Tuesday, August 18, 2009
August 18th, 2009 at 10:46 am
— Oh, Robert Wright is definitely a big fan of evo psych. As usual McCarthy wants to pontificate without reading the book. Skeptic
I asked if Robert Wright was trying to assert what he wrote was science, I said I had only read about the book but hadn’t read it at the beginning of my comment. I didn’t try to hide that fact. His documentation that Coyne misrepresented what he said was pretty clear, Coyne misrepresented him just as the critics of Unscientific America have repeatedly misrepresented it. Those are the only things I said about his book. You will notice I put the only statement about it’s purporting to represent science in the form of a question.
– So according to McCarthy the best possible explanation for morality and religion is likely to be non-scientific and supernatural? Skeptic
“The best possible explanation for morality and religion,” I know I’ve never asserted anything about any “best possible explanation” for them, I’ve said that I didn’t even think you could come to a real definition of “religion”, never mind “morality” that could be universally inclusive. I doubt such an “explanation” would be complete, it would definitely be non-scientific at this point for that reason.
As to your assumption that I mean a supernatural explanation being the best, no. I tend to look at the results of moral assertions and religious ideas in real life to see what the results are before hazarding an opinion on them. I don’t have much faith at all in theories about things like that, I want to see the results. So, I guess the answer to that part of your assertion would be, clearly not.
I think it’s also typical of scientism that it asserts that we have to come up with some sciency sounding supposed explanation of everything and that huge swaths of alleged behavioral science exists to fill that anxious emotional need. It might be unfortunate that large parts of human experience and the actual universe are now without real scientific explanations about them and that large parts of life and the universe almost certainly never will. It might be unsatisfying or produce anxiety on the part of those who can’t deal with the reality that large parts of life are and will almost certainly be without reliable verification. But that’s just too bad because that’s the way it is. We are stuck with reality and the limits of human abilities and human institutions, including science, are real. I wonder how much the boundaries of uncertainty could be pushed back if the junk science was junked and those people concentrated on stuff that had actual, physical evidence they could make more reliable observations about.
Not that I think the addiction to baseless theorizing is reserved for scientists, I think that’s probably more to do with how people in academia get jobs, recognition and rewards than it does about science. John Kenneth Galbraith once pointed out that agronomists, economists who deal with concrete, physical reality were considered to be far less prestigious than the lofty and airy theorists who, I’d say, have produced mostly junk. These days a lot of those are pretending they’re biologists of the evo-psy kind.
# 55. Anthony McCarthy Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
August 18th, 2009 at 10:49 am
gillt, you’re the one who wants to challenge my point that there isn’t a single documented incident of pre-historic behavior in either hominids or the ancestors of chimpanzees. And you expect me to cringe when you come up with that cowardly dodge. You are a fraud.
There is not a single observed or reliably documented incident of behavior to back up any assertion made about it pretending that it is science. Not a single one. Everything that has been said about them is story telling and creation myth.
# 56. gillt Says:
August 18th, 2009 at 11:03 am
Shorter McCarthy: “Knowledge is merely opinion!”
# 57. Anthony McCarthy Says:
August 18th, 2009 at 11:39 am
No, sciencey creation myth is still creation myth. No matter how many letters those making it up have behind their names.
# 58. Anthony McCarthy Says:
August 18th, 2009 at 11:44 am
— The discussion of New Atheism has stifled other valuable discussion. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. Skeptic
New atheism’s discussions have stifled other valuable discussions, that’s not an opinion that’s a fact. That is why it’s been necessary to discuss the silly fad.
# 59. Sorbet Says:
August 18th, 2009 at 11:44 am
-Sciencey creation myth is still creation myth.
Yes, we all know that. And trust the infamous Kentucky creation museum to gratuitously expound upon that myth.
# 60. Sorbet Says:
August 18th, 2009 at 11:47 am
McCarthy; tightly shutting his eyes and convincing himself that it’s a “silly fad” that will go away. No actual reading up on science though.
# 61. Anthony McCarthy Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
August 18th, 2009 at 11:59 am
I’m still waiting for that example of Paleolithic or even Neolithic behavior which has been observed and documented in a way that could be passed off as science.
In lieu of that, provide an explanation of how a “behavior” that isn’t observed could be known to have happened, or how a “behavior” that never happened could be real. We’ll leave the matter of how to verify the meaning of such a “behavior” till after one of you can answer the more basic point.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
August 8th, 2009 at 3:54 am
—- Are you talking about Jerry Coyne? Sven di Milo
Clearly I’m talking about Sam Harris when I’m talking about people who have made atheism their profession. I’d have said people who have made atheism their fundamentalist cult if I was talking about Jerry Coyne.
—- This blog has just become a parody of what a science blog should be. ShowsOn
And what SHOULD a science blog be? Another tiresome new atheist frat house? Jerry Coyne’s more genteel version of one?
The blog belongs to its owners, they get to decide what it SHOULD be.
