Tom Firey talks about "feariness", which he defines as: "The quality of being feared, even though logic and/or evidence indicates there is little to fear." As I've informed him, the proper term is in fact threatiness, which was coined by yours truly back in March. I've told the resident lawyer at Telic Thoughts about this, and he promised to look it over as soon as that darned ambulance stops.
Archive for September, 2006
More from Dawkins and his attempt to use science to determine if God exists:
Chamberlainites are apt to quote the late Stephen Jay Gould's "˜NOMA' "“ "˜non-overlapping magisteria'. Gould claimed that science and true religion never come into conflict because they exist in completely separate dimensions of discourse:
To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth millionth time (from college bull sessions to learned treatises): science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can't comment on it as scientists.
This sounds terrific, right up until you give it a moment's thought. You then realize that the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science.
For some time, it has been my opinion that Dawkins' famous talk and poetic writing about the "grandeur of science" is mostly disguised anti-religious propaganda (just doing my own bit of "consciousness raising," mind you). I have noted, for example, that Dawkins' continual obsession with attacking religion and American presidents does not fit well with the idea of man who is so enthralled and mesmerized by Nature. I make these arguments here and here. Whatever. But now Dawkins has strongly supported my opinion:
I wanted to write The God Delusion six years ago. American friends counselled against, and my New York literary agent was horrified. Perhaps in Britain you could sell a book that criticized religion, he said. But in the US, don't even think about it. He hated to admit it, for he was an atheist like most American intellectuals, but religion was off limits to ridicule. You had to respect religion even if you didn't subscribe to it. Wendy Kaminer was exaggerating only slightly when she remarked that making fun of religion is as risky as burning a flag in an American Legion Hall. Concentrate on science, my American friends advised. Hands off religion. Let the grandeur of science speak for itself, and religion will die a natural death by ignominious comparison. I gave way and wrote The Ancestor's Tale instead.
So as you can see, Dawkins wanted to write The God Delusion and had to settle for the The Ancestor's Tale as a second choice. What's more, it sure looks like the The Ancestor's Tale was intended as something that would attack religion obliquely, where Dawkins would do his best to play up the "grandeur of science" in the naÃ¯ve hope that "religion will die a natural death by ignominious comparison." It sure looks to me as if he views evolution and science not as an end that inspires him, but as a means to an end – the death of religion. This is a consistent theme that will help us understand his arguments and shallow perspective of evolution.
As I mentioned before, I got lucky Friday night "“ a significant window of time opened up and Dawkins had recently finished a summary of his book entitled, Richard Dawkins explains his latest book. So I sat down, cracked open a cold drink, and began to play. A couple of hours later and my response/analysis turned out to be much too long for a blog. So I broke up the reply into several smaller bits and initiated the Dawkins Fest.
Unfortunately, a few hours after my first installment was posted, where I point out how Dawkins' views of science undercut the Dover decision, the lengthy Dawkins essay disappeared from its hosting site. How can I have a Dawkins Fest when I am now in the position of responding to an essay that has vanished? Luckily, you can read the cached version of the essay here.
It's official. Richard Dawkins, the celebrity scientist from Oxford University, has acknowledged there are indeed two types of ID critics – the Chamberlainites and the Churchillians:
Scientists divide into two schools of thought over the best tactics with which to face the threat. The Neville Chamberlain "˜appeasement' school, as I have called it in my book, focuses on the battle for evolution. Consequently, its members identify fundamentalism as the enemy, and they bend over backwards to appease "˜moderate' or "˜sensible' religion (not a difficult task, for bishops and theologians despise fundamentalists as much as scientists do). Scientists of the Winston Churchill school, by contrast, see the fight for evolution as only one battle in a larger war: a looming war between supernaturalism on the one side and rationality on the other. For them, bishops and theologians belong with creationists in the supernatural camp, and are not to be appeased.
Cut-and-paste this, people.
Baylor University has repealed their previous decision and has given tenure to Francis Beckwith. Beckwith is a pro-life and ID-friendly philosopher, and the original decision to deny him tenure was by many seen as motivated by politics, not consideration for Beckwith's qualities as a scholar. Congratulations to Frank are in order.
(HT: Uncommon Descent)
Do you remember the Gregory S. Paul study? Sure you do. It was that study that purported to show that there is a correlation between the religious belief and the dysfunction of a society, but it was shown to be riddled with errors by statistican Scott Gilbreath as well as by my fellow Telician Mike Gene. Now, none of this has prevented the "study" from being featured in Skeptic Magazine, where Matthew Provonshan uncritically repeats Gregory Paul's flawed claims. This has caused Scott Gilbreath to write another post about the article, finding even more howlers than he did at first.
The claim that Paul utilised "a database of 800 million people" is laughable. The sample size of Paul's study was precisely eighteen: one data point from each country for each data series. To claim this represents the combined population of all the countries is like the market research firm Ipsos Canada conducting a survey of 1200 Canadians and then claiming they accessed a database of over 32.5 million people.
