Friday, June 27, 2014

ID and open-mindedness

Bob Prokop called attention to this essay, and asks why the exclusion of intelligent design from serious dialogue doesn't have the same bad effect. Here. 

91 comments:

Dan Gillson said...

We unbelievers spend a lot of time nay-saying your suggestion, so I'm going to try a different tack. Why should ID theory be included in scientific dialogue? What about the design inference is scientific?

RD Miksa said...

Dan,

Let me answer your questions this way:

Why should ID theory be included in scientific dialogue?

For the same reason that archeology, forensic science, and SETI are included in scientific dialogue.


What about the design inference is scientific?

The same thing that makes design detection in archeology, forensic science and SETI scientific.


Now, if you deny that archeology, forensic science and SETI are science, then I have no problem with you denying that ID is not science. But it is the inconsistency in how ID is treated in comparison to other disciplines that use the exact same methodolgy that annoys me.

Take care,

RD Miksa
www.idontgiveadamnapologetics.blogspot.com

John Moore said...

It's not really a matter of scientific procedure. It's more a question of attitude.

If SETI researchers claimed to have already found clear evidence of extraterrestrials, and if they claimed there was a conspiracy of silence in which 99% of astronomers refused to consider their evidence of alien life, then those SETI researchers would be called UFO nuts, and they'd be treated just like ID creationists.

B. Prokop said...

"a question of attitude"

Interesting. Makes me think of what I learned about that unquestionably great scientist, Galileo. Turns out that the cartoon-like caricature of his troubles with the civil and religious authorities of the time had far less to do with his (ultimately correct) advocacy of heliocentrism and other then controversial ideas, and much more to do with his (to put it bluntly) being quite the asshole.

Galileo had a wearyingly long history by the time of his trial of plagiarizing others' work and/or taking credit for others' discoveries, of bullying and gratuitously mocking those who didn't instantly agree with his every word, of character assassination, and of conspicuous ingratitude to his sponsors. (Imagine a researcher today wholly dependent on grant money for his work who went out of his way to insult and defame his financial backers.) It is little wonder that he eventually reaped what he sowed.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"Interesting."

Indeed. The truth of the matter is quite irrelevant; all it matters is that ID'ers are (perceived as) behaving like douches (translation: they have different opinions).

note: I mostly disagree with ID'ers, and find the whole discussion a mixture of boorishness and irrelevancy, but it is endlessly funny seeing their scientismist opponents wiggle and squirm.

B. Prokop said...

grodrigues,

I also am no especial fan of ID, preferring to regard the whole of Creation as designed, rather than pick at this or that particular detail. But like you, I find the ID-bashing that the scientismists are engaging in to be amusing - and as the article I linked to points out, potentially harmful to the further progress of scientific inquiry. As I pointed out elsewhere on this site, ofttimes the most important advances in scientific knowledge have come from people attempting to shore up theories that ultimately were discarded.

(The following is for Ilion's benefit.) As Chairman Mao said, "Let a hundred flowers bloom, and a hundred schools of thought contend." Or was that George Bush's "Thousand points of light"...?

Dan Gillson said...

Miksa,

1. What reason is that?

2. As I see it, the key difference between archeology and forensic science, and SETI and ID is that in the former the artificer is known, which acts a rule from which we derive our result (e.g., human beings make spears [the rule]; these are spears, therefore they are made by a human being [the result]). In the latter cases, we can only apply the rule after we infer it from the case and the result. (Or, as in many cases, we can assume the conclusion in a premise.) The nature of the inference is entirely different; in the first case, inferring a human artificer is deductive, and in the second it's hypothetical. The methodologies are, therefore, incomparable.

Dan Gillson said...

Yikes. What I should have said is that you are inferring the case from the rule and the results, e.g., intelligent designers create irreducibly complex systems (the rules). The bacterial flagellum was created by a designer (the results). Therefore, the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex (the case). So, my bad.

B. Prokop said...

Dan,

Several months ago, this very same argument dominated a conversation on this site, and I took the position you are now endorsing. Miska (and, if I recall correctly, Crude) took the opposite. Some time after the sturm und drang of that exchange, I realized I had been convinced by their arguments, and could see that if (in particular) SETI could be regarded as a science, then ID must of necessity also be. SETI combs through hundreds of millions of sources of various electromagnetic energies "out there" looking for something that appears to be artificial, i.e., "designed". So, in its fashion, does ID. Archaeology (although arguably to a lesser extent) does much the same thing. Don't know enough about forensic science to say anything about it. So if you're going to classify ID as non-science, you'll have to throw out SETI as well, and maybe archaeology too.

(And I say this as someone who cares not how it is decided. I have neither an emotional nor an intellectual dog in this fight.)

B. Prokop said...

I feel the need to repeat myself here, for the sake of clarity. I personally regard the entire universe to be the product of design, and feel it is rather pointless to be quibbling about this or that particular detail. A bacterial flagellum is neither more nor less designed than is a spiral galaxy.

Crude said...

Miska (and, if I recall correctly, Crude)

Miska and I disagree on this one, but conditionally.

I do not think ID is science, nor inferences to design.

Likewise, I do not think anti-ID is science, aka inferences to non-design.

I think science, as science, has zero input on the presence or lack of design in the universe, certainly at the scales ID proponents and theists are interested in. There is no scientific test.

That said, Miksa does (I recall) advance the argument that if you think SETI is science, you should ID is science. Likewise, forensic science (in the agent-inferring sense). I bite the bullet and deny they are science. What I do argue is that not being science doesn't mean we can't reasonably conclude them to be right about this or that.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

"What I do argue is that not being science doesn't mean we can't reasonably conclude them to be right about this or that."

I could not agree with you more! The scientismists out there always insist that science is the one and only path to truth. I say science is but one tool in a much larger (and richer) toolbox, and that there are other ways to arrive at truth. For example, art, music, and literature are paths to knowledge unobtainable by any scientific means. So are life experiences, relationships, history, culture, liturgy, meditation, contemplation, a walk in the woods or a night at the telescope, and prayer.

Dan Gillson said...

Bob,

To be clear, I don't think that SETI is science, but I think it has a better chance of being scientific than ID has. The method of reasoning behind SETI is deductive, just like it is in archaeology and forensics. That is, it applies a rule to a case to get the result: intelligent beings make x; this is an x, therefore x was made by an intelligent being. The method of reasoning behind ID theory doesn't proceed in the same way. It applies the rule to the results to get the case. Take, for example, the case of the bacterial flagellum. All one needs to show is that the bacterial flagellum isn't irreducibly complex to show that it isn't the product of an intelligent designer. If it can be shown that any phenomenon y isn't irreducibly complex, then such a demonstration would completely undermine the ID hypothesis. If, however, one proceeds deductively, as you do, (e.g., an intelligent designer created everything, this is part of creation, therefore it was made by an intelligent designer) then every case of a created thing is just an instance of the rule. The proof is purely explicative, just like it is with archaeology, forensics, and perhaps SETI.

B. Prokop said...

"All one needs to show is that the bacterial flagellum isn't irreducibly complex to show that it isn't the product of an intelligent designer."

Not true at all. The table I am sitting at is in no way irreducibly complex. Yet it remains a product of intelligent design.

Crude said...

Dan,

That is, it applies a rule to a case to get the result: intelligent beings make x; this is an x, therefore x was made by an intelligent being.

