Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why you're wasting your time ridiculing what I believe

I just thought of something. I can listen to someone mock my beliefs, in fact I can even mock them myself, and not find any reason whatsoever in the mockery for rejecting that belief. I enjoy this kind of mockery.  In fact, I hold that there are certain beliefs that are on the one hand completely ridiculous, and on the other hand, completely true. Ridiculousness and truth are not incompatible.

82 comments:

Crude said...

Ridiculousness and truth are not incompatible.

I like this one. Put it on a coffee mug!

Bilbo said...

Hi Vic,

I'm curious. Could you give an example of something that you think is ridiculous and true?

Victor Reppert said...

The ascension of Christ.

BeingItself said...

What's the difference between 'true' and 'completely true'?

Victor Reppert said...

You caught me putting in a superfluous word.

unkleE said...

"You caught me putting in a superfluous word."

I think you meant an unnecessary, redundant, superfluous word!

BeingItself said...

Where is Jesus now?

BeingItself said...

What makes the ascension of Christ ridiculous?

Victor Reppert said...

Jesus is in a parallel universe known as heaven.

Papalinton said...

Is Hitler in that parallel universe called Heaven right now just like Jesus? Or are there two parallel universes?

There is no time wasting in ridiculing the response, "Jesus is in a parallel universe known as heaven." Indeed it is an obligation and a duty of any concerned citizen to call out superstitious nonsense and appeals to mumbo-jumbo for what they are; emotional hooks in search of group acceptance and approval.

I can see why Christian apologetics is not averse to the multiverse concept given its capacity to provide an hallelujah escape hatch, notwithstanding how Jesus-god is being given a hammering, a right pounding in this particular single universe as we speak. Victor can now brazenly and cheekily tell us heaven is a parallel universe. What a glorious and relieved feeling it must be for the religiose, post facto, ad hoc, to now secrete their god into any number of fractal fractures available in the desperate hopes of keeping it from scrutiny, and protecting it from the unwarranted and nasty forensic eye of science.

I genuinely ask myself, how can one in all conscience accord due respect to a worldview that is carrying forward some of the most stupid and dangerous mores of primitive cultures, being promulgated not on the basis of the veracity of these positions as beneficial to the community going forward, but on the basis that removing them would compromise or destroy the continuity of and the rationale for maintaining the ancient mythos? Religion is a social dead-zone. One need only review the recent and not-so-long-ago events in the Middle-East, Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the horn of Africa, to witness the devastating effect religion has on humanity. One need only to read widely to understand that if religion cannot restrain evil it cannot rightly claim for itself the power for good. The international scale of Catholic child-sex abuse is a testament to the prevalence of this endemic evil in an organisation that should, if anything, would be expected to demonstrate that child-sex abuse is far lower than the average statistical background for the community. It is not. Clearly, the claim of its power to do good is, like many of its other claims, is false.

Crude said...

Every metaphysical view ultimately seems to end up with some components that are, if not incoherent or inconsistent, open to ridicule. Some of that comes down to rhetorical skill.

John W. Loftus said...

Ahhh, Tertullian speaks from the grave.

Ridiculousness:

"Deserving or inspiring ridicule; absurd, preposterous, or silly. See Synonyms at foolish."

I would never say that of the things I think are true. Faith makes you say stupid things Vic.

Here is your brain on faith:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2013/06/five-major-signs-your-brain-is-made.html

B. Prokop said...

Hmmm... an example of something that is ridiculous, yet true?

This: "Alios salvos fecit; seipsum non potest salvum facere."

(Note the mockery that accompanied this saying at the very moment in question.)

Walter said...

The ascension of Christ.

I can almost make myself believe in the resurrection based on the circumstantial evidence that exists, but I have a seriously hard time with believing in a flying Jesus. Equally difficult for me to accept a water-walking Jesus.

Papalinton said...

"I can almost make myself believe in the resurrection based on the circumstantial evidence that exists......"

There are six classes of circumstantial evidence: indirect, inferred, deduced, conjectural; inconclusive, unprovable.

None of the biblical material can be used either to infer or deduce. The material is not indirect in the normally accepted understanding of the word. All the information of the resurrection in the Gospels are hear-say and folkloric at best. Even if it is considered 'indirect' by dint of Apologetical confirmation bias, its indirectness remains at the extreme of the indirect continuum, that is, conjectural and inconclusive at its most generous and reasonable interpretation. Many would say unprovable, given the time passed and the very different stories written of who was at the gravesite, who saw what, how many and what they did. Equally, when one speaks of 'circumstantial evidence' for the resurrection, one must have at least, an analogical circumstance by which such an assessment can be derived. As no-one, I repeat, no-one actually witnessed the resurrection, and there is no analogical precedent for it, it cannot be said to be 'circumstantial evidence'. Let me repeat that again. There were. no. eye-witnesses. to. the. resurrection. Period. No amount of swooning, hallucinations, figments of the imagination, apparitions, chimera, fantasy; delirium, or phantasmagoric experiences by followers after the event can be construed as 'evidence'. To do so is to legitimate the groundless, irrational woo world of the Deepak Chopras and Benny Hinns.

