David Barash, Evolution, and God: Pretending Authority Far Beyond His Qualifications

comments form first comment

David Barash has a capital-T Talk he gives college students every year. He tells about it in a NY Times op-ed, God, Darwin and My College Biology Class:

Every year around this time, with the college year starting, I give my students The Talk. It isn’t, as you might expect, about sex, but about evolution and religion, and how they get along. More to the point, how they don’t.

Barash is a biologist, a professor at the University of Washington. I’ve looked at his web page, and I find no indication of his being a philosopher, theologian, ethicist, or historian. Most of his op-ed—and apparently most of The Talk—is on these topics, not biology. Still he speaks as a professor, even in disciplines for which he has no professional qualifications.

For example:

As evolutionary science has progressed, the available space for religious faith has narrowed: It has demolished two previously potent pillars of religious faith and undermined belief in an omnipotent and omni-benevolent God. The twofold demolition begins by defeating what modern creationists call the argument from complexity.

Granted, evolutionary science has virtually demolished certain theistic arguments, though not (for example) any of the Thomistic arguments. This is hardly controversial. Even the Thomistic argument for design is broadly compatible with evolution, provided the evolutionist sticks to nature and resists unscientific forays into philosophical conclusions about causes behind evolution.

So suppose the “argument from complexity” (a term I hardly ever hear these days) has been totally demolished. Barash thinks so, and he thinks this has removed important “available space for religious faith.” He does not say, “As a biologist I see that evolution undermines Thomas Aquinas’s theistic arguments.” He dare not say it that blatantly: It would highlight just how far out of his expertise he has wandered.

(I could add more in the same vein about Intelligent Design, but I’m choosing to stick with what’s more obvious and less controversial.)

His Talk also includes,

Before Darwin, one could believe that human beings were distinct from other life-forms, chips off the old divine block. No more. The most potent take-home message of evolution is the not-so-simple fact that, even though species are identifiable (just as individuals generally are), there is an underlying linkage among them — literally and phylogenetically, via traceable historical connectedness. Moreover, no literally supernatural trait has ever been found in Homo sapiens; we are perfectly good animals, natural as can be and indistinguishable from the rest of the living world at the level of structure as well as physiological mechanism.

He does not say, “As a biologist, I think we must draw the largely philosophical conclusion that ‘traceable historical connectedness’ precludes human exceptionalism.”

Neither does he say, “As a biologist, I believe it is theologically impossible for God to have superintended the processes of natural history to produce humans in his image.”

Nor does he say, “Having observed that humans are structurally and physiologically ‘indistinguishable from the rest of the living world,’ I feel qualified to draw the philosophical conclusion that our moral, rational, relational, and spiritual differences from animals are inconsequential.”

He dare not say any of those things so clearly, either; just think how much harm it would do to his professorial authority.

In his Talk, he also says,

Adding to religion’s current intellectual instability is a third consequence of evolutionary insights: a powerful critique of theodicy, the scholarly effort to reconcile belief in an omnipresent, omni-benevolent God with the fact of unmerited suffering…. The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator.

He does not say, “I have observed and reflected on animal pain and death as a biologist, so therefore I am qualified theologically to pronounce every explanation for the goodness of God to be inadequate.”

He dare not say that, either.

He does say that it requires “challenging mental gymnastic routines” to hold on to belief in religion, in light of evolutionary teaching. I wonder whether he thinks there’s something inherently wrong with exercising one’s mental capacities. Maybe (this is unlikely) he thinks biology requires no such mental exercise; or maybe (more likely, now) he thinks it’s all the mental exercise anyone need do, to understand reality.

Anyway, I have a suggestion for Dr. Barash. I would encourage him to feel free to give The Talk. He’s welcome to his opinion. He ought also, however, explain that most of it is outside his professional expertise. It’s also outside his parental expertise. (You didn’t think that title, “The Talk,” wasn’t meant to remind you of a paternal conversation, did you? He said it himself, after all.)

Beyond explaining how he’s speculating on matters outside his areas of expertise, he might consider giving his students a reading list of articles, both supportive and contrary, written by people who actually are qualified to write in those fields.

In other words, I suggest he make it clear when he’s speaking from a qualified professional stance and when he isn’t; and that he confine his professorial pronouncements to disciplines he knows.

Otherwise he is speaking with authority on subjects he knows next to nothing about.

top of page comments form

84 Responses to “ David Barash, Evolution, and God: Pretending Authority Far Beyond His Qualifications ”

  1. Jerry Coyne also criticized Barash for talking about religious things in his science class. It’s a fairly mild criticism, but Coyne says, “I wouldn’t do that, especially in a public university. One could even make the argument that he’s skirting the First Amendment here, mixing government (a state university) and religion.” (Link)

  2. As we’ve seen before, you have to be super well educated to be this myopic and clueless about the things you don’t know.

  3. Moreover, no literally supernatural trait has ever been found in Homo sapiens

    No trace of rationality has been found inside a brain either. Maybe that explains this Talk??

  4. The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator.

    Yes, yes, yes – of course. The unavoidable conclusion here is that there are no biological errors – just biological differences. Why would David Barash try to argue against the facts of biology and claim that the brain of a theist made an error? Does he not know the facts of biology?

    I’d love to sign up for one of these classes just so I could ask these questions.

  5. It always makes me smile (albeit rather wryly) when atheists use all sorts of intellectually dishonest ruses to push their point of view, yet are the first to get their knickers in a twist and cry foul when anyone challenges their dishonesty.

  6. Great point commorientes!

    Here is something I wrote before on atheist dishonesty.

    It appears to me that atheists face a trilemma similar to the Christian trilemma as described by C.S. Lewis. It goes like this. To be an atheist one has to be either:

    1. Dishonest
    2. Deluded, or
    3. Dumb (that is, stupid or willfully ignorant).

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/christians-and-atheists-two-worlds/#comment-83009

    Barash ia being dishonest because he is presenting atheistic naturalism as an alternative belief system without rationally justifying that belief system. Circular arguments are not rationally justifying. I can rationally justify theism . To be taken seriously naturalists and/or materialist need to explain how they are rationally justified in holding the beliefs that they do. They never really tell us. It appears to me that they are being dishonest to either to themselves or towards those whom those they disagree.

  7. Correct me if I am wrong but the major theme regarding this post is that David Barash should stick solely to discussions of biological or scientific matters and not mention anything of a God or theological nature especially if he is not going to say anything nice or positive about God or Christians. (I did add that last clause but I also suspect that if he did say anything nice or positive or glowing about God or Christianity then this post would not exist). He shouldn’t stray onto other areas for which he has no authority or degree or whatever seems to be your point.

    I should point out that this is a common occurrence on both sides of the fence. Christian pastors and theologians who have no degree in any science such as biology nonetheless will still comment on what is and isn’t scientific especially in regards to the age of the known universe or evolution. William Lane Craig often talks about what is and isn’t science in his talks and speeches. Ray Comfort – someone with no college degree at all – often will talk about what is and is not scientific on his blog. Ken Ham, who was a high school science teacher, never published a single scientific paper not even in favor of creationism.

    I would expect that if you really believe that people should not talk authoritatively outside of their chosen field then there would be posts asking Christian leaders, theologians, bloggers and so forth to stop talking about science and what is scientific if they do not have a degree in that field also. Strangely, I do not see this at all.

  8. Patrick,

    Don’t you think there was a bit more to Tom’s OP than just “…David Barash should stick solely to discussions of biological or scientific matters and not mention anything of a God or theological nature especially if he is not going to say anything nice or positive about God or Christians.”

    Tom was pretty explicit in explaining the fallacies that Prof. Barash included in his lecture. Prof. Barash was criticized not for mentioning those things but being unable to justify what he said. Not unlike you.

  9. What is and isn’t science is a matter of philosophy of science, for which William Lane Craig is qualified. Ray Comfort is another matter, and I don’t need to defend him, although I think some of his concepts (esp. the banana) have been taken mercilessly out of context and subjected to unwarranted criticism. Ken Ham is wrong on many things.

    Strangely, I don’t see you blogging about David Barash.

    Consistency of character does not require that every similar case be treated similarly, unless the similarities are real and pervasive. But this is not so in this case.

    Barash’s article was:
    1. About his speaking on matters for which he has no qualifications.
    2. About his abusing his professorial authority and his platform in the classroom to do so
    (Already the similarities are gone!)
    3. Published in the NY Times (at least online)
    4. Deeply and disturbingly destructive in its potential effect (in my view)

    I could add further descriptors. I’ve listed four, of which three have no analogue in the other examples you gave (although I think Ken Ham qualifies for #4 sometimes.)

    Am I a hypocrite for not treating these dissimilar cases similarly? No. What reason could there be to consider that morally important?

  10. Also–what BillT said.

    It was disingenuous of you, and either incompetent or dishonest, to pretend you had merely added something there. The whole thing was a distortion.

  11. I don’t mind if Barash ventures outside his field in the classroom as long as he is well informed. Clearly, based on his NYT op-ed, he is not.

    W.L. Craig does venture outside the field of his expertise from time-to-time. But when he does he consults with those who are experts in that field.

