, to show that the (allegedly) scientific conclusion they reject ought to be rejected on scientific grounds.

=============
I once read (an online version of) an Evo-Devo textbook; I believe it was Scott Gilbert’s. In the edition I first read (it later seemed to me that he’d removed the section I speak of), the author simultaneously faulted “creationists” for, so he alleged:
1) being adherents of scientism – for they wish to use science to prove their origins-beliefs objectively true;
2) and being “anti-science” – for they do not bow to the evolutionist dogma.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Bob
"Boy, I would HOPE their religious views influenced what they actually did in life. Otherwise, what's the point? I am HUGELY in favor of a secular government, but am equally strongly in favor of one's faith infusing every last aspect of one's personal life and the way he connects with the rest of humanity."

But you deny me my personal view and the way I wish to connect with society. Indeed you wish to crush it. There are many on this site who would wish to see me crucified [just as the Romans did it] for my godlessness, for thought crime.

I might add, the most troubling proposition by christian doctors not so much in refusing abortions to women in cases where the mother's life is in great peril but much more socially damaging and dangerously applied 'faith' decisions, is the practice of refusing to refer them to other doctors. This situation has not been a one-off, it has been frequently reported in the media.

Such an unconscionable act is tantamount to placing the personal and selfishly driven needs of the doctor well before the needs of the patient.

B. Prokop said...

"But you deny me my personal view and the way I wish to connect with society. Indeed you wish to crush it."

No, my dear friend, you've got me all wrong. I don't wish to DENY you your personal views, but I do sincerely hope to someday convince you that those views are "wrong" (as in factually incorrect, not morally repugnant). I have no desire to CRUSH anyone, but I would indeed love to see error vanish (peacefully) from the world.

And as much as you and I spar with each other, I strongly suspect we have a lot more in common than I do with the likes of Ilion or Crude.

(Oh, and by the way, I would stop putting selected words in all-caps, if only I could figure out how to make them italicized. It must be possible, since I've seen others use that font.)

B. Prokop said...

Paplinton,

Damn! I missed the little concession in your last posting, where you equated your "personal views" (a.k.a., atheism) with "faith". I'll take the point as conceded, thank you!

One Brow said...

B. Prokop said...
(Oh, and by the way, I would stop putting selected words in all-caps, if only I could figure out how to make them italicized. It must be possible, since I've seen others use that font.)

Before the texst you wish to italiczes use "<""i"">" (remove the quotes). After the text, use "<""/""i"">"

B. Prokop said...

Let me try that.
No italics.
i italics /i

B. Prokop said...

Let's try again.
<""i""> italics <""/i"">
No italics.

B. Prokop said...

Third times the charm.
<""i""> italics <""/""i"">
No italics.

B. Prokop said...

OK, what am I doing wrong?

One Brow said...

B. Prokop said...
OK, what am I doing wrong?

You left all the inside quotation marks there. Use just the angle brackets, the letter i, and the slash.

For bolding, use b instead fo i.

B. Prokop said...

All right. One More Time!

italics
No italics.

B. Prokop said...

Hah! And some people on this site say I'm unteachable, Take that!

(Thanks, One Brow. Expect me to be italicizing like crazy from now on. I might even bold something now and then!)

Ilíon said...

"And as much as you and I spar with each other, I strongly suspect we have a lot more in common than I do with the likes of Ilion or Crude."

Indeed, and welcome to one another.

Ilíon said...

"Hah! And some people on this site say I'm unteachable, Take that!"

I'm aware only of it being said that you will not learn, which is a world of difference from cannot learn.

Ilíon said...

So, is this how one <i>italicizes</i>?

And would this be how one <b>bolds</b>?

Crude said...

And as much as you and I spar with each other, I strongly suspect we have a lot more in common than I do with the likes of Ilion or Crude.

Please. You have plenty in common with me, and I have plenty in common with you. I think your politics - specifically your over-identification with a political party - are absurd. But I also know better than to think that's all there is to you or your thoughts.

But hey, if you want to view my dislike of party loyalty as the line in the sand, so be it. Atheists over Catholics, so long as the atheist pulls the right lever in the election, it seems.

B. Prokop said...

I've remained silent so far on your mischaracterization of me as a partisan Democrat, but before this error gets set in stone on this website, I will have break my silence to say I have voted all over the map as far as party affiliation is concerned. My favorite politician active today happens to not be a Democrat, and I greatly admire at least two of the current Republican hopefuls. I also am the only person I know who can proudly make the claim that he voted for both Barry Goldwater and George McGovern. Admittedly, my support of Democratic candidates for the presidency has outnumbered Republicans (over the years, I've voted in 8 elections for the Democrat, and only 3 for the Republican), but those figures do at least prove that I am far from blindly partisan!