— Simply posting parts of reviews that agree with your latest book isn’t scientific. ShowsOn
If anything, the owners of this blog have been unusually open about the negative reviews of their work, I would guess that they have been more open to discussing it than most of their opponents have been. Ophelia Benson has been allowed to gas on at vast, repetitious and tiresome length here as have trolls who are regulars at the blogs of people they’ve criticized.
They’ve certainly been more tolerant than Jerry or PZ of even the most ill informed critics on this blog.
— It is what I have come to expect from parts of the Humanities. ShowsOn
I expect you don’t mean Ophelia Benson, but that’s based on what I’d expect from the rest of your comment. Lots of the people working in the humanities could more than match your average science blogger for fairness and integrity, broadmindedness and openness to criticism. Lots of them are more consistently observant of those than many in the sciences and any of the new atheist ScienceBloggers I’m aware of.
# 29. Anthony McCarthy Says:
August 8th, 2009 at 3:58 am
Reading up the thread again, look at how they’ve tolerated other people presuming to define who is and isn’t a troll on their blog. It’s kind of funny how their opponents seem to figure it’s their right to label CM and SK’s supporters as trolls on their blog.
# 30. Matti K. Says:
August 8th, 2009 at 5:19 am
What is there so difficult to understand? Presently, Mr. Mooney and Ms. Kirschenbaum use this blog mainly to market their book. Therefore one can not expect them to debate the issues in the book for free.
Once the dust settles and nobody buys the book anymore, Mr. Mooney and Ms. Kirschenbaum will probably start to debate the issues again. Also, after the marketing pressures have gone, there will be room to confess the “maturation” of ideas, as has happened before:
I don’t see it as impossible that the present accomodationist stand of M&K will turn once again towards confronting the irrationalities of religion.
# 31. Anthony McCarthy Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
August 8th, 2009 at 9:32 am
— Presently, Mr. Mooney and Ms. Kirschenbaum use this blog mainly to market their book. Matti K
That would be as opposed to Jerry Coyne who gave his blog the same name as his book, the only reason I happened to come across his blog to start with.
— I don’t see it as impossible that the present accomodationist stand of M&K will turn once again towards confronting the irrationalities of religion. Matti K.
That would be as opposed to the irrationality of the new atheism which makes all kinds of claims about the mental instability of religious people, despite the high functioning of many of them and about the impossibility of the coexistence of science and religion in society and in individual scientists and others who accept science with little trouble. That is despite massive empirical evidence that the prejudice of the new atheists is factually incorrect.
And that’s not getting to the arrogance of the new atheists who claim the mantle of reason as they demonstrate they’re quite selective in their practice of it, when not entirely immune to its exigencies.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
August 4th, 2009 at 9:00 am
Observer, the vicarious and undifferentiated blaming of religious believers, including liberal religious people for ‘creating an atmosphere in which fundamentalism can thrive’ is one of the distinguishing aspects of new atheism. I don’t think I’d ever have commented on the phenomenon once if they didn’t practice that double standard. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Myers, etc. have all asserted essentially that position. Are you denying that idea isn’t prevalent as statement and practice among the new atheists?
Atheists who reject that standard aren’t atheists I’d consider “new atheists”.
And as I tell you guys all the time, I submit all bigots to the standard they reserve for their opponents because to not do that allows them to rig the rules in their favor.
Skeptic, you’re rather credulous about the evidentiary value of surveys, I’m considerably more skeptical of them. I’m absolutely certain that the new atheists who maintain the same superstition as some of the most benighted religious fundamentalists that religion and science are incompatible have some influence, they’ve been thanked by some of them for making their job easier. However, I’ve pointed out from the beginning that there are religious fundamentalists who either have training or careers in science even as they are religious fundamentalists, so you can be a religious fundamentalist and a scientist at the same time. The point being that the situation in real life isn’t a simple either/or proposition, it’s a lot more complex and nuanced, I’d suspect sufficiently so much so that the kind of survey you propose would be totally useless.
As to the “hundreds of individual charges” in the books, there are billions of religious believers in the world, hundreds of millions in the United States alone. Even “hundreds of millions of individual charges” wouldn’t make a single person who wasn’t “guilty” as charged responsible for them, especially if they specifically and vigorously rejected them.
If the Dawkins-Harris standard of justice was applied to science, they’d be culpable for some pretty awful stuff, crimes rivaling the worst of those committed by religious figures. By that standard, Dawkins would have to answer for eugenics and “race science”. Would you like that standard applied to him?
Sunday, August 2, 2009
The existence of religious scientists, many with more substantial careers than Myers, for example, are there. Their existence is a fact, their work is there to be seen. They are as there as the entire fossil record or the record of comparative genetics, it is a fact of history and of the real world. The historical fact that many of the most important scientists have been religious is a fact more objective than any of the speculations about undocumented behavior that Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett continually make to absolutely no objection by Rosenhouse or the other new atheists. Those people who produce both science and who believe in religion are the only ones qualified to tell us if they experience a "conflict between science and religion", Rosenhouse is incompetent to override whatever they have to say on that issue. Their existence in reality, in the objectively existing world is a refutation of the assertion more credible than anything he or Dawkins or PZ Myers theorize about it.