    For example, Craig recently wrote on his website:

    What we want to know is whether the universe actually is extended infinitely into the past, and to answer that question one must look at the evidence. When we do that, then the theoretical scenario Carroll describes is, as he recognizes, on a collision course with observation. Namely, we run into the thermodynamic problem of our universe’s low entropy condition in the past which points to a beginning. So Carroll asks, “Can the observed arrow of time be explained by the apparently reversible physics embodied in the Schrödinger equation?”[3] Here he discusses the famous Boltzmann Brain problem that featured so centrally in our debate. Carroll notes that Boltzmann’s model of the universe was founded on essentially the same assumptions as the quantum theoretical scenario he has described. “So the problems of this model are not simply a matter of academic or historical curiosity; they represent severe problems for any theory of the universe founded on these principles.”

    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-quantum-mechanics-indicate-an-eternal-universe#ixzz3F27FaFKl

    Notice that Craig had even this informal Q & A article reviewed by academically qualified physicists. (See Craig’s end note #8 and acknowledgements.)

    By contrast, Barash is shooting from the hip. He clearly has no idea what he is talking about in the field of theology and philosophy.
    Of course there is also the matter of a double standard. Would a Christian professor have the same freedom that Barash exercises? I think not.

  12. Surely the point is also that Barash’s students are at college to read biology. Whilst the study of evolution will undoubtedly lead on to all sorts of other debates, and debate is an integral part of studying any discipline, is it really appropriate for the opening lecture of the term to be one in which the lecturer peddles a pet philosophical hostility towards the existence of God?

  13. Wesley J. Smith makes this point about Barash’s op-ed:

    Barash: But just a smidgen of biological insight makes it clear that, although the natural world can be marvelous, it is also filled with ethical horrors: predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age and death — and that suffering (like joy) is built into the nature of things…. The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator.

    Smith: But these aren’t ethical horrors at all in the natural world. Indeed, without death and its many causes, natural selection could not operate.

    “Ethics” only come into play when the actions or consequences that Barash invoke involve human agency. Indeed, why is it only humans take such offense at these issues? Why do only we make moral judgments about any of this?

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/09/darwinist_denie090121.html

    Ironically, as an atheist, C.S. Lewis, made the same observation about the universe that Barash does.

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

    Yet Lewis came to a completely different conclusion… Why?

  14. JAD –

    “Ethics” only come into play when the actions or consequences that Barash invoke involve human agency.

    Sure… because we’re human.

    And because we’re human, we go about living in particular ways that are unlike other, non-human species. We aren’t obligated to perform traumatic insemination, or regurgitate to feed our young, or implant our young in paralyzed living prey to eat their way out of.

    Perhaps we are created in the Image of God. But that implies that a whole lot of the universe is, and always was, rather far removed from that.

  15. Perhaps we are created in the Image of God. But that implies that a whole lot of the universe is, and always was, rather far removed from that.

    Exactly. And we make to claim to the contrary. That’s what separates us from the rest of creation. Not that it wasn’t all created but that we are uniquely created within that. It’s why, as JAD said, we don’t judge the rest of creation. They are what they have to be to survive. We’re quite obviously, much, much different.

  16. It seems to me that Barash is guilty of the same inconsistency that Carl Sagan was guilty of in one of his 1985 Gifford Lecture. Barash sees the world as a marvelous place, as long as we don’t allow in God as part of the equation. Sagan saw the world as a place of “awe and wonder” as long as it wasn’t God’s creation. For example, he finishes his lecture by quoting his wife Ann:

    “as Ann Druyan has pointed out an immortal Creator is a cruel god, because He, never having to face the fear of death, creates innumerable creatures who do. Why should he do that? If He’s omniscient, He could be kinder and create immortals, secure from the danger of death. He sets about creating a universe in which many parts of it and perhaps the universe as a whole, dies… There is a clear imperative in Western religion that humans must remain small and mortal creatures. Why?”

    I’ve written more here:

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2012/01/ten-crucial-turning-points-1b-the-creation/#comment-33104

    Of course , Christians believe that God the Creator– the Incarnate Logos (John 1:1-3)– entered space and time and not only faced “the fear of death” but did in fact die, and because of that humans need not remain “small and mortal creatures.”

    The problem with both Sagan and Barash is that they try to sneak across the border that divides natural science from theology without understanding the differences. It is their ignorance that disqualifies them.

  17. JAD,

    Of course , Christians believe that God the Creator– the Incarnate Logos (John 1:1-3 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] )– entered space and time and not only faced “the fear of death” but did in fact die, and because of that humans need not remain “small and mortal creatures.”

    I’m sure Sagan and Barash are fully aware of that belief. The problem is that, if that belief is true, those of us who are not Christian are being made to face and cope with the fear of death solely because the universe has been constructed in such a way as to not make Christianity the obvious truth.

    Ah, but JAD, I think you would respond by saying that Christianity IS the obvious truth, it’s just that we’re immoral persons and as such are intentionally deceiving ourselves and others about the true state of reality.

    This, then, is the fundamental imbalance between us: no matter what you write, I read it as the honest feelings and perceptions of another human being. But no matter what I write, you read it as colored with the sickly cast of evil.

  18. DJC,

    Honesty?

    Nothing in a naturalistic universe is transcendent. Yet you claim love transcends.

    That’s colored with dishonesty.

    Dishonesty is evil.

    Semantic games aren’t “honest”.

    Sure, we can say “box” and then define that word to mean “shoes”.

    After all, Naturalism has no other means. No other ends.

    It is void of discovery. It can only wish. Invent. Pretend.

  19. Ray,

    Mellisa quoted you as inventing our own significance and meaning and then showed how such allows no essence for slavery’s ought-not. Pretending fails to justify.

    You’ve yet to offer a reply of necessary ends there.

    Immutable love will go, reach, where you, or your naturalism, never can.

  20. College is fun. It’s fun for professors to bully a bunch of teenagers, to openly mock this or that teenaged Jew for their beliefs (on a topic of no import to the class) in a publicly funded forum in which those teenagers not only lack formal training in metaphysics but who are also beholden (in very real, and expensive, ways) to that professor for professional success.

    Ray says we invent our own significance.

    I guess the professor invented his. “To-him”.

    We can’t have it both ways there in those ends of regression, there in those hard stops.

  21. DJC @ #19,

    I am 99.99% certain that Christian theism is true. Why should I even consider what you think and believe? (Or with you, is it simply a matter of disbelief?)

    BTW I don’t percieve you as evil but rather as badly mistaken and self-centered.

  22. JAD,

    I am 99.99% certain that Christian theism is true. Why should I even consider what you think and believe? (Or with you, is it simply a matter of disbelief?)

    BTW I don’t percieve you as evil but rather as badly mistaken and self-centered.

    Under Christianity, having persistent doubts points to immorality, so by professing to be certain of your faith, you affirm the highest moral calling of Christianity. Under Christianity, moral unbelief is an oxymoron. By calling into question the motives and moral fiber of unbelievers, you, again, are performing your Christian moral duty. So, I think I should assume from here on that your comments are public affirmations of your faith, not statements to be overly scrutinized by us heathens.

  23. From “honest perceptions” worthy of discussion (scrutiny) in #19 to public duty-laden moves unworthy of scrutiny in #24.

    Also, the highest ethic is love, which will not pass away, rather than faith, which will pass away one day.

  24. DJC,

    “Highest moral…. duty…” and so on in your analysis….. you really need to read more about Christianity. Or at least try to understand its means/ends better. Or something. Just like the Professor in the OP.

  25. DJC, RE: #24

    You say this: “Under Christianity, having persistent doubts points to immorality, so by professing to be certain of your faith, you affirm the highest moral calling of Christianity.”

    Where do you get this idea from? Where is this in Jesus Christ’s teachings? My understanding as a lifelong Christian is that faith is not morality. Whatever in the world is “moral unbelief”? And who exactly has called into question “the motives and moral fiber of unbelievers.”

    Gordon C. Olson’s book “The truth shall make you free” (1980): “Saving faith is a sincere facing of the full truth of reality and an elimination of every internal tension caused by our having rejected the truth of God in any area. Saving faith must involve all that the mind perceives to be true concerning the Godhead and Man’s relations…. An open-hearted attitude must prevail toward every aspect of truth that we do perceive.” (p, T-XI-1) Olson gives words from the Bible used to describe faith: “To believe or to trust–Properly to stay, to sustain, to build up or support: thus to lean upon, to build upon, to confide in, to become sure or certain.”

    Even if no one has earlier on this thread, yes, I do call into question your motives, yours specifically. As I see, your admixture of faith and morality and your rather snide references to atheists as “heathens” who are “colored with a sickly cast of evil” are simply a rhetorical red herring. This is a distraction for the purpose of obliquing accusing your Christian interlocutors on this website as being self-righteous and judgmental toward noble and honest atheists like yourself. If you don’t think that this is a discussion among and between peers, then why participate? JB

  26. DJC @ #24,

    Under Christianity, having persistent doubts points to immorality, so by professing to be certain of your faith, you affirm the highest moral calling of Christianity. Under Christianity, moral unbelief is an oxymoron. By calling into question the motives and moral fiber of unbelievers, you, again, are performing your Christian moral duty. So, I think I should assume from here on that your comments are public affirmations of your faith, not statements to be overly scrutinized by us heathens.

