Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What is it like to be one of Boghossian's students? "I wrote what I had to to 'agree'.

Here is what a student wrote on a paper in Boghossian's class.

"I wrote what I had to ‘agree’ with what was said in class, but in truth I believe ABSOLUTELY that there is an amazing, savior GOD, who created the universe, lives among us, and loves us more than anything. That is my ABSOLUTE, and no amount of ‘philosophy’ will change that."

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2011/07/192/boghossian#ixzz37ffInOeL
Inside Higher Ed

Now think about this. A student feels she has to write certain things to pass a course which are contrary to what she believes. As teachers we have the power of the grade. I would certainly feel I had done something wrong if a student felt she had to take certain positions she did not believe in because she was afraid of flunking if she disagreed with me.

54 comments:

Hugo said...

I would certainly feel I had done something wrong if a student felt she had to take certain positions she did not believe in because she was afraid of flunking if she disagreed with me.

Please clarify something... you mean that in the context of a philosophy class, for example, but not in a science class, right? I am asking because if you were a science teacher, you would certainly run into students who were brain washed by their family and/or church into believing that Creationism, and only Creationism, is true. Hence, any teaching of geology with reference to an old Earth, biological evolution or Big Bang cosmology would clash with certain beliefs. And it does happen. Some students write these exact same words (I wrote what I had to ‘agree’ with what was said in class, but) on their SCIENCE tests...

B. Prokop said...

Boghossian is a philosophy professor (Portland State University), so Victor's talking about philosophy.

Hugo said...

Good point

Victor Reppert said...

What you are asking a science student to do is to be conversant with the scientific operation,and what theories are accepted by the scientific community. Actually people can do perfectly good evolutionary biology who don't believe in evolution at all.

Karl Grant said...

Hugo,

You know, Yale Law School recently did a study on this:


If you think the proportion of survey respondents who say they “believe in evolution” is an indicator of the quality of the science education that people are receiving in the U.S., you are misinformed.

Do you know what the correlation is between saying “I believe in evolution” and possessing even a basic understanding of “natural selection,” “random mutation,” and “genetic variance”—the core elements of the modern synthesis in evolutionary science?

Zero.

Those who say they “do believe” are no more likely to be able to give a high-school biology-exam-quality account of how evolution works than those who say they “don’t.”


They got the same results when reviewing people's scientific literacy with their beliefs about climate change. In fact, they specifically say a person can have an “impeccable” (their word) Ph.D. in paleontology or practice neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and still answer an evolution true/false question in the negative. Likewise, one can enthusiastically and indignantly affirm evolution’s truth while not having the first idea of how to explain genetic mutations. The reason is obvious; discussions on these subjects ceased to be purely scientific some time ago and are now ideologically driven on both sides. It is like Dr. Reppert said: people can do perfectly good evolutionary biology who don't believe in evolution at all.

Papalinton said...

Victor: " I would certainly feel I had done something wrong if a student felt she had to take certain positions she did not believe in because she was afraid of flunking if she disagreed with me."

A little dollop of self-righteousness here and the article you cited is not really about you. Indeed your name isn't mentioned once. And I don't believe it for one minute.

On the matter raised in the Boghossian Article, the incident spotlights how highly problematic and erroneous the nature of 'belief' can be when it is not epistemically grounded. The problem here is of beliefs rooted in faith conflated with beliefs grounded in reality. As Prof Gary Gutting, philosopher and holder of the endowed chair in Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame astutely notes faith is an unreliable epistemology as follows:

"Your religious beliefs typically depend on the community in which you were raised or live. The spiritual experiences of people in ancient Greece, medieval Japan or 21st-century Saudi Arabia do not lead to belief in Christianity. It seems therefore, that religious belief very likely tracks not truth but social conditioning."

Faith, in other words is a failed epistemology. And the student in this instance characterizes the intellectual dissonance she has to carry in order to 'maintain' her faith even down to having to 'write what I had to to 'agree'. As one of the commenters at the cited article noted, the student's stand is more one of faith than belief.

What would be interesting would be find out the religious persuasions of the Language Arts and Psychology colleagues that took exception with Boghossian. Boghossian does not make mention of it.

