Questionable Motives

October 9, 2010

Religion in the public domain: Confrontation or accommodation?

Filed under: New Atheists,PZ Myers,Secularism,theology — tildeb @ 12:44 pm

Which side of the fence are you on? For those who know about P.Z. Myers’s reputation as a fiercely strident Gnu Atheist, the answer is pretty evident. But why does he take such a position? Are his reasons good ones? And why that take-no-prisoners approach for which he is famous?

He was on a panel this week and addressed these questions under the heading of Confrontation or Accommodation. I think his words from his presentation are well worth our consideration, so I have re-posted them here in their entirety:

I’m going to begin with where I entered this conflict — and make no mistake, it’s a real battle — with my experience in science education, and specifically with the teaching of evolution. Biology has been a lifelong passion for me, and when I first began teaching way back in the 1980s, it was a shock to discover students who had nothing but contempt for the great unifying principle of my discipline, who were happily wallowing in self-inflicted ignorance and who outright denied plain and simple facts about science. And when I discovered that there were ministers who came onto our campus and lied to our students, presented half-truths and weird fantasies to substitute for evidence, i was outraged. We Gnu Atheists have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake: we didn’t start this war. If you want to place blame, put it on the backs of religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the young for a long, long time.

This is another theme in this conflict: Gnu Atheists are so dang angry. Damned right we are. The real question is why everyone else isn’t. If you aren’t angry about what’s being done to undermine education in this country, you haven’t been following along.

But we also respond rationally. My early incredulity about the nonsense being promoted by creationists was followed by a lot of fact-finding. You can do it too — look up the history of creationism, and you find that we’ve been fighting this same battle for at least half a century, and dealing with the same inane arguments over and over again. Where once Duane Gish was the creationist dinosaur roaming the earth, he was replaced by Kent Hovind, and he is now superseded by Ken Ham and Ray Comfort and Eric Hovind. Nothing has changed but the names. We have had a succession of court cases: Epperson v Arkansas in 68, McLean v Arkansas in 82, Edwards v. Aguillard in 87, Kitzmiller v Dover in 2005 — are they coming to an end? Did any of these trials diminish the influence of creationists? One flareup will be squelched, and next year there will be another. Similarly, we see a succession of politicians come and go, and nothing changes. Ronald Reagan becomes Santorum becomes Bush becomes another dreary chain of Republican know-nothings at every election cycle. It’s 2010, and guess what: Christine O’Donnell is running for the senate, and I’ve still got a local fundamentalist pastor coming on to my campus every week to instruct my students in the video fables of Brother Kent Hovind.

We have been treading water for 50 years. In one sense, that’s a very good thing: better to stay afloat in one place than to sink, and I am deeply appreciative of organizations like the NCSE that have kept us bobbing at the surface all this time, and please don’t ever stop. But isn’t it also about time we learned a new stroke and actually made some progress towards the shore? Shouldn’t we move beyond just reacting to every assault by Idiot America on science education, and honestly look at the root causes of this chronic malignancy and do something about it?

The sea our country is drowning in is a raging religiosity, wave after wave of ignorant arguments and ideological absurdities pushed by tired dogma and fervent and frustrated fanatics. We keep hearing that the answer is to find the still waters of a more moderate faith, but I’m sorry, I don’t feel like drowning there either.

There is an answer, and it’s on display right here in this room. The solution, the only longterm solution, is the sanity of secularism. The lesser struggles to keep silly stickers off our textbooks or to keep pseudoscientific BS like intelligent design out of our classrooms are important, but they are endless chores — at some point we just have to stop pandering to the ideological noise that spawns these unending tasks and cut right to the source: religion.

That’s where the Gnu Atheists get their confrontational reputation. We’re fed up with fighting off the symptoms. We need to address the disease. And if you’re one of those people trying to defend superstition and quivering in fear at the idea of taking on a majority that believes in foolishness, urging us to continue slapping bandages on the blight of faith, well then, you’re part of the problem and we’ll probably do something utterly dreadful, like be rude to you or write some cutting sarcastic essay to mock your position. That is our métier, after all.