But x can be 'irreducibly complex structure', so why doesn't that apply?

All one needs to show is that the bacterial flagellum isn't irreducibly complex to show that it isn't the product of an intelligent designer.

This is straightforwardly denied by every ID proponent I'm aware of, and saying otherwise would be tantamount to saying intelligent designers can't make non-IC structures. If you show the BF isn't IC, you've killed the ID inference in that case - but it can still be intelligently designed.

And it can still be not-designed even with the inference, at least in terms of what's logically possible. That just wouldn't be where the evidence points, in their view.

Likewise, if you could show a given process that "naturally" makes stone arrowheads, you could case some doubt on archaeologist inferences too.

Dan Gillson said...

Don't punish me for failing to capitalize 'Intelligent Designer,' Bob. :-P

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

i. It does apply, but in order to get the result that x is designed by an intelligent being, we'd need to countenance a case in which x is irreducibly complex. (Humorously, a corollary of your suggestion is that humans aren't intelligent beings, since we don't make any irreducibly complex objects, yet anyways.)

ii. Yes, if the hypothetical inference fails, an object can still, logically speaking, be designed. But if that's the case, then the method of inference to design would be deductive--it would proceed to the result (its being designed) from the rule (all things are intelligently designed) and the case (this is a thing). That's an entirely different can of worms, and it requires different sort of logical argument for its refutation.

iii. Yes, logically speaking it could be not-designed. Hypothetical inferences are relatively weak.

iv. Yes, naturally occurring stone arrowheads would cause some trouble for archaeology in that it would make collecting data harder, but it wouldn't change the deductive background assumption that humans made stone arrowheads.

Crude said...

Dan,

i. It does apply, but in order to get the result that x is designed by an intelligent being, we'd need to countenance a case in which x is irreducibly complex. (Humorously, a corollary of your suggestion is that humans aren't intelligent beings, since we don't make any irreducibly complex objects, yet anyways.)

Sorry, I'm not understanding you. Are you saying that human beings do not make irreducibly complex things? Because if so, that seems straightforwardly wrong.

iv. Yes, naturally occurring stone arrowheads would cause some trouble for archaeology in that it would make collecting data harder, but it wouldn't change the deductive background assumption that humans made stone arrowheads.

I think the deductive background assumption can be loosened - 'Intelligent agents make stone arrowheads.' And various other structures too.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

Perhaps I dont understand IC. (It wouldn't be surprising, as ID only crosses my mind when Dr Reppert posts about it.) I thought that IC only applied to biological phenomena. What IC objects do humans make?

Crude said...

Dan,

The entire thrust of the Irreducible Complexity argument depends on the fact that humans do, in fact, make irreducibly complex structures.

Humans make all manner. I think engines are the typical example, but... actually, let's start here. What do you think irreducible complexity means? Because this is the first time I've encountered someone who thought it meant 'something so amazing only God could make it' or the like, which is what I'm picking up from you, perhaps wrongly.

B. Prokop said...

My understanding of irreducible complexity is a multi-part entity, of which none (or perhaps just some) of the parts have no independent function. So for example, a table is not IC, since one can find alternate uses for the legs and for the surface. But a zipper might be an example of IC, since the various parts in isolation have no independent function.

Am I right here? Not being an ID guy myself, I may have an inadequate understanding of the terms.

RD Miksa said...

Just fyi....sorry for not yet responding, but I am at work and only have access to my cell phone. I will endeavour to respond in detail tomorrow.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Crude said...

Bob,

Actually, independent function is just plain fine. The issue of irreducible complexity is that if any one part of the structure is removed, the remaining entity cannot perform the same function it was previously.

Here's what trips some people up (and I believe misinformation on this point is popular and intentional in some quarters): if the structure will perform some OTHER function just fine without the part, that's doesn't mean anything to IC. Likewise if the sub-parts can conceivably have other functions.

Bilbo said...

We can make the analogy between SETI and ID even stronger. SETI's underlying premise is that only intelligent beings can produce narrow-band radio emissions. So if we find one from outer space, then we would know that it was produced by an intelligence of some kind.

Now compare it with ID. Other than cells, only intelligent beings can produce proteins and nucleotides. So before there were cells, the only thing that could have produced proteins and nucleotides (two of the essential ingredients of life as we know it) was some sort of intelligence.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

The way I understand irreducible complexity is basically that if something is too complex to have evolved naturally, then it is irreducibly complex, and vice versa. In other words, I understand the meaning of irreducible complexity according to how its used, probably mostly on bad apologetics (both atheistic and theistic) websites.

But, if we use the definition that you supplied to Bob, a bike is irreducibly complex because what a bike is is two wheels, gears, a chain, and brakes on a frame. If any one of those is removed, the bike can’t perform its original function, but ‘being a bike’ isn’t reducible to ‘having two wheels, a frame, brakes, and a chain.’ The fact that one can use a bike without a wheel as, say, a spool—i.e., it still has a function—has nothing to do with the fact that bikes (or its subparts) are irreducible complex objects, because the property of ‘being a bike’ is related to the function of a complex system of a bike, not to its component parts. Is that right?

grodrigues said...

@Dan Gilson:

"The way I understand irreducible complexity is basically that if something is too complex to have evolved naturally, then it is irreducibly complex, and vice versa."

??????

This would make ID'ers argument a blindingly obvious question-begging fallacy.

Dan Gillson said...

grod,

Yes, I've even argued that point before.

Dan Gillson said...

Wrongly, I should add.

grodrigues said...

@Dan Gilson:

(stunned look)

Quite apart from the fact that even I, being one of the least conversant in Behe's writings (to pick a representative example), know that *that* is not what IC is, do you really believe that Behe is that shallow and obtuse a thinker? I suppose you must. And then again, Dr. Johnson (my lifelong intellectual hero) wisely remarked that:

"Treating your adversary wth respect is striking soft in battle."

so, and excuse me the provocation, allow me to ask you: projecting much?

Dan Gillson said...

grod,

Provocation excused. If you want to know, the actual reason for my ignorance is far less sinister (and much less interesting) than projection. The last time I seriously read anything about ID was when I was a college freshman (2002). My understanding of ID (and IC) was just never corrected.

Crude said...

Dan,

The way I understand irreducible complexity is basically that if something is too complex to have evolved naturally, then it is irreducibly complex, and vice versa. In other words, I understand the meaning of irreducible complexity according to how its used, probably mostly on bad apologetics (both atheistic and theistic) websites.

It sounds like you already agree that this is wrong at this point, so no need to belabor it.

But, if we use the definition that you supplied to Bob, a bike is irreducibly complex because what a bike is is two wheels, gears, a chain, and brakes on a frame. If any one of those is removed, the bike can’t perform its original function, but ‘being a bike’ isn’t reducible to ‘having two wheels, a frame, brakes, and a chain.’ The fact that one can use a bike without a wheel as, say, a spool—i.e., it still has a function—has nothing to do with the fact that bikes (or its subparts) are irreducible complex objects, because the property of ‘being a bike’ is related to the function of a complex system of a bike, not to its component parts. Is that right?

I think we may be on the same page. One example that gets thrown around is the mousetrap - remove a part of an idealized mousetrap, and it no longer functions as a mousetrap. The whole thing may have another function (Paper weight! Door jam!) and individual parts may have other conceivable functions (this part can be a tie clip!), but what you no longer have is the mouse trap doing what a mousetrap does. It's not 'being a bike' that matters in that case but, I suppose, 'powered propulsion'.

