Friday, July 25, 2014

Some questions about the Kitzmiller decision

I don't think that court case was rightly decided, or at least not for the reasons that was given in the decision. If "the court said it, I believe it, that settles it" was a good argument form, then we could establish that black slaves are really the property of their owners because Dred Scott v. Sandford said that they were.

But now we get to something I really don't get. Edwards v. Aguillard said that you couldn't teach creationism in public school, since this made reference to the doctrines of a specific religion.

The Supreme Court held that the Act is facially invalid as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, because it lacks a clear secular purpose (first test of the above Lemon test), since (a)the Act does not further its stated secular purpose of "protecting academic freedom." and (b) the Act impermissibly endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind.
They also said:

We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught. . . . Teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.
Now, suppose someone took what was originally a creationist textbook, used all the same arguments, but deleted the implication that a supernatural being was responsible. This is some dastardly subterfuge?

Suppose in fact the people who were developing this were actually creationists, and even young earth creationists. Suppose, further, they hoped that by making the case for a designer, they hoped that they could support religious belief. Couldn't they still say that they were doing what the court says was allowable.

If the court says "You can't do A, but you can do B," you are still doing B and not A even if you wanted to do A, or even if people concluding A was what you hope they would do if you do B, the fact is you ARE doing B and not A.

So they changed the words of the book to satisfy the ruling. Isn't that what you're supposed to do???

Besides it is just plain false to say that advocates of ID are advocates of creationism, if creationism is meant to be something like YEC and flood geology. Behe, for example, affirms common ancestry, something that is an absolute no-no amongst creationists, who will label you an evolutionist if you accept it.

70 comments:

Papalinton said...

"Now, suppose someone took what was originally a creationist textbook, used all the same arguments, but deleted the implication that a supernatural being was responsible. This is some dastardly subterfuge? "

That pretty much encapsulates the presiding judge of the Kitzmiller v. Dover, Judge Jones's determination, based on the evidence provided by both parties.

No amount of post hoc whinging. presuppositional obfuscation and trenchant caterwauling is going to change the decision. One needs facts, evidence and proofs of the explanatory efficacy of the ID hypothetical in order to be convincing. So far none of any value or merit has been forthcoming and it remains a wholly religiously-inspired canard.

Dan Gillson said...

Why has ID been on your mind so much recently, Dr Reppert?

Ilíon said...

Well, you know, this decision, and others like it, are so much easier to understand -- and predict -- when one takes into account "liberal" secularist/atheistic hypocrisy. There are no principles behind these decisions, other than the advancement of atheism and the suppression of "religion".

Crude said...

I suspect Victor likes asking these questions because he enjoys questions where the answers from Cultists of Gnu are bound to be not just shitty, but transparently shitty to anyone outside of their cult.

im-skeptical said...

Lying for Jesus

Crude said...

See what I mean? ;)

Ilíon said...

Gee, didn't Im-dishonest-and-damned-proud-of-it flounce off a few weeks ago, promising to darken VR's virtual door no more?

Papalinton said...

Crude: "I suspect Victor likes asking these questions because he enjoys questions where the answers from Cultists of Gnu are bound to be not just shitty, but transparently shitty to anyone outside of their cult."

Is this statement fact or fiction?

The latest research suggests Crude may have significant cognitive difficulty in distinguishing fact from fiction Children exposed to religion have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction: researchers Much of Crude's opinion must be viewed with caution, ever mindful and appreciating how steeped in religion he is.





Crude said...

Gee, didn't Im-dishonest-and-damned-proud-of-it flounce off a few weeks ago, promising to darken VR's virtual door no more?

It's the same 'I'm abandoning this thread for the Nth time!' schtick we see with Joloftus. The cult learns principally by (sloppy, ill considered) imitation.

Cale B.T. said...

papalinton, I notice you didn't actually answer the question that I think Prof. Reppert posed in his post:

Putting aside the historical origins of the ID movement, do you agree that one can conceptually distinguish design inferences from the supernatural? And if not, then why not?

Dan Gillson said...

Dr Reppert,

1. I don't think your thought experiment works. For one thing, creationism just is a post hoc scientific rationalization of Genesis 1-2. Creationist arguments explicitly rely on there being a creator; you can't delete the implication from them.