Papalinton said...

Here at:
http://iloveyoubutyouregoingtohell.org/2014/04/29/jesus-is-the-answer/#comments
is an interesting article.

The upshot of Kahan's position is that:"When it comes to evolution, creationism, and evolution education, we can’t help but conclude that Jesus should do it. That is, evangelical Christians and other resistant populations will be more amenable to learning about evolution if they can learn from someone who seems to share their religion."

Well I guess, accommodationism is one way of getting science across the superstition barrier.

Papalinton said...

The first apar of the article about jesus teaching science says:

"We Americans don’t have any confidence in evolution. But we might if Jesus told us about it. That’s the implication I get from Dan Kahan at the Cultural Cognition Project."

Hugo said...

Victor, Karl, I agree with what you wrote and I don't get why you would reply that way to my comment; I must have badly communicated my thoughts. Let's try again...

The point is that Victor wrote "I would certainly feel I had done something wrong if a student felt she had to take certain positions she did not believe in because she was afraid of flunking if she disagreed with me." And my question was: would you say the same if you were a science teacher?

I think the obvious answer is 'no'. A science teacher would not, and should not, feel like he/she "had done something wrong" for teaching what are known scientific facts.

Hal said...

B. Prokop:"Boghossian is a philosophy professor (Portland State University), so Victor's talking about philosophy.

The class Boghossian was teaching had to do with science.

From the article Victor linked to:

"For example, I teach a class entitled “Science and Pseudoscience” (the student who wrote the above comments on her exam was enrolled in this class). In Science and Pseudoscience, students need to understand a basic mechanism, rooted in the scientific method, by which they can reliably discern true empirical claims from false empirical claims."

Even if students happen to disagree with evolutionary theory or they think it is contrary to their religion, they should still be expected to know that it is the leading scientific theory when it comes to explaining the diversity of life.

I think most reasonable religious and non-religious people realize that the theory of evolution does not throw into question the existence of God.

Papalinton said...

I think what this incident highlights is the inexorably divergent paths that religion/theology and the sciences are tracking into the future. It is also emblematic of the shrinking power of theological explanation as an effective, constructive and potent explanatory tool.

It is in the main a reflection of the changing nature of people, and in some sense a changing of the guard. The changes we as a community are experiencing are about putting to rest religious explanations about us, the world, the universe, predicated as they are on superstition. supernaturalism and shamanic practices, and incrementally embracing a significantly more robust, reasoned and empirically-based paradigm with far greater insight into the human condition. This transition is well exemplified in Victor's statement: "Actually people can do perfectly good evolutionary biology who don't believe in evolution at all." The abiding question about which one has to ask, the elephant in the room so to speak, is, Why?

Religious explanation is the astrology to science's astronomy, the alchemy to today's understanding of chemistry.

B. Prokop said...

"a reflection of the changing nature of people"

Interesting(and revealing) phrase there. Reminds me of the generations-long attempts in the USSR to create a homo sovieticus, an evolved human being with the inherited characteristics of Soviet-style communism.

Linton, the fundamental nature of humanity never changes - neither for better nor for worse. This is why we continue to find deep wells of wisdom in ancient works of art and literature, which are still applicable to contemporary life. We are moved and enlightened by the architecture of the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire, the poetry of Homer or King David, or the account of Gilgamesh's great quest, because we are no different than those people who first created these things.

AS J.R.R. Tolkien expressed it so eloquently:

"How shall a man judge what to do in such times?" [asked Eomer]

"As he has ever judged," said Aragorn. "Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."

Karl Grant said...

Bob,

Speaking of the Soviet Union....

Consider how the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, etc... tried, and in some cases continue to do so, indoctrinate their young generations with atheism; and since Western atheists tend to overwhelming be white, male and of middle and upper class backgrounds ...why, that would imply a person's willingness to embrace atheist beliefs depends upon community in which they were raised or live. It seems therefore, that atheist belief very likely tracks not truth but social conditioning and is therefore a failed epistemology by Linton and Boghossian standards.

Hal said...

"Now think about this. A student feels she has to write certain things to pass a course which are contrary to what she believes. As teachers we have the power of the grade. I would certainly feel I had done something wrong if a student felt she had to take certain positions she did not believe in because she was afraid of flunking if she disagreed with me."