You could probably rig the bicycle example with 'well what about a unicycle' replies, but that doesn't do much to the point. That's along the lines of pointing out that a car can still be driven with a broken headlight - yes, true, but it doesn't affect the point in question, since it's not addressing the function of interest.

Papalinton said...

Keep an open mind on ID?
That would include keeping an open mind on Astrology and Alchemy, according to Dr Behe's [well, on astrology at least] testimony during the Kitzmiller Vs Dover School Board trial. The TRANSCRIPT of Behe's testimony makes for very enlightening reading and fully fleshes out the context in which he concedes the point. No obfuscation, no apologetical umming and ahhing. Just plain fact and straight talking.

The money quotes from the transcript are:
"Counsel: [Q] But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?

Behe [A ]Yes, that's correct."


I think we should move inwards and not spend too much time out on the periphery arguing over the irrelevancy of ID. That chapter on ID in science is closed. To continue is to reside in an echo chamber.

Bilbo said...

Shame on you, Papa, for not giving the full context of the quote:

Q Under that same definition astrology is a scientific theory under your definition, correct?

A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical, observable data and logical inferences. There are many things throughout the history of science which we now think to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that -- which would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one, and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and many other -- many other theories as well.

Q The ether theory of light has been discarded, correct?

A That is correct.

Q But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?

A Yes, that's correct. And let me explain under my definition of the word "theory," it is -- a sense of the word "theory" does not include the theory being true, it means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain some facts by logical inferences. There have been many theories throughout the history of science which looked good at the time which further progress has shown to be incorrect. Nonetheless, we can't go back and say that because they were incorrect they were not theories. So many many things that we now realized to be incorrect, incorrect theories, are nonetheless theories.

Crude said...

Bilbo,

Don't sweat it. Linton's a known liar and plagiarist and a bit dull-witted besides, people just ignore him lately. Giving an out-of-context quote is actually a step up for him. ;)

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

Is there any natural phenomenon which is reducibly complex, or is all phenomenon just irreducibly complex? (The only phenomenon I can countenance which is reducibly complex is mathematics, but I may be missing something.) And if all natural phenomenon are irreducibly complex, wouldn't it follow that any naturally occurring thing is just an instance of irreducible complexity? That is, the inference to design would just be true by definition, instead of being, well, scientific, or more precisely, synthetic. (I know that you don't think that ID is science, so I don't expect you to come completely to its aid.)

Crude said...

Dan,

Is there any natural phenomenon which is reducibly complex, or is all phenomenon just irreducibly complex?

Offhand, I think an example of reducible complexity may be, say... tree branch patterns. That's complexity of a sort, where one tree has many branches and sub-branches, etc. But it's not an irreducible complexity - any individual sub-path can be removed and it's hardly going to affect the tree as a whole.

A given rock formation can be 'complex', the distribution of junk in a room can be 'complex', and ID proponents wouldn't call it irreducible.

Papalinton said...

No, bilbo. I provided the whole transcript of that portion of the trial for you to get off your lazy pious arse and read. The absolute pertinent part of Behe's answer was his first three words in response to the question from counsel.

The balance of Behe's comment, was irrelevant to the question and was subsequently torn to shreds in the ensuing Questions and Answers from where I left off. Go on, read the rest of it. ID is a dead duck.

Heinz Pagels, renowned American physicist, died 1988, captures it best: "I like to browse in occult bookshops if for no other reason to refresh my commitment to science."

Astrology, alchemy, ID, they're all there on the shelves. I'm not a betting man, but I would put money on on this likely scenario







B. Prokop said...

I find it hilarious that Linton is constantly punting to some imaginary future (as in his most recent link), where no one can disprove him because the future hasn't happened yet, giving him free rein to predict what ever nonsense he chooses.

If he ever decided to step out of his gnu echo chamber for a moment, he might (to his undoubted horror) discover that religion of all stripes is growing by leaps and bounds in the contemporary world. In fact, the 21st Century is on a path to be the most religious era in Human History. The number of Catholics alone (not even counting any Protestants) in China is trending to exceed the population of the United States within our children's lifetime. Sub-Saharan Africa is gaining Christian converts at an astounding rate of thousands per day, a rate not seen anywhere in the world since Mexico in the 1500s. The Orthodox Church, aster casting off 70 years of atheist tyranny, is stronger and healthier than ever. And don't get me started on the simultaneous explosive growth all over the globe of non-Christian religion. Even in Linton's Western European "post-Christian" paradise, young people are finally realizing the dead-end soullessness of the binge-drinking, shopping mall, childless culture they inherited, and are taking a second look at the faith traditions that their parents (my generation) all too hastily abandoned.

The problem, Linton, is not that you represent some sort of "wave of the future" - it is that you are a wheezing, aging representative of the past, of the "Me, Me, Me" Baby Boom generation (an affliction I share, but I at least got over it). Let me ask you, do you still have your bell-bottoms? The 70s are calling - they want them back.

B. Prokop said...

That would be, of course, "after casting off".

Bilbo said...

Papa: "The balance of Behe's comment, was irrelevant to the question...."

Behe's answer was very relevant to the question.


"... and was subsequently torn to shreds in the ensuing Questions and Answers from where I left off. Go on, read the rest of it. ID is a dead duck...."

Not it wasn't torn to shreds. Whether or not ID is a "dead duck" is a hotly debated question to which I doubt you have the requisite knowledge or competency to add anything of interest.

Hugo said...

Whether or not ID is a "dead duck" is a hotly debated question

Says who? The proponents of ID?

Among biologist, yes, there are debates surrounding evolution. It's great for science advancement not to be static and constantly question already accepted knowledge, to a reasonable degree of doubt. But that's not the case with ID. They offer nothing worthy of study, nothing that advances the field of biology. All they seem to want is pushing the idea that 'someone' must have intervene to make living things the way they are because they are complex, too complex, to be the results of purely natural processes. They offer no theories as to how the designer would do anything. No theories as to which facts point to a designer. No predicting power that would lead to experiments and more research, etc...

And as usual, I got to insert the CYA note: it does not mean that there is no designer behind nature, it just means that living things evolved naturally, be it with or without 'nature' itself being kick-started by something/someone else.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

That's complexity that isn't attached to a function, unlike a bike or a mousetrap, the complexities of which are related to their functions.

B. Prokop said...

A while ago I came across the very useful concept of the monad, which is defined as the smallest possible part of something which retains all the properties of the whole. For instance, I can slice off a serving of butter, and the small piece I have separated is every much butter as the larger portion left behind. The monad for butter is at the molecular level.

Can't do that with an automobile, however. Remove any part (doesn't matter which one), and it is no longer an automobile, but rather a carburetor, or a wheel, or whatever - but not a car. The automobile is its own monad.

Crude said...

Dan,

Then I'm not sure what you're asking. Literally, not comprehending what you're requesting me to turn up.

I do know there are examples of complexity that 'evolved downward' so to speak. Duplicated a part so there was redundancy, then degenerated so the redundancy was necessary. But that doesn't seem to be what you want.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

I don't need anything from you. This was very enlightening. Thanks for guiding me through IC.

Bilbo said...

Hi Hugo,

Previously I wrote:
Whether or not ID is a "dead duck" is a hotly debated question

You asked: Says who? The proponents of ID?