2. "Suppose in fact the people who were developing this were actually creationists, and even young earth creationists. Suppose, further, they hoped that by making the case for a designer, they hoped that they could support religious belief. Couldn't they still say that they were doing what the court says was allowable"

Wasn't this just what the Kitzmiller case was about? Didn't the court say that the real purpose for teaching ID was to promote religion in the classroom?

3. ID isn't creation science, strictly speaking. It's still, however, a post hoc scientific rationalization of prior commitments. Dr Feser makes a good case that the reasons that people infer design from a phenomenon are independent from the phenomenon itself. (Crude, Feser's point is what I was trying to argue [wildly unsuccessfully] when I was arguing that ID was circular.)

Crude said...

Dan,

Creationist arguments explicitly rely on there being a creator; you can't delete the implication from them.

But it's pretty clear that you can, unless 'implication' just means 'one of a number of logical possibilities' - in which case no science passes the test, because any natural law or phenomena is possibly caused or mediated by God ultimately.

Wasn't this just what the Kitzmiller case was about? Didn't the court say that the real purpose for teaching ID was to promote religion in the classroom?

I think the problem Victor is highlighting there is that, in his view, the actual content of the lessons wasn't an issue (at least not an issue in the sense of their being explicitly religious - citing the bible, Creationist doctrine, etc), but psychological motivations.

As for Ed, I don't think he's going to be of much help here, precisely because the bulk of his argument is that ID doesn't get you to God - there's a spread of other logical possibilities in play, and thus ID cannot be a creationist argument in his view. But to say that is to give Victor the argument.

grodrigues said...

@Dan Gilson:

"Crude, Feser's point is what I was trying to argue [wildly unsuccessfully] when I was arguing that ID was circular."

Prof. Feser is *not* arguing that IDer's make a circular argument.

Dan Gillson said...

I know. I wasn't saying that Feser was, merely that Feser made the point I tried (but failed) to make.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

It could be due to a lack of imagination on my part, but I don't see how you can remove the implication that a 'supernatural being' created the world from an argument if the argument explicitly states that God created the world. Take this article, for example. How would you remove the implication that a supernatural being created the world from the author's argument?

Crude said...

Dan,

It could be due to a lack of imagination on my part, but I don't see how you can remove the implication that a 'supernatural being' created the world from an argument if the argument explicitly states that God created the world.

It depends on the argument, doesn't it? The one you link, at a glance, is talking about what amounts to very effective tuning and tweaking of nature and suggesting this points at a designing mind, the only candidate for which they identify as God.

Straight from the article: In human affairs we find much chaos and if "unintelligent" nature reveals a more orderly and purposeful arrangement it can only be because Someone, superhuman, cares about it — Someone with vastly greater intelligence than our own.

Yep, sure. He's saying God. But is God logically required? 'Superhuman' isn't supernatural.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

Yes, if we are confining our discussion to the article I linked to, God is logically required: "We are told in Genesis I that God created the fauna, but we are not told that this was so with the flora. There is a notable passage in Genesis 2:4,5 which reads: These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew.
The suggestion here is that the terrestrial flora in all its variety was conceived in the mind of God before ever it was in the earth and was provided for, while the earth lasts, in the tiny seed from which the earth brought forth fruit in due time. The seed, under its appropriate conditions, produces the fully-developed plant. What God directly ordained transpires according to His will and provision. Evolutionists will find no support for their theory in these pronouncements.
" If it depends on the argument, then you should furnish an argument which explicitly references God as creator, but from which we can remove the implication that a supernatural being created the universe. (I would, but I'm already biased against the idea that it's possible, so I don't think that I'll have much success ... )

Victor Reppert said...

Plato's demiurge is a designer but not a creator.

ID does ask legitimate questions, and doesn't seem to me to deserve standard attacks against it.

But that doesn't make it right.

Papalinton said...

"Plato's demiurge is a designer but not a creator."

Surely religious philosophers can do better than frame contemporary debate within a primitive context and a two-and-a-half thousand year old mindset, long past its contextual use-by date? Demiurges, gods and other things that go bump in the night, are the products of imaginative superstition used as a convenient fill-in for all the blanks in our ignorance of the natural world, an absence of knowledge and understanding today that Plato could never have envisaged.

Whether Plato's demiurge is a designer or a creator is as philosophically naive and irrelevant as the existence of werewolves. And apart from self-interested preference to indulge in the study of mythology it is pretty much a literary convention with no substance in reality.

