Questionable Motives

August 26, 2013

Why is accommodating respect for faith-based beliefs stupid and irresponsible?

medical treatmentOver at  Jerry Coyne’s site, Why Evolution is True, he posted about a measles outbreak in Texas traced back to a mega-church and non vaccinated children.  Coyne titled his post, “Measles back again, thanks to religion,” and gave us information about the outbreak, the response from church authorities and its ‘medical’ team, and data on the disease, all very useful stuff (as usual). But I disagreed in one sense that the measles outbreak was due to religion. It was just as much back because of those who accommodate faith-based beliefs of any kind and smugly attack New Atheists for daring to criticize any of it publicly. This is what I wrote in my ridiculously long comment:

I apologize for the length of my comment, but this post highlights that the ‘enemy’ of reason and knowledge isn’t just religion per se but those who support and tolerate a methodology that is clearly broken, namely, the empowerment and public acceptance of any faith-based belief (an acceptance demonstrated by offering unjustified respect rather than justified criticism of those who exercise any faith-based belief. I’m talking to you, accommodationists).

Into the category of faith-based beliefs can be everything from religion to anti-vaccination, conspiracies to astrology, alternative medicine to Winfrey/Chopra/Dr. Oz-ian woo. Belief in these is all of a kind, and the root is faith- rather than evidence-based belief… a method of thinking that elevates possibility to be equivalent to probability, meaning that it’s a way to elevate any belief in something to be the same weight in consideration as not having belief in it. In other words, it’s a way to make any faith-based belief seem as reasonable as not believing… one either believes in alien abductions, for example, (by entertaining the possibility) or one does not (by seeming to be closed-minded when there is no compelling evidence in its favour). See? Equivalent: six of one, a half dozen of the other. How very reasonable and open-minded we are and not followers of scientism like those intolerant, strident, and militant folk who are Doin’ it Rong!

What’s lost, of course, is any meaningful way, a methodology we can trust, to allow reality to arbitrate the faith-based belief because the weight of evidence (supporting or not supporting the belief) plays no important role; the equivalency is already clearly established by believers, which is why any possible evidence for the most ludicrous of beliefs is drafted into service and used as if equivalent to the array of evidence contrary to them combined with the absence of compelling evidence where it should be if the belief were true. In this sense, the use of evidence (aka, reality) by the faith-based believer is only used in service to the belief, whereas in every other area of life we know enough to allow our beliefs to be in the service of reality… if we wish to function successfully in it.

Any method of inquiry that refuses to allow reality to adjudicate claims made about it is a guaranteed way to fool one’s self. Believers in faith-based beliefs fool themselves (along with the tacit approval of accommodationists who decide the appearance of being tolerant of foolishness is a higher standard of intellectual integrity than respecting reality to inform our beliefs about it). But it doesn’t end here and this is the point accommodationsits fail to appreciate. A measles outbreak doesn’t just threaten those foolish enough not to vaccinate; it threatens both the non vaccinated AND the vaccinated with exposure to a preventable disease! This is unconscionable stupidity and social irresponsibility in the face of spreading a very real disease because of acting on a faith-based belief. As if believing in such faith-based foolishness weren’t bad enough, acting on this foolishness carries with it a demonstrable cost to all of us that causes real harm to real people in real life. Faced with this reality, I must ask: where did all these ‘reasonable’ accommodationists suddenly go? This is where the rubber meets the road of why respecting faith-based beliefs by anyone including accommodationists is a public threat to the health and welfare of us all.

June 15, 2013

What is scientism and why does this matter?

Filed under: faith-based beliefs,Knowledge,New Atheists,scientism — tildeb @ 7:54 pm

debateOne of the more recent internet memes criticizing New Atheists for ‘doing it wrong’ comes in the form of being charged with ‘scientism’. Critics of New Atheists use a couple of versions of this meme to try to discredit those of us who dare to suggest that claims of knowledge about the world should be informed by compelling evidence from the world. But because this suggestion is too easy to defend as it is really practiced in the world by those who use scientific knowledge (and that’s all of us), critics of those intolerant fundamental and philosophically naive New Atheists who supposedly practice this so-called ‘scientism’ take it down one of the two branches of the Straw Man River: the first branch portrays scientism to be another kind of faith (the strong sense), while the second branch confuses the methodology of science with its product (the weak sense), meaning that it confuses what is meant by claims of ‘knowledge’ (about the world produced by it) with ‘understanding’ (knowing something about the world produced by our subjective interpretation of it)… the assumption being that if one respects knowledge produced by ‘science’, then one respects only scientific knowledge of the world but rejects  any subjective understanding of it. Clearly, this accusation is false in terms of respecting understanding (scientists themselves widely appreciate all the arts and humanities for the enjoyment, insight, humour, and wisdom they can produce), but true in terms of respecting what hard-won scientific knowledge means (claims about reality backed up by compelling evidence from it).

So what is this philosophical ‘scientism’ we New Atheists are supposed to follow?

Well, as some of the less sophisticated critics delight to point out, scientism in the strong sense is the self-annihilating view that only scientific claims are meaningful, which is not a scientific claim and hence, if true, not meaningful. Presto: scientism is either false or meaningless.

Well, duh.

In addition, the strong sense of the term is presented by these not-so-clever critics as if it is a starting philosophical position of faith that is equivalent to any other religious belief. This is the way many sophisticated theologians like to use the term, inserting what they consider suitable obfuscating synonyms for it (like ‘explanatory monism’ in Haught’s case) and then trying to pretend that this is the faith-based philosophical starting position of New Atheists who respect the method of science to produce not subjective understanding interpreted by the individual but objective knowledge that is the same for everyone everywhere all the time.

But is this what people who respect the method of inquiry we call science mean when they uphold respect for the knowledge it produces about the world versus either faith-based claims contrary, or subjective understandings relative, to it ?

Of course not.