Yes.

Among biologist, yes, there are debates surrounding evolution.

Yes, indeed! There are more than a few biologists who express doubts about the core tenets of evolution, such as the idea that novel complex biological systems can be produced by natural selection acting upon random genetic mutations.

It's great for science advancement not to be static and constantly question already accepted knowledge, to a reasonable degree of doubt.

Agreed.

But that's not the case with ID. They offer nothing worthy of study, nothing that advances the field of biology.

I guess it depends upon what you mean by "advance." Showing that there are severe difficulties with current accepted explanations of evolution might be considered an advancement by some.

All they seem to want is pushing the idea that 'someone' must have intervene to make living things the way they are because they are complex, too complex, to be the results of purely natural processes.

It's not just that many biological features are too complex to have evolved through a random process. It's that they look like they were designed for a particular purpose. And inferring that therefore they were probably designed seems reasonable to me.

They offer no theories as to how the designer would do anything.

Actually some have. Fred Hoyle hypothesized that the first cells were designed in a distant part of the universe, then somehow ejected into space and eventually landed on our planet. He further hypothesized that the cells acted as sub-routines that could combine and form more complex organisms.
Michael Behe hypothesized that design in biology is part of the fine-tuning of our universe, so that the designer just had to pick out and actualize the right possible universe that would have all the right mutations.

No theories as to which facts point to a designer.
Behe's IC is the most famous theory as to what facts point to a designer. But there are other facts. Up above I pointed out that the only thing that can make nucleotides and proteins besides cells are intelligent beings. So before cells existed it would have taken an intelligence to make the nucleotides and proteins so essential to life as we know it.

No predicting power that would lead to experiments and more research, etc...

Mike Gene has done lots of work with his hypothesis of front-loaded evolution and made quite a few correct predictions from it.

And as usual, I got to insert the CYA note: it does not mean that there is no designer behind nature, it just means that living things evolved naturally, be it with or without 'nature' itself being kick-started by something/someone else.

Not sure what "CYA" means. I agree that even if accepted evolutionary theory is correct it doesn't mean that there was no designer behind nature.

Papalinton said...

Bob says: "The number of Catholics alone (not even counting any Protestants) in China is trending to exceed the population of the United States within our children's lifetime."

And he's partially right. With the little rise of christian participation expected as the communist regime relaxes its grip [the 2010 survey conts some 33 million christians, 30 million protestants, 3 million catholics], it is a reasonable opinion that the rising numbers of christians in china will exceed the numbers in the US as they continue to trend downward.

What is interesting, and from recent research, which I notice Bob never cites to back up his claims, note: "Gerda Wielander (2013) has noticed how estimates of the number of Christians in China that have been spread by Western media may be highly inflated.[50] Citing one of the aforementioned surveys, she says that the actual number of Christians is around 30 millions.[50] Missionary researcher Tony Lambert has highlighted that a groundless estimate of "one hundred million Chinese Christians" was already being spread by American Christian media in 1983, and has been furtherly exaggerated, through a chain of misquotations, in the 2000s.[51]"

Just another case of telling 'porkies' for jesus.

And don't kid yourself, Bob, that surge to faith in Africa is about some revelatory experience [for you to get excited about]. It is more than anything else a reaction against, and more a salve to, the grinding poverty, terrible living conditions, non-existent medical care, and dreadful life expectancy rates. If you were one of those mothers, and saw no end of it, why would you turn away from the only hope you have of garnering some form of relief from the mental, emotional and physical anguish? Their condition is not one of a conceptual hole in one’s existence or some aching for meaning in one’s life. It is purely and simply a survival yearning to protect themselves and their family from dire poverty. And I laud anyone, any organisation, that sees it their role to help wherever they can. BUT, it is very troubling for me that any assistance we might provide comes at a huge cost, a price; proselytizing one’s faith when the beneficiary is at his/her lowest ebb, most vulnerable, most unprotected. And the drive for converts by tricking them into the 'tent' with the promise of food has the stench of an unequal power relationship. To me that is both immoral and a crime against humanity. While there is ever poverty in the world, religion will always have a captive audience. The callousness is that the desperate need for such aid comes attached, albeit implied, to the condition that the recipients give praise to jesus as their saviour for he is the one that apparently provides that food to the starving. Such tethered charity to the desperate and the starving is not charity at all. If it is not given freely, without some form of not-so-covert implied bond on the deprived, then it is plain outright coercion. This is not the time for garnering converts. Any good and decent catholic knows that. And I hope those at the forefront in Africa know that.

Yes, Africa is experiencing a surge of religiosity. That is to be expected wherever abject destitution, ignorance and illiteracy is overwhelming and no means of protecting one's family from the scourge of poverty. Who wouldn't subscribe to the placebo effect of religious thinking. What other salve is there in the circumstances? And this is the pitying thing. Along with this rise in religious fervour comes the ubiquitous railings against homosexuals, AIDS sufferers, the subjugation of women, all bundled in the Hellfire and Brimstone rhetoric of these christian preachers, aided and abetted by American clergy.

If religion cannot restrain evil it cannot claim effective power for good.


B. Prokop said...

"the grinding poverty"

No argument there.

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (Matthew 9:12)

Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20)

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are. (1 Corinthians 1:28)

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. (James 5:1)

They brought [the infant Jesus] up to Jerusalem to ... offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons [i.e., the offering of the Poor]."

There is much more, but that should suffice to show how foolish your comment is.

Hugo said...

@Bilbo

Thanks for your well-written answer. You did address the actual points I was making so I appreciate that. However, I disagree with pretty much everything! and I don't know if I have time to cover everything but let's see...

I said: yes, there are debates surrounding evolution.
You replied "Yes, indeed! There are more than a few biologists who express doubts about the core tenets of evolution, such as the idea that novel complex biological systems can be produced by natural selection acting upon random genetic mutations."
No. This core 'tenet' like you call it (I guess I would refer to core 'principle' or 'fact') is not doubted. The mechanisms by which novel complex biological systems are produced are well understood.

By coincidence, I did run into an example of something still under debate in the field of biology, which is the problem of criticality: is the presence of criticality in many living systems just a coincidence, or a sign of a unifying physical law for all life? I read that in NewScientist, which you may be able to access here. There are also some more general articles about human evolution's open questions under this section.

" It's not just that many biological features are too complex to have evolved through a random process."

Many? I have never heard of 1... Every single example that gets studied yields an evolutionary explanation without any gaps or great mystery. Some details are not known of course, but even extremely complex things ike the eye, the immune system, sexual reproduction or even the human brain have solid explanation for their evolution.

My favorite series on this topic can be found on 2 YouTube channels:
The Science Channel, formely known as BestOfScience
And this more amateurish one, from an actual researcher who created awesome videos during his spare time:
cdk007 and his 'Origins the Series'
Note that he also has a more specific series on refuting ID called 'Evidence FOR Evolution and Against Creationism' (yes I know, some people say that ID is not exactly like Creationism, fine, it's still the same arguments...)

"It's that they look like they were designed for a particular purpose. And inferring that therefore they were probably designed seems reasonable to me. "

They 'look' designed, yes. The 'look like' part is really important here. If you take simple example like the neck of a giraffe, it 'looks like' it was designed to reach high trees. But this is exactly what you expect to see when living forms adapt to their environment. The specimens with the longer neck have an advantage, reproduce more and eventually become the norm. The ones with the shorter neck vanish and we then left with the 'appearance' of a neck being designed just for that purpose.