I wish we knew what it was exactly that this student found so objectionable. Without that info it is difficult to give a fair assessment of Boghossian's teaching ability.

Perhaps she is a YEC. In that case almost anything Boghossian said in class regarding evolution would have been objectionable to her. Perhaps he claimed that evolution proves that God doesn't exist. In that case I think he crossed the line and should be reprimanded.

B. Prokop said...

"Without that info it is difficult to give a fair assessment of Boghossian's teaching ability."

I think we can get a good enough idea of what Boghossian's teaching style must be like by listening to THIS DEBATE, in which McGrew repeatedly demonstrates to Boghossian that his idiosyncratic definition of faith is just that - i.e., made up and totally bogus. How does Boghossian respond? By doubling down on his error and insisting that his personal opinion about what the word means trumps all generally accepted understanding.

I can well imagine him being equally arbitrary, pigheaded, and dogmatic in the classroom.

Papalinton said...

Bob
All that you say about art and literature is perfectly true. And I subscribe to that view. Art and literature flourishes wherever human creativity abounds. As indeed religion, of which christianity is but one of innumerable mythological narratives matching that of Tolkien's enormous creativity, is a product of the human imagination. There is no argument from me here.

But in terms of sophisticated and nuanced explanatory mechanisms, the sciences, that growing body of human investigation and research is increasingly supplanting earlier forms of explanations that were largely based on ignorance and superstition. " The rise of ... science progressively undermines not only the ancient geocentric conception of the cosmos, but, with it, the entire set of presuppositions that had served to constrain and guide philosophical inquiry. The dramatic success of the new science in explaining the natural world, in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena by appeal to a relatively small number of elegant mathematical formulae, promotes philosophy (in the broad sense of the time, which includes natural science) from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and construct the new, in the realms both of theory and practice, on the basis of its own principles." [Stanford EOP]

Theists have yet to reconcile with the truth of this statement.

Ian Thompson said...

For your information:
More writing and propaganda from Peter Boghossian at http://smithandfranklin.com/current-issues/A-Manual-for-Creating-Atheists-by-Peter-Boghossian/9/7/23/html

B. Prokop said...

"Theists have yet to reconcile with the truth of this statement."

There is precious little "truth" in that statement, with which one needs to be reconciled. My quotation from Tolkien is an almost perfect example of the true state of affairs. Far beyond any mere aesthetic appeal, the quoted passage is soaked in a wisdom that 10 generations of dedicated laboratory work and field studies would never be able to match. Indeed, so called "objective empirical evidence" might even cause one to err in a disastrously false direction. For who can deny that we observe the wicked prospering around us daily and the just being ground into hamburger by violence and oppression? Surely ones eyes and ears would lend credence to the idea of siding with the "winner" in this all too short life of ours?

But to the contrary, the simple statement "Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house." contains a truth that atheists have no way of arriving at, other than by betraying their own "principles", and looking outside of so called logic and empirical evidence for the answers.

No, Linton, it is the atheist who has yet to be reconciled with the truth.

oozzielionel said...

From the comments on Boghossian's blog, an assistant professor clarifies that the student was a YEC. This was not at all clear in his main post. So his actual objection is apparently not to her theism but to her YEC position. These should properly be distinguished, but it seems that it is convenient to lump the two together.

William said...

I think that it is instructive to consider the difference between a social and cultural position and knowing the terms and details of a scientific theory.

For example, it is common in some postmodern feminist circles to say that male and female humans are purely culturally defined, and thus to one with such a definition of gender the biological genotype and phenotype can be well understood, but are not of value in defining gender or sex.

Similarly, a YEC ought to be able to fully understand the biological theories and understand science and pseudoscience and their overlap areas without having to use them in discourse outside of that course, and still be graded on that part of what they know, not what they believe, even if we think them wrong or absurd.

Hugo said...

oozzielionel said...
So his actual objection is apparently not to her theism but to her YEC position. These should properly be distinguished, but it seems that it is convenient to lump the two together.