There is another motive for our confrontational ways, and it has to do with values. We talk a lot about values in this country, so I kind of hate to use the word — it’s been tainted by the religious right, which howls about “Christian values” every time the subject of civil rights for gays or equal rights for women or universal health care or improving the plight of the poor come up — True Christian values are agin’ those things, after all. But the Gnu Atheists have values, too, and premiere among them is truth. And that makes us uncivil and rude, because we challenge the truth of religion.

Religion provides solace to millions, we are told, it makes them happy, and it’s mostly harmless.

“But is it true?”, we ask, as if it matters.

The religious are the majority, we hear over and over again, and we need to be pragmatic and diplomatic in dealing with them.

“But is what they believe true?”, we ask, and “What do we gain by compromising on reality?”

Religion isn’t the problem, they claim, it’s only the extremists and zealots and weirdos. The majority of believers are moderates and even share some values with us.

“But is a moderate superstition true?”, we repeat, and “How can a myth be made more true if its proponents are simply calmer in stating it?”

I mean, it’s nice and all that most Christians aren’t out chanting “God Hates Fags” and are a little embarrassed when some yokel whines that he didn’t come from no monkey, but they still go out and quietly vote against gay and lesbian rights, and they still sit at home while their school boards set fire to good science.

It’s all about the truth, people. And all the evidence is crystal clear right now: the earth is far older than 6,000 years. Evolution is a real, and it is a process built on raw chance driven by the brutal engines of selection, and there is no sign of a loving, personal god, but only billions of years of pitiless winnowing without any direction other than short-term survival and reproduction. It’s not pretty, it’s not consoling, it doesn’t sanctify virginity, or tell you that god really loves your foreskin, but it’s got one soaring virtue that trumps all the others: it’s true.

You won’t understand what the Gnu Atheists are up to until you understand that core value. I have been told that my position won’t win the creationist court cases; do you think I care? I did not become a scientist because I want to impress lawyers. I have been told that I must think promoting atheism is more important than promoting good science education; tell me how closing my eyes to claims of an imaginary deity using quantum indeterminacy to shape human evolution helps students better understand reality. I’ve been told to hush, there are good Christians who support science, and a vocal atheism will scare them away…and I have to ask, you question my support for science education, when you pander to people who you admit will put their superstitions above science if someone says a harsh word about Jesus?

I have to follow the advice of Tom Paine:

A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.

And I will insist that a principle worth holding is worth fighting for. We must confront untruths; letting them lie unquestioned is simply a way to allow them to fester and grow.

I have to quote something I recently read by Ed Yong, the science journalist who blogs at Not Exactly Rocket Science. He has an excellent post up asking, “Should Science Journalists Take Sides?“, and while it’s specifically addressed to journalists, it applies equally well to scientists, or humanists, or just plain citizens. To summarize it all, the answer is yes: journalists should take sides, and I’m going to generalize it and suggest that we should all take sides. Here’s what Ed wrote:

A veteran science journalist recently wrote: “Reporters are messengers – their job is to tell, as accurately as they can, what has been said, with the benefit of such insight as their experience allows them to bring, not to second guess whether what is said is right”. That’s rubbish. If you are not actually providing any analysis, if you’re not effectively “taking a side”, then you are just a messenger, a middleman, a megaphone with ears. If that’s your idea of journalism, then my RSS reader is a journalist.

Too many of the godless believe in something even more: to avoid rocking the boat, to refrain from challenging dogma, to deftly avoid the issue when someone raises some religious folly. If you think you’re helping the cause with your cautious silence, then a brick wall is a public intellectual.Then Ed has this bit, which could have been written by a Gnu Atheist:

As I said earlier, this is about taking sides with truth. It’s about being knowledgeable enough to make a decent stab at uncovering the truth and presenting the outcomes of that quest to one’s readers, even if that outcome lies firmly on one side of a “debate”.

It’s about doing the actual job of a journalist, by analysing, critiquing, placing into context and so on, as opposed to merely reporting. It’s about acknowledging one’s own biases and making them plain to see for a reader.

In the end, this is about transparency and truth, concepts that are far more important than neutrality or objectivity. After all, the word for people who are neutral about truth is ‘liars’. It shouldn’t be ‘journalists’.

I have to repeat that. The word for people who are neutral about truth is “liars”. It shouldn’t be “scientists”. It shouldn’t be “humanists”.