The broad view (the weak sense of scientism) held by reasonable people is that the methods of the natural sciences and its single epistemology allow the world to arbitrate what’s claimed to be true about it – and can be known in the same way by anyone, anywhere, any time.No need for axioms here. This is ‘knowledge’ in the scientific sense: the same information available to anyone anywhere at any time. This knowledge is independent of any interpretive beliefs we may hold as to its meaning, its purpose, to its moral use, its impact on values, its effect on ethical standards, its aesthetics, its effect on our tastes and preferences, and so on. It just is. This knowledge itself says nothing about any of these human concerns specifically but can help to inform them for comparative and evaluative effects on specified metrics (meaning the comparative scales used for determining what constitutes right or wrong, better or worse, higher or lower,etc.). That doesn’t mean that these concerns don’t matter to New Atheists; they do, and they – like everyone else – will argue for their preferences using the best available reasons. It means that this kind of knowledge in the scientific sense is not of a kind similar to interpretive beliefs buts stands or falls completely on its own merit evaluated by the reality of the world.

The scientific method used to obtain knowledge information for claims about the world stands contrary to and in conflict with the methods used to support faith-based beliefs and there is no bridge between them, no middle ground, no mutually compatible arena in which to discuss why subjective and interpretive understanding (including revelation and ‘divine’ authority) should be taken to be equivalent knowledge in the scientific sense. It’s not because reality is not the same arbitrating factor for any competing and contrary claims made about the world; it is. The problem is that the arbitration by reality is respected only by one side here, namely, those who are charged with ‘scientism’. Reality’s role to arbitrate claims made about it is an impediment to the method relied upon to inform and justify faith-based belief. The response by believers when asked to demonstrate evidence from reality is to wave it aside and claim the need for accepting a substitution of philosophical sophistication first… and this is usually done by the use of confusing and nebulous and charged philosophical words used to render reality’s influence inert in the claim. The method of using interpretive and subjective belief to describe reality is not knowledge in the scientific sense because it doesn’t recognize reality’s role to arbitrate it… and we can evaluate whether or not the methods are honestly equivalent by examining their explanatory accuracy and see for ourselves if indeed the different methods produce equivalent knowledge… that is to say yet again, knowledge that is the same for everyone everywhere all the time. And this is where the rubber meets the road when we’re talking about the same reality all of us share. Hand waving and confusing terminology doesn’t make neither the methods nor products equivalent: in addition , the subjective and interpretive understandings do not produce equivalent products, namely, applications, therapies, and technologies that work independently of those holding various understandings. Therefore, neither beliefs nor understandings are another kind of knowledge produced by a different but equivalent kind of method because they do not produce another kind of product of equivalent practical use! Such interpretive beliefs can be seen now for what they really are: simply a different way of framing reality rather than accurately describing it.

Framing reality in particular ways may seem explain some portion of it, but this kind of explanation produces only personal understandings, viewpoints, perspectives, opinions, and the like that may – or may not! – accurately describe reality. And we don’t know if a particular framing of reality is accurate for everyone everywhere all the time until we turn back to the only method that utilizes reality to arbitrate it in just this way… and so we’re right back to using science as the only way of knowing about reality even if we think we have a different way, a different kind of method, of trying to understand it.

New Atheists take a firm stand against those who try their best to present incompatible faith-based claims about the world from the conflicting knowledge we have about it. This is the central reason for New Atheists to explain why religion deserves no preference or privilege in the public domain. Many go one step farther and advocate for a public domain empty of any religious influence. But as a group, New Atheists face off repeatedly against those who assume their contrary understandings of reality are a different but equivalent method of producing a different kind of knowledge (what is not true for everyone, anywhere, any time but subject to the vagaries of personal interpretation, personal framing of reality) worthy of equivalent respect in the name of tolerance and accommodation. But neither faith-based beliefs nor mere understandings comport with knowledge, and become so only when these kinds of claims are separated from these subjective methods and adjudicated by reality to see if, in fact, the understandings and beliefs are the same for everyone everywhere all the time. And the only method we use that works to great effect for this adjudication, this arbitration, is the method of science. That’s why there is an attempt to negate the power of New Atheists – those who respect knowledge – by misrepresenting what it is, and using a pejorative term to describe it: scientism.

This matters because it creates a blurring to our being able to differentiate ignorance from knowledge.

In addition, critics of New Atheists who charge us with scientism for promoting the vital role this method of science must play in gaining knowledge about the reality it attempts to describe utterly fail to deal appropriately with the methodological incompatibility they themselves now actively facilitate between these conflicting epistemological approaches in their rush to vilify New Atheists. In other words, it’s the ‘I’m and atheist, but…’ crowd, the ‘I’m an honest agnostic, but…’ group, who are the ones enabling and furthering epistemological confusion over whether or not faith claims of any kind or understandings subjectively interpreted are equivalent in truth value to knowledge about the world and how it operates. And this confusion comes about by inserting ‘understanding’ to be the synonym of ‘knowledge’. This duplicity carries with it a cost of injecting relativism from personal understanding into knowledge claims that are true for everyone everywhere all the time where it simply doesn’t belong, where it plays only a disruptive role to respect what’s true for some people, some of the time, in selected places to be ‘knowledge of a different kind’. This is bunk. These critics who should know better, so to speak, must recognize the brutal fact that they are doing exactly what is required advocated by the most extreme religious fundamentalist to undermine the only method we have to determine whether or not personal understanding is, in fact, true for everyone everywhere all the time. By calling subjective understanding a different kind of knowledge these critics are dismantling the means by which we can differentiate claims about reality from reality’s arbitration of them. When it comes to respecting what’s demonstrably true by reality about reality, you cannot undermine it and then assume a sense of humble and tolerant superiority for doing so… not if you if you care about what’s actually true independent of our beliefs about it. For anyone willing to substitute personal understanding to be an equivalent method of describing reality as science is not promoting knowledge; he or she is promoting ignorance to be its facsimile.

The ‘explanatory monism’, this so-called ‘scientism’ of New Atheists, is not a similar epistemology of the kind that informs ANY of the faith-based beliefs (religious or any other kind of pseudo-scientific claim that rejects arbitration by reality) – nor is it based on imposing a similar kind of faith-based beliefs on reality as some of the more dishonest critics would have us believe. To these critics, I remind them that this kind of scientism New Atheists respect is the weak kind all of us use in our daily lives – one that is founded on a method of inquiry that extracts evidence from the world to inform truth claims made about it. This is why the epistemological differences between science and faith are insurmountable because they are in direct epistemological competition, and why substituting relative understanding for knowledge is no improvement but an ‘illegal’ substitution (an apple substituted for an orange). It matters when the charge of ‘scientism’ is used as a bully tactic to derail necessary criticism of claims of knowledge that are no such thing. In practice its use as a pejorative is not just an impediment but a distraction from recognizing what’s knowable.