Actually, it seems convenient for Theists to lump the two together... By trying to educate the student on the falsehood of YEC and the unreliability of beliefs based purely on faith, Boghossian is accused of 'pushing' Atheism on his students.

Basically, what I am getting from the comments in this thread and the previous one on the same topic, is that talking 'against' false beliefs is similar to talking 'for' Atheism, when the speaker is an Atheist.

In other words, it's the Theists who are not able to properly distinguish between actively promoting a religious position (if Boghossian were to promote belief that God does not exist for example; I don't know if he does but examples here certainly don't support that) versus promoting ideas against a certain religious position, which is what Boghossian clearly stated he was doing in the quotes presented here.

Please note that I know close to nothing about Boghossian, so I would be more than happy to agree with anyone claiming he does actively promote Atheism, in the sense that he promotes a positive religious belief, not just encourages students to strongly question their existing theistic religious beliefs. That, to me, would be crossing a line.

oozzielionel said...

Hugo: helpful comments

Victor Reppert said...

What one can say as a matter of science education is "This is what science is, this is how it operates, this is the conclusions it has come to." That is what science education can do. Science, strictly speaking, doesn't ask you to accept our best science as true.

If, for example, God put the fossils in the ground to fool the scientists, then creation would be true, but our best science would have to be....evolution.

oozzielionel said...

I hope you meant, "if, for example God put the fossils in the ground to fool the scientists, then CREATIONISM (YEC) would be true, but our best science would have to be evolution." Then the next statement is (Within the science of evolution is a continuum of choices between an unguided evolution (without God), a deistic creation, and intelligent design. This continuum may include many variants on specifics.

The difference between the first and the last is not determinable by the scientific method. It can only be postulated. The scientific method is not capable of answering the God question.

Hal said...

Victor: "If, for example, God put the fossils in the ground to fool the scientists, then creation would be true, but our best science would have to be....evolution."

God would also have to change our DNA so that it would appear that we are all descended from one ancestor. Also, He would have to create a universe like ours so that it appears to be much older than it actually is. Etc., etc.

If one goes that far, why not just take the next step and assume that God has simply placed each of our brains in a vat and He is fooling us into believing in any kind of reality He wishes.:-(

oozzielionel said...

DNA is neutral evidence for the existence of a creator. Common DNA is equally valid as evidence of a common design.

The age of the universe can also lead us towards comprehending in some measure the scope of eternity.

Solipsism is always an option.

Hugo said...

"DNA is neutral evidence for the existence of a creator."
In general yes, since the creator could have started the first self-replication, but...

"Common DNA is equally valid as evidence of a common design."
...that's not the case. Reminds me of this great explanation:
http://youtu.be/J3yDOp8Dv8Y

"The age of the universe can also lead us towards comprehending in some measure the scope of eternity."
With our current knowledge of the size of the universe, it certainly makes the creator, if there is one, beyond understanding in terms of size and power.

"Solipsism is always an option."
There is always the problem of 'hard' solipsism that cannot be solved, but I think it's a bigger problem for non-materialist. If one believes in a creator god, who is behind the entire universe, there is always a possibility that everything was created as some sort of illusion, perhaps as a test. On the other hand, if you start with the real world and assume that it is real, basically saying 'ok, I cannot disprove hard solipsism, but I will assume it's false since I have nothing else to work with but the reality I am experiencing', then there is no more possibility of reality being just an illusion, in the sense that it is assumed to be real to start with.

Victor Reppert said...

Aw, and I just thought you would say that such a God wouldn't be worthy of worship.

But my point was simply that if the course is about what science is, and how it works, then someone saying at the end of the course that they don't believe that the results of science are true isn't a failure to grasp the point of the course.

Hal said...

Solipsism is always an option.

I don't see solipsism as being equivalent to the idea that God is deluding everybody.

Hal said...

Aw, and I just thought you would say that such a God wouldn't be worthy of worship.

The idea of a God that is deceiving scientists into coming up with false theories doesn't seem to be consistent with the claim that science would only be possible if God exists.

Hugo said...

"I don't see solipsism as being equivalent to the idea that God is deluding everybody"
'God deluding everybody' certainly falls under the solipsism umbrella and its near infinite number of possible scenarios.

Victor Reppert said...