    Let me clarify a few things.

    First, when I say that “I am 99.99% certain that Christian theism is true”, I am speaking rationally or philosophically, not morally or spiritually… I will concede that on the moral/ spiritual side I do not live like Christianity is 99.99% true. (Some days, I’ll confess, it’s less than 50%.) Indeed, one of the paradoxes of the Christian faith is that to become a Christian one must admit one’s falleness and fallibility (see the “Parable of the Prodigal Son”, Luke 15:11-32). That is a problem that plagues all mankind (Romans 3:23).

    Second, I challenged you to give me an alternative to Christian theism. I wrote @ #23, “Why should I even consider what you think and believe?” You did not respond to that question. Why not? Why should I waste my time on someone who doesn’t have an alternative and viable world view?

    Finally, I will not continue to respond to, or interact with, people who do not respect me as a fellow human being. You do not come across as to me someone who adheres to that kind of ethic.

  27. JAD

    Second, I challenged you to give me an alternative to Christian theism. I wrote @ #23, “Why should I even consider what you think and believe?” You did not respond to that question. Why not? Why should I waste my time on someone who doesn’t have an alternative and viable world view?

    I’m not interested in persuading you to give up something that works for you. But I do like to speak up to correct misconceptions about non-Christian worldviews or philosophies and/or to explore arguments that purport to show some negative implication or aspect of non-Christian philosophy.

    Finally, I will not continue to respond to, or interact with, people who do not respect me as a fellow human being. You do not come across as to me someone who adheres to that kind of ethic.

    I’m frankly flabbergasted by this. Please go back and look at all my comments on this website. You can get a pretty decent list at google with the string:

    site:www.thinkingchristian.net “DJC says”

    How have I ever treated you with anything but respect? As I said earlier, no matter what you write, I read it as the honest feelings and perceptions of another human being. Why would you assume I meant anything differently?

  28. Jenna Black,

    My understanding as a lifelong Christian is that faith is not morality.

    Faith is not moral? On the contrary, faith is most morally right. On the other hand, persistent doubt (as opposed to temporary or occasional doubt) usually points to something morally wrong in one’s life, that’s what I see most Christians teaching and believing.

    As I see, your admixture of faith and morality and your rather snide references to atheists as “heathens” who are “colored with a sickly cast of evil” are simply a rhetorical red herring.

    I’m just restating in so many words what JAD has already said:

    To be an atheist one has to be either:

    1. Dishonest
    2. Deluded, or
    3. Dumb (that is, stupid or willfully ignorant).

    And:

    I think interlocutors like Ray and DJC are motivated by a self righteous contempt for Christianity and an indifference towards the real Jesus historically and theologically. They are not interested in the truth only discrediting modern day Christianity and Christians.

    Jenna:

    This is a distraction for the purpose of obliquing accusing your Christian interlocutors on this website as being self-righteous and judgmental toward noble and honest atheists like yourself.

    I don’t know if I’ve been “noble”, but I’ve certainly been honest. And, yes, JAD’s pronouncements do sound self-righteous and judgmental to me. But, then, if I truly am immoral (which is just a lighter shade of evil), maybe he’s right after all.

  29. There is no God in Heaven
    And there is no Hell below
    So says the great professor
    Of all there is to know
    But I’ve had the invitation
    That a sinner can’t refuse
    And it’s almost like salvation
    It’s almost like the blues
    It’s almost like the blues
    Almost like the blues, Leonard Cohen

  30. DJC,

    Faith ends. It is good – even lovely – but it is preceded by, fed by, and ultimately surpassed by – something greater.

    “Differentiating” between honest perception and faith is incoherent therefore. Faithfulness is something different still. Relational trust yet still different. Reason yet still. And so on.

    Hinting as you are that “Assertions of Christians are made out of fear and/or duty rather than out of reasoning, life experience, and perceived weighting of reality” is a strawman.

    Teens in that professors class may fear him and so hedge / evade. But that is a different topic.

  31. DJC,

    You aren’t reading carefully. When I say that faith is not morality, I mean what I say. Morality and faith are two different concepts. Whether or not faith is “moral” is another matter altogether. The question here is faith in what? Faith is about a belief system, and as I explained, Christian faith is often referred to as “saving faith” or faith in salvation through Jesus Christ. Faith in Nazism is not moral. Faith in a religion that teaches love, forgiveness, repentance, redemption, and salvation is IMHO, moral.

    I simply hate it when an atheist tells me/us “what most Christians believe” because 9 times out of 10, they/we don’t. Again, I ask for your source from Jesus’ teachings about doubt, or “persistent doubt” in relationship to/with immorality. In other words, I’m asking for evidence of your claim that this is a widely accepted teaching of Christianity.

    And please point out to me where in JAD’s posts the words “evil” or “immoral” appear.

  32. On the other hand, persistent doubt (as opposed to temporary or occasional doubt) usually points to something morally wrong in one’s life, that’s what I see most Christians teaching and believing.

    DJC,

    I don’t see how, based on what we have said here, you can make this assertion. We may think you you are ignoring the obvious or maybe not rationally processing the evidence but morally deficient? Doubt and morality aren’t connected as opposite ends of the same spectrum. And how many times have you seen us admit we have doubts all the time. This just makes no sense.

  33. Forgive the quote, but, C.S. Lewis offers insight on faith, reason, and emotion as such relate to “virtue” (morality). That is to say, there is, on one side, the stuff of reason and faith, and, on the other side, there is the stuff of emotion and imagination.

    There is more to faith of course – in that “faithfulness” and then also relational trust are two more contours here, which are not addressed in this quote of Lewis, but such is yet helpful.

    For instance, the Professor in the OP believes in philosophical naturalism, is even foisting it. Yet such is a question methodological naturalism cannot answer for him. He has a bit of faith there in the sense of looking at evidence and weighing it and making some conclusions. Well, fine. But DJC is mistaken to insist that the Professor is moving in fear and/or DUTY. The stuff of the “immoral”may come into play when, say, the Professor foists that love is something greater or “mystically different” than just any other irrationally conditioned itch – for there the professor has offended his whole paradigm – insulted it, betrayed it. He has left the methodological and has unfaithfully entered into the philosophical.

    Here’s C.S. Lewis on the stuff of virtue and the stuff of faith/reason vs. imagination/emotion:

    “In one sense Faith means simply Belief – accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people – at least it used to puzzle me – is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue, I used to ask how on earth it can be a virtue – what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements? Obviously, I used to say, a sane man accepts or rejects any statement, not because he wants or does not want to, but because the evidence seems to him good or bad.

    Well, I think I still take that view. [….and Christians for the most part agree, differentiating virtue from honest belief, etc….] But what I did not see then – and a good many people do not see still – was this. I was assuming that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up. In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so.

    For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me. In other words, I lose my faith in anesthetics. It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason. It is my imagination and emotions. The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other.

    When you think of it you will see lots of instances of this. A man knows, on perfectly good evidence, that a pretty girl of his acquaintance is a liar and cannot keep a secret and ought not to be trusted; but when he finds himself with her his mind loses its faith in that bit of knowledge and he starts thinking, “Perhaps she’ll be different this time,” and once more makes a fool of himself and tells her something he ought not to have told her. His senses and emotions have destroyed his faith in what he really knows to be true.

    Or take a boy learning to swim. His reason knows perfectly well that an unsupported human body will not necessarily sink in water: he has seen dozens of people float and swim. But the whole question is whether he will be able to go on believing this when the instructor takes away his hand and leaves him unsupported in the water-or whether he will suddenly cease to believe it and get in a fright and go down.

    Now just the same thing happens about Christianity. I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in. Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

    Jesus: “If they had not had any light they would be without sin. But because they have light, they are with sin.”

    Critics like to make a straw-man here in that they like to say God’s forgiveness and Man’s knowing-not are not tied together on some level somewhere with this Judge with Whom we have to do. Such just is not the case. Nature is one thing. Willful pushing away of the lovely, the good, so that one may dive into the Self, quite another.

  34. Jenna Black,

    You aren’t reading carefully.

    Whoa, there, maybe you misread me (I’m not going to accuse you of “not reading carefully” since it’s possible you misunderstood me through not fault of your own and a knee jerk accusation on my part would be unkind). What I meant was that demonstrating spiritual faith in God is the highest practice of morality there is under Christianity; just see Hebrews 11. (Note, JAD has clarified that he wasn’t referring to moral or spiritual faith, he was referring to confidence in rational and philosophical world-view, by the way).

    As for whether persistent doubt (as opposed to temporary or occasional doubt), is immoral consider what happened to Zechariah when he doubted the word of the Lord; he was struck dumb (Luke 1:11-17). James says he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind, double-minded and unstable. A survey from 2012 found that 70% of Christian teens have expressed persistent measurable doubts that what the Bible says about Jesus is true.. Is this just business as usual, or would you suspect sin in their lives as potential cause? (Yes, the survey also finds that 67 percent of teens say they seldom read their Bibles.)

    And just a few samples off the Christian web:

    Sometimes people use doubt as an excuse for sin, but I think more often, at least with Christians, people begin to compromise in their lives, taking small yet persistent turns away from God and, because of this, take the exit on the road of doubt.