BeingItself said...

"Jesus is in a parallel universe known as heaven."

Is that belief ridiculous too? What makes it ridiculous?

Papalinton said...

Bob. He couldn't save himself because he was not scripted to exercise free will. He was the archetypal zombie that could not help himself because he did not have the intellect, the where-with-all, or the capacity to do so. He was in many ways a lamb chump.

BeingItself said...

Why will none of the ridiculati step up to the plate at tell me why these beliefs are properly labeled ridiculous?

To the list of ridiculous beliefs we must add the resurrection. One popular apologetic is to claim that belief in the resurrection is justified because we have just as much evidence for it as we have evidence for Caesar crossing the Rubicon. If believing in the Rubicon crossing is justified, then believing in the resurrection is justified.

But VR has capitulated something important here. But I doubt the riduculati, infected by their faith, will be able to understand.

So what is it that makes these beliefs ridiculous? And how should the ridiculousness of a claim effect what is required to make belief justified?

Crude said...

Why will none of the ridiculati step up to the plate at tell me why these beliefs are properly labeled ridiculous?

For three reasons. One, what Victor is talking about is pretty much the end of the explanatory part of the statement. You either think that's ridiculous, or you don't. There's no 'but WHY is it ridiculous?'

Second, because you're insincere. These aren't questions asked out of legitimate interest - it's literally to ridicule more, which as Victor said, isn't going to go anywhere. So why bother?

Third, because not all of us necessarily agree with Victor about this.

But if you're so desperate for a conversation partner, BI - you have me.

I hold a modified view of what Victor said: there are beliefs which sound completely ridiculous, or can be made to sound completely ridiculous, but which are nevertheless true. Apparent ridiculousness and truth are not incompatible.

The problem I have with Victor's statement is that ridiculousness is largely subjective. Here's a short list of things which can be made to sound or regarded as ridiculous:

Evolutionary theory.
The Big Bang (Hell, the term was originally a derisive one.)
Quantum physics.

Demonstrably, each of these things - or key claims within them - can be mocked, laughed at, derided, and people who hold to them, ridiculed.

Does that affect their truth value?

BeingItself said...

I thought of quantum theory and relativity as well. Yes, since we all can't help but start out with our medium sized and and slow speed intuitions about how the world works, quantum phenomena and time dilation seem ridiculous. But the evidence and predictability supporting those theories is just so overwhelming, it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.

But the ridiculous stories in the bible? We just do not have the kind of evidence required.

VR is keen on denying ECREE. Or now maybe it should be RCREE.

Crude said...

But the ridiculous stories in the bible? We just do not have the kind of evidence required.

I disagree. But here's the bit - you just conceded Victor's point. Just because something is apparently ridiculous does not make it untrue. The ability to ridicule X does not mean X is false.

BeingItself said...

I never disputed that point. But his point raises this question: How should the ridiculousness of a claim effect what is required to make belief justified?

It is my point that extraordinary evidence is required. But only if you care whether your beliefs are true.

Papalinton said...

The resurrection ridiculous and true? Ridiculous yes. True no.

Christians resort to selective amnesia when it comes to believing this little spot of tripe. They tend to conveniently forget that Jews never for one moment, bought into either the resurrection nor the jesus-as-god multiple-personality memeplex. The Jews were never convinced, even from the very beginning of the fabrication of the mytheme; and they lived, ate, laughed and died contemporaneously, in the time when the mythos was being concocted. Christians also are amnesic about the rise and rise of Islam, despite the apparent 'truthfulness' of the resurrection. Muslims absolutely and resolutely reject out of hand that Jesus and God are the one and the same:

"Depending on the interpretation of the following verse, Muslim scholars have abstracted different opinions. Some believe that in the Biblical account, Jesus' crucifixion did not last long enough for him to die (minority view, held mainly by Ahmadiyya) while others opine that God gave someone Jesus' appearance, causing everyone to believe that Jesus was crucified (majority view). A third explanation could be that Jesus was nailed to a cross, but as his body is immortal he did not "die" or was not "crucified" [to death]; it only appeared so. In opposition to the second and third foregoing proposals, yet others maintain that God does not use deceit and therefore they contend that crucifixion just did not occur. The basis of all of these beliefs is the following verse in the Qur'an:
That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-
—Qur'an, sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157-158[1]"
[Wiki}.

The upshot is, one can only be resurrected if one is dead: 'Resurrection (anglicized from Latin resurrectio) is the concept of a living being coming back to life after death." According to Islam, Jesus never died. Period.