No. ID has not asked legitimate questions having a pathology and a history of attempting to inveigle its ridiculous message into the debate, most egregiously through its clandestine and thoroughly unprincipled attempts to squirrel it into the school science classroom. And it thoroughly deserves the opprobrium and censure meted against it.

It is a throughly despicable and unconscionable enterprise perpetrated by the poison of religion on an unwitting populace. There is no redeeming feature in this scurrilous christian-mythos-inspired humbuggery. And buggery it is.

Ape in a Cape said...

"Whether Plato's demiurge is a designer or a creator is as philosophically naive and irrelevant as the existence of werewolves."

I wish you would stay on track and stick to the argument Linton. You're own evolutionary naturalism has more in common with werewolves than Platonic thought or even that of ID. After all, the canine shares a common ancestor to that of the hominid, right? And with all the howling, scowling, and growling that you've been doing on Victor's forum, one could be forgiven for thinking that you've run out of arguments and are left with trying to prove such ancestry by example (Lintonlycanthropy?)

Whether the arguments being proffered by ID are right or wrong is beside Victor's point. Let’s see substantive interaction with each side's most prominent arguments... Meaty dialogue, not just meat for the direwolf.

Ape.

Ilíon said...

VR: "But that doesn't make it right."

I'm understanding this to mean that the fact that ID asks legitimate questions (*) doesn't (necessarily) make ID right/true.

True enough. But I think you're forgetting that truth isn't a scientific value.



(*) and doesn't deserve the standardized attacks against it.

finney said...

"Couldn't they still say that they were doing what the court says was allowable."

They couldn't because their work must be the product of reliable scientific methods.

finney said...

I actually wrote a paper on Kitzmiller back in my law school days that argued that, using the very same reasoning of Kitzmiller, evolution must not be taught in schools as a purposeless process. I argued that to teach it as a purposeless process advances the "religion of secularism" because such a teaching is (1) not supported by science, as science does not involve itself in matters of ultimate purpose or meaning, and (2) advocates a core tenet of secular humanism, a religion, just as ID advocates a core tenet of theism and several religions, that there is a creator personal god. (I got an A!)

I think you can be friends with the Kitzmiller decision upon the realization that the decision, taken seriously, can cut both ways, against theists and secularists.

Greg said...

finney I would love to read that paper!

My issue with the case is that it has no constitutional basis in either the 1st or 14th amendments. Public schools teaching a certain theory of origins--regardless if we label it "religion" or "science"--has nothing to do with the Establishment Clause forbidding Congress from creating a state church.

In a sane republic which takes its founding documents seriously, Jones would have been disbarred.

Papalinton said...

Tell me Ape; what's meaty about demiurges and superstition-inspired ID?

Crude said...

Dan,

Yes, if we are confining our discussion to the article I linked to, God is logically required

We may be speaking past each other here. You seem to suggest - correct me if I'm wrong - that 'God is the creator' was a component of the article you linked, and thus it's a tautology that you can't 'reproduce the argument, minus God'.

But if that's the sense you mean, then I don't think it's the sense Victor was speaking in anyway.

Crude said...

Finney,

I think you can be friends with the Kitzmiller decision upon the realization that the decision, taken seriously, can cut both ways, against theists and secularists.

Alas, if consistency were seriously applied, secularists would be howling in the streets in fury.

Maybe it was different once upon a time?

Ape in a Cape said...

Linton,

The ID adjectives are yours, not mine. Besides, I really don't think you can press the superstition line too hard – especially when there is uncritical wand waving on the other side too. It seems one man's wand is another man's priestly sceptre.

What's meaty about ID? Well, I'd say Victor has been cooking up a few interesting briskets recently. I'd like to think that if you actually stopped looking for bones to pick you might end up finding something more nourishing to chew on.

Ape.

Cale B.T. said...

I notice you didn't answer the question I posed, papalinton:

Putting aside the historical origins of the ID movement, do you agree that one can conceptually distinguish design inferences from the supernatural? And if not, then why not?

Also, I would ask: how many books by ID proponents have you read?

Darwin's Black Box?
The Edge of Evolution?
Signature in the Cell?
Darwin's Doubt?
Nature's Destiny?

If all you've read are the fumbling critiques by folks like Dawkins, Matzke, talkorigins etc. then perhaps you shouldn't be so dismissive.