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2014/05/seven-reasons-why-christians-doubt/

    On Os Guinness, associate of Francis Schaeffer:

    But there is danger in long-term doubt. Chronic doubt leads to serious consequences. “For the Christian, doubt is not the same as unbelief, but neither is it divorced from it. Continued doubt loosens the believer’s hold on the resources and privileges of faith and can be the prelude to the disasters of unbelief. So doubt is never treated as trivial” (p. 31). Later he writes, “If faith does not resolve doubt, doubt will dissolve faith” (p. 187). Guinness warns us never to lessen the significance of doubt (especially lingering doubt) in our hearts.

    http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/cj-mahaney/post/faith-doubt-and-unbelief-os-guinness.aspx

    It certainly seems that persistent (as opposed to occasional or temporary) doubt would displease God. Displeasing God is sin, and sin is immoral.

    Jenna:

    And please point out to me where in JAD’s posts the words “evil” or “immoral” appear.

    Jenna, let’s do some role playing and you empathize with me for a moment. Suppose I (wrongly) accuse you of dishonesty, contemptuous behavior, willful ignorance, of being self-centered, and of not coming across as one who respects her fellow human beings. Wouldn’t you feel as if I had accused you of being immoral and possibly evil? Is it really possible to BE dishonest, contemptuous, willfully ignorant, self-centered and disrespectful of others and NOT be immoral?

  35. DJC, RE: #36

    There are several issues you raise in this comment that I feel a need to address. First, your hypothetical: I do not consider, willful ignorance, self-centeredness and dishonesty to be behaviors that reach the level of evil or immorality, so no, if someone accused me of these forms of behavior or bad character, I would not feel accused of being immoral and/or evil. Perhaps it is a matter of degree, coming as these “accusations” do in the context of real-life personal interactions. But I also state that my sense of things here is that you are more concerned about what “most Christians” think of/about atheists, not so much individually but as a group or as members of a group.

    IOW, perhaps you/we are talking about stereotypes. If this is so, I highly recommend that you read some of the sociological research of attitudes toward atheists among the general population, including atheists’ opinions about their fellow atheists. One of the better studies I’ve run across and have discussed on this blog before is this one from the University of British Columbia titled “Do you believe in atheists? Distrust is central to anti-atheist prejudice” by Gervais, Shariff & Norenzayan (2011):

    http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~will/Gervais%20et%20al-%20Atheist%20Distrust.pdf

    Here is a quote from p. 14 of the Gervais et al study: “Alternatively, atheists may be distrusted because people are unsure what exactly atheists believe. A Christian, for example, might be able to infer some of a Muslim’s norms, but an atheist might be viewed as a wildcard; religious people might distrust atheists not only for the norms they are perceived to follow but also for their perceived lack of norms.”

    Second, I find it interesting that you quote statistics about “doubt” among young Christians. I want to clarify: Do you think atheism is simply “persistent doubt” about Christianity that is unresolved? I ask because I don’t. Atheism is an active, conscious and deliberate rejection of belief in God. Atheists don’t just have persistent doubts about God and/or about Christianity. For more of a view of religious doubt as a component, a feature and a process in the development of faith, I highly recommend the work of development psychologist Professor James Fowler:

    James W. Fowler (1981). Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. New York: HarperCollins.

    I also recommend that you look up writings by Christian mystics such as Spaniards Santa Teresa de Avila and San Juan de la Cruz about what we Christians call “the Dark Night of the Soul.” Also, you can inquire into the biography of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who has been beatified by the RCC on her way to possible sainthood.

    Another excellent book on the topic of doubt in religious/spiritual development, the “faith journey” is Bruce Demarest (2009), “Seasons of the Soul: Stages of Spiritual Development.” Demarest talks about “seasons of distress” and “painful disorientation” as part of the journey of Christians, as well as the “transformational outcomes” of the Dark Night of the Soul.

    Suffice it to say, my belief is that God is much less concerned about our doubt(s) than He is about our response to our doubt(s).

  36. Jenna,

    I do not consider, willful ignorance, self-centeredness and dishonesty to be behaviors that reach the level of evil or immorality, so no, if someone accused me of these forms of behavior or bad character, I would not feel accused of being immoral and/or evil.

    Well, alright, but let me be clear I have absolutely no interest in using the terms on you or anyone else. They are weapons and I’m not at war here, spiritual or otherwise.

    Do you think atheism is simply “persistent doubt” about Christianity that is unresolved? I ask because I don’t. Atheism is an active, conscious and deliberate rejection of belief in God. Atheists don’t just have persistent doubts about God and/or about Christianity.

    I would say what atheism feels like from the inside is not a constant shrugging off of a powerful sense of God’s presence, but rather a constant questioning curiosity about the grand mystery of existence, the infinitely large in the cosmos, the infinitely small in subatomic particles, and the infinitely meaningful in the fundamental experience of consciousness. If that questioning leads eventually back to God, so be it, but it has so far led me away from that concept. Thanks for the references, I’ll review if I have time.

  37. DJC,
    I really do enjoy the company and conversation of atheists who really live out their atheism as “…rather a constant questioning curiosity about the grand mystery of existence.” What I find difficult is when atheism becomes polemical to the point of sounding like there IS no mystery, all the ultimate questions have somehow been settled, and anyone who says otherwise is literally mentally handicapped.

    Now, under THOSE circumstances, I agree with JAD’s proscriptions, but I don’t take them as universal. There’s a concept within Christianity known as “the truth bound in unrighteousness” which is much more complex and nuanced than I’m sure has been described to you.

    I’m going to get weirdly self-aware here, I don’t think *this* is how preaching the Gospel is done. The factors of conversion are myriad and people have placed a massive amount of importance on “winning” arguments. I think a reason so many young Christians are thinking of leaving the church is because they are asked to win debates more than they are asked to love their neighbor. That’s not faith.

    Of course, I believe faith cooperates with reason. The oft-repeated definition that faith functions in the absence, or “in the teeth of” evidence is the atheist equivalent of the oft-bastardized version of Pascal’s Wager that theists throw around: neither will die, when both absolutely need to like all very stupid things need to. But those things have been talked to death.

    That faith is a “moral” imperative is a translation of something more nuanced than how we normally talk about morality in the afterglow of the Enlightenment. The term “righteousness” in the Biblical context is a legal term: The righteous person is acting in accordance with a covenant. A “righteous” judge is a judge who honors the specifics of an agreement. Faith equated with “righteousness” is God saying “If you have faith, I will do X,Y and Z with you, to ends that include you personally and Creation around you.” This is different in important ways apart from someone being a “bad person” as we normally imagine in our heads. You can be a very good citizen and be unrighteous at the same time. Conversely, someone can be “righteous” and fail as a citizen completely. Both have serious complications while remaining true on a broader level.

    Doubt relates to faith in the same way that fear relates to bravery. The brave person experiences fear, but her bravery behaves in spite of it. My doubts become a problem when I let them dictate my behavior, not because I can’t necessarily talk myself out of them at any given moment.

    But for some bizarre reason, I’m expected to abandon what faith I have the moment I can no longer talk myself out of doubt. I don’t need arguments in moments of doubt, I need God’s faithfulness to carry me when I can’t get up off the ground. Every single time I’ve married my doubt to humility and confession, He’s done just that.

    “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” is the battle cry of the honest and righteous Christian.

    Sometimes, the only reason I believe in Christianity is simply because I heard Aretha Franklin sing You’ve Got a Friend in Jesus. Is that going to satisfy people to the point where anyone and everyone thinks my faith is justified? No. Would I TELL people to believe because of that? Not in short form, but I could get there with enough space.

    But what I won’t accept, from anyone, is the idea that that is somehow “against the rules” as if someone else is going to dictate the value of my faith according to the same method that invented cell phones.

  38. DJC,

    “the infinitely meaningful in the fundamental experience of consciousness…”

    As was dissected ad nauseam in a recent post – such is at bottom comprised of molecular reflex of the irrational sort, and, wish fulfillment.

    You said love is transcendent – in a naturalistic framework. You then merely redefined that word (transcendent) to mean “important to me/us” as in “really strong irrationally evolved feelings” (as compared to really weak ones).

    As was noted, fancy paint and fancy semantics does not, cannot, replace, or change, the stuff of essence, the stuff of something’s nature.

    “Infinitely” meaningful – and now here too you are forced to redefine the word “infinitely” – fancy paint again failing to mysteriously grant a change of essence, of nature.

    “Meaning” and “love” and “infinite” are all taking your regress – outside of Immutable Love’s ceaseless contours – exactly nowhere.

    The existential – the “I-Feel” is what it is in atheism’s regress and all the fancy talk in all the world just never will change what that essence is at bottom.

    In other words, such appeals, while pretty, are hollow, vacuous, if and when we track them out to their natural ends. In essence.

    Love’s reciprocity amid that which is finally – infinitely – ceaselessly – The-Good, The-Lovely, The-Personal, within the contours of Intellect, of Embrace, of Delight, and so on in Essence which precedes us, surpasses us, are found in the natural ends of God Himself.

    All else is, in the end, the irrational stuff of the vacuous, of autohypnosis. Privation’s pure Self, the Isolated-I out there void of that which is Other, void of the infinite essence of I-You.