May 15, 2013

Why can’t theists and New Atheists have a meaningful dialogue?

Filed under: dialogue,faith-based beliefs,New Atheists,regulation,Religion — tildeb @ 10:33 pm

religious confusionIn a nutshell, because theists alone try to moderate it.

I like to comment on other sites, like the give and take of a truncated argument where different people become involved and the original post can be explored in detail. This can be rewarding not just for the participants but for the host who can sometimes gather more hits to a site as they follow along. But sometimes I grow weary of  writing comments to start this kind of thread that end up going into moderation never to be seen again. Most religious sites are notorious for their moderation of comments, where the most outlandish and rude commentary is allowed when in support of the web site author but strangled when it becomes critical supposedly because of ‘militant’ tone!

I commented over at Just Thomism in response to a post about why the claim that ‘science destroys creation myths‘ did not matter to right religious creationist beliefs… a post that expressed the notion that myth shouldn’t be mistaken for being anything other than myth, and so any criticism of a creation myth shown to be false by scientific inquiry is not needed and in no way reduces the truth value of creationist claims.  Knowing full well that catholicism requires belief in a literal and historical Adam and Eve for them to have a literal and historical fall to own original sin and then pass it along to the rest of humanity that literally and historically descends from them, I commented how relieved I was that this notion could now be cast aside and that the redemption paid for by a literal and historical Jesus could now be seen as a literal and historical blood sacrifice for a metaphorical sin revealed in a creation myth.

I know, for example, that Pope Pius XII stated (with italics and bold added by me) : “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

Yes, it’s not apparent how reconciliation can occur when science examines reality and adduces that the tenet is factually wrong.

Bummer.

I also know, for example, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390)

Note the word ‘parents’ as in plural – male and female together. It’s important because it’s factually wrong.

So if scientific inquiry reveals, as it has done using genetics, that we do not share a common founding couple, then surely this raises a irreconcilable problem of an incorrect central tenet of the christian faith as it pertains to the need for a literal and historical redemption for a literal and historical Fall. I pointed this out and – Lo and behold! - out came the deluge of sophisticated theology in action!

I was the problem. My lack of understanding sophisticated theology was the problem. Atheism was the problem. New Atheism was the problem. The form of my argument was the problem. My tone was the problem. My faith in the religion of science was the problem, and so on.

Well.

Nowhere in this deluge was the criticism ever focused on the actual problem I had raised: that there really was an irreconcilable difference between reality and the faith claim. Several people tried (and I think utterly failed) to find a middle ground between reality and faith by changing the meaning of words and applying metaphysical nebulous terminology to obfuscate defining that a problem actually existed. No dice. There really is an irreconcilable problem that requires the tenet to be changed if what’s true in reality actually matters. But to most believers – and this group of sophisticated theologians relying on the the teachings of Thomas Aquinas and his right arguments specifically – it will never be the tenets of their faith that requires change because they already know The Truth and just have to get everyone else to squint at it the same way by hook or by crook.

As if this theological assault wasn’t enough to send someone concerned with knowledge and respect for reality running from the room that turned out to be padded for the safety of its patients, I find out that one of the inmates – Crude – has posted on his own site a skewed version of just how nasty a person I am In Which The Asshole Makes A Reappearance. I commented in as nasty a tone as he had maligned me and it wasn’t moderated! The Lord works in mysterious ways! But then Crude got to work and lied again. This time, however, I wasn’t allowed to have my rebuttal published, nor any other comments about different posts. No talking allowed, you see, by order of the administrator who wishes to malign.

Imagine the irony when I see this next post by Crude: Is Dialogue With An Atheist Possible? He argues it may be possible with agnostics and atheists (of the weak-kneed variety more concerned with tolerant tone than truthful content) but not with those nasty and brutish people who identify with ‘cult of Gnu atheists’. Yes, the Gnus cannot be reasoned with and so any productive – aka, willing to be respectful of woo – dialogue isn’t possible. What’s possible, of course, is to call them all kinds of nasty names, lie about them, and then ban them from commenting about their unfair treatment!

Anyway, I spent time and effort to make a meaningful comment on this post but, of course, it wasn’t allowed. So I figured, hey, why not post it here if for no other reason than I want to see it on a blog! And I can do that because I understand and appreciate that legitimate criticism is the very heart of any meaningful dialogue. So, here it is:

Crude writes But what makes an atheist a Gnu is, fundamentally, a commitment to the view that not only is theism or Catholicism or (etc) wrong, but that it is a view not worth taking seriously to begin with.

And why is this? Simple. Because supporters of theism don’t respect reality enough to allow it to arbitrate their faith-based beliefs. But this doesn’t stop these supporters from presenting their faith-based beliefs as if they were equivalent to knowledge adduced from reality. This is intellectual fraud and not worth ‘taking seriously’.

 Supporting faith respects a contrary and conflicting stance by respecting what is merely assumed, merely asserted, to be true, to be knowledge, because it is  believed to be true and treats this belief as if it is equivalent to knowledge adduced from the reality we share. But it’s not because it cannot be demonstrated to be so. In addition, in order to maintain this confidence in the belief claims, supporters of the belief will not allow reality to arbitrate them independently; instead, faith – defined as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen – is deemed to be the higher virtue than respecting reality’s adjudication of these claims.

 When a believer approaches honest dialogue between those who respect what’s true and knowable about reality based on this arbitration by reality and those who do not allow it any such role (but presume their faith-based beliefs are still equivalent to arbitrated knowledge adduced by reality’s evidence) there can be no meaningful dialogue because there is no meaningful middle ground. If there were a middle ground between what reality tells us is true about it and faith-based claims that would willingly submit to the same arbitration, then we the means to find a common ground. But it is theists – by rejecting reality as the independent arbitrator to faith claims – who have already rejected this means by which we can have a constructive and meaningful exchange of knowledge-based ideas. Theists exercise dishonesty by then blaming others rather than themselves for misunderstanding and misconstruing the knowledge value of their claims based on faith, but when we ask for evidence of this knowledge, guess what we find? Nothing! Faith-based beliefs alone contribute nothing to independently verifiable knowledge (justified true beliefs), produce no practical applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere in reality. Sure, they produce assertions and assumptions masked by nebulous terminology if the theists are sophisticated enough to try to obfuscate this fact, but that’s it.

