Thursday, July 30, 2015

Scientific Proof - A Red Herring

In my previous post, I showed that there are people (especially creationists) who are distrustful and skeptical of the motives and methods of science because a scientific investigation of their own beliefs would cast those beliefs into serious doubt, if not destroy them altogether.  These people will do everything in their power to discredit science and anyone who thinks that its epistemological foundations (ie empiricism) are the best way to gain knowledge.  So they create a straw man view of the empiricist's epistemology that they call "scientism", and create straw man views of science itself, as Ilíon has done by making claims that science purports to have the same level of authority as religion in revealing "Truth".

And Victor Reppert, himself a defender of creationism and and ID pseudo-science, is playing the same game.  He would have us think that evidence as a justification for belief is logically absurd.
It's the regress problem. Here is a discussion by Maverick Christian.

Suppose we define evidentialism as follows:

A belief B is justified just in case there is a justified proposition C, which constitutes sufficient evidence for B.

I used to call this "the prove-it game." You need proof for everything you believe, and then proof of the proof, and then proof of the proof of the proof, and then proof of the proof of the proof of the proof, and then proof of the proof of the proof of the proof of the proof, until you finally get tired and give up. - Reppert

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On Scientific Truth

There is a certain cultist named Ilíon at Victor's blog who continually criticizes the validity of science while presenting himself as the quintessential purveyor of logical truth.  He is completely closed to the notion that he could ever be wrong.
What Gentle Reader will notice is that in no case does B.Pushin'Scientism even attempt to show (nor ever will) that any of my statemets are false, or even badly reasoned.

Furthermore, if he were pushed on the items -- and prevented from running away -- he would acknowledge that every one of them is true.

But, somehow ... because scientism ... true AND true AND true IMPLIES false. To put it another way, I have shined a light on one of his idols, and thus, even though every specific thing I said is true, the concatenation of those individually true statements must (somehow) be false.

Just to be clear: this is *not* how rational persons "reason". - Ilíon

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Doing Science a Service

Victor stubbornly persists in his position that there is something legitimate about teaching children to ignore the vast body of evidence and instead look for a teleological explanation for how species came into existence.  In the ongoing discussion at his blog, in answer to the claim that ID is a means of teaching religion, but disguised as science, one of Victor's biggest cultists made the counter-charge that teaching evolution is just a means of teaching atheism.  (There's that projection thing again.)  DougJC replied:
And I am just as concerned that teaching evolution as a recruiting tool for atheism would downplay legitimate data, downplay certain areas of uncertainty and basically present an incomplete and misleading picture. Educators (along with scientists) should be expected to be superbly trained at leaving personal philosophies at the door of the classroom. - DougJC
I agree completely with this comment, but I don't think it answers the charge that was made.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What is Creationism Anyway?

Victor Reppert is an advocate of the Intelligent Design movement.  But he is frustrated that the courts have found that teaching it as science in public education is unconstitutional.  My question for Victor is: Why can't you be satisfied teaching your religious beliefs in Sunday school?  As I noted in my previous post, you should be happy that you are free to do that.  Why do you think you need to impose it on the rest of us?

But the IDists insist that what they are pushing is indeed science.  They took the creationism out of it, so where's the beef?
OK, so the court says "You can't teach out and out creationism, but you can do this," so someone alters a creationist text in order to do just this, and then Kitzmiller says that it's wrong to do "just this".

This I don't understand. " - Reppert
So what is Creationism?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Christian Persecution Complex

American Christians have never had it so good.  Living in a country where the government neither prevents them from practicing the religion of their choice nor dictates what or how to believe is a blessing that results from having a secular government.  How unappreciative they are of that blessing when they seek to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us by force of government.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Reppert on Dawkins: A Swing and a Miss

Victor Reppert recently posted this swipe at Richard Dawkins:
From a sermon by Rev. Drachir Snikwad, of Hellfire Baptist Church in Georgia:

I think we should probably abandon the irremediably gay precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven't really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.