So be careful who you might label a blind party partisan without actually knowing the guy!

Crude said...

I've remained silent so far on your mischaracterization of me as a partisan Democrat

Silent? You freaked out and insisted I was a GOP loyalist and went on and on about how everyone serves someone so not being loyal to either party was not an option. And you went off on how fantastic it is that a particular state is so "deep blue".

I can only judge you by what you say, and at no point did you deny that you were a democrat party loyalist - your response was to strongly imply *I* was a party loyalist.

Nevertheless, I repeat: I realize there's more to you than your politics. But if the line in the sand is the political affiliation, so be it.

Papalinton said...

Let me have a go.

Testing, testing, testing

Does it work?

Papalinton said...

Yo! Baby!

It works

Ilíon said...

Hell's Little Partisan: "So be careful who you might label a blind party partisan without actually knowing the guy!"

That's rich, isn't it? I mean, coming from they guy who asserts that my religio-socio-economic views on human liberty are "the constitution of Hell."

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Paplinton,
Damn! I missed the little concession in your last posting, where you equated your "personal views" (a.k.a., atheism) with "faith". I'll take the point as conceded, thank you!"

Sorry, Bob. not even close. imprecision of the English language. The word 'personal' was mistakenly selected by me to mean 'particular'.

It should have read, "But you deny me my particular view and ..."

Ilíon said...

"I also am the only person I know who can proudly make the claim that he voted for both Barry Goldwater and George McGovern."

[Bill Clinton]Hills? It that you?[/Bill Clinton]

Let's see; this fact ought to really throw the "liberals" into a state of brain-lock --
My father, who was a Southerner, wanted to vote for *both* George Wallace and Shirley Chisholm.

Here's another fact with which "liberals" can't really deal --
My father, who was raised a share-cropper (i.e. grew up in poverty I can't imagine (*) ), loathed and detested FDR to his dying day.

(*) in similar wise to that I grew up in poverty that most persons reading this cannot imagine.

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

Re-read my original posting. I stand by every word, and there's not an ounce of partisanship in any of it. Please go back and try to find some in it, if you can. You won't be able to find what isn't there.

And yes, your views are indeed (still) Hell's governing constitution. I don't say that as an insult, but rather as a charitable warning.

One Brow said...

Ilíon said...
Let's see; this fact ought to really throw the "liberals" into a state of brain-lock --
My father, who was a Southerner, wanted to vote for *both* George Wallace and Shirley Chisholm.


Why would that cause brain-lock?

Here's another fact with which "liberals" can't really deal --
My father, who was raised a share-cropper (i.e. grew up in poverty I can't imagine (*) ), loathed and detested FDR to his dying day.


Why would that be hard to deal with?

(*) in similar wise to that I grew up in poverty that most persons reading this cannot imagine.

It's sad how little you think of people.

B. Prokop said...

Ilion, I thought I'd save you the trouble of looking it up. Here is the original posting. Now please show me where there's an ounce of partisanship in it.

I do not know whether or not "Ilion" is a Christian, but be that as it may, the philosophy he espouses is straight from Hell. It is, in fact, that place's governing constitution. Let me explain:

I am forever amazed by how much my entire subsequent life has been influenced by the relatively short time I spent in the Army (1975-1979). I truly believe that I learned and grew more in those four years than in any other comparable length of time. From insignificant mannerisms (how I stand, what I do with my hands while walking, the fact that I always start off on the left foot) to fundamental ways I view the world, I keep finding bits and pieces of my Army experience down there in my subconscious, nudging (or pushing) me in one direction or another.

One really good example is foxholes. One of the first things we learned in Basic Training at good old Fort Ord, California, was the correct (that is, the Army’s) way to dig one. And if you have some picture in your mind taken from a host of cheesy WWII movies (hole in the ground, head and rifle sticking out) – get rid of it now. What we were taught was the DuPuy foxhole, named after the Marine general who invented it. DuPuy had studied the carnage of Vietnam (remember, I enlisted only about 3 months after the fall of Saigon), and realized that everyone had been doing it all wrong ever since, well… ever since ever. The problem with firing out of a hole in the ground was that an advancing foe could fire right back at you. Thus the high casualty rate on both sides in a defensive battle.