Biblical fundamentalism is in conflict with the science of evolution, many Christians would assert they are also in conflict with what's known about the history of "The Bible", and there are other scholars of those books who would say so too and who aren’t Christians. Those are real conflicts, but those aren’t the same thing as a blanket incompatibility of science and religion. Rosenhouse would have to explain how even some Biblical fundamentalists, even as they deny the reality of evolution, maintain successful careers in science. Even the assertion that fundamentalism is in “conflict” with “science” is objectively false. Richard Lewontin talks about a debate he and Carl Sagan had with an evolution denier who had a PhD in Zoology from the University of Texas in 1964. He asked what people should make of someone with that degree, clearly qualified as a “scientist” even in biology, who also denied the reality of evolution.
— Everything we know about human anatomy suggests that personality and whatnot are the products of physical phenomena in the brain; they die with the body. Jason Rosenhouse
As “human anatomy” is based in the physical body, of course anything you can ascertain by the study of it will end with death. But there isn’t any way to ascertain, scientifically, that the mind is a manifestation of chemistry. If there is a mind that exists independently of the body, then anatomy would be incapable of finding it or, perhaps, not be able to see it beneath what it could see. Rosenhouse is depending on the current fashion for the body only hypothesis instead of on actual fact, because that is only a philosophical position that isn’t universally held.
Here are two things I’ve read recently that are relevant to his assertion.
Suppose we concede the most extravagant claims that might be made for natural law, so that we allow that the processes of the mind are governed by it; the effect of this concession is merely to emphasize the fact that the mind has an outlook which transcends the natural law by which it functions. If, for example, we admit that every thought in the mind is represented in the brain by a characteristic configuration of atoms, then if natural law determines the way in which the configurations of atoms succeed one another it will simultaneously determine the way in which thoughts succeed one another in the mind. Now the thought of "7 times 9" in a boy’s mind is not seldom succeeded by the thought of "65." What has gone wrong? In the intervening moments of cogitation everything has proceeded by natural laws which are unbreakable. Nevertheless we insist that something has gone wrong. However closely we may associate thought with the physical machinery of the brain, the connection is dropped as irrelevant as son as we consider the fundamental property of thought, that it may be correct or incorrect. The machinery cannot be anything but correct. We say that the brain which produces "7 times 9 are 63" is better than a brain that produces "7 times 9 are 65"; but it is not as a servant of natural law that it is better. Our approval of the first brain has no connection with natural law; it is determined by the type of thought which it produces, and that involves recognizing a domain of the other type of law, laws which ought to be kept, but may be broken. Dismiss the idea that natural laws may swallow up religion; it cannot even tackle the multiplication table single-handed. A. S. Eddington Science and the Unseen World
To plead the organic causation of a religious state of mind, then, in refutation of its claim to possess superior spiritual value, is quite illogical and arbitrary, unless one has already worked out in advance some psycho-physical theory connecting spiritual values in general with determinate sorts of physiological change. Otherwise none of our thoughts and feelings, not even our scientific doctrines, not even our DIS-beliefs, could retain any value as revelations of the truth, for every one of them without exception flows from the state of its possessor's body at the time.
It is needless to say that medical materialism draws in point of fact no such sweeping skeptical conclusion. William James Varieties of Religious Experience Lecture 1
Friday, July 31, 2009
July 31st, 2009 at 10:28 am
Peter Beattie, then it’s an ideological blog and not a science blog, which is pretty much what people have been saying.
Mistaking an ideology for science isn’t limited to the NA’s, it’s a common enough intellectual fallacy. Like most of those who make that mistake, the NA’s hold themselves above taking into consideration the topics and observations outside of “science” that would help them avoid that mistake.
If Collins is guilty of some kind of “sin” it’s in stating the truth that religion can accommodate science, I’ve never seen a supported assertion that he has injected religion into science. A career like his wouldn’t stand even one verified instance of that. Coyne and PZ are no less guilty of trying to inject their ideological position into science, even more so, I’d say.
25. Anthony McCarthy Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
July 31st, 2009 at 10:43 am
— Marc, there is already a religious test for any scientist appointed to public office - there is no way on earth that any open atheist would even be considered for the position. Atheists don’t want to impose a religious test - we want the one that’s already imposed to stop. Lee Harrison
The prohibition on a religious test to hold public office is binding on local, state and federal government, the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. It isn’t binding on THE PEOPLE, the voters. They can take any consideration they choose to take in how they cast their vote. There is absolutely no legal restriction that prevents them from doing that, there is none that could ever be made to work.
I really resent the lie that atheists are “where gay people were fifty years ago”. Fifty years ago atheists became a protected class under civil rights legislation and pre-existing provisions of the constitution. They have legal recourse if they are discriminated against in all covered areas specifically under the prohibitions about discrimination based on religious belief. Gay people, such as me, aren’t covered in more than local and state law against discrimination and in not a single state do we have equal rights to straight people.