Hal: The idea of a God that is deceiving scientists into coming up with false theories doesn't seem to be consistent with the claim that science would only be possible if God exists.

VR: I say as much in the first chapter of my book. I'm not saying that this position is anywhere close to being defensible. What I'm saying is that if the course is one about science, then it isn't science that is going to cure this kind of a position. You can "get" all the science and still say what the person said.

Papalinton said...

Science? Pseudoscience?
Fact? Fiction?
Victor, you might be very intereseted in a new study that has just been published in the journal: Cognitive Science
It is unfortunately behind a paywall but one can follow it up and get the jist of it
THROUGH THIS SITE

What is most interesting is that the new study; "Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds" by researchers Kathleen H. Corriveau, Eva E. Chen and Paul L. Harris, shows that children exposed to religion have a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction.

The report concludes " ... This sharp discrepancy between children with and without exposure to religion lends no support to the hypothesis that children are “born believers”… with a natural credulity toward extraordinary beings with superhuman powers."

Is it fact or fiction that belief in the supernatural is a product of 'sensus divinitatis? Or is it more likely that belief in the supernatural is the product of enculturation or religious indoctrination or social Inculcation?

Fact or fiction?
Science or pseudoscience?
Theists have yet to reconcile with their inexorable and harrowing journey to reality. This study is simply another very small bot significant piece in the puzzle towards understanding how and why we tick as we do.





Karl Grant said...

Look Who's Irrational Now

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity. Do dreams foretell the future? Did ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis exist? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? Will creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster someday be discovered by science?

The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin's former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.

This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.

Surprisingly, while increased church attendance and membership in a conservative denomination has a powerful negative effect on paranormal beliefs, higher education doesn't. Two years ago two professors published another study in Skeptical Inquirer showing that, while less than one-quarter of college freshmen surveyed expressed a general belief in such superstitions as ghosts, psychic healing, haunted houses, demonic possession, clairvoyance and witches, the figure jumped to 31% of college seniors and 34% of graduate students.


Considering how this study's results have been duplicated, more than once for the past thirty years I would say it is the atheists who have yet to reconcile with their inexorable and harrowing journey to reality. And bot significant piece? Well we always thought you were nothing but a spam bot. Nice to see that confirmed.

Hugo said...

Karl, a lot of people believe a lot of silly things, and a lot of people use the wrong definition to either label themselves or others. Look at this sentence for instance: "21% of self-proclaimed atheists believe in either a personal God or an impersonal force. Ten percent of atheists pray at least weekly and 12% believe in heaven." Clearly there is a problem with that 'atheist' means... and clearly a lot of self-labeled atheists believe things without good reasons.

I would agree with you that being an atheist does not instantly grant the person some sort of 'smartness' card, and it does not get revoked when you say 'I believe God exists'. Most Atheists would agree with that, or I should say I hope so. It does not make God more likely to exist, it does not change what purpose/usefulness religion has, it does not make Atheism a more/less valid position, etc... So I wonder what point you were trying to make here?

Karl Grant said...

Hugo,

Clearly there is a problem with that 'atheist' means... and clearly a lot of self-labeled atheists believe things without good reasons

Agreed.

I would agree with you that being an atheist does not instantly grant the person some sort of 'smartness' card, and it does not get revoked when you say 'I believe God exists'.

Agreed.

Most Atheists would agree with that, or I should say I hope so.

I wouldn't be too sure about that since the overwhelming majority of the atheists I have dealt with on the net act like they automatically are more intelligent, rational and sophisticated simply by virtue of them being atheists. Hell, look at the past comment threads on this site and you will see examples of that.

So I wonder what point you were trying to make here?

Countering Paps rambling, inconsequential diatribe. That should have been obvious from my last paragraph

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

Yes, Hugo, I too want to know what point Karl was attempting to make?

And yes, superstition is something that we are all prone to, even we atheists. It's just that religion, religious belief, the harbinger of things, unknown, unseen, ineffable simply has a far greater and more determinable relationship and historical connection with all manner of superstition, mythology that append to supernatural beliefs, more so than atheism. Even his atheism does not prevent Bill Maher, with his attitude to vaccination, capitulating to unreasonable and unsubstantive mythos.