What DuPuy came up with was a system of mutually supporting two-man foxholes. “Buddy Teams” of two soldiers would each dig their own pit, piling all the excavated dirt directly in front of the hole, completely blocking one’s view straight ahead. When you were finished, you could fire diagonally to the left or to the right, but immediately in front of you was this great earthen berm, higher than your head. The end result was that, in a line of these DuPuy “Defensive Fire Pits” (to use the official term), each buddy team was responsible for protecting the team to either side of them, while their own defense was left in turn to those teams. To work, the system required complete trust between the teams. You yourself could do absolutely nothing to protect yourself, and concentrated all your attention and efforts on defending your neighbors.

Think about this for a moment. There is a really profound principle at work here. One that I think goes to the very core and fundament of our being - of the universe itself. It is the indispensable principle behind How We Must Live. As the poet Charles Williams so beautifully put it:

This abides – that the everlasting house the soul discovers
is always another’s; we must lose our own ends;
we must always live in the habitation of our lovers,
my friend’s shelter for me, mine for him.

The consequence of ignoring this is not just selfishness. It is not just missed opportunity or a life sadly lacking in color or meaning – it is a violation of the very nature of reality. To attempt to live for one’s self is an exercise in futility – you will fail.

One of my favorite passages in the New Testament occurs near the end of Mark. Christ has been crucified, and various passersby taunt him, asking why He doesn’t “save yourself and come down from the cross”. They conclude with the scoffing remark, “He saved others, himself he cannot save”.

Wow. Read that again. What was meant as a contemptuous dismissal, as a cynical comment on apparent failure, turns out to be the very key to The Meaning of Life itself. We cannot save ourselves – we must rely on others. And it is up to us to save them in turn. This is what it means to be a Human Being. When we fall short of this principle, we fall short of, and even deny altogether, our very Humanity.

Papalinton said...

Bob
About the DuPuy foxhole strategy - fantastic info.

Your final paragraph is exactly what life is all about. I just come to it from a very different perspective than you, a secular humanist one.

Cheers

Dave S said...

You have to know more about the background of this suit in order to get a true picture. The suit is about more than just the use of what is, in truth, not a textbook, but an apologia for the Christian faith. It is also about whether they really taught what the course description said they would teach rather than a defense of Christianity.

This is as much about honesty and integrity as it is about promotion of religion. The plaintiff signed up for an introductory ethics course that would teach major theories of conduct. Instead, she claims, the professor taught from the section of Gangadean's book about his version of the "moral law." According to the plaintiff, none of the major philosophers views was covered because the prof thought that so doing would cause "fragmentation of their lives," whatever that is.

It seems to me that, regardless of your views of teaching from a religious text, if you don't teach what you're supposed to teach in an intro to ethics class, you're not just failing to provide an adequate education, you're deceiving your students.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog today. You amuse me. You have given the absence of reason and the Ignorance has new meaning. You set a new low for wisdom.

First of all – it is NOT about religion. It is about the 1st Amendment Establish clause. It is about using tax dollars to teach fairy tales. As for atheisim, well – go agrue with them – but bring the great white hope with you because YOUR LOGIC HAS MORE HOLES than an aerated green.

Your idea is “nutty” to present unbiased, to the best of our ability. Now I think you are hysterical. I don’t care if Burton is consistent – she is a fraud with regards to the objective teaching of ethics. (Does that make her unethical?).

And are you stupid regarding the law?
You needs grounds to sue.

And you took the class upteen years ago – maybe, just maybe the coursev has changed. Gee, ya didn’t think of that.

In a test, there is virtually 1 answer – god =good & did not create evil. Jay Leno should get a hold of that one.

Thank you for your blog. It gets people thinking and Mr. Gangadean seems to come out on the losing end. Gee, no surprise there

Anonymous said...

I think that it is time for Gangadean to answer some questions.

why % of the PVCC Philosophy Club Presidents have been members of Gangadean's church?

Has Gangadean recruited students on campus (along with their friends) to be members of Gangadean's church.

Where is the documentation that substantiates that Gangadean did not violate AZ conflict of interest laws.

Gangadean get's paid by the state to teach his religion. Its time he did the ethical thing and teach a broad spectrum of interllectual philosophical thought instead of his myopic rubbish

whitetower said...

As an atheist I have to say that I'm embarrassed by the alleged atheists posting here. Their child-like attitudes (presumably, because they are teens or twenty-somethings)about their fellow citizens who are religious border on the sociopathic.

Atheists must share public spaces like community colleges with religious people -- so long as there is no "avowal of divine faith"(as the Supreme Court wrote in Engel v. Vitale) by school officials, there is no Establishment Clause issue.

That's what *establishing* an official religious orthodoxy means: that a non-believer is "encouraged" (again from the Engel case) to adopt beliefs.

Simply listening to a believer doesn't count.