What do Jews think?:
"The belief that Jesus (or any other human) is God, any deity, the son of God, or a person of the Trinity, is completely unacceptable according to every tradition of Jewish law, and incompatible with Jewish philosophical tenets. The same applies to belief in Jesus as the Messiah or a prophet of God: those beliefs are also contrary to traditional Jewish views. The idea of the Jewish Messiah is different from the Christian Christ because Jews believe Jesus did not fulfill Jewish Messianic prophecies that establish the criteria for the coming of the Messiah.[7] Authoritative texts of Judaism reject Jesus as God, Divine Being, intermediary between humans and God, Messiah or saint. The belief in the Trinity is also held to be incompatible with Judaism, as are a number of other tenets of Christianity." [Wiki]

End of the farce, really. What more can one say about the ridiculous nature of Christian claims?


Crude said...

I never disputed that point. But his point raises this question: How should the ridiculousness of a claim effect what is required to make belief justified?

I don't think it has any effect, precisely because of the subjective nature of the ridiculous. That alone does a whole lot of blurring.

But a lot of people seem to think that if something is ridiculous, or is open to ridicule, that's somehow a strike against it in and of itself.

It is my point that extraordinary evidence is required. But only if you care whether your beliefs are true.

Tacking on 'extraordinary' seems pointless and counterproductive. 'Evidence is required' does the trick - and there's evidence.

B. Prokop said...

Thanks, Crude, for including the Big Bang among the "ridiculous but true" list. You may be on to something there. Because what is truly ridiculous is not the theory itself, but rather the popular misconception of what cosmologists mean by the "Big Bang" (or as it's referred to in the trade, the "Standard Cosmological Model" or SCM). Exasperated astronomers have long abandoned hope of getting the public to understand that the SCM does not mean the universe began with a giant explosion, but rather with a singularity and an expansion era (but no "big bang" (uncapitalized)).

In the same manner, non-Christian misunderstandings and parodies of doctrines such as the Resurrection, the Ascension, or Transubstansiation are indeed ridiculous - but the actual doctrines themselves are not... and they are true! (Sorry, Mr. Wilson, but they are - literally true.)

And Linton, you can get a detailed explanation of the last quote I gave on pages 71-72 of my book Eyes to See, of which I will gladly send you (or anyone else) a free digital copy, if you e-mail me at dmproko@hottmail.com .

B. Prokop said...

That's dmproko@hotmail.com - not hottmail!

And by the way, I use the above e-mail address for no other purpose other than mailing copies of my books and receiving rerquests for them - so it's safe to publish it here.

BeingItself said...

"Tacking on 'extraordinary' seems pointless and counterproductive. 'Evidence is required' does the trick - and there's evidence."

Suppose my girlfriend tells me bananas are on sale at the corner store. That is enough for me to believe that's true. But suppose she tells me an alien is at the store giving rides in his spaceship, then her testimony does almost no work at convincing me that's true.

Yes, the ridiculousness of a claim makes a difference about what counts as sufficient evidence. But only if you care if your beliefs are true.

Denying this seems to be a hallmark of religious epistemology.

Crude said...

That is enough for me to believe that's true. But suppose she tells me an alien is at the store giving rides in his spaceship, then her testimony does almost no work at convincing me that's true.

That says more about you than your girlfriend. I remember waking up my brother on 9/11 telling him that someone was slamming planes into the World Trade Center. He asked me if I was serious, and I said yes.

You could say he was a fool to believe me if you like.

Yes, the ridiculousness of a claim makes a difference about what counts as sufficient evidence. But only if you care if your beliefs are true.

You keep repeating that, but you aren't substantiating it. Ridiculousness is a subjective claim - it does practically no work here. If you don't find quantum physics particularly ridiculous, you still need evidence to substantiate it.

The hallmark of faux-skepticism is pretending that the skeptic's demands for evidence are too often anything but arbitrary and often unreasonable.

ingx24 said...

Now, I am not a Christian. I don't really buy into things like the Resurrection, Ascension, Transubstantiation, the truth of the Bible, or anything like that, although I can see why a rational person would. But let's assume, for a second, that Christianity (Catholicism in particular) is true: that God exists and has divinely revealed himself, that Jesus was the son of God, that He founded the Catholic Church through his disciples, that He was crucified and resurrected three days later, and that the New Testament more or less accurately depicts the founding of Christianity. What follows? Surely, there were eyewitnesses who saw this happen - people who saw Jesus alive after his alleged death, and who literally walked up and touched him. Surely, this was evidence enough back then: you had the testimony of people who were still alive who saw it happen. This got passed down through the generations by the Church so that others in later times could know about it as well. And Christianity was not considered an extraordinary claim at all, because we had eyewitness testimony passed down through the Church to back it up.

Nowadays, trust in the doctrines of Christianity and the authority of the Church has diminished with the rise of Protestantism, secularism, and the scientific method. With Protestantism, many learned to view the Catholic Church as power-hungry, abusive, and untrustworthy. With secularism and the rise of modern science, religion became less and less of an influence on everyday life and the way we gain knowledge. The findings of modern science seemed, at face value, to contradict some of the claims made by Scripture, leading some to conclude that the whole religious behemoth was primitive and filled with falsehoods. In such a climate, the claim that Jesus rose from the dead is going to seem extraordinary: the testimony that preserved it as historical fact for centuries was essentially lost as the sources from which it came began to lose the trust of the people.