It is only through self discipline and the process of education will humanity learn to govern and control their primal evolutionary predisposition to reacting to the "false-positive" amygdala response by which we imagine there is intentionality and agency everywhere.

Based on current research and experiments, Jesse Bering Professor at Dublin University[? I think] "considers a belief in some form of life apart from that experienced in the body to be the default setting of the human brain. Pascal Boyer, at the University of Washington Mo, says from here there is only a short step to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and gods. Boyer points out that people expect their gods’ minds to work very much like human minds, suggesting they spring from the same brain system that enables people to think about absent or non-existent people." Boyer concludes: "More importantly, education and experience teaches us to override it, but it never truly leaves us. Religious belief is the ‘path of least resistance’ while disbelief requires effort."

Our increasing knowledge base, research information and understanding of the human condition do seem to affirm that theists do have a way to go yet in reconciling with the truth of their inexorable and personally harrowing journey to reality.

Karl Grant said...

Paps,

It's just that religion, religious belief, the harbinger of things, unknown, unseen, ineffable simply has a far greater and more determinable relationship and historical connection with all manner of superstition, mythology that append to supernatural beliefs, more so than atheism.

Funny you can make that statement when the statistics say, duplicated in several studies no less, you guys are more prone to this kind of oddball beliefs. Hell, you got a picture of you and your buddy at the UFO convention center as your Google avatar.

Even his atheism does not prevent Bill Maher, with his attitude to vaccination, capitulating to unreasonable and unsubstantive mythos.

Or Sam Harris from thinking taking LSD gives him great insight into mysteries of the universe or about a few hundred other examples.

It is only through self discipline and the process of education will humanity learn to govern and control their primal evolutionary predisposition to reacting to the "false-positive" amygdala response by which we imagine there is intentionality and agency everywhere.

Would that include the self-discipline to resist plagiarizing Wikipedia articles or the education to realize most people don't respect - or value the opinion of - people who use three-dollar words in a rather hopeless attempt give substance to their meaningless hot air?

Based on current research and experiments, Jesse Bering Professor at Dublin University[? I think] "considers a belief in some form of life apart from that experienced in the body to be the default setting of the human brain. Pascal Boyer, at the University of Washington Mo, says from here there is only a short step to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and gods. Boyer points out that people expect their gods’ minds to work very much like human minds, suggesting they spring from the same brain system that enables people to think about absent or non-existent people." Boyer concludes: "More importantly, education and experience teaches us to override it, but it never truly leaves us. Religious belief is the ‘path of least resistance’ while disbelief requires effort."

In other words, solipsism is preferable to religious belief. Good job there, Paps.

B. Prokop said...

I can't recall who said this, but I've always liked the saying "The opposite of good theology is not no theology, but rather bad theology." It's little wonder that atheists are likelier to believe in ESP, UFOs, Atlantis, and other paranormal phenomena than believers.

Similar studies have been made to see just who is most susceptible to joining up with a cult. Hint: it's not "churchgoers" - it's the so-called "nones".

"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation."
(Matthew 12:43-45)

Papalinton said...

"Similar studies have been made to see just who is most susceptible to joining up with a cult. Hint: it's not "churchgoers" - it's the so-called "nones"."

Where's the evidence?

Cults? Oh dear. A cult is a religion you disapprove of. A religion is a cult that has gained acceptance.

A cult is a quantitative metric that of the size of the supernatural beliefs held in common by a group. Branch Davidian was a small cult. Roman Catholicism is an enormous cult.

B. Prokop said...

"A cult is a religion you disapprove of."

By "cult", I mean a group that discourages (often by force) outside contact, to the extent of insisting that its members disassociate themselves from family and friends, and prohibits (again, often by force) information sources that contradict the group's teachings. Usually under the strict leadership of a single, charismatic figure (though this is not a requirement). In order to qualify as a cult, leaving the group must be extremely difficult, and the penalties for attempting to do so could range from harassment to physical harm, even death.

There are other definitions, but that's the one I'm using here.

B. Prokop said...

By the definition I'm using, scientology is a cult, as are the Jehovah's Witnesses and the so-called Children of God.