  39. GM,

    BTW, I meant to extend a “ditto” to you as well as an enjoyable conversationalist (and I take that to be perfectly consistent with not pulling any punches when it comes to the full strength of your belief.)

    What I find difficult is when atheism becomes polemical to the point of sounding like there IS no mystery, all the ultimate questions have somehow been settled, and anyone who says otherwise is literally mentally handicapped.

    I’d call that a religious form of atheism which bands together groups to fight the competition. I think Dawkins often instigates this intentionally by making moral pronouncements on atheist/religious beliefs, knowing how moral fervour can unite a group in a cause.

    I think “true” atheism should take no moral position whatsoever with respect to arguments/facts/premises/hypotheses. That is not to say that immoral people cannot be led to make false arguments, it’s that arguments in themselves in no way should be taken to reflect on the morality of the person making it. A moral judgement on one can and should be made by how one treats other people, but by that alone; not by the philosophical or religious arguments one makes.

    But what I won’t accept, from anyone, is the idea that that is somehow “against the rules” as if someone else is going to dictate the value of my faith according to the same method that invented cell phones.

    If there is a God of love who created the universe, I have the same confidence that doubt is absolutely not immoral in any way shape or form. As I have been asked on occasion “What will you say at the Judgement Seat?” That I lived my life according to the being I was created to be.

  40. DJC,

    You could say to the Face of Immutable Love that little girls sex trafficked and then dead at 20 years old lived the life He created them to be, but since He has said otherwise in word, in action, and in various other vectors within and without, your volitional self-deception won’t impress. You’ve told us that love is transcendent – and He is.

  41. scblhrm,

    You said love is transcendent – in a naturalistic framework. You then merely redefined that word (transcendent) to mean “important to me/us” as in “really strong irrationally evolved feelings” (as compared to really weak ones).

    I didn’t redefine it since that would be futile. Redefining the experience of blue does not effect that experience in the slightest. Transcendent can only be transcendent as long as we’re experiencing that experience (and not, say, confusing it with vertigo).

    All I did was argue that, if naturalism is true, the transcendence — the mutual experience between those loving and loved, for example, — must be traced back to matter and energy in some way. Nothing is diminished or lost (except what is necessarily diminished or lost by not having a benevolent higher power watching over you, assuming naturalism rules that out.)

    You could say to the Face of Immutable Love that little girls sex trafficked and then dead at 20 years old lived the life He created them to be

    Indeed, this Problem of Evil makes atheism an easy choice. The only viable solution I’ve seen requires that one first accept, on faith, Christian beliefs about free will and moral culpability.

  42. DJC,

    “Nothing is diminished or lost…”

    Everything, in fact, is lost as all those other very strong itches just fail to be distinguishable in essence. You can cherry pick. Others can cherry pick differently. Everything thereby becomes a really strong “I-Feel”, or, as you say, transcendent. Like sex trafficking’s rather robust set of very strong feelings, drives, and passions. All so “transcendent”.

    Everything there is lost. Shattered. Diminished. That is, on your definition, on your end of regress.

    You seem to think that God likes it when little girls are raped – even created them for those ends.

    If that is your grounds for atheism, then you’ve no grounds for atheism.

    Since He has said otherwise in word, in action, and in various other vectors within and without, your volitional self-deception won’t impress, and fails to impress.

    Your foisting of love as the highest ethic is natural given what He fashions Man for from the very start. Genomic perpetuation and sex-trafficking go hand-in-hand in evolutionary morality’s end of regress, but, in God’s lines and contours there in the ceaseless reciprocity of His Immutable Love, such lines are a ceaseless affront against Actuality’s ceaseless Grain.

  43. DJC,

    Above in #43 you say this: “Indeed, this Problem of Evil makes atheism an easy choice. The only viable solution I’ve seen requires that one first accept, on faith, Christian beliefs about free will and moral culpability.”

    Are you saying here that atheism somehow obliterates free will and moral culpability? If this is the case, then you have set up atheism against the criminal system of justice of most of the nations in the free world, most particularly the United States, which is based entirely on acceptance of free will and moral culpability. Please note that we do not convict children or adults who are insane or mentally incompetent of crimes because we accept that their free will, the ability to choose between right and wrong, is impaired. One must be “competent to stand trial” by having one’s free will intact and therefore, be able to be held morally culpable for the crime of which accused. Do atheists really not believe in this?

  44. Jenna,

    Are you saying here that atheism somehow obliterates free will and moral culpability?

    No, I was referring to Alvin Plantinga’s free will defense of the problem of evil which requires an incompatibilist, libertarian free will. This kind of free will is only held by those with religious faith (as far as I know). Non-religious free will and moral responsibility is of compatibilist kind and does not help the problem of evil.

  45. DJC, RE: #46

    All of this is simply atheistic gibberish. The Problem of Evil (capital T, capital P and capital E) is a human problem, not God’s problem.

    Statements such as this one from atheists remind me of the classic joke about the prisoners who have heard each other’s jokes so often, they devise a system where they just call out a number for a joke and everyone laughs. No. 7-big laugh. No. 26-big laugh. Then the new recently incarcerated prisoner tries it. No. 86-even bigger laugh. So the new prisoner asks why: Answer: that’s the first time they had heard it.

    This is becoming the scenario with atheists’ clichés like The Problem of Evil.

  46. Jenna,

    All of this is simply atheistic gibberish. The Problem of Evil (capital T, capital P and capital E) is a human problem, not God’s problem.

    So no Christian has ever struggled with faith after a loved one is taken unexpectedly? Only atheists have these concerns?

  47. DJC,

    You are talking about the “free will defense for the problem of evil.” So I don’t understand how your question relates to the conversation. Of course all humans struggle with the problem of evil (no caps). But I simply don’t understand how anyone can question the role of human free will in the problem of evil. I only know of atheists who question the existence of free will, seemingly as a way of attempting to hold God (who they don’t believe exists) responsible for human evil instead of humans ourselves. Certainly, atheists don’t question God when they are faced with the loss of a loved one since they don’t believe in God, right? Or are you suggesting that “the problem” here isn’t really evil, but death?

  48. Here is a provocative article from Nature entitled, Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?

    The authors argue that the Standard Evolutionary Theory (SET) which is embraced by a majority of biologists, needs to be replaced by what they term an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis(EES). Here is how they explain it:

    The story that SET tells is simple: new variation arises through random genetic mutation; inheritance occurs through DNA; and natural selection is the sole cause of adaptation, the process by which organisms become well-suited to their environments. In this view, the complexity of biological development — the changes that occur as an organism grows and ages — are of secondary, even minor, importance.

    In our view, this ‘gene-centric’ focus fails to capture the full gamut of processes that direct evolution. Missing pieces include how physical development influences the generation of variation (developmental bias); how the environment directly shapes organisms’ traits (plasticity); how organisms modify environments (niche construction); and how organisms transmit more than genes across generations (extra-genetic inheritance). For SET, these phenomena are just outcomes of evolution. For the EES, they are also causes.

    Nevertheless, the authors go on to write “the mere mention of the EES often evokes an emotional, even hostile, reaction among evolutionary biologists. Too often, vital discussions descend into acrimony, with accusations of muddle or misrepresentation. Perhaps haunted by the spectre of intelligent design, evolutionary biologists wish to show a united front to those hostile to science.”

    In other words, when it comes to the accepted dogma (SET) one’s world view (naturalism or materialism) trumps the evidence– especially when the evidence suggests that the evolutionary process may be much more teleological than was once believed.

    I wonder if David Barash teaches his students anything about this new synthesis?

  49. JAD,

    In other words, when it comes to the accepted dogma (SET) one’s world view (naturalism or materialism) trumps the evidence– especially when the evidence suggests that the evolutionary process may be much more teleological than was once believed.

    Not at all, and you can see that by the counter view given in the same link. The objections to EES are that standard evolution theory does *not* neglect what is claimed to be neglected:

    All four phenomena that Laland and colleagues promote are ‘add-ons’ to the basic processes that produce evolutionary change: natural selection, drift, mutation, recombination and gene flow. None of these additions is essential for evolution, but they can alter the process under certain circumstances. For this reason they are eminently worthy of study.

    We invite Laland and colleagues to join us in a more expansive extension, rather than imagining divisions that do not exist

  50. DJC,

    Apparently you missed this part of Laland et al’s. argument:

    However, another factor is more important: many conventional evolutionary biologists study the processes that we claim are neglected, but they comprehend them very differently (see ‘No, all is well’). This is no storm in an academic tearoom, it is a struggle for the very soul of the discipline.

    And when they say,

    “the mere mention of the EES often evokes an emotional, even hostile, reaction among evolutionary biologists. Too often, vital discussions descend into acrimony, with accusations of muddle or misrepresentation. Perhaps haunted by the spectre of intelligent design, evolutionary biologists wish to show a united front to those hostile to science.”

    Are they making that up? Where does the “emotional, even hostile, reaction” come from? Dispassionate science or one’s passionate belief in a world view? I would argue it’s the latter.