 So what is there to talk about?

 Well, the New Atheists talk about confronting religious privilege in the public domain and why this privilege is both unwarranted and unjustified, and for this audacity, are vilified. Just look at the kind of religious terms Crude uses to try to smear New Atheists. And we see these religious smears all the time. (This is a clue…) New Atheists are commonly called ‘militant’ and ‘strident’ and ‘angry’ and all manner of typical putdowns but they are also called ‘cultists’ and ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘evangelicals’ and ‘religious extremists’ and so on . This is the ‘dialogue’ that we have in play, and one that never treats the criticisms of New Atheists straight up and seriously by using reality successfully to arbitrate faith-based claims and  produce knowledge. Pointing out that there is no shared epistemology – no reliable and consistent method independent of faith – to connect faith-based claims to the adjudication of an independent reality means there is no common ground on which to discuss meaningful differences between those who respect reality’s role to arbitrate claims made about it and those who demand a special exemption for their faith-based claims… but want everyone to go along with accepting the charade that these claims are equivalent to knowledge… but another <i>kind</i> of knowledge.

 Not going to happen. Not ever. Not on our watch.

Although supporters of religious privilege effortlessly use reality-based knowledge all the time in their regular lives, when it comes to the public treatment of their faith-based claims, those who continue to respect reality and hold these beliefs in the same contempt believers themselves use elsewhere, are suddenly the bad guys, the ones who should be written off, the ones in need of… wait for it… blogging administration and comment approval! Why? Because such bloggers as Crude are more concerned with protecting their faith-based claims from legitimate criticism than dealing with it in a mature and intellectually open and honest respectful manner. And that’s why we cannot have any meaningful dialogue and why theists themselves – and not New Atheists – do not allow their faith claims to be taken seriously.

There. That feels better.

April 3, 2013

Is New Atheism a cover for racist hatred of Muslims?

wahhabi libertyI’ve come across this trope so many times that I realize people are actually falling for it… people (I presumed) who have great difficulty comprehending the written word. After all, I know that even in my country of Canada with its high standing in comparative public education achievements, nearly a third of the population is functionally illiterate. So it’s no surprise to find those who suffer from this unnecessary problem may have difficulty grasping the well written explanations describing why it’s a good thing to criticize ideas and doctrines that have profoundly negative effects in the public domain. And it requires a similar kind of illiteracy to fall for this lie that islamaphobia – an irrational fear of islam – is driven by racist motives rather than good reasons based on compelling evidence.

As if this willful blindness to the very real danger to our secular principles islam contains isn’t bad enough, these people who criticize us – those who have the bad manners to point out why islam requires robust and public critcism – fail to see the obvious: what is truly disturbing is how easily this blindness, this abject stupidity to blame the messenger for the message,  morphs into support for the trope that any and all criticism of the doctrine that empowers islam to be so dangerous in reality is really racism in action.

What is remarkable is that this blatant lie is so easily embraced by those who can read, who can comprehend the written word, who can understand why this misrepresentation and misapplication of what the criticism is all about matters. And to add insult to injury, those who promote and extend this dangerous trope seem to suffer no qualms to attribute the real danger to be those of us who have the moral fortitude and intellectual integrity to point out why the doctrine of islam in particular is so dangerous to us all by standing contrary to the foundational principles that support the liberal secular democracies we have inherited, namely, the New Atheists.

The doctrine of islam is the teachings of koran. If you ask any muslim a specific, straight forward question like this, “Do you believe the koran is the perfect word of god?” be prepared for the fundamentalist answer: “Yes.” This answer does not come only from some fringe element, some extreme radical group of the religion, but the mainstream, from the average muslim. If pressed about what constitutes the difference between a good muslim and a poor one, you will find out from the muslim that how closely the koran is followed determines this status. Why we delude ourselves to think that there will be some maturation of this mainstream fundamentalist thinking with exposure to western secular values is simply as mystifying as it is foolish and dangerous. (The latest evidence is from a trio of high school graduates – who classmates describe as normal and nice and typical – from London, ON who converted to islam, and then participated in mass murder in an attack on gas workers in Algeria.) The motivating factor for this travesty of misdirected young lives was islam. It was not New Atheists!

Those muslims who speak publicly about the evolution of the religion from its violent origins to become what it is not, namely, a tolerant, moderate, living doctrine that respects the rights and freedoms of its members similar to liberalized christianity and judaism, are not speaking on behalf of the religion as good muslims and they know it. The listener – eager to show common cause in the name of secular values like tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others – is ripe for the picking. Such muslims who speak publicly about islam, as if it were an equivalently tolerant religion to those who wish it were, are not moderate muslims at all and do not represent the majority: they are poor muslims by definition… unless they are lying to your face in order to promote by stealth the advancement of islam and shari’a into the public domain. This technique is called taqiyya (for anyone unaware of its religious approval) and it describes why and on what koranic authority this intentional deceit (that fools well meaning but gullible people in secular democracies) is the right thing to do for a good muslim!

At the end of the day, the point of the doctrine of islam is to live a godly life, and by faith this means living under god’s law, which is not compatible with either the secular principles of tolerance and respect showered on its adherents in the West. This law is shari’a and it is incompatible in authority with your individual rights of autonomy, your individual freedoms for legal equality, your secular principles of tolerating and accommodating religious differences, your allegiance to your nation. Shari’a is incompatible with the foundational principles of western liberal secular democracies. These are the facts and not some imaginary racist assertions meant to to slander.

But don’t take my word for. Find out for yourself (first by reading and then by asking real muslims) why claims about the peacefulness of the religion of islam are not true in practice by good muslims. Ask about their interpretation about the  verse of the sword, the one used to overturn all the previous koranic claims about promoting peace and love, when defending the faith (or watch a short video about it here). Find out for yourself why islam and shari’a are not like the doctrines of any other liberalized religion but stand firmly against any social advancement past the seventh century morality that has been encoded in the koran. Check out ongoing violence done in the name of islam and ask yourself how and why this is any different from other religions. In other words, stop pretending that tolerating and respecting freedom of religion means that it is only right and proper for you to respect islam. By doing so, you are threatening the very values of tolerance and respect you are self-righteously exercising!