Earlier today we heard Paul Kurtz speak, and while I have great respect for his contributions to this secular movement, he did mischaracterize atheists, and I have to call him on it. One of the most common canards applied to us, and especially to the Gnu Atheists, is that we’re negative, that we lack a positive center that we stand for. This is completely false. When you look at the body of work that the prominent leaders of this movement have put together, when you look at the books of people like Dawkins and Harris and Dennett and Coyne and Stenger, you do not find them nattering on for hundreds of pages about how much they hate religion. Quite the contrary. What you find are authors who write about reason and evidence and science, where front and center you find an appreciation for a universe rich with natural phenomena that, with a little honest effort, we can reach out and comprehend. We atheists live a purpose-driven life, to steal a phrase, and that life is dedicated to deepening our understanding and learning about this world. Call us merely negative, or merely angry, or merely anti-religious, and you haven’t been paying attention. You haven’t been reading our books or articles for comprehension.

What may have confused some people, though, is that we also believe you can’t love the truth without detesting lies. That an honest way of dealing with those lies is to confront them openly, head on, and unapologetically, and while some might rationalize accommodating unjustifiable distortions of the truth as a strategic option, there are a number of us who consider that principle to be one on which we will not compromise.

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25 Comments »

  1. Hi again, tildeb.

    You know, this entry reminds me of an experience I had in my sixth grade science class. One of my fellow students was learning disabled. No, I think it was a tad more serious than that. She probably qualified as slightly mentally retarded.

    And we were learning about evolution that day — Darwin’s version of it — as well as the Big Bang. The teacher had just explained how the primordial puddle of goop had eventually, and randomly, formed from that massive explosion when the girl asked her question.

    And I remember her like it was yesterday — a plain face with a simple expression framed by thick, straight dirty-blonde hair and her somewhat big-boned arm raised in the air.

    “And where did the stuff for the Big Bang come from?”

    I’ll never forget the teacher’s face. What I did forget was her response, however, although I do remember feeling rather unsatisfied by it. However, it was cruel and caused the other students to laugh at my classmate’s expense.

    I realized that day that some adults, even the ones who teach children, aren’t that much smarter than even the most simplest of children.

    Comment by Natassia — October 9, 2010 @ 11:40 pm | Reply

    • […]we were learning about evolution that day — Darwin’s version of it — as well as the Big Bang […]

      This is either a lie or an example of a teacher who hasn’t a clue about what he/she is trying to teach. It also shows that your understanding of evolution is sadly lacking when you call it Darwin’s version. Do you even know what that means? Do you really think biologists – especially eminent ones – are all this stupid or that you are that much smarter? Where do you get this arrogance when you so easily condemn that which you don’t even make the effort to understand, but blithely use its life-saving results (ever treated an infection with antibiotics?) without grasping (or at least feeling even a little bit guilty) just how much of a hypocrite you are being?

      Comment by tildeb — October 10, 2010 @ 9:38 am | Reply

      • *sigh*

        She was teaching how species have evolved through the natural selection of random mutations, and that many species share a common ancestor. You remember those tree-looking diagrams, right? I remember those. I also remember learning how random mutations and very lucky circumstances spontaneously generated life in a puddle of goop billions of years ago. I don’t think she got into Mendelian genetics, although I did learn about that later in my 8th grade biology class.

        If I had honestly believed that randomness could produce all that, I would have become a professional gambler.

        Comment by Natassia — October 10, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

      • *sigh*

        It is as I thought, then: the teacher had no clue what she was teaching and your understanding is sadly lacking.

        Natural selection is not random mutations writ large. But is this fact of any consideration in your opinion? I doubt it.

        *sigh*

        Comment by tildeb — October 10, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

      • tildeb,

        Natural selection is not random, I get that. I understand how it works. I believe that natural selection is one of the main ways species change and adapt to their surroundings.

        But the mutations themselves are “random,” are they not? I mean, that’s how we got from no life to a single cell to a multi-celled creature to a simple organism to a complex organism…right?

        The definition for random is:

        lacking any definite plan or order or purpose; governed by or depending on chance; having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective

        Not that natural selection has a purpose, but for some reason I think “random” is not a good descriptive for it.

        You can’t tell me that evolution has some sort of plan or order or purpose.