    My point in all this is that the biological sciences, like all science, are tentative; and evolutionary theory, which is an historical science, is even more so. In no sense then can it be described as “settled science.” So what is the justification of an academic, like David Barash, using SET as a basis of a world view and then indoctrinating his students that SET answers the philosophical and theological questions about the existence of God and the problem of evil.

  51. JAD,

    I take the point of Barash’s talk to be that it is not the responsibility of biologists to make evolutionary science accommodate religious beliefs. Many religious beliefs have been shown to be incompatible with evolutionary science.

    I see two responses being made to this argument:

    (1) Not all religious beliefs have been shown to be incompatible with evolutionary science.

    (2) Evolutionary science is not firm enough to disprove religious belief.

    I would agree with (1), but so would Barash. “God hasn’t necessarily struck out”. He just thinks it’s getting harder to reconcile religion and science as time goes on. I, too, have trouble pointing to a Christian belief that easily reconciles completely with evolution. Thomism might do it, but I don’t know how it resolves the moral inefficiency of the rather brutal process of natural selection.

    As for (2), I would say that depends on which theories are being referred to. Nothing Barash has brought up should be taken as anything less than settled science. Further, even if every claim made about EES turns out to be 100% true, I don’t see that anything changes in Barash’s talk. What should change in your view?

    Of course no scientific view is ever complete, but if rejected solely on that basis, no religious belief would ever be disprovable.

    Are they making that up? Where does the “emotional, even hostile, reaction” come from? Dispassionate science or one’s passionate belief in a world view? I would argue it’s the latter.

    How is one’s worldview changed by accepting EES and rejecting SET? If you can show that EES lends support to religious views, I would be more sympathetic to defending the worldview hypothesis. But, generally, when people don’t have enough dispassionate science at hand, they resort to accusations to strengthen their case. I don’t know if that’s fair to Laland, et. al., but it certainly seems poorly considered here.

  52. “Nothing Barash has brought up should be taken as anything less than settled science.”

    Methodological naturalism has proven philosophical naturalism.

    Methodological naturalism has proven that dirt to man is incomprehensible if-God.

    We must have missed the memos.

  53. DJC, RE: #53

    The problem with your argument that appears to defend Barash is not whether or not “some religious beliefs” are incompatible with science. The issue, IMO, is that science officially is neutral therefore, silent, on issues of religion and religious belief. Please take note of the official statement of the US National Academy of Sciences; “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”

    This is the position of the scientific community for valid and sound reasons. Why doesn’t Barash respect this policy? Why does he use his biology classroom as a forum for discussing what are solely his opinions about the religious beliefs of certain groups of people? What ax does he have to grind with any religious community? Theology should be left at the door of science courses, both by those who attempt to have science validate theological constructs and those who attempt to invalidate theology through science.

  54. Settled Science“.

    That is a rather unscientific assertion.

    It makes null and void all inquiry – the very function, act, of science.

    It says, “Don’t question this. Stop right there”.

    As if there could not be – literally can-not-be – yet-to-be-found vectors directly impacting – even outperforming – currently measurable mechanisms in the affairs of Genesis’ and Hawking’s dirt to man. It just has to be unthinkable, and perhaps a crime worthy of public damnation, to suggest that out there in Genesis’ and Hawking’s Timelessness and in Genesis’ and Hawking’s Immaterial and Genesis’ and Hawking’s Sphere lies a yet more distant player with tentacles reaching – we know not where and we know not how – into the stuff of Time – into the stuff of Material.

    No.

    That cannot be.

    Timelessness cannot touch Time.

    Because we’ve got everything all figured out already. Timelessness and genome and the dances therein are all settled affairs. So much so that it would be “unscientific” to ask “how?”. No. Don’t ask “how” Hawking’s Timelessness touches genome – just believe – just have faith – yes – faith – that it’s all “settled science”. There just is no need to ask such questions of “other” physical sciences, because, you see, genome is wholly insulated from, immune to, all those other paradigms.

    Because it just is.

    At least according to the sorts of minds who speak of “settled science” – who wave their hammers over the heads of teenagers sitting in their classes – teenagers financially beholden to them – and declare such things as, “This is all settled”.

    Lennox reminds us about the very work and nature of science – “The quantum behavior of elementary particles still presents questions that, for the moment, outstrip our reason, our intuition, and powers of imagination. The same is true of human consciousness. No one understands it and there’s no generally agreed theory. In this situation, for research to continue requires faith. Faith that nature’s intelligibility and order will not peter out into unintelligible chaos. For all we know we might have to get our minds around a level of intelligibility far higher than any we can presently grasp. Indeed one could even say that faith in something that has not yet been proved still is, as it always has been, a prerequisite for scientific investigation.”

    The bizarre and colossal yet-to-be-explained here inside of Time – never mind the titanic unthinkable which precedes, and outreaches, the stuff of Time – reveals the statement “settled science” as what it actually is – the infantile cries of a toddler in his sandbox squealing an ear-piercing, “No! It’s Mine! Mine! No! No! It’s Mine!”.

    He thinks it’s the whole wide world, that sandbox.

    Fortunately such garbled wailing doesn’t last forever as both love and logic make their way into the toddler’s soul – over time.

  55. Jenna Black @ #55,

    Good points. It reminds me of something that former NCSE director Eugenie Scott said:

    Science’s concern for testing and control rules out supernatural causation. Supporters of the “God did it” argument hold that God is omnipotent. If there are omnipotent forces in the universe, by definition, it is impossible to hold their influences constant; one cannot “control” such powers. Lacking the possibility of control of supernatural forces, scientists forgo them in explanation. Only natural explanations are used. No one yet has invented a theometer, so we will just have to muddle along with material explanations.

    http://ncse.com/rncse/23/1/my-favorite-pseudoscience

    There are a couple things in her quote that I object to. First, when she asserts that “Science’s concern for testing and control rules out supernatural causation…”

    She is actually smuggling a metaphysical view of the world (her view) into science. For example, why is it necessary to act or pretend that “the supernatural [does] not exist“?

    Just admitting that we don’t know scientifically how this or that happened would be a better response. That does [not]* involve any kind of metaphysical assumption.

    (*typo in the original)

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2011/03/science-doesnt-need-methodological-naturalism/#comment-25375

    Second, when she says, “Supporters of the “God did it” argument hold that God is omnipotent… [etc.]” she is creating a condescending caricature that is hardly true of all Christian theists. Personally when I discover a so-called gap, in say the fossil record, I do not automatically assume that God did it or we need to “insert a miracle,” I assume we don’t know. Furthermore, I’m willing to grant science all the rope they need to find a natural explanation. However, it is just as much a fallacy for a philosophical naturalist to assume there is a natural explanation, as it is for creationists to assume there must be a supernatural explantion. IOW naturalism-of-the-gaps is just as fallacious as God-of-the-gaps. If we don’t know then we don’t know.

    Scott then goes on to quote Alvin Plantinga as saying that “God did it” is a science stopper. How so? Are the “God did it” people in danger of taking over the National Academy of Science? Secular universities? NASA? JPL? The NIH? How exactly are these “God did it” folks going to stop science? Maybe these are the same people who helped fake the moon landings? Right. (I’m being facetious, of course.)

    On the other hand, I agree with Scott that you can’t use science to detect God any more than you can use a tape measure to weigh an elephant. But it doesn’t follow that because you can’t weigh an elephant that it doesn’t have any weight. So, neither does it follow that because you cannot use science to detect God that He doesn’t exist. As a matter of fact there are good reasons to believe that He does exist.
    There are questions that are simply beyond the domain science. Ontological questions like the existence and nature of God are examples of questions that science can’t answer. (Apparently David Barash did not get that memo.)

    While some scientist may dismiss philosophy and theology as “so much navel gazing”, if you hold a naturalist or a materialist world view there are some ontological questions that you simply cannot ignore. For example, everyone who has a world view has to answer the question, what is the ultimate ground of being? For example, the theist believes the ultimate ground of being is an eternally existing transcendent mind; the naturalist or materialist OTOH believes that it is space/time, matter/energy and maybe the laws of nature. Both of these are unprovable assumptions that are beyond the domain of science.

  56. Jenna,

    The issue, IMO, is that science officially is neutral therefore, silent, on issues of religion and religious belief.

    My view would be that since science appears to be a highly reliable way of learning about reality, science should never be neutral or silent on any issues, much less issues of religion or religious belief. Religious belief may be a conduit to the creator of the universe or it may be a complex adaptive function made possible by highly evolved human social intelligence (or possibly both). But only empirical study can take us further to understanding.

    JAD,

    I’m not going to attempt to defend Scott’s comment since I don’t see that
    supernatural questions are beyond science. If science can understand mind, then mind’s understanding of God is also grasped and God is understood at least as well as the human mind is able (which would be more than enough to prove God’s existence). In theory, God can hide from the instruments of science, but he can not hide from the minds of human beings else religion ceases to exist in the place it is supposed to matter most.

    what is the ultimate ground of being? For example, the theist believes the ultimate ground of being is an eternally existing transcendent mind; the naturalist or materialist OTOH believes that it is space/time, matter/energy and maybe the laws of nature. Both of these are unprovable assumptions that are beyond the domain of science.