Hugo said...

"...Fred Hoyle..."

That name sounds familiar... quick Google search... oh right, it's that " astronomer"
who gets quoted by ID proponents. He's the one who gets attributed the fallacious 'Tornado forming a 747 from junkyard' argument where abiogenesis is calculated to be as probable as a tornado randomly forming a fully functioning airplane out of a junkyard.

"hypothesized that the first cells were designed in a distant part of the universe, then somehow ejected into space and eventually landed on our planet"

That's not impossible, but it still explains nothing and just adds an overly complex hypothesis to the purely natural ones we already have. Plus, this is purely related to abiogenesis, not evolution. Even if the first self-replicating cells came from outer space, the way they evolved to fit the environment is what the Theory of Evolution explains, successfully.

"Michael Behe hypothesized that design in biology is part of the fine-tuning of our universe, so that the designer just had to pick out and actualize the right possible universe that would have all the right mutations."

Why always Behe? Or anyone else related to the Discovery Institute... it does not mean they are wrong because it's always them, but it helps re-enforce the fact that they are a tiny minority, who reject well accepted science in favor of their pre-conceived, and wrong, ideas. It's amazing how doing some searches, and it's been like that for years afaik, you always run into the Discovery Institute directly, or evolutionnews.org, or intelligentdesign.org from the center for Science & Culture, which all link back to the DI...

Anyway I digressed... the hypothesis he gave has exactly the same flaw as the outer space origin. What happened after the appearance of the first earthly self-replication organic molecules is explained by evolution. Plus, in this specific case, Behe is doing a vague fine-tuning argument which could apply to pretty much anything, yet has failed at every level. It used to be that the Earth was so special, must have been designed to have the Sun go around it so perfectly, oops nope it's going around it, well, must be special to be a planet around a star, oops no, we are part of a 100,000 light-year wide galaxy with billions of stars, oh but our galaxy must be special, oops no, again, there are more galaxies than there are stars in the Milky Way so the odds of finding a solar system like ours becomes essentially 1, where it's almost impossible not to arrive at the arrangement once in a while. Oh but it's because the universe itself must be fine tuned!

Well ya, there we have to stop; I cannot pretend that I know for sure that the universe could have had different constant and properties, perhaps a designer started it with the 4 basic forces and let everything else take its course, acting as what we usually call 'nature' to contrast with the work of an 'agent'. It's possible... but it could also just be natural and 1 of billions of universes without any real beginning nor end.

Hugo said...

"Behe's IC is the most famous theory as to what facts point to a designer"

IC is a prediction of evolution. Behe's theory as an alternative to evolution fails from the start.

"the only thing that can make nucleotides and proteins besides cells are intelligent beings. So before cells existed it would have taken an intelligence to make the nucleotides and proteins so essential to life as we know it. "

What makes you think that nucleotides and proteins cannot evolve naturally? It goes back to what I mentioned above: Every single example that gets studied yields an evolutionary explanation.

"hypothesis of front-loaded evolution and made quite a few correct predictions from it. "

What predictions? Front-loaded is something else that sounded familiar and I ran into this article after a 10-sec search:
http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2007/06/08/exaptation-vs-front-loading-wh/

" Not sure what "CYA" means. I agree that even if accepted evolutionary theory is correct it doesn't mean that there was no designer behind nature. "

Haha right, not the most common acronym I suppose :) I have been using it at work for years, it means 'cover your ass'. It's a way to present a statement that is not essential now, but serves some sort of 'insurance' purpose. In this case, the 'insurance' I am getting is against claims that I am trying to explain away ID in favor of evolution because I think it supports my atheistic worldview. It is not the case; as I don't think evolution alone disprove all gods in general.

Thanks again for your comment Bilbo; it was to the point. That being said, I am afraid I will not spend more time on this again though, as I should really stop being distracted by such online conversation. Sorry just a personal useless remark, it's really interesting topics but too time consuming... but what I would recommend are sites like these below, that you may know already about, but explain in great details where ID's flaws are, or just explain evolutionary biology in general.

Cheers

http://ncse.com/evolution
http://www.talkorigins.org/
http://www.newscientist.com/topic/evolution
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/collection/evolution

Papalinton said...

Is that it? A couple of quotes from the bible?
I am very disappointed. I would have thought that when logic and reason disputes your argument [about the reasons for growth of religiosity in Africa], I simply didn't think you would fall back on faith as a first response. While it is so very easy to justify with 'faith' it is intellectually, an inherently slovenly and lazy tactic. It is your safety blanket when in times of cognitive conflict or stress, a fall back to what is or feels safe, something you don't have to think about or through. The ploy of last resort utilized when the intellectual cupboard is bare. It is in the main a defensive involuntary reflexive counteraction when under challenge. It is a failure of reason.

B. Prokop said...

"It is a failure of reason"

Nope. Not in the slightest. Amusing that when you fail utterly to comprehend what someone else is saying or his means of expression, you don't look in the mirror but automatically assume "it must be the other guy's fault."

I was showing you that it is in the very nature of Christianity to be understood first of all by the poor, the neglected, the fringe elements of society, the powerless. It's a definitional issue. So an illustration from scripture is totally appropriate. Faith doesn't even enter into it. The fact that you cannot see this is a clear demonstration of the failure of your own reasoning powers, and of no one else's.

B. Prokop said...

You know, I've been thinking a bit about Linton's last comment. Seems to me that he's making a (rather pathetic) attempt to make references to scripture off limits in discussion, even when such references are totally appropriate.

My last use of such is an ideal case in point. Linton dismisses the ongoing expansion of Christianity in Africa by calling it a response to poverty. Not only do I not argue the point, but I actually go out of my way to agree with him, citing the relevant passages of scripture to show why this is indeed the case.

Linton's response? Bluster and confusion, accusing me of a "failure of reason" for agreeing with him. Ha!

The real story here is Linton's instinctive fear of Holy Scripture or anything sacred. Thus his usage of disparaging terms for the Resurrection, the Eucharist, or the Ascension, etc., and his knee jerk reaction to having to read anything from The Bible. And people wonder why I openly speculate that Linton may be a victim of demon possession. (Yes, I do believe that such things happen.) All the signs are there. It's like those old Dracula movies, where the fiend recoils from the Crucifix.

And Linton, old friend, I am not in the least blaming you for your possible affliction, any more than I would blame any ill person for his disease. If true, I see you as the victim, and one in need of compassion - not condemnation.

Bilbo said...
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Bilbo said...
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Bilbo said...

Hi Hugo,

Third time:

Behe's replies.

Mike Gene's Blog on Front-loaded Evolution.

Sure, maybe there is a a way for nucleotides and proteins to evolve naturally. And maybe there is a way for narrow-band radio emissions to be produced naturally, in which SETI is all washed up.

Hugo said...

Wow Bilbo, I never realized Behe had already replied to his major critics; he must be right then!

maybe there is a a way for nucleotides and proteins to evolve naturally
But let's conclude that they must have been designed anyway, because Behe said so.

And maybe there is a way for narrow-band radio emissions to be produced naturally, in which SETI is all washed up.
Radio emissions are produced naturally; we know that. That's not what SETI is looking for... no sarcasm here ;)

Hugo said...