Now that we have compelling evidence from reality that the doctrine of islam is incompatible with western secular values, how much sense does it make – and who does it serve – to vilify New Atheists for talking about this compelling evidence in the public domain?

You guessed it: it serves only to grant more cover for stealth jihad. How can any literate person who supports western secular values be so stupid as to be intolerant of much needed criticism towards the doctrine of islam? Well, I think there are four possibilities: illiterate, ignorant, delusional, complacent, or complicit.

For those who are illiterate, get help.

For those who are ignorant, open your mind and eyes and ears and learn.

For those who are delusional, respect reality. Recognize that your beliefs – especially religious beliefs – do not create reality but require adjudication by it if you wish to have them respected.

For those who are complacent, who wish that these inherent conflicts between faith-based beliefs and our valued principles would just go away, wake up. Recognize the danger and join in the criticism or get out the way.

For those who are complicit, who try to lay the blame for islamic intolerance on some fringe element of it rather than the doctrine that empowers the whole, who will not think for themselves but go along with the charade that islam is a religion of peace and tolerance in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary, who will not see the danger to themselves –  to their own legal welfare and that of their neighbours – or others, who allow their complicity to enable the advancement of islam and shari’a unimpeded by legitimate criticism, know that you are exposed for the ethical hypocrites and moral cowards you are.

As a shining example of what it is we face as New Atheists in this battle to get more of us to respect reality rather than faith-based beliefs about it, consider this exchange between one the Four Horsemen of New Atheism, Sam Harris, and the usually reasonable columnist Glenn Greenwald. I have extracted Sam’s final reply and added the bold for emphasis:

The idea that “new atheism” is a cover for a racist hatred of Muslims is ridiculous (and, again, crudely defamatory). I have written an entire book attacking Christianity. And do you know what happens when I or any of my “new atheist” colleagues criticize Christians for their irrational beliefs? They say, “Of course, you feel free to attack us, but you would never have the courage to criticize Islam.” As you can see, our Christian critics follow our work about as well as you do.

Needless to say, there are people who hate Arabs, Somalis, and other immigrants from predominantly Muslim societies for racist reasons. But if you can’t distinguish that sort of blind bigotry from a hatred and concern for dangerous, divisive, and irrational ideas—like a belief in martyrdom, or a notion of male “honor” that entails the virtual enslavement of women and girls—you are doing real harm to our public conversation. Everything I have ever said about Islam refers to the content and consequences of its doctrine. And, again, I have always emphasized that its primary victims are innocent Muslims—especially women and girls.

And for the money quote:

There is no such thing as “Islamophobia.” This is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia. And it is doing its job, because people like you have been taken in by it.

Exactly:, propaganda.

Are you falling for it?

March 30, 2012

Why hold a Reason Rally?

Filed under: New Atheists,Reason Rally,Secularism — tildeb @ 10:17 am

Although there has been criticism about using the term ‘reason’ to describe an atheist rally in Washington, I think it is an important coming out party.

The numbers show that more people than ever are growing wary of religion in politics and part of this is due to the rise in public criticism spearheaded by gnu atheists determined to push secular values into predominance in the public domain. A rally to show that there is political capital to be gained by doing this is simply part of this social evolution. As Russell Blackford writes, the purpose of the Reason Rally is to demonstrate that

It’s about secular government, a secular state – and that’s not a great secret. Secularism isn’t something that only non-believers can support. Generally speaking, it is good for believers as well – not all of them, always, in all circumstances, but very many of them, perhaps the majority in Western countries, in current circumstances. Secularism has a lot going for it apart from its appeal to those of us who reject religion.

So why wasn’t the rally called the Secular Rally? Why co-opt the term ‘reason? To address these critics, here’s Russell again:

Yes, the people who are organising the rally think of themselves as “people of reason” – so sue them. But the material makes clear that what they are organising is a rally to defend and promote secular government. There is nothing misleading about any of this, and of course they think they are the party of reason.

Mind you, for those who went to the Rally, it was also an emotional experience to be a part of a large similar-minded group of diverse people that rarely if ever congregate. For that reason alone the rally seems to have paid dividends. Even PZ Myers – the curmudgeon’s curmudgeon - says that he is happy to have been a part of it and when he watched The Friendly Atheist’s video provided below, he ‘teared up a little’. Maybe that’s because his image is a bit fuzzy when it finally appears.

Anyway, I think TFA accurately captures much of the sentiment about why it was important to hold a Reason Rally from the atheist’s perspective. Enjoy.

December 23, 2011

Can religious belief be honest?

The short answer is no.
Let’s revisit some basic information about the kind of religious belief practiced in the United States:
from a 2007 Gallup Poll:
  • 81% of Americans believe in Heaven
  • 75% of Americans believe in angels
  •  70% of Americans believe in Satan
  •  69% of American believe in Hell (presumably 1% think that Hell has no overseer)
Some other stats:

(h/t to WEIT in response to a terrible TIME article)

All of these majority beliefs rest on an acceptance of some supernatural element causing effect here in the natural world. In order to accept a belief that depends on a supernatural element means that by necessity the believer must willingly suspend the laws (we know operate consistently and reliably well) of the natural world we inhabit in order to maintain the belief. This willingness to sacrifice what the person knows is true – the laws of physics and chemistry and biology on which we trust our lives and those we love on a daily basis – can only be described as intentional dishonesty, no matter how temporary or ancient the suspension might be. The motivations for people to allow and excuse and apologize and respect this dishonesty – this willingness to suspend natural laws on behalf of a religious claim to allow for non-natural causation – are many and varied but such beliefs in the reality of the supernatural with no extraordinary evidence to justify it remains dishonest all the same.

Gnu atheists are naturalists. We respect reality to be the arbiter of what is true about it, meaning we remain consistent in our thinking that the natural order is not suspended simply because some people wish it to be so. Reality itself has to provide that evidence (and trust in how we can know about it through methodological naturalism). To date, there is no such evidence when and where there should be. There is no genetic proof for an original couple; no geological proof for a global flood; no astronomical proof for a geocentric solar system; no medical proof in the efficacy of prayer.  There are many claims that the natural order has in fact, in reality, in history been suspended,  that some supernatural causation has revealed itself by effect in the natural world, that this order has been affected by the supernatural according to hearsay, but none of these is informed by the same kind of evidence that informs how and what we know about the natural order.