    A crucial correction is necessary here, I believe. The naturalist does not believe, but hypothesizes that time/space/energy are enough to explain mind. If progress on this hypothesis halts, hits a brick wall, the naturalist expands the hypothesis beyond time/space/energy and starts to explore assumptions that look increasingly theistic. There are no unprovable assumptions necessary to the naturalist worldview, only an ordering of hypotheses from simplest to complex and then testing and ruling out the simpler ones first.

  57. DJC,

    I’m going to say it along with pretty much everyone here:

    “My view would be that since science appears to be a highly reliable way of learning about reality, science should never be neutral or silent on any issues, much less issues of religion or religious belief.”

    That will just never fly. Ever. Too much has been said about it elsewhere, but you’re going to have to demonstrate that view much further for that to be convincing.

    Can you scientifically demonstrate whether or not I should commit suicide?

  58. DJC,

    “but he [god] can not hide from the minds of human beings else religion ceases to exist in the place it is supposed to matter most.”

    So revelation is not necessary?

    Bob can’t hide from John?

    If a man can hide from a man, it seems odd that you would assert that God “cannot”.

    Now, revelation becomes both motion on God’s side and motion on our side – you’ll embrace an amoral essence in suicide’s ad infinitum regression before you embrace God.

    That is your choice.

    Not God’s.

    You see, and yet you embrace something otherwise.

    In fact, if we throw in the whole paradigm of man’s fragmentation, privation, and what such means where the stuff of “sight” is concerned, we have left your (inaccurate) analysis behind us and begin to replace it with a whole other paradigm.

  59. DJC and GM,

    I also take exception to DJC’s remarks about how “science should never be neutral or silent on any issues, much less issues of religion or religious belief.” First of all, let us be reminded that science as an academic discipline and epistemology doesn’t “say” anything; only scientists do. The caveat here that we are discussing is that when scientists speak about theology under the guise of science, they are doing so unethically because science as an epistemology (way of acquiring human knowledge) has no methodology for inquiry into the questions and problems posed in and addressed by theology.

    Witness for example the late Victor Stenger, the physics professor who claimed that science disproves “the God hypothesis” but who failed at what science (and scientists) require as fundamental to all hypothesis formulation: a clear statement of what the hypothesis is in such a way as to suggest how it can be tested empirically. (You can see my review of Victor Stenger’s book (2008) “God, the failed hypothesis: How science shows that God does not exist” on amazon.com.)

    Science and scientists as an academic and professional community are totally correct in espousing the policy that science is neutral regarding theology, despite DJC’s opinion to the contrary. It is perfectly reasonable to have respect for science when it does, and does well, what science is supposed to do. It is not reasonable to expect science to extend itself beyond the scope and range of its own methods of inquiry or to laud scientists who pretend that science somehow addresses questions of theology that it is not equipped to answer. We don’t get upset when we can’t use a thermometer to measure air pressure or when a barometer doesn’t give us a reading of the temperature. The same is true of science and theology/philosophy.

  60. GM,

    I don’t think I’m saying anything that should be controversial if science is understood as a reliable means of discovering truths about reality, including the reality of ourselves, our minds, and our values. Science can not create our values out of thin air, but then nothing can.

    The answer to what “should you do” is always and ultimately a question of your values and achieving them, but is never an easy calculation on-the-spot when neuroscience shows the mind to be more like a chaotic committee, with conflicting values, desires, emotions in flux over time and over situations. I mentioned Jonathan Haidt’s approach to a science of happiness which takes religious teachings as a body of empirical knowledge about human psychology and applies that to the question of achieving our values. What causes dissatisfaction, depression, what cures it, all seem to be empirical questions that science is well-equipped to study and to answer with increasing confidence.

    On the question of suicide, my presumption is that no one wants to do it, rather there is something, call it pain or depression, that deadens all values leaving nothing of importance. But the loss of values, of meaning, is losing a part of one’s self, like an amputation. To be a person with values and to see, ahead on a road to depression, those values eroded and destroyed is to see sickness and death. Thus, I can see no sense in which depression is not as serious as any disease with a death sentence, except that if cured, values are restored as well. Does science say one should succumb to cancer? Technically it says nothing, but it does identify the culprit and provide treatment that may cure.

  61. Ok, but you’re saying something a little different here from “science should never be neutral or silent on any issues.” I hope I’m not pouncing, but…

    “I mentioned Jonathan Haidt’s approach to a science of happiness which takes religious teachings as a body of empirical knowledge about human psychology and applies that to the question of achieving our values.”

    The inquiry starts with the philosophical question “What makes a life worth living?” and answers with “Happiness.” (or whatever it actually says) which is a philosophical conclusion and then goes on to scientifically verify happiness-inducers, along the lines of the philosophical quest.

    Like you said, we can scientifically verify techniques of survival, but it cannot tell us if survival is worth pursuing. But if we grant that it cannot speak to that facet of reality, it follows that it’s at least possible that it cannot speak to other areas of reality.

  62. DJC,

    You assert that suicide is born of depression.

    It’s not.

    Some is of other motives.

    Therefore, your regression is not representative of all lines. Of reality.

    “Illness” fails you.

    Some do so for there own assertion of meaning.

    If a bell curve is all you have then you don’t have what GM asked you for.

    Which he pointed out.

    Which we noticed.

    Describing is not prescribing.

    If you don’t think there is a difference, it’s because without God there is none.

    Give us more stats. More curves.

    It’s not “it”.

  63. GM,

    Like you said, we can scientifically verify techniques of survival, but it cannot tell us if survival is worth pursuing. But if we grant that it cannot speak to that facet of reality, it follows that it’s at least possible that it cannot speak to other areas of reality.

    “Worth pursuing” can really only be understood I expect as a host of past, present, future, and imagined or hoped-for phenomenal experiences associated with people, places, innumerable situations, and no amount of language phrases that scientific knowledge is limited to can add up to that. So yes, science can’t meaningfully answer the deepest questions of phenomenal experience. To do so, we must be able to, effectively, digitize and transport phenomenal experience the way language, images and sound are now; and that’s quite a few decades ahead of us (but not necessarily out of reach I believe).

  64. True Confession:

    “To do so, we must be able to, effectively, digitize and transport phenomenal experience the way language, images and sound are now;”

    I don’t know what that means.

  65. DJC,

    Do you really think [Robot] equates to what GM is asking of you?

    I thought better of you. True confession.

    That is, I knew the arbitrary taste buds of tasters was all you had, but I thought YOU would not equivocate and confabulate there…. on grounds of, well, (your) intelligence.

  66. DJC,

    A crucial correction is necessary here, I believe. The naturalist does not believe, but hypothesizes that time/space/energy are enough to explain mind. If progress on this hypothesis halts, hits a brick wall, the naturalist expands the hypothesis beyond time/space/energy and starts to explore assumptions that look increasingly theistic. There are no unprovable assumptions necessary to the naturalist worldview, only an ordering of hypotheses from simplest to complex and then testing and ruling out the simpler ones first.

    Let’s focus in on a couple of your claims.

    “The naturalist does not believe, but hypothesizes that time/space/energy are enough to explain mind.”

    That’s nothing more than equivocation. Look what you said in the sentence immediately prior to that. Your trying to substitute “hypothesize” for “belief”. No one ever has a belief about his/her hypothesis? Everyone says, “this is my hypothesis but I have no reason to believe it?” A scientist would receive grant money saying something like that in his research proposal?

    “There are no unprovable assumptions necessary to the naturalist worldview…”

    You’ve only succeeded in painting yourself further back into a corner. You haven’t proven to me or anyone else that the basic assumptions of naturalism/materialism are in fact provable.

  67. I agree with what Charles Darwin wrote in a letter to a friend (paraphrase): that into his mind creeps the “horrid doubt” that if we are indeed descended from monkeys, how can we trust the convictions of a monkey’s brain, if there are such convictions in such a brain. And even if evolution according to Prof. Barash is true right down the line, evolution cannot explain creation. Survival of the fittest presumes the arrival of the fit. The foundation of our rationality must be rational. That we are rational and have proven it endlessly for thousands of years is proof-positive that modern humans at least have been created in the image of an infinitely rational Mind. A nonrational source (primordial slime, e.g.) would violate the Law of Cause and Effect, for no effect can be greater than its cause. I have no problem with evolution per se, but when it comes to modern humans, we are special. And BTW, I reject young-earth creationism, fwiw.

  68. GM,

    I’m rampantly speculating on how our knowledge could change if we could literally store, transmit and share phenomenal experiences, the way text is stored, transmitted and shared. The only way I think it could be done is completely futuristic of course: nano-scale artificial neurons with wifi-capabilities linked to biological neurons, creating a wireless neural interface to the brain. That’s half the problem, the other half is mapping one’s unique neural configuration (reported via wireless artificial neurons) onto a sort of standardized virtual brain in the cloud that reflects the commonality of human neural networks and the concepts and experiences they represent. What will we then be able say about scientific limitations to the most meaningful experiences we are capable of when we can share and experience anything that has been experienced or can be experienced? I think this scenario is conceivable, even possible, regardless of whether reality is ultimately theistic or atheistic, by extrapolating where computing technology will likely be in a hundred years.

  69. JAD,

    No one ever has a belief about his/her hypothesis?