        I mean, for some reason we observe through the fossil record that complexity follows simplicity. But, that certainly isn’t planned or purposeful. Even that came about at random, right? I mean, what makes life continue to strive toward complexity?

        Although I would argue that many creatures that lived millions and millions of years ago were just as complex as the creatures living today.

        Tell me, what is not random about the method by which creatures evolve?

        Comment by Natassia — October 10, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

  2. Natassia,

    Big bang theory (universe creation theory) has nothing to do with the theory of evolution.

    The honest answer to what happened before the big bang is “we do not know” – this is the gap that religious people fill with the LIE “god did it”.

    There really isn’t any need to frame your ignorance of science with your prejudice towards disabled people either – it is totally irrelevant, and utterly repulsive to do so.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 10, 2010 @ 8:51 am | Reply

    • It all ties in together because it is all based on the foundation of a Godless creation. Since life must have evolved randomly, the universe must have formed randomly as well.

      So, let’s figure out how that might have happened.

      It’s all part ‘n parcel of the same conclusion: you are the purposeless product of a random and meaningless series of events.

      Also, I never thought of that girl as “disabled.” Isn’t it funny that adults always a way to label and lump people together just because they aren’t like the “normal people”? I never thought of her as handicapped either.

      In my mind she was just slow but still “normal.” 🙂

      Sometimes adults can be the greatest fools.

      Comment by Natassia — October 10, 2010 @ 9:15 am | Reply

      • So, let’s figure out how that might have happened.

        Liar.

        You have absolutely no wish to figure out anything that does not first line up with your theology.

        Be honest, Natassia: you think you already HAVE the answer, and the answer you have is “My god did it” and that’s good enough for you. You have no means or method to verify this claim so you simply believe it to be so. You believe your answer to be correct. You are unwilling to even learn anything that threatens to alter this ‘answer’.

        So where does this leave us in finding out how things might have happened?

        It leaves us on opposite sides of the theocracy fence where there is no reason or causal chain you can be shown that you think will disprove what you have chosen to believe so there can never be any reason to change your mind. And that speaks volumes about your mind: it is closed. You think this is a virtue in favour of your religious beliefs – and it may be from the religious perspective – but it is the antithesis of honest inquiry.

        Comment by tildeb — October 10, 2010 @ 9:53 am

      • You misunderstood me. I didn’t make it very clear.

        It’s more like atheists assert that “since there is no evidence of God (according to what we consider adequate evidence to be), then that means there is no God. And since there is no God, then that means life must have evolved randomly, and the universe must have formed randomly. And since that’s how it is, we just have to figure out the mechanics of it.”

        I think God planned this universe. But I do not think God is necessarily the direct force behind why one child is born with a congenital deformity and another is not. I think He caused the Big Bang. So far I have heard no better explanation for it. I think He designed the truths we know as the “laws of physics” and “mathematics.” So far I have heard no better explanation for those either. I think God loves order and patterns and numbers, as well as creativity and beauty and diversity. I just don’t think species have originated through the natural selection of random genetic mutations. I would find it more believable that the force of life can be compelled by environments to mutate DNA in “positive” ways. And perhaps life itself has a creativity of its own, just like humans are creative.

        That makes more sense than Darwin’s theory and the idea that it’s all random and purposeless.

        Comment by Natassia — October 10, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

  3. “It all ties in together because it is all based on the foundation of a Godless creation.”

    Nattassia, you have this all back to front, again! There is no ‘foundation for a Godless creation’.

    Science is not a religion, or a belief, it is the collection of facts, and supporting facts. i.e. the conclusion is formed after the evidence is collected and evaluated not before.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 10, 2010 @ 11:29 am | Reply

    • Nicely written, MUR.

      Comment by tildeb — October 10, 2010 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

    • If only that were true.

      I agree that science is not a religion.

      Unfortunately I don’t think everyone agrees…especially when they try to use science to dictate morality against the will of the people. Ever heard the term “scientism“? 🙂

      Click on the last link. It’s an article titled “The danger of ‘scientism:’ When science becomes an ideology” by Douglas Todd for The Vancouver Sun (April 4, 2009). I think he summed up my beliefs rather well:

      While I am not at all persuaded by Creationists who believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, I also have trouble with those who claim science can only support the atheistic proposal that evolution is a result of pure chance.