In other words, the claims of Christianity are only considered extraordinary because of our culture: in a culture which accepted the claims of the Church and Scripture without any reason for skepticism, things like the Resurrection were taken as historical fact and not seen as extraordinary in the least. Our culture, on the other hand, has been conditioned to be skeptical of religion in general due to perceived abuses and apparent contradictions between religion and science. This is true regardless of whether the Resurrection and related events actually happened or not.

Papalinton said...

Bob
" Exasperated astronomers have long abandoned hope of getting the public to understand that the SCM does not mean the universe began with a giant explosion, but rather with a singularity and an expansion era (but no "big bang" (uncapitalized))."

Anyone with a modicum of science knowledge understands there was no explosion per se. Anyone with a modicum of reason and logic also knows that the belief a God created the universe ex nihilo is equally a lot of superstitious crock. Whatever the universe was at the singularity was not ex nihilo. A singularity was indeed in existence. And we also have a pretty reasonable grasp that at the centre of black holes is a singularity. What we don't know yet is what is on the other side of a singularity, either of that which preferred the expansion of this universe, or on the other side of a singularity at the centre of every black hole that have been identified, documented and researched. And I'll bet that the God algorithm will not figure in any continuing investigation is singularities.

B. Prokop said...

The major problem with "ridiculousness" is that one man's ridiculous is another man's reasonable. I hope that is something we can all agree on.

I imagine that Ptolemy would have found the idea of the Earth's rotation "ridiculous" - and with very good reason. The concept matched none of his very careful and extensive state-of-the-art scientific observations.

Papalinton said...

"preferred" should be "preceeded".

BeingItself said...

Crude,

For you, do you require the same sort of evidence to believe that bananas are on sale as to believe that an alien is giving rides in his spaceship?

B. Prokop said...

"Anyone with a modicum of science knowledge understands there was no explosion per se."

Maybe in Australia, but not here in the USA. Ask any ten random people on the street how scientists believe the world began and the first words out of their mouth will be something like "Well, it all began with this gigantic explosion."

I know this to be true, because I have conducted this very survey asking 100 random persons (at a local college, no less - where you'd think they'd have a "modicum of science knowledge"), and got 100% reaction as I described. Not 90% or even 99% - 100%. This was at a recent environmental/outdoors fair, where my astronomy club had a booth.

joesmarts said...

@BeingItself

What is "ridiculous?" Let me give an example.

There have been over 200,000 Major League Baseball games played over the past 138 years. In that time, there have only been 23 perfect games recorded. That means roughly 0.01% of MLB games have been perfect games. If I tell you tomorrow that so-and-so pitched a perfect game, would you consider that an ridiculous claim? Would you demand "extraordinary" evidence?

Crude said...

For you, do you require the same sort of evidence to believe that bananas are on sale as to believe that an alien is giving rides in his spaceship?

'The same sort' meaning what? Testimony from a trustworthy source?

B. Prokop said...

Interesting point, Crude.

Astronomers tell us that the Solar System is surrounded by what is called the Oort Cloud, composed of billions of comets. No astronomer disputes this, despite the fact that no one has ever observed this cloud - there is absolutely zero observational evidence for its existence. Yet go to any astronomy textbook, and the Oort Cloud is described in great detail. Go to Wikipedia - there's a gigantic article on the subject, which begins (almost) with the following statement: "no confirmed direct observations of the Oort cloud have been made".

So why is the existence of this so far undetected object universally acknowledged? Because competent authorities, who know what they are talking about, vouch for its existence! (They do so on the grounds of mathematical calculations and computer modeling.)

Peter K. Rufus said...

The real issue at hand is not whether Jesus walked on water, whether He ascended into heaven, or whether Heaven itself exists as a specific location. The real issue is whether materialism is a valid explanation of reality.

If you accept it, then phenomena like the ascension and water-walking will be seen as ridiculous.

But if materialism is false, then Victor is right – ridiculousness and truth are compatible.

So let's not get hung up on aspects of the supernatural if the reality of the supernatural is at the heart of what's being contested.

im-skeptical said...

"So why is the existence of this so far undetected object universally acknowledged? Because competent authorities, who know what they are talking about, vouch for its existence!"

Interesting comment, Bob. It makes it sound as though we should accept claims of supernatural bullshit based on the statements of authority figures, such as the church. But if it turns out that the Oort cloud doesn't exist, those authority figures would say "Oh well, that was our best theory, and now we know better." They don't have their lives and fortunes staked on it, and they haven't convinced a billion gullible followers that their eternal souls depend on believing the story.

Crude said...

The lives and fortunes of Dawkins and company are staked on getting gullible people, like im-skeptical, to wholeheartedly swallow their certainty and their bullshit with regards to theological and metaphysical matters.

If there's one thing the Cult of Gnu has demonstrated, it's that you don't need to be religious or even theistic to have gullible followers who are emotionally invested in what you're pronouncing upon. (See, for another good example, Madelyn Murray O'Hare. Or, for that matter, Jonestown.)