    Did you mean to write earlier:

    Likewise, the theist hypothesizes that the ultimate ground of being is an eternally existing transcendent mind;

    Because I didn’t get the idea that yours was a hypothesis in the sense of being tested and rejected if found wanting. However, certainly, if you mean that the theist hypothesizes in the same sense that the naturalist hypothesizes, then of course I retract my objection. But:

    You haven’t proven to me or anyone else that the basic assumptions of naturalism/materialism are in fact provable.

    Progress is proving the assumption valid so far. Progress on the naturalist hypothesis of mind is moving forward at an excellent rate so there’s no reason to abandon the hypothesis. As I said, if progress on this hypothesis halts, hits a brick wall, the naturalist expands the hypothesis beyond time/space/energy and starts to explore assumptions that look increasingly theistic.

  70. Ok. I mean, I’m not plugging my head into the internet. Not really for ethical or religious purposes, but can you imagine the pop-ups? 🙂

    This still doesn’t change anything though. I see what you’re saying, but while science can tell us HOW to do this, science can’t tell us whether or not we even should. There’s no data set that results in “experience all that can be experienced” as a justifiable goal or a thing that should ethically happen, at least not prior to other philosophical attachments.

    Say there was some kind of impending asteroid event that was going to make the surface of the planet uninhabitable, and the species had a choice: Die, or upload your “self” to some nuclear powered ultra-computer. MAYBE it could be scientifically demonstrated that our self-hood could somehow be preserved, so ok, fine. But from then out, all “science” can say is “This will happen if you do this, and that will happen if you do that.” There’s no experiment for “Should I die with my organic body?” The scientist might answer factual questions that could help you inform your decision, but if he tries to straight up answer the question, he’s not speaking “from science.”

    BTW, sharing server space with Call of Duty players for a couple thousand years sounds just awful.

  71. GM,

    can you imagine the pop-ups?

    Nice one! Horrible thought.

    I see what you’re saying, but while science can tell us HOW to do this, science can’t tell us whether or not we even should.

    Right, but nothing except our pre-existing, deepest, fundamental values can truly answer that question, not even religion from what I can see. No religious instruction or command has any weight unless there is a pre-existing value that gives it weight. To answer what I should do involves understanding my values and understanding how best to achieve them, and I can use religion and/or science (psychology) to do that. (Psychology/psychiatry has had, admittedly, a poor scientific track record, and is only recently getting on more respectable footing.)

    Science’s conflict with religious claims may also figure in to value calculations. For example, when it comes to deciding on death, religion and science differ on the likelihood of an afterlife (religion 100%, science unknown%) so science would say the value for suicide should, at best, not include the value of an afterlife. This is a “should” but it is one that appeals to deeper values.

  72. DJC,

    Yeah. Arbitrary and shifting taste buds of tasters.

    We got that.

    That’s Naturalism’s end.

    It’s not Ought.

    And even worse for you — your 0% equivocates science with atheism.

    Two fallacies so far in one response.

  73. Just for the record here are a short list of some unproven– unprovable– assumptions that a naturalist or materialist must make:

    (1) There is a real world out there that can be comprehended by the human mind.

    (2) That the so-called laws of nature are uniform throughout the observable universe.

    (3) There is an eternal regress of natural causes.

    (4) Natural causes acting alone are sufficient to explain everything that exists.

    The Christian theist does not believe that everything in our universe can be explained by natural causes. We believe,

    “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Heb. 11:3)

    OTOH the naturalist must believe something like this:

    By faith we understand that the universe is the result of mindless natural causes, so that what is seen was not made out of any thing that is intelligent, transcendent or supernatural.

    Personally, I am a Christian-theist because it has far better explanatory scope and power than any form of naturalism. Since the basic assumptions of either world view must be accepted by faith there is no advantage for preferring naturalism over theism, especially when the latter has better explanatory scope and power.

  74. JAD –

    Just for the record here are a short list of some unproven– unprovable– assumptions that a naturalist or materialist must make:

    Everyone has to make unprovable assumptions.

    But consider your #1 for a moment – “There is a real world out there that can be comprehended by the human mind.” Alright, let’s assume the converse. “There’s no real world out there.” Okay, fine. Now what?

    Some assumptions are unprovable, but inherently self-defeating. Assuming them is – literally, precisely – pointless. I don’t feel guilty or irrational for assuming their converse.

  75. Ray,

    If you want to hide from Hume’s problem and just pretend that we reason when materialism grants no “real” there… then be honest. Otherwise show your work in your regression’s end point. Logical leaps against the grain of Mind are not necessary in all directions.

  76. JAD,

    Just for the record here are a short list of some unproven– unprovable– assumptions that a naturalist or materialist must make:

    You’re equivocating on the use of “assumption”.

    My use of assumption was intended to be a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.

    Your use of assumption is a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof, on faith.

    OTOH the naturalist must believe something like this:

    By faith we understand that the universe is the result of mindless natural causes, so that what is seen was not made out of any thing that is intelligent, transcendent or supernatural.

    No. The naturalist proposes the explanation that the universe is the result of mindless natural causes as a starting point for further investigation. That investigation is ongoing and bearing fruit.

    Personally, I am a Christian-theist because it has far better explanatory scope and power than any form of naturalism.

    I would say both God and Naturalism are roughly equal in explanatory power and scope. But explanatory power is useless without an actual explanation.

  77. DJC, RE: #78

    You say this: “No. The naturalist proposes the explanation that the universe is the result of mindless natural causes as a starting point for further investigation. That investigation is ongoing and bearing fruit.”

    Just statement is a blatant “cop out.”

    Think about this: If it takes intelligence to figure out how it works, it took intelligence to make it.

    You seem to think that naturalism wiggles itself off the hook by not using terms like “intelligent, transcendent, supernatural.” These are concepts, not something that naturalism is capable of investigating or “bearing fruit” about.

    I suggest that you take a look at my discussion on another thread with Ray Ingles. JB

  78. Jenna,

    Think about this: If it takes intelligence to figure out how it works, it took intelligence to make it.

    That’s a theory, but unless you can scientifically prove it or least make headway in a research program devoted to that theory, it’s not going to stop scientists from continuing to work on alternate theories.

    In addition, I don’t see that such a theory is well defined. Human intelligence is increasingly understood as directly due to the structure and connectivity of billions of connected neurons with dynamically adjusting synaptic weights, so arguing that all that exists was made by connected neurons with dynamically adjusting synaptic weights seems a dead end. You must first show that intelligence can meaningfully exist without a neural substrate (organic, silicon, or whatever), and that seems difficult.

  79. DJC,

    You are talking nonsense. My observation that if it takes intelligence to figure out how something works, it took intelligence to make it is not a “theory” that must be “scientifically proven”. It is merely an observation of reality. Do scientists have to scientifically prove that they are intelligent in order to do science? Or does the doing of science not prove that they are intelligent? And then, of course you must agree that they (scientists) did not create the science that they do, do they?

    What you are doing is much like giving me a description of human digestion in an attempt to disprove that food exists, claiming that food is caused by digestion. Human intelligence exists as an adaptive feature to a living environment that is understood only through intelligence, which “exists” the way it exists with or without the existence of human intelligence.

    You are working much too hard at your atheism.

  80. DJC,

    Scientism is nonsense for obvious reasons. And equivocation amid the terms Science and Atheism is dishonest.

    “Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave. Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, ‘I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2:20 a.m. on January 15th and saw so-and-so,’ or, ‘I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such a temperature and it did so-and-so.’ Do not think I am saying anything against science: I am only saying what its job is.

    And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science–and a very useful and necessary job it is too. But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes–something of a different kind–this is not a scientific question. If there is ‘Something Behind,’ then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some different way. The statement that there is any such thing, and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them. After all, it is really a matter of common sense. Supposing science ever became complete so that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, ‘Why is there a universe?’ ‘Why does it go on as it does?’ ‘Has it any meaning?’ would remain just as they were.” C.S. Lewis

  81. Jenna,

    You are talking nonsense.

    If you are upset or irritated to the point of this kind of attack, I will bow out of the discussion. I’m sure there are people I can have productive discussions with that follow some rules of polite behavior.

  82. DJC,

    There is no evidence that our microscopes can answer all our questions.

    In fact, for painfully obvious reasons, scientism is incoherent.

    Philosophy trumps (physical) science – in a sense – for it is by philosophical means that we finally come to see the self-evident, to know, that scientism is incoherent.

    We don’t rationally comprehend the limits of methodological naturalism, of science, by science, but by philosophy. We don’t need a microscope to teach us where the reach of science (physical science) ends – and end it does on pain of scientism’s incoherence – we need Philosophy to show us about science and its reach. And where (physical) science ends, philosophy – the immaterial – the self-evident – easily, casually, carries on. In fact, even that statement is not complete because philosophy – in showing us the self-evident, the incoherence of scientism – must even precede the work of (physical) science.

    Justified knowledge comes by many vectors. Not merely one.

    That is a strength of Theism – and a weakness of Naturalism. Paradigms beyond the microscope are easily, casually, embraced. Expected even. Predicted even. Scientism’s self-evident incoherence is a great weight of evidence to methodological naturalism’s indebtedness to Philosophy for justified knowledge.

Comments close automatically on posts older than 120 days.