      Such people maintain orthodox science cannot contemplate the possibility that the evolutionary process may include elements of purpose. This is an example of scientism. . . .

      When more evolutionary scientists open up to the insights of philosophers and those from other disciplines, I believe their beloved theory will itself evolve. It will become more complex and more elegant.

      Comment by Natassia — October 10, 2010 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

      • The problem here is that no one follows such a thing as ‘scientism’… certainly no scientists I know. This is a straw man argument, plain and simple.

        Comment by tildeb — October 14, 2010 @ 9:54 am

      • Such people maintain orthodox science cannot contemplate the possibility that the evolutionary process may include elements of purpose.

        You know why? Because there is no evidence that a designer was involved.

        Comment by The Arbourist — October 17, 2010 @ 1:06 am

    • Science is a way of collecting facts…sure.

      And yet people seem to think that it is the only way humans can really know anything.

      Science assert a “positive” when they say that mutations are “random.”

      There is no evidence that the mutation was random.

      But they assert it anyway.

      So, how do they prove that it was random?

      That’s what I’m getting at.

      Where’s the proof that a mutation was random?

      Comment by Natassia — October 17, 2010 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

      • Why don’t you check out what is meant by random mutation. Perhaps then you’ll have a better understanding of what constitutes proof.

        Comment by tildeb — October 17, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  4. “I just don’t think species have originated through the natural selection of random genetic mutations.”

    You mean like the hundreds of different species of dogs? Which were ‘artificially’ selected by man? [the biological process for natural selection is identical to artificial selection – the only thing that is different is the selection bit]. Many of the plants you eat are artificially selected to be made more palatable from bananas to mangos, tomatoes to potatoes; in denying evolution you are lying to yourself every time you take a mouthful.

    “I would find it more believable that the force of life can be compelled by environments to mutate DNA in “positive” ways.”

    Like small pox, aids and malaria, or just puppies and flowers only? Which is it Natassia? The reality as it really is, or the reality as it has been filtered by your over active imagination, fuelled by social dogma and superstitious mumbo jumbo? Plants have flowers for a reason, they are not there to look pretty to humans, they are there to help the plant reproduce and spread its genes.

    “I think He caused the Big Bang. So far I have heard no better explanation for it.”
    Really, I think Stephen Hawkins would disagree – or maybe you think you are smarter than he is – if so, publish your theory and have peer reviewed by the scientific community. Don’t even pretend that you understand physics at this level unless you are prepared to put your theory to the test of a thousand minds.
    “But I do not think God is necessarily the direct force behind why one child is born with a congenital deformity and another is not.”

    So you think the bible is a crock of shit as well then?

    The trouble is Natassia, I don’t believe you – I think you are a liar when you say that you what to ‘figure it out’ – I think you already think you have the answer, and that answer is not something you can prove but you know it anyway to be true, and expect everyone else to know it to be true as well. I think you are also a liar when you say that you believe that there is a creator and that the bible is the best intention to describe that creator – you lie because you cherry pick, and filter what you want to be true from what is actually true.

    If you are really interested in science, and knowing what is true then you will recognise that your ignorance about science is massive – even compared to me, and I am a layman by comparison to Dawkins, Darwin and Stephen Hawkins; and as such you will take the time to read with an open mind (as I have done) their works. You can start by reading Dawkins book titled “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” – in fact you don’t even have to read it, you can listen to it in an audio book format.

    Educate yourself Natassia, because the real world is far more interesting than superstitious mumbo jumbo.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 11, 2010 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

    • Nat:“I just don’t think species have originated through the natural selection of random genetic mutations.”

      Wow, this is the second time I’ve seen Natassia bring her science-fail to the table. We had a very similar debate, over at the Drudge Retort. With a similar ending. Although I must say, MUT and Tildeb have also done a fine job of refuting some of the misconceptions presented so far in this thread. Good show guys. 🙂

      Comment by The Arbourist — October 11, 2010 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

      • Thanks for the link to Drudge Retort.

        I forgot about it.

        Comment by Natassia — October 17, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

    • There are hundreds of “breeds” of dogs. Not species. There is only one species of dog (the domestic canine).

      Google “epigenetics.” It appears that genes have “switches” that can be turned on and off based on environmental pressures or things people do to their bodies. These changes can be passed on to future generations even going so far as to affect life expectancy.