(HT: Tom Gilson)
As Mike pointed out, almost a year ago, this paper suffers from so many flaws that, had it been an intelligent design paper, critics would have been screaming bloody murder over it, hunting down the responsible editor, like they did with Richard Sternberg. Yet on this paper, the self-proclaimed Defenders of Science have remained silent. I wonder why.
It looks like animal rights ideology is further infiltrating the scientific community:
A cancer research scientist was jailed today for waging a sabotage campaign against companies linked to animal testing after becoming disillusioned about the use of animal experimentation in his chosen field.
Well, the stars have aligned and I finally had a few hours of free time just as Richard Dawkins offered up a heaping plate of junk food to gorge myself on. Dawkins summarizes the basic message of his anti-religion book and it looks awfully tasty, tempting me to participate in a Dawkins Fest.
I gave in. However, since Dawkins essay was so long (eight pages), my reply turned out to be too long. So instead, I've split my reply into chunks and will post them throughout the following days.
I have already illustrated how Dawkins is helping the ID Movement and its efforts to get ID taught in the public schools.
Stay tuned for "Dawkins and Morality," "Dawkins and the OOL," "So how do we blame the creationists for this one?," "The Chamberlainites and the Churchillians," "Dawkins Tries to Find God," "Exaggerate the Awe," and "The Dawkins Delusion."
An important finding in Judge Jones decision against Intelligent Design was that it "violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation."
Richard Dawkins, the Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, has seriously undercut this position. Dawkins writes:
You then realize that the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science.
Whoa! Read those words again. The presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. It is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science. And all this time we have been told that ID is not science because it permits a divine cause.
Dawkins further props up this position:
Accepting, then, that the God Hypothesis is a proper scientific hypothesis whose truth or falsehood is hidden from us only by lack of evidence, what should be our best estimate of the probability that God exists, given the evidence now available?
Let's make this clear so no one misses it. The Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University is arguing that the God Hypothesis is a proper scientific hypothesis. Yet the notion that Life may have been designed is not a proper scientific hypothesis because it merely permits the God hypothesis??
One wonders if the DI is gathering up the arguments of scientists like Dawkins and Victor Stenger (author of God: the Failed Hypothesis "“ How science shows that God does not exist) to undercut the Dover decision. The Wedge has always been able to count on such Atheist Scientists.
Dawkins also adds:
Scientists, and intellectuals generally, are now waking up to the threat from the American Taliban. The God Delusion is my goodwill contribution from across the Atlantic to that awakening.
Might Dawkins be contributing to the "American Taliban?" After all, it is people like Dawkins who have a vested interest in keeping The Threat alive. Look, if the Wedge is resurrected, I don't want to hear critics whining about Telic Thoughts members when it is Richard Dawkins and his ilk that are chipping away at the Dover Decision.
Move over, Michael Ruse. Michael Shermer is a hardcore skeptic whose insights bless that pages of Scientific American. Shermer has recently had an epiphany that can be appreciated from six perspectives:
1. Evolution fits well with good theology. 2. Creationism is bad theology. 3. Evolution explains original sin and the Christian model of human nature. 4. Evolution explains family values. 5. Evolution accounts for specific Christian moral precepts. 6. Evolution explains conservative free-market economics.
Now, I realize that some might view this as a parody. But I see no hint of that. In fact, Shermer writes, "Because the theory of evolution provides a scientific foundation for the core values shared by most Christians and conservatives, it should be embraced."
On the other hand, others might take issue with Shermer's argument. But I see something else. Y'see, when Shermer speaks of "evolution," he is talking about the findings of modern science. In other words, this hardcore skeptic, writing in the pages of Scientific American, has felt compelled to concede that modern science supports conservative Christianity!
With the backing of science and evolution, perhaps some public school board out there may one day begin looking for ways to more explicitly re-introduce family values and specific Christian moral precepts into the curriculum, along with some specific advocacy of conservative free-market economics, since these are not rooted in religion, but instead are derived from science and its understanding of evolution.
Who needs the Wedge when you can just cite Shermer and Scientific American?
Oh, the irony.
Andrew Brown reviews Dawkins new anti-religious book in an article entitled, Dawkins the Dogmatist.
Here are some excerpts from the review:
It has been obvious for years that Richard Dawkins had a fat book on religion in him, but who would have thought him capable of writing one this bad? Incurious, dogmatic, rambling and self-contradictory, it has none of the style or verve of his earlier works.
Dawkins, as a young man, invented and deployed to great effect a logical fallacy he called "the argument from Episcopal incredulity," skewering a hapless clergyman who had argued that since nothing hunted polar bears, they had no need to camouflage themselves in white. It had not occurred to the bishop that polar bears must eat, and that the seals they prey on find it harder to spot a white bear stalking across the ice cap. Of course, you had to think a bit about life on the ice cap to spot this argument. But thinking a bit was once what Dawkins was famous for. It's a shame to see him reduced to one long argument from professorial incredulity.