And this raises an important point: this absence of equivalent evidence reveals the dishonesty by those who pretend there really IS an equivalency, IS another way to know, IS a similar method of inquiry that yields similar results of reliable and consistent knowledge. All of these claims of equivalency are false. They are not true. Perhaps this abject failure of belief to create any practical and reliable knowledge about the natural world is why so many believers go out of their way to try to cast aspersions on the trust cum ‘belief’ we place on knowledge about the natural order through this reliable and consistent method of respecting reality rather than belief to arbitrate what is true about, excusing how theology is presented without any similar evidence on the grounds that it’s of a different but compatible kind when there is no evidence from reality to support this, and the insistence by so many religious apologists that trust cum ‘belief’ we place on assumptions/assertions/attributions about the supernatural order is an equivalent method of inquiry that produces a similar kind of knowledge. This is demonstrably not true. (Gnus call this kind of fibbery Lyin’ fer Jebus)

And gnu atheists dare to point this out… thus earning the disparaging labels commonly found in media and used so often in the personal opinions of believers and accommodationists and apologists about New Atheists, words like militant, arrogant, strident, fundamentalist, angry, immoral, untrustworthy, and nihilistic. Defenders of supernatural beliefs tend to hold gnus to a different and much higher standard of behaviour than those religious folk who warn us of hell and eternal damnation for our refusing to fear and submit to their tyrannical god… and who even feel highly moral when they call for our banishment and even death. Those who support religion promoted in the public domain (as if belief in supernatural causation automatically grants one a voice in matters of public law, governance, and policy) cause a similar problem to those who do not support public vaccination: supporting that which may seem to offer comfort to the few only by forcibly putting everyone else at risk.

And this raises the point about what it is that gnu atheists actually do support: secular Enlightenment values that uphold equality in human rights, human freedoms, and human dignity first and foremost in human affairs. Belief in the supernatural is not a rational argument against these values and cannot be allowed to undermine them in the name of tolerance and reasonable accommodation; the inherent dishonesty necessary to maintain supernatural belief must be met with very public and sustained criticism whenever and wherever this superstitious nonsense attempts to join the grownups in adult conversation about human affairs in the reality we share.

So next time some silly and naive apologist for supernatural belief attempts to tell you that sophisticated liberal theology that doesn’t involve believing anything about the supernatural but distils wisdom from story and metaphor and myth from scriptural references and interpretations, remember what the majority of believers actually do believe: in the suspension of the natural order without compelling evidence in order to maintain without merit their dishonest belief in some element of supernaturalism.

August 1, 2011

And do we feel any safer?

I don’t.

From Truthout.org:

The United States Air Force has been training young missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons by citing passages from the New Testament and commentary from a former member of the Nazi Party, according to newly released documents.

The mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session, which includes a discussion on St. Augustine’s “Christian Just War Theory,” is led by Air Force chaplains and takes place during a missile officer’s first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

St. Augustine’s “Qualifications for Just War,” according to the way it is cited in a 43-page PowerPoint presentation, are: “to avenge or to avert evil; to protect the innocent and restore moral social order (just cause)” and “to restore moral order; not expand power, not for pride or revenge (just intent).”

The Powerpoint uses quite a few references to the Old Testament as arguments for why Jesus’ Dad loves nukes , (I haven’t read the 500 page training manual) yet I am assured by many theological sophisticates that the New supersedes these god-sanctioned barbarisms that I read plain as day. One has to be pretty stupid to assume that scripture means what it says, I guess. Obviously, I need more sophisticated comprehension skills. But I’m thinking that maybe the sophisticates should be taking up correct interpretation with their military commanders and selected trainers rather than us militant atheists… armed as we are by the bristling weaponry of reason and words fortified by the occasional beer or glass of wine.

Just sayin’.

Wouldn’t it be swell if the religious could get their theological house in order so that our public institutions like the military could at favour just one belief set rather than one that is a little… umm… bloodthirsty? Oh, right… that anti-American US Constitution keeps getting in the way of the armed forces being properly christian – the same Constitution (that contains the First)  military officers swear to uphold and defend from enemies foreign (and domestic, mumble, mumble, ahem). Oh, the conundrum! A good thing none of these confused military souls have their fingers on the triggers, so to speak… well, except those involved with the nuclear arsenal… and those who fly all those planes, drive the armoured vehicles, steer the ships and subs, carry firearms, and so on.

And yet for some unknown reason I still don’t feel any safer for reading Augustine. Funny, that.

April 29, 2011

Why is the NCSE wrong to accommodate creationism?

Russell Blackford quite reasonably points out that When it comes to science education, public school systems in the United States and other liberal democracies generally have the secular goal of teaching students well-established findings, those that are generally accepted by working scientists.

But this isn’t reasonable enough for the NCSE (National Center for Science Education) when it comes to evolutionary biology. Unlike its treatment of all other scientific topics, when it comes to evolution in public education, they feel we must deal more delicately with the religiously inclined. They feel we should be more respectful dealing with christians even though many hold different views about how creation has actually taken place. They feel it wise to avoid dealing with the fact that most of them are wrong, can be proven wrong, and should, at least implicitly, be demonstrated to be wrong. Holding to some form of creationism – it is merely a matter of degree and not kind between Young Earth Creationsim and theistic evolution – avoids the fact that nothing in biology makes sense in light of creationism.

If the Pooh Bahs over at the NCSE wish to respect the notion in policy that parts of the bible remain divinely written or inspired, then is a matter of honesty to admit that the organization, as Coyne argues, is taking itself out of the ambit of empiricism and reason. You’re making a purely subjective decision based on revelation.

This is why the issue is important for the integrity of science education as a whole and the National Center for Science Education in particular to realize that’s why science organizations that endorse some brands of theology, while decrying others, are making a serious mistake. As Jerry Coyne points out in his open letter to the NCSE (motivated by repeated negative articles posted at The Chronicle of Higher Education , let the science of evolution speak for itself.