      I think the Bible is what it is. It is not a science book. It is a book that serves as the cornerstone for determining a standard of “right behavior.”

      St. Augustine once wrote:

      In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.

      Stephen Hawking’s theory is illogical — you can be an atheist and see that.

      I am not denying that evolution happens. I deny Dawkins’ et al. assertion that it is purposeless, meaningless, and the product of random acts.

      Comment by Natassia — October 17, 2010 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

      • No. Hawking suggest spontaneous creation and we have many avenues of investigation into that mechanism. But Hawking isn’t the only one. Lawrence Kruass has a neat little video on this here, which I’ve posted before. You’ll notice that your link offers us a counter argument and claims Hawking’s must be illogical without bother to even find out what it is first. That’s such a pointed example of just how the religious meme subverts the mind: if anything runs contrary to doctrine, it MUST be wrong, so let’s scurry about and see what we can find to support only THAT side and ignore everything else.

        Comment by tildeb — October 17, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  5. “The danger of ‘scientist:’ When science becomes an ideology”

    The title says it all really, because if science became an ideology it would no longer be science. This argument is used all the time to misrepresent what science is – for those who are in doubt:

    Science is a method of enquiry – nothing more, nothing less – it is not an ideology, religion or a political point of view, although it is used and abused (especially in the case of religion) by all of these ‘group-based’ belief systems.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 16, 2010 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

    • Science is not a religion, I agree.

      But that doesn’t stop people from turning it into an ideology.

      The philosopher Thomas Nagel once wrote (The View from Nowhere,1986):

      Philosophy is also infested by a broader tendency of contemporary intellectual life: scientism. Scientism is actually a special form of idealism, for it puts one type of human understanding in charge of the universe and what can be said about it. At its most myopic it assumes that everything there is must be understandable by the employment of scientific theories like those we have developed to date — physics and evolutionary biology are the current paradigms — as if the present age were not just another in the series.

      Precisely because of their dominance, these attitudes are ripe for attack. Of course, some of the opposition is foolish: antiscientism can degenerate into a rejection of science–whereas in reality it is essential to the defense of science against misappropriation. But these excesses shouldn’t deter us from an overdue downward revision of the prevailing intellectual self-esteem. Too much time is wasted because of the assumption that methods already in existence will solve problems for which they were not designed; too many hypotheses and systems of thought in philosophy and elsewhere are based on the bizarre view that we, at this point in history, are in possession of the basic forms of understanding needed to comprehend absolutely anything

      So, I just ask that you take some time to self-reflect on how you think you know everything you think you know.

      Comment by Natassia — October 17, 2010 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

      • I have thought long and hard about how we know what we say we know. My epistemology, upon deep reflection, is methodological naturalism.

        What’s yours?

        Comment by tildeb — October 17, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  6. Natassia, I am impressed (and pleased) that you actually checked what I had written and corrected me above; indeed, dogs do belong to one species. But if you read the same entry as I did, you will notice that there are different species of ‘dog like’ animals (Canidae), some of which are related by a close common ancestor, and some of which are not. The domestic dog shares its linage with the wolf which does not always share is linage with other ‘dog-like’ animals until much earlier in the biological tree. I am equally glad that you do not deny evolution as well – I wish there were more religious people like you.

    [Natassia, I love this quote you have found, because it is so true – I have added some bits in brackets]:
    “Philosophy is also infested by a broader tendency of contemporary intellectual life: scientism. Scientism is actually a special form of idealism {not science then}, for it puts one type of human understanding in charge of the universe and what can be said about it {like religion does}. At its most myopic it assumes that everything there is must be understandable by the employment of scientific theories like those we have developed to date {like creationalism} — physics and evolutionary biology are the current paradigms {examples of the scientific theories that are abused} — as if the present age were not just another in the series.”

    Thus: science is not the problem; the way it is used by some people to support their personal beliefs is the problem, because they mix fact with fiction, sometimes to the point of not being ethical:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District#Background

    “So, I just ask that you take some time to self-reflect on how you think you know everything you think you know.”

    What I ‘believe’ I know to be true is irrelevant; what is important is whether or not I can prove what I ‘think’ is true.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 17, 2010 @ 5:39 pm | Reply


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