BeingItself said...

Why would I demand extraordinary evidence for a perfect game? We know perfect games can be pitched. Folks flying up to heaven . . . not so much.

Crude,

Pick the most reliable person you know. If that person told you an alien down the street was giving rides in his spaceship, would you believe and alien was giving rides in his spaceship?

Papalinton said...

Dr James A Lindsay made a most insightful observation to this OP of Victor's over at DC:

"At some point, demanding not to be made fun of is simply the usual song and dance of asking for undeserved respect, i.e. avoiding the burden."
READ IT HERE.

Now, ain't that the truth.

Crude said...

Pick the most reliable person you know. If that person told you an alien down the street was giving rides in his spaceship, would you believe and alien was giving rides in his spaceship?

If the most reliable/trustworthy person I knew gave me sincere testimony that they had encountered an alien, if all other things were equal, my belief in the existence of aliens interacting with humans would shoot right up. Would it be within the ballpark of certainty? Nope.

But here's where things get interesting. Why did you say 'down the street'? Is it that the existence of aliens is not extraordinary? The existence of intelligent aliens is not extraordinary? The existence of intelligent aliens visiting earth is not extraordinary? But the existence of intelligent aliens visiting earth - and being 'down the street' - suddenly kicks the 'extraordinary' trigger?

How do you decide what is or isn't an extraordinary claim, BI?

BeingItself said...

"How do you decide what is or isn't an extraordinary claim, BI?"

It's not a black or white issue.

There is the mundane, such as bananas on sale, the rare but plausible, such as a neighbor winning the powerball, the implausible but believable given adequate evidence, such as an alien down the street, to the downright ridiculous like a dead man coming back to life.

But I will believe even the ridiculous given sufficient evidence.

What counts as sufficient for me is on a sliding scale. As it should be for anyone who is rational and cares whether his beliefs are true.

Crude said...

BI,

It's not a black or white issue.

Maybe not. Rather makes all your attempts to make it black or white rather silly, eh?

Again, things just got even more interesting here.

There is the mundane, such as bananas on sale, the rare but plausible, such as a neighbor winning the powerball, the implausible but believable given adequate evidence, such as an alien down the street, to the downright ridiculous like a dead man coming back to life.

Did you just tell me that an alien living down the street isn't extraordinary? Or is it?

Again, I ask: when does extraordinary kick in? I listed several points on the scale. Are none of them extraordinary? Is it that everything is extraordinary, but only to varying degrees? (If so, we're in trouble.)

More than that - what's so extraordinary about the resurrection? Remember, this wasn't some random occurrence, but an act of God. Is it that you regard God as more likely to do some things, but not others? Wait, is the mere existence of God extraordinary? How about the brute fact existence of the universe?

What counts as sufficient for me is on a sliding scale. As it should be for anyone who is rational and cares whether his beliefs are true.

What makes you think that your sliding scale at all comports to truth? I may have a sliding scale of what counts for sufficient evidence for various grades of belief too - are you going to say 'Oh well then you're rational and are going about things the right way.' based on that?

Papalinton said...

Bob
"I know this to be true, because I have conducted this very survey asking 100 random persons (at a local college, no less - where you'd think they'd have a "modicum of science knowledge"), and got 100% reaction as I described. Not 90% or even 99% - 100%. This was at a recent environmental/outdoors fair, where my astronomy club had a booth."

All that this comment confirms is that science is poorly taught and misunderstood, an indictment on the national and state education systems. which seem singularly incapable of delivering proper and quality science within an all pervasive and predominantly religious societal milieu that characterizes community in the US. Despite the honest and hoped-for truly secular nation that the US founding fathers envisioned in the First Amendment, the people of the US have yet to experience the Enlightenment. As a consequence theology will continue to compromise the teaching of science. One need only follow the shameless shenanigans of State representatives in cahoots with religious sectional interest groups to appreciate the massive assault on science by the woo-meisters. Imposing creationism in its various religious manifestations and configurations into the science curriculum by legislative fiat is not science.

joesmarts said...

@BeingItself

What are the attributes of "ridiculous" or "extraordinary" claims? Without some reasonable definition, it's too easy for special pleading to escape under the ambiguity of these terms. Let's get some clear definitions of what is intended by them.

Papalinton said...

You simply can't make this stuff up. published in the TORONTO STAR.

You just cannot make this stuff up.

Ape in a Cape said...

I know what seems ridiculous...

How a scientific hypothesis could ever encourage an almost libidinous devotion from its defenders – that's ridiculous. These "Men of the Sloth" types spray their noxious pejoratives like a petrified skunk and then have the gall to tell everyone else they stink – that's ridiculous. Dawkinarian Chimpriests who enjoy beating their own breasts more than beating a bad argument – that's ridiculous. An uninterrupted motorway from mildew to man – that's ridiculous.

But is it true? Yes, I have seen all of the above. At least some religious folk have an excuse for their inanity. Truly, ridiculousness and truth are not incompatible.

apeinacape

B. Prokop said...

"science is poorly taught and misunderstood"

Amen to that, brother!