Papalinton said...

Darwin's Black Box?
The Edge of Evolution?
Signature in the Cell?
Darwin's Doubt?
Nature's Destiny?


Oh Dear! The Three Amigos. Two by Meyer, two by Behe and one by Dentin. I am completely underwhelmed by this special class of alchemical/astrological literature.
Interestingly, philosophy professor from Arizona State University, Mark Vilutec, has reviewed Denton's, "Nature's Destiny', HERE.

Nothing to see here Cale. Time to move on.

Papalinton said...

Mark Vuletic

B. Prokop said...

"I am completely underwhelmed by this special class of alchemical/astrological literature."

So are we safe in assuming from this comment that you have not actually read any of these works, but have merely dismissed them out of hand?

Papalinton said...

"So are we safe in assuming from this comment that you have not actually read any of these works, but have merely dismissed them out of hand?"

From my perspective life is far too short to wade through the miasma of religious-conjured floss. Far greater intellectual and more erudite minds than mine have gone over and critiqued these volumes and found them platitudinous, unsubstantiated, unoriginal and apologetically overworked.

In reality they represent the last gasp of theism to inveigle itself into the sciences. Behe's proposition has been thoroughly and unmitigatedly debunked and Meyer's tome has found little sustenance outside theology circles and the Discovery Institute's website. His hypothesis has made not a ripple in the scientific pond.

Try Dr Richard B. Hoppe, at Pandas and Thumbs or
Randy Isaacs at The American Scientific Foundation for a series of articles and discussions.

Victor Reppert said...

In other words, they answer ID advocates, so you don't have to.

How convenient.

Cale B.T. said...

"I am completely underwhelmed by this special class of alchemical/astrological literature."

"Nothing to see here Cale."

How would you know? Have you ever read any of it? And by the way, the silly little "Behe believes in astrology!" canard to which I suspect you are alluding can be shredded pretty easily.

You could have said "You know, maybe I should try to be more rigorous in my investigations. I'm going to go and read those books instead of mindlessly repeating what I've skimmed on the internet about them." Instead you just googled away and spammed us with links. Do you seriously think that post by Hoppe represents a rigorous critique by somebody with a firm grasp on the nature of the issue?

Papalinton said...

Take the bee out of your theological bonnet, Cale.

"Do you seriously think that post by Hoppe represents a rigorous critique by somebody with a firm grasp on the nature of the issue?"

How does one firmly grasp supernatural superstition, Cale?

Cale B.T. said...

In that assertion, you're begging the question whether ID is, of necessity, supernatural. That's what I've asked you to explain: putting aside the historical origins of the ID movement, do you agree that one can conceptually distinguish design inferences from the supernatural? And if not, then why not?

Papalinton said...

" ... can conceptually distinguish design inferences from the supernatural? And if not, then why not?"

You most certainly haven't bothered to read the articles I cited from Hoppee and Issacs then, nor Vuletic. You can take a nag to water .....

Cale B.T. said...

I haven't yet finished reading Isaacs posts.

Nowehere in Hoppe's blog post does he provide an argument which shows that design inference are, of necessity, supernatural.

Vuletic's review attempts to draw out perceived methodological flaws in Denton's book. However, as with Hoppe, the review doesn't attempt to answer the question I posed to you.


So tell me in your own words, papalinton: putting aside the historical origins of the ID movement, do you agree that one can conceptually distinguish design inferences from the supernatural? And if not, then why not?

Go on, have a go at doing some actual thinking, instead of lazily spamming up the comments with the first thing you can google or merely spouting the Gnu Atheist party line that ID is supernatural.

Crude said...

Bob,

So are we safe in assuming from this comment that you have not actually read any of these works, but have merely dismissed them out of hand?

Considering the last time he was asked this question like this, he was revealed as both a liar and a plagiarist... well, do you really have to ask again?

im-skeptical said...

A challenge for Cale

Josh said...

"From my perspective life is far too short to wade through the miasma of religious-conjured floss"

And yet, he spends his waning days commenting on religious and theistic blogs...

Ilíon said...

"And yet, he spends his waning days commenting on religious and theistic blogs... "

Keeping in mind that you're using the work "commenting" rather loosely.

=========
Im.a.hypocrite: "A challenge for Cale"

Doesn't this fellow have several outstanding challenges of his own?

Papalinton said...

"And yet, he spends his waning days commenting on religious and theistic blogs... "

And give supernatural superstition a free run to peddle nonsense over the interweb? Not going to happen. For too long the unchecked hegemony of christianity has trammelled humanity's genuine attempts to understand about us, about the environment, the world, the universe, and yes, even about gods.

To imagine christianity had all the answers to questions that humanity needed to ask two thousand years ago is a fanciful and arrogant conceit now being exposed for what it is. A cultural impediment. I concede religion has not always been wrong, but is proven to have no better chance of being correct than guessing.

There endeth the lesson.

Papalinton said...

" ... or merely spouting the Gnu Atheist party line that ID is supernatural."

I guess you haven't read the court transcript of the Kitzmiller v Dover case. From your addled perspective it seems Judge Jones, the presiding judge, too, is sprouting the Gnu Atheist party line that ID is supernatural. Indeed I recollect his deliberation specifically determining ID as simply another form of Creationism. One can reasonably conclude if ID is synonymous with Creationism, ergo ID too, is supernatural superstition.

Cale B.T. said...

So "a judge said it, I believe, and that settles it for me."

Still yet to see an actual argument from you, papalinton.

Papalinton said...

"So "a judge said it, I believe, and that settles it for me."

How twee it is to use a theist-spawned aphorism.

Cale B.T. said...

So, remind me what your argument is again?

Ape in a Cape said...

Cale,

As I'm sure you're already aware, there isn't much to be gained in attempting to solicit even-handedness in this discussion. Linton exhibits many of the tell-tale signs of a person motivated by the quiet rage of an apostate. These ones actually draw strength from the temerity of debate and are empowered by the societal pejoratives that seek similar ends to themselves.

It's not that you or others haven't tried; it's that apostates have a strong commitment to self-validation. They rarely ever resign, and if they do, it is usually in order to take up another adversarial position.

Ape.

B. Prokop said...

One of the greatest scientists of the 20th Century, Sir Fred Hoyle, had this to say about design:

“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Ilíon said...

^ And still he resisted the "common sense interpretation of the facts" with all his might his whole life, instead preferring to believe *anything* else.

Lesson: not only does 'science' not deliver truth -- for it does not deal in truth in the first place -- but being "scientifically-minded", even being recognized as a great scientist, is no inoculation against irrationality.

Papalinton said...

An argument against what, Cale? Supernatural superstition? How does one argue against a mythos?

Increasingly it is becoming obvious that if *theism* took on a little more *scientism* in its deliberations it wouldn’t be in the unholy mess it now finds itself as an explanatory tool.
Theism. Scientism. The poles of the Culture Wars continuum. Humanity has for too long rattled round and round the cul-de-sac of unchecked supernaturalism, imagination unfettered by the laws of logic and reason, and occultic superstition. So self-absorbed and obsessed have we been in this faery tale that we are incapable of, unable to comprehend and appreciate for one moment the extent to which science has provided us an explanatory window into reality. Those that pejoratively and counterfactually toss around the ‘scientism’ canard for no good reason other than to preserve supernatural superstition, as ‘another way of knowing’ are simply capitulating to the ‘warm and fuzzies’, surrendering to untutored and undisciplined primal intuition, a notoriously unreliable epistemic basis for building knowledge, understanding and decision-making in the world of reality.

Dr Hector Avalos, renowned biblical scholar from Iowa Sate University, succinctly puts it: "Aside from the obvious scientific flaws of creationism [read ID], the most important problem is that most creationists do not even know the Bible’s cosmology, which is often obfuscated by translations.
Most scientists don’t understand Genesis or Hebrew sufficiently either, and so they end up conceding too much from the start in some debates. For an example, see: HERE "


The argument is clear, Cale. There is little credibility let alone plausibility remaining in theism and its apologetically-laden philosophy [especially of any one particular brand of woo from the smorgasbord available] as an explanatory tool. Religious piety is a little gauche these days.

Papalinton said...

The Ape says: :" ... there isn't much to be gained in attempting to solicit even-handedness in this discussion. Linton exhibits many of the tell-tale signs of a person motivated by the quiet rage of an apostate. "

Makes my point. Linton = apostate. An apostate to what? Christian bumph? One could not draw a more theologized rationale than does the Ape. Seeing the world through the prism of supernatural superstition is pretty much a low point in intellectual behaviour.

Ape in a Cape said...

Linton,

Firstly, let me thank you for your response. Following my reminder to Cale, contemporary sociological studies (Wilson, Stark, Bromley, Bainbridge et al.) into religious apostasy had you responding quite predictably.

In this you have given further credence to an unfortunate - yet representative - stereotype, and shown us all that at least some religious studies do actually result in observationally attested empirical data.

Ape.

Cale B.T. said...

"An argument against what, Cale? Supernatural superstition?"

@Linton
No, an argument which shows that ID is, of necessity, supernatural.
Do keep up.

An example of this would be im-skeptical's argument (in his lying-for-jesus post) that even if you don't immediately postulate that the intelligent designer is supernatural, you still inevitably get a regress back to a supernatural being of some kind.

Does this help?

@ Ape I remember you mentioning this topic a while back. Just out of interest, are you a former memeber of something like the Watchtower or the Communist Party, or is this just something you are interested in?

Ape in a Cape said...

Cale,

Yes, that's right. I'm interested in the philosophy and sociology of religion – a thoroughly fascinating topic, in my opinion.

Ape.

Papalinton said...

Ape: "... contemporary sociological studies (Wilson, Stark, Bromley, Bainbridge et al.) into religious had you responding quite predictably. "

Citation needed from any of those authors, Ape. What a load of disingenuous codswallop on your part.
The head-smacking irony here is that you creatively conjure up atheism as some form of New Religious Movement. So bound, so constipated, so restricted by their own narrow-focussed perspective, Christians can only configure opposition or alternative perspectives to Christianity as simply another NRM, eg The Cult of Gnu, the Apostasy of Scientism etc etc. Any and all differing or alternative views to the Christian mythos must be combatted as if they were simply another competitive and antithetical religious view. This is the form of apologetically ingrained scurrilous, self-serving, lying-for-jesus rhetoric christians are renowned. Misconstrual and deliberate misconception are common features of Christian moral and ethical practice.

Indeed the work of Wilson, Stark, Bromley, Bainbridge et al have everything and much more to say about Christian intentional behaviour than they do about the predictability of my apostasy:

Christian Theology and the New Religious Movements [NRMs]
"Unlike most other disciplines, theology starts by taking a definite stand on the truth or falsehood of religious claims and moral principles, and thus proceeds with different assumptions and goals. Thomas Rausch states that, “theology is concerned with our experience of God, particularly our experience of God as a community of faith. It is an effort to understand the faith experience of a community, to bring it to expression in language and symbol”. (1993: 12). The theological approach views or examines NRMs from a particular perspective. It consists of the reflections believers make to increase their knowledge and understanding of their on faith. Though it borrows methods from various disciplines, it asks different questions about other religious groups. It evaluates their religious character and, if they claim to be Christian, their orthodoxy. It measures their compatibility with Christianity. It sets boundaries between what is deemed orthodox and unorthodox, moral or immoral. It is, therefore, not surprising that Christian commentaries on NRMs, often accompanied by denunciations, have been abundant, even though in some circles the new religions have been brushed aside as minor movements that are bound to be transient and have little serious impact on the mainline churches. The most common response to the NRMs has been the apologetic one, pursued largely by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, who are concerned with maintaining their belief systems in a cultural environment they perceive as threatening. Hence the emphasis is the contrast the beliefs, values, and practices of individual movements with traditional Christian orthodoxy and to prove that they contradict christian doctrine and consequently must be totally rejected." [Pp. 54 -55 Teaching New Religious Movements; Edited by David G Bromley]

I find the behaviour of and the rationale behind the religiously indoctrinated quite an intriguing sociological and psychological phenomenon.



Ape in a Cape said...

Linton,

Unfortunately, you have utterly misconstrued the intention as well as the relevance of the previous analysis. Far from conjuring up atheism as a some type of NRM as you suggest, my responses have been aimed squarely at your present attitude and behavior as a "former" Bible believing Christian.

Consequently, this has nothing to do with atheism per se, and everything to do with religious (dis)affiliation. Really, this recent response of yours has got matters completely backwards. Atheism, naturalism, and scientism are not the subjects of religious apostasy Linton – subversive and hostile former believers are.

When examining these issues most religious folk seem to be quite clear on the definition of apostasy. It would seem to be you, however, that hasn't drawn the necessary distinctions in order to understand how such terms are to be appropriately applied.

Still, I am glad that you're looking up some of the authors that I mentioned earlier. Bromley's best work is probably to be found in his "Politics of Religious Apostasy". For a shorter sociological synthesis, see also "Apostates and Atrocity Stories".

Ape.

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

"It would seem to be you, however, that hasn't drawn the necessary distinctions in order to understand how such terms are to be appropriately applied."

Says you. I don't think so, Ape. And the context of Bromley's work certainly doesn't support your hypothesis.
Even with only the rudimentary level of research I was able to achieve, your proposition neither defines my motivation nor illustrates my reasons for combatting religio-superstitious nonsense. No. my reasons are much more mundane than Bromley's insightful look into the politics of apostasy. And my reasons are much broader than Bromley's treatise to " ...examine in depth the complexity and significance of the apostate role, and to illuminate the processes through which subversive evil is socially constructed." It is to inform people that a life without religious nonsense is utterly do-able and that one's morality and ethical principles do not turn into that of a werewolf with the snipping of the umbilical cord to a God, any god, much less a christian god. Not only is it do-able but it is a reasonable, ethical and proper thing to do. The universality of humanism and secularism are the unifying principles by which humanity will progress in a post-christian and post-supernatural superstitious era.

I have to give you points for trying though. But like most if not all apologetical attempts at explanation, the christian story is always just a little off-song and epistemically rings a little hollow.

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

All in all, Ape THIS LITTLE VIDEO pretty much captures the essential elements of my argument.

Ape in a Cape said...

Linton,

My comments were to highlight how sociologists in the modern era have studied defection and upon what basis their classification of religious apostasy can be made. Whatever motivations you work with and however they have changed over the years is quite independent of the research that assesses the observational and tangible results of apostasy within the social milieu.

Thanks for the link. Fry is a good communicator and is easy on the ears. He starts off well, but ends up making unfounded extrapolations (much like some superstitious supernaturalists do).

After discussing a pragmatic approach to the study of knowledge Fry correctly describes a proven process that aids our understanding of truth, but then flounders by uncritically accepting this same process as the only available way to arrive at truth.

Sorry, but Fry doesn't fly with me. Comedy is still his best talent.

Ape.

B. Prokop said...

Linton,

Against my better judgement, I watched the video on your link.

It has one HUGE problem. I can't argue with its premise that "science" is indeed the best method of learning about this universe we happen (for the moment) to be living in. Unfortunately, it (rather like you) makes the "leap of faith" in making the totally groundless assumption that "this is all there is". "Science" can tell us nothing whatsoever about the even greater reality that surrounds and upholds this bright, shiny bauble that we inhabit (a.k.a, the universe).

Papalinton said...

"Sorry, but Fry doesn't fly with me. Comedy is still his best talent."

Once again and inevitably you miss the import of the message, regardless whether Fry or some other was the messenger. And the irony of it all, is that his presentation had little to do with comedy.

"Shoot the messenger" comes to mind with the tenor and content of your response. As is ubiquitous with the religiose, your commentary like that of apologetics is a message that continues to be just off-song and, epistemically, rings just as hollow and as self-serving here as it did at earlier occasions.
I am not sure those that subscribe to the mythical and the supernatural are capable of truly developing intellectually, given their predisposition to regard raw and unchecked intuitive emotional first-person experiences as the opportune filter through which 'reality' apparently is perceived. The capacity to imagine the supernatural does not a supernatural prove. And if there is anything that science has demonstrated is that much of reality is indeed counterintuitive, and that intuition of itself has no more claim on reality than guessing. As I have noted on other occasions, religion may not always be wrong. It just has no better chance of being correct than guessing.

From an epistemological perspective, religion has reached the limits of its usefulness going forward.
I simply say, get used to the changed paradigm.

Papalinton said...

"Unfortunately, it (rather like you) makes the "leap of faith" in making the totally groundless assumption that "this is all there is". "

Interesting. Nowhere throughout the video is there the claim "this is all there is". And just like Ape, you have written your own script and then proceeded to argue against it. The ubiquitous ploy of the supernatural-superstitionist, imagining intentionality and agency where there is none, is once again displayed.

The video closes modestly: "We may never know everything but the testing of theories against evidence has proved itself again and again to be a reliable way to gain any knowledge about how the world around us works. ..... When we want to know what is true and what is false, there is no better method."

Nothing about 'this is all there is'. Nothing about 'other ways of knowing'. The religiose have yet to demonstrate what this 'other way of knowing' comprises as an epistemological tool. To date religionists have failed miserably in identifying and putting the case for what this 'other way of knowing' is.

No Bob, your proposition that ""Science" can tell us *nothing whatsoever* about the even greater reality ...." is a purely theological supposition, unhinged from fact, reason, logic, and substantive truth. In the language of the street epistemologist, it's a bucket of crapola.

Ape in a Cape said...

Linton,

You must be joking, right? I actually enjoy listening to Stephen Fry – he's a great entertainer. You, not so much.

Unfortunately, it seems that the longer a conversation with you tends to proceed the more difficult it is to distil your comments in order to get past the dregs in your dialogue. There really is no need to enshroud your sentences with the repetitious and dogmatic mantras of something like a chanting secularist Bodhisattva. My advice would be to put away the weasel-words and look to undergird your arguments with precision instead of a procession.

Be that as it may, since your argument (I think?) amounts to an unreserved acceptance of Scientism, then it is of no little consequence that you are also forced to accept the burden of an extremely controversial position. As an epistemology, Scientism is powerless to buttress those fields of inquiry that it itself depends upon. So unless you're willing to accommodate absurdities ex hypothesi, a more rational stance would be to allow for the possibility of forming certain kinds of knowledge from outside the physical sciences.

As for me, I prefer to accept my absurdities baked not Fry'd.

Ape.

B. Prokop said...

"Nowhere throughout the video is there the claim "this is all there is"."

The claim needn't be spelled out explicitly for it to nevertheless be the foundational principle behind the video's message. It reminded me of Neil deGrasse Tyson saying the following:

When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, "I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that."

You can hear him say it HERE just before the 22 minute mark. Just listen to these middle-aged adolescents joke about philosophy being a "load of crap". What a Philistine!

Papalinton said...

"...a more rational stance would be to allow for the possibility of forming certain kinds of knowledge from outside the physical sciences."

Already do. What the religiose have not done, and failed miserably on every occasion to date is present a substantive case for what constitutes kinds of knowledge from outside the sciences that tell us what is true and what is false. As Fry beautifully and eruditely puts it: " ....this other source, a supernatural world where there might be ghosts and goblins, gods and demons. They have thought that knowledge can come from this source -- from supernatural revelations, phrophetic visions or divinely inspired books." This abject failure of theology as a universal explanatory tool is the focal reason why science as we understand it today took off around the period of the intellectual Enlightenment. If one wishes to call it pejoratively, 'scientism', knock yourself output. The reality Ape, is there will be no turning back and the sciences simply dwarf theistic explanation. One can not capture this intellectual change more succinctly than the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

"The rise of the new science progressively [from the Enlightenment on] 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. "

The formation of knowledge outside the sciences, this mantric claim of 'another way of knowing', from supernatural revelation, from prophetic visions, from divine texts, simply has the smell of excuse rather than explanation, as the christian mythos in contemporary society continues its slide into irrelevancy, its bleating message always just a little off-song and increasingly, to epistemically ring a little more hollow.

The paradigmatic contrast between atheism and theism is sharply defined by Prof David Eller:

"Religion is less about belief than it is about habit.
So atheism is not so much refuting a belief as breaking a habit.
And belief is a habit too - a habit of mind."

Ape in a Cape said...

Linton,

I can't fault you for trying to make hay while the sun shines, but using it for the purposes of constructing straw men seems like such a wasted effort.

Perhaps your jaded experience as a Christian led you to question the confidence of the Fideist, but manufacturing these ridiculous caricatures and applying them only to the "religiose" strikes me as an evasive and self-serving gambit. Who really are you trying to convince, Linton? Is it others or yourself? I can understand why a religious person might accept a myth in spite of the evidence, but people who pride themselves on enlightened rationality are simply without excuse. And yet your answers engage in the very act of mythologizing that you decry in others.

Since you have admitted that there are other forms of knowledge besides the physical sciences, then there really is no need to smuggle in these other mischaracterizations as you have done. Just engage the criticisms of your opponent as they are. All the rest is just waffle.

Ape.