If it doesn't make them straight, it should at least keep them in the closet.
The quote attributed to Drachir Snikwad (Richard Dawkins spelled backwards, except he didn't quite get it right) is a take on an actual comment made by Dawkins, with 'gay' substituted for 'religious'.  Epic fail, Victor.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stupid Theist Tricks:  Science Denialism

A discussion at Victor's blog goes to show how much Christian ideologues are willing downplay the validity of science in order to make their theism seem more reasonable by comparison.  Two cases in point appeared in a single thread recently.  In one of these, Ilíon makes the claim that scientific methods of measurement are not trustworthy.  In the other case, crude makes an argument that even well-established scientific theories are cast into doubt because they are subject to be refuted by science at some time in the future.  Both of these claims have some truth to them, to be sure.  But both of them are grossly overstated.  Let's see why.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What's in Your Toolbox?

On numerous occasions, I have heard Bob Prokop boast about the diversity of his epistemological "toolbox" over at Victor Reppert's blog.  Bob believes that empiricism (which he thinks is the only source of knowledge available to those who are guilty of "scientism" - see my discussion of scientism) is much too limited in scope, and that to get a full picture of "the Truth", one needs to have a full complement of epistemological tools.  He says:
Naturally, no observation of phenomena within the natural universe can ever contradict correct theology. (Just as there is quack science, there is (unfortunately) quack theology. Stick with the Catholic Church, and you can't go wrong!) But that is not the only source of theological truth. Yes, we are assured by St. Paul that an honest study of the natural world will assuredly lead us to an understanding of the true nature of God. But there are other, equally valid means of arriving at such knowledge, such as revelation. Just as the good carpenter needs to make use of every tool in his toolbox, and to only use the appropriate tool for the task at hand, the serious seeker after truth requires a full toolbox, filled with empirical observation, history, literature, art, music, liturgy, revelation, personal encounters, life experience, prayer, and a Sense of Wonder to have the faintest hope of actually learning anything worthwhile. To restrict one's self to the hammer of empiricism while so much of the world is composed of screws is to guarantee failure.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What would Dawkins say to Lewis?

Peter S Williams has written a book (C S Lewis vs the New Atheists) in which he attempts to counter the "New Atheist" movement by using arguments of CS Lewis.  In this video, he promotes the book, discussing some of the contents of the book.  He essentially places himself in the position of presenting arguments from both sides, in this case with Richard Dawkins representing the "New Atheists".  This is an interesting way of assuming the air of objectivity while presenting arguments from both sides, but the reality is that Williams is presenting his own understanding of these arguments.  It may be the case that he has a good understanding of Lewis, but it is definitely not the case that he understands or fairly represents the opposing perspective.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let Freedom Ring

This 4th of July, Christians are moaning and groaning.  "Our freedom is lost", they cry.  "The constitution has been trampled upon."  As they predict the end of the United States as we know it, and liken the current situation to the fall of Rome, they bellow out the most ominous of warnings:  "Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it."  How dire their predictions are.  How dismal the future they foresee.

Get a grip, guys.  There is a class of people who now have the right to get married in all states, and the federal government will give full recognition to those marriages.  That's it.  I defy any of you to tell me what right has been taken away from you.  What freedom have you lost, aside from telling these people that they're not allowed to marry?  Please tell me.  I'd really like to know what all this infantile whining is about.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On Liberalism and the Fall of the Empire

As conservatives continue to lament the court decision on same-sex marriage, we hear ever more desperate cries of doom and gloom.  And none are crying louder than Catholic officials who are trying to paint the crumbling of their church as the destruction of America itself.  This article by Fr. Dwight Longnecker was cited by Catholic commenter planks length in my previous post on this topic.

Longnecker plaintively moans:
Hello  America! One of the most severe warnings that has come out to last week’s Supreme Court ruling was that from Justices Roberts and Scalia who observed that the will of the American people had been usurped by a handful of non elected lawyers.