OMG, I just clicked on your profile our of curiosity and started to read your blog Bilbo. You're a 9/11 truther? You even still believe that WTC7 was a controlled demolition!? Wow... just wow.

Bilbo said...

Hi Hugo,

My original point was that ID is hotly debated. Both Michael Behe and Mike Gene have responded to all their major critics.

Behe isn't involved in the origin of life debate. Origin of life researchers haven't found a way for proteins or nucleotides to evolve naturally. Eugen Koonin even thinks that a multiverse is necessary to give the origin of life a chance.

Narrow-band radio signals are not produced naturally. The only way they are known to be produced is by intelligent designers, such as us. That's why SETI is looking for them.

Yes, I think WTC7 was brought down by controlled demolition, along with over 2,200 Architects and Engineers.

B. Prokop said...

Bilbo,

You have just lost all credibility. Do you also believe in the Second Shooter?

Bilbo said...

Hi Bob,

I take it you have seen actual video of the collapse of WTC 7?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bWorDrTC0Qg

Bilbo said...

Let my hyperlink that: Collapse of WTC 7

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Bilbo,

My original point was that ID is hotly debated. Both Michael Behe and Mike Gene have responded to all their major critics.

Excellent! Could you please point me to Behe's response to this criticism, which is praised by no less than Alvin Plantinga?

Bilbo said...

Hi Jeffery,

Yes, Paul Draper's excellent paper was one of the few (or only?) major paper's that Behe didn't reply to, I suspect because it was so inaccessible. I read it. If I recall, Draper didn't so much try to refute Behe's argument as offer further challenges that his argument had to meet in order to succeed. I agree with much of what Draper wrote. However, I think Behe's subsequent book, The Edge of Evolution, met some of these challenges. I don't think Behe has proven his case. But I do think he has provided a serious challenge to neo-Darwinism.

B. Prokop said...

Well, I watched it. Other than being rather repetitive, what was I supposed to take away from that?

Papalinton said...

"The real story here is Linton's instinctive fear of Holy Scripture or anything sacred. Thus his usage of disparaging terms for the Resurrection, the Eucharist, or the Ascension, etc., and his knee jerk reaction to having to read anything from The Bible. And people wonder why I openly speculate that Linton may be a victim of demon possession. (Yes, I do believe that such things happen.) "

Oh Dear. Bob invokes the Damien Omen II defense. I think you have watched too many repeats of 'The Exorcist'.

I know it'll come as a bit of a shock, but ..... pssst, come closer, because I am only going to whisper it, ... Bob, these are not historical accounts. Also, I know you won't believe it, but Tim Lahaye's 'Left Behind' is also fiction based on a myth. Just thought I'd let you know.

Psst. I'll let you in on another secret; this is the 21stC. Demon Possession has an actual psychiatrical name. It is a mental disease called demonomania or demonopathy, a monomania in which people of generally sound mind have a delusory pathological fixation on one [or a number of closely related] particular idea, concept or subject.

Belief in demon possession? Credibility? Zero on both counts.

Papalinton said...

Cont
A belief in demon possession is a pathological delusion, formed by a process of habituation when the reason and logic circuits in the brain are circumvented through exposure to extensive inculcation, the instilling of an attitude, idea, or habit by persistent long-term instruction.

It is quite amazing that the brain is capable of holding two fundamentally disparate and countervailing concepts simultaneously. It is a subject of real interest among neuro-scientists and we are coming closer to understanding why Bob, who for all intents and purposes, is deemed a rational, sane person, can hold such antithetical and wonderfully bizarre ideas.

B. Prokop said...

"I think you have watched too many repeats of 'The Exorcist'."

Actually, I've never seen The Exorcist.

"Tim Lahaye's 'Left Behind' is also fiction"

100% agreement there - the so-called "rapture" is a Protestant misreading of Scripture.

Belief in demon possession?"

No apologies. Yes, I do. Do I believe in a literal Devil? I most certainly do. Is he to be taken lightly? One does so on peril of his soul! Do I think a lot about him? As little as possible. I don't think it's healthy to do so. Remember Saruman's fate in The Lord of the Rings.

Hugo said...

Bilbo said...
"My original point was that ID is hotly debated. Both Michael Behe and Mike Gene have responded to all their major critics."

Yes I know that, and I will repeat my answer: no, it is not hotly debated. I am really sorry that you refuse to live in the reality of 2014 but ID is not a scientific topic that biologists discuss. Period. Call me 'not skeptical enough' if you want, but I would say the same to someone telling me that the moon landing was a hoax. And yes, they replied, and that's why I made a sarcastic comment about 'oh well if they replied they must be right!'

"Behe isn't involved in the origin of life debate. Origin of life researchers haven't found a way for proteins or nucleotides to evolve naturally."

What a joke. The main problem Behe et al. have with evolution, or anyone that reject the Theory I would say, is precisely because it does not explain the origin of life. It always comes back to that. People who don't understand evolution think that because it fails at explaining life's origin it is somehow 'incomplete'. It's example like saying that our understanding of gravity is 'incomplete' because we don't know with 100% certainty what causes gravity to exist in the first place. In both cases, yes, there are some part of mystery, we wouldn’t have science research at all otherwise, but the 'incompleteness' in biology is not at all where ID would like it to be.

"Narrow-band radio signals are not produced naturally. The only way they are known to be produced is by intelligent designers, such as us. That's why SETI is looking for them."

My bad, I did not notice that you specified 'narrow-band' signal. Yes, that's what SETI is looking for because natural objects send radio signal in a much more chaotic and larger band usually.
See what I just did here? I fixed a mistake. I improve my understanding of something... You on the other hand, obviously, did not notice that I removed the words 'narrow-band' from my response so you did not really get why I made a mistake...

Hugo said...

" Yes, I think WTC7 was brought down by controlled demolition, along with over 2,200 Architects and Engineers."

First of all, having people sign a list to show that they agree with you is not a very strong argument. It's hilarious how the Intelligent Design movement did exactly the same with their dissent from Darwin letter. Did you see the response from NCSE on that point? Thery created a list of people named 'Steve' who accept the Theory of Evolution; hilarious! Looks like there is a common point here; people who are not able to rationnaly defend their position fall back on creating lists of people who agree with them. Oh the age of the Internet... it did not bring only good thing...

Next, I could go on and on about the 9/11 truther movement. I flirted with it several years back. I even concede that I bought it for maybe 2-3 days, I was really really convinced that I had found something fascinating and that the truthers were on to something. The movie 'Loose change' if I recall the name correctly was particularly convincing... until I started to read both sides and find more tech-savy papers that explained what happen. I remember 1 in particular that included all the differential equations needed to compute the fall of the 2 main towers; the 2 being completely different since the angle the plane hit was different. And we reviewed the event in 1 of my engineering class, quite interesting.

But WTC7 is probably the easiest to explain. The problem is that truther always ignore some really important facts; the building burnt for hours, the front, which we rarely see in footage, was much more damaged than the other sides, the mezzanine started to fall much sooner than the rest, yet truther don't always count the time required correctly and there was a gas tank that was alimenting the fire for quite a long time. Never in the history of steel building did a building have to sustain fire for so long, well guess what, that one fell...