"national and state education systems. which seem singularly incapable of delivering proper and quality [education of any sort]"

I left off the last part of your sentences on purpose. It's not just science that is taught poorly in the USA - it's just about everything: literature, history, civics. But two points about education in this country.

1) There is no "national" system here - everything is state or local.

2) There is ZERO "religious" education in public schools, despite your misconceptions about the USA. For example, I have on my bookshelf a high school world history textbook, which contains no mention whatsoever of the building of cathedrals although it is replete with pictures of castles, Roman ruins, and modern structures, and despite an illustration or two on every single page there is not one reproduction of any artwork from the Renaissance (or any other period) with a religious theme (such as the Crucifixion), the rise of Christianity (or Islam, for that matter) is reduced to a half page (in an 800+ page book), the Reformation has slightly over one page, and the story of the missionaries outside of Europe is not mentioned at all.

im-skeptical said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-shulman/got-science-fighting-legi_b_3443166.html

Bob,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/ohio-creationism-proposal-springboro_n_3397661.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/20/creationism-textbooks-louisiana-schools

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Local and state schoolboards around the country are run by elected morons who know nothing about education, and are interested in injecting religion into the curriculum at the expense of real science, history, etc. That's one of the main reasons our children's education is so lacking.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

How do you explain the near-absence of any mention of religion in a world history text? After all, even atheists have to admit that it has been a major driver in history (e.g., conversion of Rome, rise of Islam, the Reformation, the Puritans, etc.). To pretend it doesn't even exist is to teach a totally false narrative.

The examples you cite are very much the exception and not the rule. It's like you telling me I have a good chance to win the next lottery, because after all, someone's got to win!

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

I know nothing about that text. I do know that school board members are utterly unqualified for the job, most of them are religious, and they are making a concerted effort nationwide to replace science and history with superstition and revisionism.

B. Prokop said...

"most of them are religious"

Interesting. Is that a disqualifier?

im-skeptical said...

"Interesting. Is that a disqualifier?"

I never said that, and please don't go putting words in my mouth again.

B. Prokop said...

I'm putting no words into you mouth - I'm asking you a question. So I'll repeat: "Is that a disqualifier?"

piet said...

Bob Prokop.
Did those you questioned have a better idea of what happened, when you explained a "singularity" to them?

B. Prokop said...

piet,

For the most part, time and the crowds (there were thousands of people there) did not allow for much "re-education" of those surveyed.

The results of some of the other questions asked were equally discouraging. Less that one person in five (18 out of 100) were aware that there were human beings in space at the present moment (aboard the International Space Station). Only one person knew that the Chinese had sent humans into orbit (and no one knew they have their own space station). Less than one-third were aware that the USA has no current launch capability to send people into space, and that we rely on the Russians.

B. Prokop said...

That should read "less than one person".

Crude said...

Since it was brought up here:

Here is the full text for the Louisiana Science Education Act.

Behold, the terrifying Creationist bill. And while we're at it, here is the text of the Tennessee bill.

Bob, you in particular seemed to automatically agree with Skep that these were terrible bills. I - as someone who does not think ID is science, and who has never been a YEC or OEC - would like you to explain why, if you're willing.

B. Prokop said...

No, I don't agree they were terrible bills. What I do strongly disagree with is the idea that "religious people" are responsible for the undeniably sorry state of US education. "Religious people" have next to zero influence on curriculum and standards, despite the inordinate amount of news these ID cases generate in the media. The reality is quite different. "Religion" (and I am not referring to the phony Prayer in School issue) is practically non-existent in school studies today.

I recall that my high school English teacher assigned the Old Testament's Book of Job for study in my Junior year class (let's see... that would be 1968). I imagine doing so today would be grounds for firing!

Skep is quite wrong about this.

Crude said...

Alright, Bob. Fair enough.

I'm used to seeing a lot of Christians dump on all things ID. I have my own complaints about that movement, but the reaction to these bills - especially the Tennessee bill - is a sight to behold.

im-skeptical said...

"Since it was brought up here:

Here is the full text for the Louisiana Science Education Act."

Once again, crude proves that he doesn't comprehend the material I post. The article I cited refers to Louisiana's Balanced Treatment Act, not the Science Education Act. If he had bothered to read it, he might have seen this in the link to the subject of the article:

"Louisiana's Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act remains on the books, after the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to adopt a version of Senate Bill 205 lacking a provision repealing the act. The Balanced Treatment Act — not to be confused with the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, enacted in 2008 and surviving three attempts at repeal — was enacted in 1981 and ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1987"

The article notes that Louisiana has refused to repeal this law despite its being ruled unconstitutional.

Nor, apparently, did Crude comprehend the implications of the Tennessee bill, "which uses carefully calibrated, non-religious language to undermine science education on evolution as well as other topics including climate science."

Crude said...

Once again, crude proves that he doesn't comprehend the material I post. The article I cited refers to Louisiana's Balanced Treatment Act, not the Science Education Act.

First line of link three cited by Skep: Louisiana's legislators are continuing their legislative jihad to keep the theory of evolution out of the state's public school science classrooms. On 1 May, legislators killed a bill to repeal Louisiana's creationism law, the misnamed Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA).

Skep - do you even read your own links?

Nor, apparently, did Crude comprehend the implications of the Tennessee bill,

Educate me, little man. I have provided the full text of both bills for the viewing of all.

Justify your claims from those bills. Don't just quote me attacks.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"What I do strongly disagree with is the idea that "religious people" are responsible for the undeniably sorry state of US education. "Religious people" have next to zero influence on curriculum and standards, despite the inordinate amount of news these ID cases generate in the media."

Do a little experiment. Enter into a department of humanities in your average American university. Then count the heads of those that are hostile to any form of Religion, but Christianity specially, and at the same time are relativists, post-modernists, etc. that for example, deny the very objectivity of the scientific enterprise. Then gauge their influence, curricula including. Then report back. Then go on harping about the possible threat, but imminent, always at the turn of a corner if we do not watch closely, that "creationist lobby" poses to Science.

im-skeptical said...

crude,

You referred to both Louisiana and Tennessee bills, which were the subject if the first article, not the third.

But the problem with those bills is that they provide a back door for undermining science education. -The bill says we're not supposed to teach religion so we won't, but here's what's wrong with the whole concept of [INSERT SCIENTIFIC THEORY HERE] (couched in secular terms, of course, wink wink)-

These laws were very carefully crafted to provide plausible deniability for the teaching of religious-sponsored non-science.

Crude said...

You referred to both Louisiana and Tennessee bills, which were the subject if the first article, not the third.

Link three refers expressly to the Louisiana Science Education Act, which I linked the full text of.

What are you nattering on about now?

But the problem with those bills is that they provide a back door for undermining science education.

Wonderful. Cite the relevant problem areas of the bill, and explain where they do what you speak of. Don't just whine about alleged effects - demonstrate them from the bill texts. They are short.

Because from where I sit, it seems as if you regard any legal protection of questioning a scientific theory, or teaching the weaknesses of it, to be some kind of crazy backdoor that will destroy science education. And if you walk that route, man oh man, do I have some choice questions for you.

im-skeptical said...

I fully support teaching critical thinking and teaching about weaknesses to scientific theories, as long as the objective is an understanding of science. That is not the purpose of these laws.

"to assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses
scientific controversies."

The purpose is to refute scientific theories with non-science. Under the auspices of this law, evolution is controversial, as well as other well-established theories. When they teach that evolution is "only a theory", and that there are equally viable alternatives, they are deliberately denying children the education in science they deserve. That's what these laws accomplish. That's what so many people are upset about. You can deny it all you like, but it's the truth, something about which you know nothing.

B. Prokop said...

"You can deny it all you like, but it's the truth, something about which you know nothing."

A perfect description of the gnus' attitude toward Christianity!

im-skeptical said...

Truth about what is well-established science is objective.

Crude said...

I fully support teaching critical thinking and teaching about weaknesses to scientific theories, as long as the objective is an understanding of science. That is not the purpose of these laws.

Once again, wonderful. Then can you please point out what parts of these bills justify your worries, much less your more absurd claims?

When they teach that evolution is "only a theory", and that there are equally viable alternatives, they are deliberately denying children the education in science they deserve. That's what these laws accomplish.

Great. Please explain how the bills accomplish this. Cite the portions of the text, and connect the dots.

Here, let me show you how to do that. You highlight, copy, paste, and voila:

This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.

Then you explain, like so: I'm citing this portion of the Tennessee bill to refute the claim that said bill defends the teaching of creationism.

All you've done so far is talk about 'the purpose!' of these bills. But we have the full text of these bills - quite easy to understand. You need to show how these laws accomplish their alleged purpose - and what's more, how they could do so while being constitutional.

im-skeptical said...

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=plausible%20deniability

B. Prokop said...

"Truth about what is well-established science is objective."

Oh, good grief! My sides hurt so much from laughing... Thank you, thank you! I haven't had such a good laugh in I don't know how long. Tell me, are you paid well for such stuff? 'Cause the networks are in desperate need of good writers. They just haven't been the same since Seinfeld went off the air.

(Now that's quality ridicule! Note the perfect form. No need to back anything up - just laugh loud enough and long enough, and that will do the trick all by itself.)

Crude said...

Please, Skep - I need you to educate me. Spell out, in detail, your reply.

Is it that the bills contain nothing unconstitutional, much less objectionable, but that you're certain that public school teachers are utterly untrustworthy when it comes to scientific topics?

Because from where I sit, I'm asking you to please cite the portions of the law that are problematic and why, and you seem unwilling - unable? - do to this.

As ever, the mental workings of the self-described skeptic are a sight to behold.

B. Prokop said...

"the mental workings of the self-described skeptic"

Crude, when will you ever learn? He's just said that the "Truth about what is well-established science is objective" (emphasis added). What need for skepticism?

im-skeptical said...

"Because from where I sit, I'm asking you to please cite the portions of the law that are problematic and why, and you seem unwilling - unable? - do to this."

If you're too dense to comprehend what I've been saying, that's a problem I'm unable to deal with. Sorry. This really is a waste of time.

Papalinton said...

The incursion of religious thought into the science curriculum is a continuing and chronic dysfunction pervading education. There is a long and infamous legal history recounting these incursions. These are the Ten Significant Court Decisions related to religious infiltration into the science classroom.

The legal history is but the tip of the iceberg of the deeper endemic societal malaise that predisposes sectional interests in the community to impose religious concepts as an alternative explanation to scientific concepts. Indeed for organisations such as the Discovery Institute, their raison d'ĂȘtre is to subjugate science once more under the umbrella of theology, as it was prior to the Enlightenment.

B. Prokop said...

"to subjugate science once more under the umbrella of theology, as it was prior to the Enlightenment"

Wow. Where to begin? suffice to say that, prior to the "Enlightenment", science was not "subjugated" to theology - it was nurtured by it. The scientific method was the direct offspring of the flowering of rational inquiry under Christian theologians - people who demanded that the universe make sense, and weren't content with pagan myths that did not mesh with reason. Sorry, Mr. Wilson, but you've got it entirely backwards.

Subsequent to the "Enlightenment", with the exile of reason in favor of the many "isms" that Mankind has been experimenting with over the past several centuries, we have phenomena such as Lysenkoism, Big Pharma, and the Tobacco and Energy Companies, all prostituting science (Dare I say "subjugating" it?) to their private agendas, and the truth be damned!

My, oh my! Soon we'll have Linton blaming the Indians for being slaughtered by the White Man.

Crude said...

If you're too dense to comprehend what I've been saying, that's a problem I'm unable to deal with. Sorry. This really is a waste of time.

Oh, I comprehend what you're saying. It amounts to this:

'Moo! Moo! I am a cow! I am part of Herd Gnu! The cows at the head of our herd are stampeding - so I stampede too! This is what it means to be a cow! Moo! MOO!'

I've given you every opportunity to make an argument from the content of the legislation to justify your worries. I've provided the text of the legislation for you. But you can't do it. Indeed, the very act of my asking you to do so is apparently seen as yet more crafty creationism at work.

Why, one would get the impression that your objections are poorly founded in this case, and that you yourself may have not even thought this through. But don't worry - you're running in the same direction, and at the same speed, as the herd. That's all that matters!

Papalinton said...

Bob
Compare the two:
Your Catholic version:
"Wow. Where to begin? suffice to say that, prior to the "Enlightenment", science was not "subjugated" to theology - it was nurtured by it. The scientific method was the direct offspring of the flowering of rational inquiry under Christian theologians - people who demanded that the universe make sense, and weren't content with pagan myths that did not mesh with reason. Sorry, Mr. Wilson, but you've got it entirely backwards."

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry:
"The rise of the new science progressively undermines not only the ancient geocentric conception of the cosmos, but, with it, the entire set of presuppositions that had served to constrain and guide philosophical inquiry. The dramatic success of the new science in explaining the natural world, in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena by appeal to a relatively small number of elegant mathematical formulae, promotes philosophy (in the broad sense of the time, which includes natural science) from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and construct the new, in the realms both of theory and practice, on the basis of its own principles."

Sorry Mr Prokop. you are preaching a version of catholic revisionist history. Rather than nurture the new science, the church singularly sought to keep it on a leash, attempt to contain it, not unlike contemporary global Disease Control Agencies exercise of control to limit if not contain epidemic and potential pandemic contagion across communities. Any reasonable and balanced reading of history clearly shows that Catholic muscle-flexing was ultimately about controlling rather than fostering/protecting the new science. If what you claim is a true, conventionally accepted record of history, why would the Stanford Dictionary not include that account as a matter of course or as a matter of universal principle? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is acknowledged as a world leading publication on philosophy. Conspiracy perhaps?

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Subsequent to the "Enlightenment", with the exile of reason in favor of the many "isms" that Mankind has been experimenting with over the past several centuries, we have phenomena such as Lysenkoism, Big Pharma, and the Tobacco and Energy Companies, all prostituting science (Dare I say "subjugating" it?) to their private agendas, and the truth be damned!"

I would like to know the source of your claim. The majority of global organisations of Big Pharma, Energy Companies and Tobacco are by far and away representative of American business growth, with as many American companies equal to the total of all other countries combined. Even a cursory review of daily business news demonstrates that when the NY Stock Exchange sneezes the world catches cold. And based solely on a conservative extrapolation of statistics, with the American population 80-90% Christian, I say it would be a very reasonable proposition that of those that run Big Pharma, Energy Companies and Tobacco, 80-90% would be Christians. So if anyone is prostituting science it would be the 80-90% Christians that would have the greatest impact in doing so. Science prostitutes Mon-Fri, God-praying christians on Sunday.

For the record Lysenkoism, as is the man, has been long dead.