When this policy is altered to accommodate the kind of theology that presumably (there is little evidence of efficacy) allows for some kind of wider public acceptance for some kind of evolution, then the NCSE is choosing to support a theology that is favourable and good to its aim. Note this is not done for geology and plate tectonics, vulcanism and geography in spite of providing strong evidence against the christian doctrine of a great Flood. No special allowance is made for those who believe the tenets of astrology in the curriculum for astronomy. Alchemists don’t get special consideration and accommodation in chemistry. The subject of physics is not enhanced by pretending that it doesn’t interfere with belief in immaterial things. Yet when it comes to creationism and evolutionary biology, suddenly the wise people at the NCSE think special consideration for christian religious beliefs is necessary and thus warranted. That’s bizarre and, I think, highly counter productive for an organization concerned about educating our youth about science. As Coyne quite rightly points out, who are they (the NCSE) to decide what is “good” theology? What they mean by “good”, of course, is not “theology that gives us a more accurate sense of the divine,” (as stated in their policy) but “theology that best comports with our desire to sell evolution to the public.”

And I think Coyne’s conclusion – supported directly as it is by such people as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers and many other highly reputable scientists in evolutionary biology – is worth serious consideration because it raises an issue that I think many at the NCSE fail to understand:


First, your repeated and strong accusations that, by criticizing religion, atheists are alienating our pro-evolution allies (liberal Christians), has precisely the same alienating effect on your allies: scientists who are atheists. Second, your assertion that only you have the requisite communication skills to promote evolution is belied by the observation that you have, by your own ham-handed communications, alienated many people who are on the side of good science and evolution. You have lost your natural allies. And this is not just speculation, for those allies were us, and we’re telling you so.

February 16, 2011

What is the role of New Atheism?

I simply have to re-post a comment because it is so articulately expressed by thephilosophicalprimate that I think nails the role of New Atheism. It involves a responding to a couple of posts by Eric MacDonald over at Choice in Dying – a wonderful new blog that is rich in good writing, interesting commentary, and important topics in need of our consideration – that deal with what’s missing from the New Atheist’s contribution to the world today and responds well to the issues Eric raises:

Here is where I think our prior discussion about the values at the heart of New Atheism has more potential than has yet been explored. New Atheists don’t just agree on a set of conclusions, but on a set of common underlying epistemological values, the norms which both motivate and structurally determine the arguments which we make in support of those conclusions. When I brought this up before, I mentioned in parentheses that I don’t think epistemological values and moral values are entirely separable. What you are talking about in this post, Eric, starts to touch on the territory where I think they intersect and overlap.

So what are those shared values? To rehash a bit: Atheists, for the most part, care a great deal about attempting to discover the truth rather than assuming that we already know it (i.e. fallibilism), and we reject anyone’s insistence that some claims can be or should be off-limits to rigorously applied critical thinking. Atheists care about evidence and reasoning, and think that claims ought to be accepted as true only to the extent that they can be justified. But why do we prize fallibilism and genuine truth-seeking justification so highly, and reject the opposite — faith — so thoroughly?

One answer is pragmatic: These are the epistemic norms that work! That is, consistently following such norms gives us the sort of reliable knowledge that we can use to accomplish our aims in the world, whatever those may be. And that’s fine as far as it goes.

However, a deeper answer points towards core moral values, not just instrumental/pragmatic values. Ultimately, faith almost always consists in relying on or accepting some authority: the authority of a holy book; the authority of the writers of such books who claim to speak for a still higher, divine authority (evidence for which is nonexistent); or, most commonly, the authority of those who claim the right to interpret the meaning of holy books and the wills of gods (but again, offer no evidence to back that claim to authority). Rejecting faith not only manifests epistemic values that treasure authentic truth-seeking over comforting or self-serving delusions, it manifests moral values that treasure human freedom and self-determination over bowing to illegitimate authority*. New Atheists value both intellectual and practical liberty, both freedom of thought (within the limits of legitimate concessions to the universe itself, i.e. epistemic norms such as fallibilism and evidence-driven reasoning) and freedom of action (within the limits of legitimate concessions to the similar freedom enjoyed by others). And when I say “New Atheists value” such and such, I am suggesting both that the extant New Atheists I’ve read and engaged with do in fact demonstrate that they embrace such moral values, but also that these moral values are logically connected to the epistemological values which drive the movement: A New Atheist who rejected such values (if there were such a creature) would be inconsistent in doing so.

Moreover, the pragmatic answer and the moral answer converge, at least by implication. Valuing sound epistemic norms because of their pragmatic value — they give us reliable knowledge useful for accomplishing our ends whatever those ends might be — directly implies that accomplishing our ends is, generally speaking, a good thing. (The “generally speaking” caveat is not trivial: Individually, we each consider accomplishing our own ends to be good, but the actual ends any given person is attempting to accomplish may or not be good in some universalizable moral sense.) However, the disconnection of pragmatic value from any particular end also implies, albeit indirectly, a live-and-let-live attitude towards choosing ones ends. In other words, valuing epistemic norms which let us accomplish our ends (whatever those ends might be) is integrally interrelated with valuing human freedom, for if the word “freedom” has any meaning at all, surely that meaning includes determining and pursuing one’s own ends.

So if you want to understand what moral values underlie New Atheism, I think you need look no further than John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. (Which, coincidentally, was published in 1859, the same year as another book of some considerable importance to New Atheist thought…)

That said, I’m not sure how far Mill’s very individualistic liberal political philosophy responds to the exact concerns you point towards here, which are all tied up with communal identity and activity. Then again, there is nothing in even the most individualistic liberalism which in any way undermines the value of communities and communal identities; it only demands that participation in such communities must always be wholly voluntary for all involved — which is exactly what New Atheists are fighting for. To elaborate a bit, for membership in any community or collective identity to be genuinely and wholly voluntary, no community or shared identity or set of beliefs (or institution formed by the like-minded) can occupy a place of special privilege or power above and beyond the basic freedom of its individual members. Guaranteeing voluntary participation in turn requires that the beliefs and commitments underlying any and every such community must be adopted or rejected by potential community members in a context where there is absolute freedom of thought and discussion, where no ideas or beliefs receive any special protection or privileged status that places them beyond question or criticism. Without freedom of thought and discussion, privileged positions or institutions (i.e. walling off religion from criticism) have an intellectually coercive power over citizens that undermines the very possibility of genuinely and wholly voluntary participation OR rejection of the position.