Mormonism would not be a cult (again, under this definition), nor would be nearly every Christian denomination. Wahhabist Islam would be a cult.

Papalinton said...

"By "cult", I mean a group that discourages (often by force) outside contact, to the extent of insisting that its members disassociate themselves from family and friends, and prohibits (again, often by force) information sources that contradict the group's teachings. Usually under the strict leadership of a single, charismatic figure (though this is not a requirement). In order to qualify as a cult, leaving the group must be extremely difficult, and the penalties for attempting to do so could range from harassment to physical harm, even death."

My how short the memory span. This definition encompasses all the historical antecedents that went to define what was meant by being a "good catholic." The style of ecumenism now being preached by the catholic church is a very recent phenomenon. My early childhood was but a short distance past but I can clearly remember the epithets of 'being a good catholic' and not mixing with the heretics of protestantism, of the opprobrium of marrying 'outside the faith'. And one could not find a more classical single, charismatic figure around which christianity is fabricated.

You might wish to read the poignant story about the difficulties of leaving the cult of catholicism for another christian cult. This is not an atheist narrative and it encapsulates the emotional, spiritual and social difficulties experienced by one Christian leaving catholicism.

No. Your definition simply does not hang true, contrived as it is from the perspective of a defender of one form of cultic religious tradition. As I say, the history of christianity clearly defines it cultic origins in the middle east competing among a plethora of extant cults in those times. The aphorism:

"A cult is a religion you disapprove of.
A religion is a cult that has gained acceptance."

could not be more truly characterized and the difference between a cult and a religion is primarily a measure of the numbers of adherents and not the quality of superstition around which they are formed. Both are predicated on 'faith', a failed epistemology even in the most generous of light.


Steven Carr said...

BOGHOSSIAN
Belief that the age of the earth is closer to 4.5 billion years, not 6,000 years, is a true, empirical belief. The latter does not fall under the category of a matter of taste, instinct, revelation or value, and is true independent of subjective considerations.

CARR
You can hear the Christians wince as Boghossian tries to introduce them to facts.

B. Prokop said...

This definition encompasses all the historical antecedents that went to define what was meant by being a "good catholic."

It most certainly does not - except in the biased, revisionist histories penned by persons openly hostile to the Church. You really need to step outside of your gnu echo chamber every now and then. Other than getting this statement out for the record, your posting is not worth responding to.

im-skeptical said...

arbitrary, pig-headed, and dogmatic

Papalinton said...

But with every fibre in your body you could not help yourself from the temptation TO respond.

Must be the work of the homunculus Devil manipulating your mind, breaking down your resolve to not respond, right? And then to throw in an apologetical response as a rationale.

Not a response that one would call ...... convincing, Bob.

Papalinton said...

I think this little piece should be introduced here. It is a fitting parallel to the OP of this thread.
"What is it like to be one of Reppert's DI commenters?"

B. Prokop said...

"you could not help yourself from the temptation"

No argument there. I am a sinner.

Victor Reppert said...

Steven: Not me. I have never been a YEC.

toddes said...

"I think this little piece should be introduced here. It is a fitting parallel to the OP of this thread.
"What is it like to be one of Reppert's DI commenters?""

Oh, poor Skeppy took it so personally. Only Victor can say for sure but I thought it was directed at you, Linton, much more than at im-skeptical.

The parallel between a formal educational setting, i.e., a university classroom, and a personal blog, if one does exist, breaks down rapidly. I would say there is a greater parallel between religious faith and atheistic dogma.

On another note, it seems to me that atheism can quite easily be defined as a cult since tertiary and latter definitions apply to social groups as well as religious one.

Consider the uproar when Anthony Flew rejected atheism for a weak deism. How often is one who is so highly esteemed within his sect so suddenly considered, at best, senile or, at worst, lying. I imagine there would be less vitriol - still even less rending of garments and gnashing of teeth - if the current Prophet abandoned the LDS.

Jon Drake said...

Boghossian says he was kicked out of his Ph.D program, and we know he is not a Ph.D.

Can anyone give us a straight answer as to why he was kicked out?

Jon Drake said...

Papalinton left teaching.

We all know why.