I would ask you, if you have just 15 minutes, to watch these 3 videos by a guy who realized his error and changed his mind about the truther movement. Perhaps you'll identify with him somehow... And I would add this: it's true that there were a lot of shaddy things, the money could not be traced properly, some people flew mysteriously, etc... but the mechanical part of it is not in doubt: planes hit the 2 main towers and caused them to fall, including WTC7 that was indirectly hit, and the Pentagon really did have a plane crash into it.

I Was A Deluded 9/11 Truther

Building 7 Explained

They Fell For My Hoax 9/11 Video


Cheers

Bilbo said...

Hi Bob,

You asked, Well, I watched it. Other than being rather repetitive, what was I supposed to take away from that?

Have you ever seen a high-rise steel framed building collapse symmetrically that wasn't a controlled demolition? Dutch controlled demolition expert, Danny Jowenko looked at the same video and declared that it was absolutely a controlled demolition.

Papalinton said...

Belief in demon possession?"

Bob: "No apologies. Yes, I do. Do I believe in a literal Devil? I most certainly do. Is he to be taken lightly? One does so on peril of his soul! Do I think a lot about him? As little as possible. I don't think it's healthy to do so. Remember Saruman's fate in The Lord of the Rings."

Well! Blow me over with a feather, The Jesus and Devil Show, the good cop/bad cop routine, the Laurel and Hardy of Christianity, the Abbott and Costello duo of the theological netherworld, the Cheech and Chong of the fundamentalist.

Bob, I don't think you understand or even appreciate how ludicrously droll you admission is. Here is another duo act that has them people rolling in the aisles.

I have to say, you are a very funny guy. A literal devil!, an anthropomorphic 'him'. Priceless.

Bilbo said...

Hi Hugo,

You wrote,

Yes I know that, and I will repeat my answer: no, it is not hotly debated. I am really sorry that you refuse to live in the reality of 2014 but ID is not a scientific topic that biologists discuss. Period. Call me 'not skeptical enough' if you want, but I would say the same to someone telling me that the moon landing was a hoax. And yes, they replied, and that's why I made a sarcastic comment about 'oh well if they replied they must be right!'

There has been debate in the past on ID. Non-IDists state the reasons they think it is wrong. ID proponents offer refutations of those arguments. Non-IDists may offer rebuttals. Then ID proponents have offered replies to those. At some point the issues have been rather thoroughly thrashed out. Have they been resolved? It depends upon whom you ask. From my reading there are many unresolved issued in the ID debate. So just because non-IDists have stopped debating the issues does not mean that the debate no longer exists. It is just waiting for further data to be discovered.

What a joke. The main problem Behe et al. have with evolution, or anyone that reject the Theory I would say, is precisely because it does not explain the origin of life. It always comes back to that. People who don't understand evolution think that because it fails at explaining life's origin it is somehow 'incomplete'.

Behe has made it very clear that he thinks his arguments against neo-Darwinism stand on their own, regardless of the problem of the origin of life.

It's example like saying that our understanding of gravity is 'incomplete' because we don't know with 100% certainty what causes gravity to exist in the first place. In both cases, yes, there are some part of mystery, we wouldn’t have science research at all otherwise, but the 'incompleteness' in biology is not at all where ID would like it to be.

From my reading of the evidence there is quite a bit of "incompleteness" from the origin of life onwards.

My bad, I did not notice that you specified 'narrow-band' signal. Yes, that's what SETI is looking for because natural objects send radio signal in a much more chaotic and larger band usually.
See what I just did here? I fixed a mistake. I improve my understanding of something... You on the other hand, obviously, did not notice that I removed the words 'narrow-band' from my response so you did not really get why I made a mistake...


I noticed that you removed them. I put them back in. But even though you admit your mistake, you haven't gotten the point I was trying to make. SETI depends upon a "gap" in order to make a design inference. The gap: We don't know any other way to make narrow-band radio signals except by intelligent design. The inference: If we were to discover narrow-band radio signals from outer space, it would be reasonable to conclude that they were intelligently designed.

My point is that the same sort of "gap" can be used to make a design inference regarding the origin of life. Other than cells, we don't know any other way to make proteins and nucleotides except by intelligent design. The inference: Before cells existed it would be reasonable to conclude that proteins and nucleotides were intelligently designed.

Bilbo said...

Hi Hugo,

I'll get to your comments about 9/11 tomorrow. I need some sleep.

Hugo said...

Bilbo, we'll have to agree to disagree on ID. I will side with these people who don't debate it anymore; good advice, indirectly.

Good night, happy 4th of July!

B. Prokop said...

"Have you ever seen a high-rise steel framed building collapse symmetrically that wasn't a controlled demolition?"

Yes - once. The bldg was WTC7. Actually... that's the only "high-rise steel framed building collapse" that I've ever seen.

How else is it supposed to fall? Stuff's going to go straight down, just like the larger WTC towers. In the movies (like 2014), you see skyscrapers falling over like trees, but buildings aren't single objects like a tree is, as well as being far, far larger and heavier. They're only going to fall in on themselves, and not topple over.

Besides, and here's the really important point. Assuming (for the sake of argument only) that the building collapse was the result of some sort of conspiracy, don't you think that "they" would have so engineered it so that it didn't appear to be artificial? Duh! The mere fact that it looks so symmetrical is probably the best proof of all that it isn't contrived.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

"Bob, I don't think you understand or even appreciate how ludicrously droll you admission is."

I'm looking around for somebody who cares... nope, couldn't find him.

Actually, Linton, what's really amusing is how ludicrously ignorant your comment makes you sound. This mystifies me, since you normally don't make such egregious errors. God and Satan are not a duo. They're not in any ways partners, nor are they evenly-matched foes. There is no level playing field. This is very much asymmetric warfare.

El Diablo is not God's counterpart, not His evil twin, not His "opposite". Heck, he's not even the opposite of an angel (unless you're in the habit of calling a rotten apple the opposite of an apple). The devil is a creature (a created being). A creature who freely fell. Your characterization of "good cop/bad cop" is so far off the mark that you might has well have been talking about some other subject entirely.

Look, I'm in a good mood today. I'll call a "let" on that serve and let you try again.

B. Prokop said...

Serious questions here, Linton.
You characterize my belief in the devil as a bizarre pathological delusion. Fair enough - you probably (secretly) think the same about belief in God. But it leads me to wonder - do you have a hierarchy (?lowerarchy?) of beliefs that you consider pathological? For instance, do you regard belief in the devil as more strange or unreasonable than belief in God? And if so, how about angels? Do you think them less strange than the devil, or equally so?

Trust me here, I'm not trying to be flippant. I am sincerely interested in your answer(s).

And if you answer, "I regard them all as equally unreasonable", then why the special contempt shown for a belief in the devil? Your recent comments lead me to believe that you do look at them differently.

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Thanks for the serious questions, Bob. I do appreciate your inquiry.
There really is nothing profound or intrinsically impenetrable to what I believe is reality. For me simplicity is the key to finding a meaning in life. A belief in supernaturalism is complex, a added layer of rationale resulting from our first attempts in providing an answer to all the inexplicable things around us put down during humanity's primitive past in the absence of knowledge and understanding. Theology was our first attempt at cutting the Gordian Knot. A belief in supernaturalism seems to possess all the hallmarks of explanation, but supernaturalism per se is not an explanation of reality. It is an explanatory surrogate, a proxy while our understanding about us, the environment, the world, the universe was forming and developing into a corpus of knowledge sufficient to intrinsically offer not an alternative explanation to theology but a proper, empirical, falsifiable and epistemologically robust explanation, one on which we as a species can build upon to improve the human condition.

For me belief in the supernatural, in devils and gods, is irrelevant to understanding reality. However we might eventually define 'reality', knowledge of gods and devils and their curious antics are unnecessary and are the vestigial remainders of an earlier conceptual paradigm around which we based our social practices, laws, governance, community cohesion etc etc.

Gods, angels, devils, nephilim, seraphim, etc etc are theological conceptual constructs, characters that have a role to play in theology but are inessential, extraneous, and completely redundant in a genuine, bona fide explanatory paradigm. Today, at this time in our history humankind has a body of knowledge with which it is now untying the Gordian knot, diligently, meticulously and painstakingly undoing each strand of that knot.

I subscribe to and advocate Humanism as epistemologically properly basic. It obviates the need for allegiance to any one of the countless disparate, antithetical and competing religious or theological belief systems claiming for themselves 'the one true and only' title. It positively chooses to enhance and celebrate the universal and common attributes, needs and wants we all share with our fellow humans rather than dwell on the things that divide us. Humanism seeks to improve the human condition.

I don't see much in the way of demonic possession in holding such a view. But then I have found that a belief in christianity does not seem to mitigate holding such perverse views by its adherents. And from personal experiences over three decades of following the christian 'way' I too once believed in such perverse sentiments in claiming a fellow human as captive to demonic possession.

Belief in such clichéd ideas is just .... plain..... wrong .... and unhelpful in the 21stC.

B. Prokop said...

Linton,

First of all, appreciate the response. But...

Unless I missed it, you didn't answer my question(s). Namely, do you regard belief in the devil as being "less rational" or "sillier" than a belief in God? Or is it all the same to you? And if the latter, then why the unique reaction to my assertion that I regard the devil as an actual being and not an abstraction?

Papalinton said...

Bob, I did answer your query in that as belief in devils and gods is unnecessary in explaining reality the comparison of whether belief in the devil as being "less rational" or "sillier" than a belief in God, or all the same, is moot. I guess your question hinges on how one defines 'rational'.

If rational' means 'sensible', 'cogent', 'commonsensical', 'down-to-earth', then no; belief in gods and devils are equally 'less rational'.
If by 'rational' you mean 'sane, compos mentis, in one's right min, normal, balanced, grounded, lucid, then no, a belief in gods and devils is not a helpful indicator. Because many sane people hold all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas without them being true or factual.
If by 'rational' you mean 'logical', 'analytical', 'scholarly'; then no, a belief in devils and gods are not rational. Such beliefs are driven by emotions, feelings, sensations, and impressions, while real in themselves do not define reality.

As for my reaction? What's unique about it? It's more a surprise that you actually claimed the devil as a real entity with thoughts, deeds, wants, motives, needs, and not an abstraction. But then, you clarified your position by stating that your belief in the devil [and god] was simply an assertion on your part. That I can understand. It comes back to my noting earlier that many sane people hold and assert all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas without them being true or factual.

B. Prokop said...

"simply an assertion on your part"

Don't read too much in my casual word choice here. I didn't mean anything special by it.

To make myself clear, I truly believe in a literal, real devil (in the plural) with "thoughts, deeds, wants, motives, and needs". I do not believe he is an abstraction, symbol, allegory, image, or myth. I believe this to the same degree as my belief in the table I am sitting at.

Papalinton said...

Bob, your belief in gods and devils is as esoteric as Jesus allowing pedophile catholic priests to molest countless little children all over the world and then permit the Vatican to deny them justice and restitution they so deserve. What possible reason could they give that would trump fairness and equity and justice for the victims of such heinous crimes?

Where is the conscience of your jesus-god when christians at the highest echelons of the Vatican cannot bring themselves to not only right a grievous moral and ethical wrong but contravene every catholic tenet about living a christian life that they bang on about and give so much lip service to?

This is hypocrisy on a monumental scale befitting a moral monster that people are belatedly beginning to understand what the Christian god is. If Catholicism cannot restrain evil then it cannot claim effective power for good. I think people are just now dawning to the reality of the Jeckyll and Hyde persona of the Mother Church. If there is a devil incarnate then it is surely the bastard child of the Catholic Church.




B. Prokop said...

Interesting attempt to change the subject there.

As to the unquestionably despicable crimes of child molestation, the only way we even know these things to be the evil acts that they are is by acceptance of the Catholic doctrine that declares them to be so. They certainly weren't considered to be such in the enlightened world of pre-Christian humanistic Classical Greece and Rome, where such appalling behavior was a societal norm. Even less palatable were the commonplace sacrifices of first born children to Baal and other pagan idols, rightly condemned by the Hebrew prophets.

The only way I can respond to your posting is with the following: Thank God for the Catholic Church, which has taught us to abhor such practices, and to condemn them utterly whenever and wherever they appear today.

And as for evil men existing within the Christian community, they have sorrowfully always been with us. Heck, even St. Paul spoke of such (e.g., in his letters to the Corinthians).

Papalinton said...

"The only way I can respond to your posting is with the following: Thank God for the Catholic Church, which has taught us to abhor such practices, and to condemn them utterly whenever and wherever they appear today."

Then why is the catholic church [Vatican] steadfastly refusing to provide documents and information to the Australian Royal Commission on all they know about such 'abhorrent practices' and put its money where its mouth is in 'condemning [such practices] them utterly wherever wherever they appear' if they truly believed that? Methinks this is forked-tongue cheap words with no credibility.

"And as for evil men existing within the Christian community, they have sorrowfully always been with us. Heck, even St. Paul spoke of such (e.g., in his letters to the Corinthians)."

If religion cannot restrain evil in it cannot claim effective power for good. The clerical transfers parachuting abusing priests into unsuspecting communities, deliberate cover up and extraordinary levels of secrecy and clandestine operations by the leaders of that very same church, is only just becoming known. We are only at the very starting point of exposing the long sad history of a church whose complicit corrupt, debauched and sullied involvement enabled its privileged clergy to hide from the law and subvert the course of justice n every country where it operates.

I wouldn't be touting its 'good' character too loudly.

Ilíon said...

Dan Gillson: "That's [the branching patter of a tree] complexity that isn't attached to a function, unlike a bike or a mousetrap, the complexities of which are related to their functions."

Ahem ... the function of the branching pattern of a tree is to efficiently gather sunlight so as to power the metabolism of the tree. It's a function, it's just not an androcentric function.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: "A while ago I came across the very useful concept of the monad, which is defined as the smallest possible part of something which retains all the properties of the whole. For instance, I can slice off a serving of butter, and the small piece I have separated is every much butter as the larger portion left behind. The monad for butter is at the molecular level.

Can't do that with an automobile, however. Remove any part (doesn't matter which one), and it is no longer an automobile, but rather a carburetor, or a wheel, or whatever - but not a car. The automobile is its own monad.
"

niwad at UD Synthesis versus Analysis -- "A “whole” (or “all” or “total”) can be a “true whole” or a “false whole”. A “true whole” (or “unit”) is anterior and independent from the consideration of parts, is not obtained from their sum, it doesn’t presuppose them. A “false whole” (or “set”) is the mere sum of parts, is logically posterior to them, and is a fictitious “one” only because we consider it so. While a simple set is artificially composed bottom-up by its parts, a real unit overarches top-down any part."