In other words, the fight New Atheists are already fighting springs from the same set of interrelated epistemic and moral values that I’ve been discussing here. The persistent and insistent claims that “something is missing” from the New Atheist world view is true; what is missing is the siren call of easy assent to illegitimate authority — the human instinct to blend in and concede our autonomy to parent-mimicking authorities who, unlike actual (good) parents, do not have our genuine best interests at heart. What is missing are some of the worse aspects of our human nature, not the better ones. Humanity is well and truly better off being rid of what is “missing” from the New Atheist value system, and I have yet to see any argument or evidence that the genuinely worthwhile value of community and collective identity are in any way excluded or undermined by our value system. Instead, serious commitment to human intellectual and practical freedom offers us the means to strip away the coercive and exclusive** components that make community and collective identity such a mixed blessing.

—–
* What constitutes legitimate authority? I think the most basic answer — the conception of legitimate authority settled on by everyone who thinks seriously about it, and the one that appears to have risen to the top on the tide of history — is some form of democratic authority. Authority is legitimated by the consent of those governed by the authority, and authority in the absence of consent is illegitimate by its very nature. Genuine consent, of course, cannot be produced by force or deception — and faith is the ultimate form of deception, since the deceived are persuaded to actively deceive themselves for the most part. (Although religious authorities engage in lots and lots of plain old deception as well as encouraging self-deception; you don’t think those statues *really* weep by themselves, do you?) Therefore, the authority of religion is always and forever illegitimate authority. It is no coincidence that religious traditions which place the least emphasis on faith — Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism and other broadly ecumenical traditions — are also the least authoritarian, and vice versa. And notice that this discussion of illegitimate authority and the coercive nature of privileged positions connects very closely to the discussion of the role of freedom of thought and discussion above.

** By “exclusive components,” I mean all the potential for communities and communal identities to manifest ugly in-group/out-group, us/them dynamics that undermine basic respect for the rights and basic worth of those outside the group — the foundation of genocides, religious wars, and simple bigotry. How does attention to human freedom strip out the exclusive elements of community? Because it is rooted in the fundamental recognition of all other humans as beings with the right to think for themselves, to decide what they think is worthwhile and to pursue what is worthwhile with the greatest freedom consistent with a similar freedom for all. Such a live-and-let live, individualistic morality undermines bigotry in all its forms, whereas more authoritarian values actively encourage it.

January 5, 2011

Chris Mooney is at it again: isn’t ‘spirituality’ really another word for ‘religion’?

The piece (Chris Mooney’s article in Playboy) is about scientists who aren’t religious, but are spiritual, in an atheistic sort of way. An excerpt:

But can scientists who say they are awestruck by nature and moved by their research really relate to more traditional religious experiences, a la those reported by saints? Aren’t “awe” and “wonder” nondescript notions that add emotional embroidery to the brute facts of the universe? Perhaps not. Feelings of awe, wonder and mystery recur in the context of human quests for deeper understanding or revelation. In his 1917 work The Idea of the Holy, German theologian Rudolph Otto singled out a sense of awe as a key characteristic of our encounters with what he termed the “numinous”–an overwhelming power or presence beyond ourselves.

Science can unleash this feeling too. Just sit in a darkened room and look at nebulae pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, as University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank describes doing in his book The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate. “Scientists are not the only ones who catch their collective breath before these pictures,” he writes. “The momentary hush and the gasp that follow are involuntary.”

Mooney is one of those authors (who is funded in part by being a Fellow the Templeton Foundation) to vainly search for ways to force science and religion to be compatible ways of knowing. He claims to be all about communication by bashing gnu atheists, making up stories about them, posting these lies on his blog at Discover, banning people who dare criticize him, and pretending that it is the atheists who inhibit this ‘natural’ fit. For years he complained about framing, that a failure to frame religion and its active interference in gaining and applying knowledge while promoting superstition and ignorance in their place was detrimental to promoting science. I hold Mooney and his ego in contempt.

Now he’s switched gears a bit and is on what I call the Spirituality Bandwagon: that religion is really a substitute word for what it should be… spirituality. Because what we call spirituality can be shared by both atheist and believer, Mooney wants to re-FRAME the natural incompatibility between faith-based beliefs and knowledge as one of a common spirituality expressed in these different but compatible ways. But are they?

From Jerry Coyne about what science and religion really offer each other:

1. Religion gains but one thing from science: an increasing knowledge about the universe that makes mockery of religious doctrine, forcing the faithful to revise their dogma while claiming that it was consistent with science all along.

2. Science has nothing to gain from religion, which is simply an annoyance that distracts us from our job.

This is an excellent post by Ken on the state of NOMA today with a bang-on cartoon by jesusandmo over at Open Parachute.

Meanwhile, back at Whyevolutionistrue, Coyne comments about Mooney’s article and gets to the heart of the matter:

What a smarmy and intellectually dishonest piece of accommodationist tripe, relying as it does on conflating two completely disparate notions of “spirituality”!  Can we agree, then, that when we get all emotional about a piece of music or a novel or a nebula, or experience wonder at the products of natural selection—that we give these emotions a name different from “sprituality”?  That just confuses the diverse meanings of the term (which was Mooney’s intent) and gives ammunition to acoommodationists.

PZ Myers joins in and is also bang on with his criticism of Mooney and his ilk:

Well, spirituality is all about the believers. It’s a slimy game relying on the fact that apologists love to dodge criticisms of religion, the body of concrete, specific, institutionalized beliefs about the supernatural, by retreating to the tactical vagueness of “faith” or “spirituality”, whatever the hell they are.

You can’t expect us to simply respect foolish ideas. We tolerate them, but people like Mooney go further and demand that we respect nonsense, and that’s not going to happen, and shouldn’t happen.

And trying to coopt an honest scientific appreciation of the wonders of the universe as support for religion is a dishonest attempt to prop up bogus superstitions with an appeal to emotions — any emotions. If a scientist isn’t a passionless robot, Mooney wants to be able to pretend they’re on the side of religious dogma. That rankles. Love of science is not equatable to clinging to ignorance, although Chris Mooney is straining to make it so.

Next Page »

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers