MandM header image 2

John Lennox on the “Religion v Science” Myth

February 15th, 2011 by Madeleine

John Lennox will arrive in Auckland in less than two weeks for his New Zealand tour.

If you are not familiar with Lennox watch this video “The “Religion v Science” Myth.” In it Lennox examines the historically ignorant myth that religion is and always has been at odds with science.

Details of Lennox’s upcoming New Zealand tour are here: Hear John Lennox in New Zealand.

Hat tip: Glenn Peoples

Tags:   · · · 273 Comments

Leave a Comment


+ four = 6


273 responses so far ↓

  • You should post a video of John singing. He is really good.

  • The “Galileo affair” is pretty much the only event that people can use in the religion vs science argument. It’s amazing how the Church contributed to science, especially the Jesuits (35 craters on the moon are named after the Jesuit priests who discovered them, and the science of seismology is still often called the ‘Jesuit science’ because of the advances they made there.

    I’ve read Thomas Woods’ book, ‘How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization’, and it is amazing when you look back and see the Christian roots of international law, the first universities, hospitals, astronomy and more.

    snippet –

    It is all very well to point out that important scientists, like Louis Pasteur, have been Catholic. More revealing is how many priests have distinguished themselves in the sciences. It turns out, for instance, that the first person to measure the rate of acceleration of a freely falling body was Fr. Giambattista Riccioli. The man who has been called the father of Egyptology was Fr. Athanasius Kircher (also called “master of a hundred arts” for the breadth of his knowledge). Fr. Roger Boscovich, who has been described as “the greatest genius that Yugoslavia ever produced,” has often been called the father of modern atomic theory.

    In the sciences it was the Jesuits in particular who distinguished themselves; some 35 craters on the moon, in fact, are named after Jesuit scientists and mathematicians.

    By the eighteenth century, the Jesuits

    had contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter’s surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn’s rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon effected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light. Star maps of the southern hemisphere, symbolic logic, flood-control measures on the Po and Adige rivers, introducing plus and minus signs into Italian mathematics — all were typical Jesuit achievements, and scientists as influential as Fermat, Huygens, Leibniz and Newton were not alone in counting Jesuits among their most prized correspondents [Jonathan Wright, The Jesuits, 2004, p. 189].

    more

  • But science is at odds with many many theists and what they consider their holy truth, a lot of which is, if taken literally, is seriously at odds with science.

    Genesis, if taken as the absolute literal truth, compares miserably with our scientific knowledge of how the cosmos formed, of how animals came to be as diverse as they are, how humans came to be etc. etc.

    It’s easy for you, if you’re willing to have an understanding of the Bible which doesn’t conflict with science, to say that it doesn’t, but you are likely to find that you are in a minority even with regards to your own version of Christianity.

    Seems to me that a relatively small amount of Christians arguing a narrow version of ‘science conflicting with religion or not’ is ever so slightly disingenuous considering the vast numbers of Christians willing to fight tooth and nail against the truth of basic astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry, evolution, genetics etc. etc.

    It just seems like you are denying the reality of the situation regarding the majority opinion on your subject here, in favour of a ‘technical’ reality concerning religious philosophers both modern and medieval.

    For example, I cannot prove that most people in medieval times were illiterate peasants, soldiers and mariners who believed that the World was flat, perhaps in spite of any religious teaching to the contrary, nevertheless, I think it’s reasonable to suppose it’s true.

    Seems to me that, as a philosopher, you find yourself in the ‘exclusive’ company of people who are willing to take ‘science’s word’ for most of it and drag what you are unwilling to believe into the court of religious philosophy when that suits you, isn’t that right Matt, Madelieine and Glenn?

    But surely you’re not trying to tell us that people who think as you do are the only ‘true’ or ‘faithful’ or even ‘saved’ Christians?

  • @Fletch: This is so cool that you quoted Thomas Woods in that book. I have not read it myself but I have several other books of his and am reading his most recent one, Rollback, right now.

    @pboyfloyd: I keep reading about “your own version of Christianity” a lot lately. Did the pop-internet-atheists release a memo a short time ago? The only problem with Genesis and what science has to say on the matter is only from those of hyper-literalists that begin to read into the text instead of out of it.

    Or is this only something that is a problem with religions? Is science immune to diversity of opinion or people only using it to get what they want? Clearly this is not the case. Since it is PEOPLE at the helm there will always be problems.

  • ” I keep reading about “your own version of Christianity” a lot lately. Did the pop-internet-atheists release a memo a short time ago?”

    Well, RobertH, I’m not sure exactly which version Matt and Madeleine subscribe to. It might be Catholic or Anglican or Episcopalian since they are similar and I’m pretty sure it’s not literalist Baptist or anything outrageously silly like that.

    No slur intended and no pop-atheist ‘meme’ being reprinted.

    “Is science immune to diversity of opinion or people only using it to get what they want? Clearly this is not the case.”

    Strange that you seem to be agreeing with the post that there is no dispute between science and religion yet you couch your example of ‘even’ science not being immune to diversity of opinion as if science WAS at odds with religion all along!! Very strange implication given the posts subject.

    Perhaps you were simply meaning students of science ‘getting it wrong’ or pseudo-scientists, believers in alien visitors, scientists who imagine their Bible-beliefs outrank the science they’ve learned and such?

    The question remains, are these bozos still ‘saved’, are they still ‘true’ and ‘faithful’ Christians?

    Are we still to believe that you haven’t lost your marbles if you think of the Bible in the same way as Nostradamus prophecies that we’ll try to fit the facts to, where we can imagine perhaps no one can know the time of the ‘end of the age’, yet be pretty sure it’s December 21st. 2012, because, after all they made a movie and stuff!!?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

  • Pboy, yes if you ignore the most sophisticated intellectually rigorous versions of a position and focus on what “illiterate” peasents believed you can make that position look stupid.

    I’d be interested to know however what your basis is for saying the vast majority of Christian’s are literalists about Genesis and only a small minority think otherwise, got any evidence for this claim?

    I’d also like to know what your basis is for thinking this has been the dominant understanding of Genesis historically?

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/evolution-creationism-intelligent-design.aspx.

  • Also pboy, suppose its true that what majority of Christians believe today is at odds with science, that does not justify the historical thesis that Christianity historically has consistently been at odds with science, nor does it justify the continual repition of this claim in the media or on atheist blog sites.

  • Most people when you ask them think that if you throw an object up in the air a force continues to be applied to the object UPWARDS until it reaches its apex. According to Pboys logic this means that modern physics is all nonsense…

  • “According to Pboys logic this means that modern physics is all nonsense…”

    Not true.

    The sciences are models of reality based on observation, testing, predictability.

    It’s not physics that is nonsense if what you say is true, it’s most people’s conception of physics that is nonsense.

    If most people’s conception of Christianity is nonsense, then why should they bother being Christians?

    Certainly physicists wouldn’t get far having popular opinions but that doesn’t translate to Christianity because, in fact, a preacher could get rich agreeing with popular opinion.

    So, Matt, did you want me to copy/paste a bunch of polls then?

  • “Not true.”

    I think you missed the point. I did not say sciences are not accurate – I said your logic was not accurate. Think it over.

    “It’s not physics that is nonsense if what you say is true, it’s most people’s conception of physics that is nonsense.”

    Well done! You are getting it!

    “Certainly physicists wouldn’t get far having popular opinions but that doesn’t translate to Christianity because, in fact, a preacher could get rich agreeing with popular opinion.”

    So can a pseudo-scientist… so what? You seem to accept that popular opinion should not be the benchmark for truth – you just need to be more consistent in applying this rule in future and not make a special exception for Christianity.

  • “Pboy, yes if you ignore the most sophisticated intellectually rigorous versions of a position and focus on what “illiterate” peasents believed you can make that position look stupid.”

    To which I must have replied by prophecy, ”
    It’s easy for you, if you’re willing to have an understanding of the Bible which doesn’t conflict with science, to say that it doesn’t, but you are likely to find that you are in a minority even with regards to your own version of Christianity.”

    There is, no doubt, some truth to what Lennox is saying about philosophers and Galileo but this doesn’t mean, as he seems to be suggesting, that the majority of Christians don’t believe some anti-science, nonsensical Christianity.in the guise of various ‘sophisticated intellectually rigorous versions.’

  • “You seem to accept that popular opinion should not be the benchmark for truth..”

    Popular belief should be the benchmark for ‘what Christians believe’, don’t you think?

    That’s the point I’m making. What’s the use of Lennox saying Christians aren’t anti-science if that’s not true?

    Just making each other feel good?

  • “Popular belief should be the benchmark for ‘what Christians believe’, don’t you think?”

    Yes – in as much as popular belief should be the benchmark for what people-who-are-sort-of-interested-in-science-but-have-never-really-studied-it believe. But to claim that this is what scientist believe would be wrong.

  • “Yes – in as much as popular belief should be the benchmark for what people-who-are-sort-of-interested-in-science-but-have-never-really-studied-it believe. But to claim that this is what scientist believe would be wrong.”

    So, you seem to be agreeing that Christians-who-are-sort-of-interested-in-Christianity-but-have-never-really-studied-it aren’t really Christians?

    But this was my original question and although you implied that answer it’s not really the answer you gave.

  • No – they are Christians – but this does not mean they actually understand their own tradition. In the same way i drive a car around without really understanding how on earth it works.

    What this means if you want me to give you a lift somewhere I am your man… want to discuss the inner workings of the car… ask a mechanic!

  • He forgot to mention that Galeleo wasn’t just putting down the idea that the earth was at the centre of the universe, he was trying to claim that the sun IS at the centre of the universe. Which we of course know is also false.
    Not to mention the guy blinded himself by stairing at the sun through a telescope all day.

  • This is how you get to a “historically ignorant myth” – extreme definition as in “religion is and always has been at odds with science.”

    Bit childish. But a way of avoiding reality, eh?

  • Ken when you have something other than an assertion that those who disagree with you are childish and avoiding reality let me know. But this kind of predictable ad hominem is really growing tiresome.

  • Don’t be disrespectful Matt! he is a scientist!

  • ” In the same way i drive a car around without really understanding how on earth it works.”

    But if the vast majority of drivers(Christians) believe that they are mechanics(knowlegable of the ‘workings’ of Christianity), then it follows that, “By and large, Christians are people who believe wrongly that they know the workings of Christianity.”

    Furthermore to create another analogy, you are saying that, “It is not necessarilly true that twas brillig when or even if, the slythy toves did or in fact did NOT gyre and/or gymbal in or out of the wabes, or that there are such things AS wabes to be a Jabberwockian, even though most Jabberwockians believe much of that is indeed true because that is what the poem says!?

    And, back to your analogy, in fact most Christians(drivers) think they know enough about Christianity(mechanics) to get it wrong, not even knowing or understanding that they don’t, in fact, really know.

    So, bunch of nitwits. Gotcha! So, how is it that we separate you guys again?

  • @pboy
    Well maybe you could do a bit of serious research, find out what orthodox Christian belief actually involves, as a few different people.
    Google the Nicene creed and find something that explains it.
    Then at least you could attack us and our beliefs rather than attacking your own beliefs about what we believe.
    You never know, reasoned and informed argument might even gain you some credibility and get you taken seriously.

  • “Well maybe you could do a bit of serious research..”

    But there are no gods, Jeremy, not even one.

    Nevertheless, I think that claiming the high ground, that Christians do not dispute science, when it is plain that a lot of Christians do, is not being honest with yourselves.

  • “Nevertheless, I think that claiming the high ground, that Christians do not dispute science, when it is plain that a lot of Christians do, is not being honest with yourselves.”

    But pboy no one is saying that there do not exist Christians who dispute science. Lennox is addressing the historical position known as the “conflict thesis” which affirms that throughout history the dominant relationship between theology and science was conflict with the church suppressing science.

    In the last 100 years Germany has gone to war with NZ twice, it would not follow from this that the relationship between NZ and Science for the last 2000 years has predominately been war. Similarly, the fact that in the last 60 years or so creationism has been widely accepted, does nothing to show that the conflict thesis is true

    Once again the problem is you have ignored what was actually being said, and replaced it with a straw man or caricature that is easy to attack.

  • A question for a christian.

    Do you believe christ rose from the dead?

  • Well, Matt, Madeleine is the one who made the extreme claim “is and always.”

    And you do your typical tirck iof diversion. Instead if fronting up to such an absolutist description you accuse the honest person pointing our the flaw of ad hominem.

    You are so obvious it could get tiresome – but I prefer to have axle giggle instead.

  • “Once again the problem is you have ignored what was actually being said, and replaced it with a straw man or caricature that is easy to attack.”

    It is my opinion that most Christians take it on faith that there has been an ongoing battle between science and religion where science is, as part of doing what it does, incidentally explain the workings of the universe more and more to have no need of gods.

    List for yourselves the number of things that once gods were given credit for and worshipped for.

    To this day there are farmers listening to the weather forecast praying that the meteorologist is inaccurate, and are smugly giving a ‘point’ to some god or other if some high percentage prediction of one type of weather turns out to be ‘wrong’ in the farmer’s favour.

    The majority of Christians care not one whit about your framed argument and care only that them darn ‘scientismists’ are wrong one more time(yay!).

    I know this, you know this, they know this.

    I originally said, “But science is at odds with many many theists and what they consider their holy truth, a lot of which is, if taken literally, is seriously at odds with science.”, trying to unframe your argument a bit and after ‘how many?’ comments even saying that you were technically right, you throw your ‘strawman’ and ‘caricature’ stuff at me?

    As my mom used to say to me, “And here I thought you were smart!”

  • @pboy
    Ignorance of science does not apply *only* to random Christians. Why not stick to the actual historical arguments and what the scholars say instead of using taxi drivers or random passers by as the basis of your critique. Not sure exactly why you think theists should never make mistakes but do not apply the same demand to others (for example read some of the history of science)

    @Ken
    In my previous comment I linked to a cartoon on your blog which purports to show a conflict thesis stretching back to prehistory. Madeleine’s portrayal seems fair.

  • Paul –
    I’ll help you progress your argument.

    Do you believe christ rose from the dead?
    Yes.

  • Thanks Reed : )

    If we take your answer as an indication of the wider christian view, then of course Science and Religion will have to remain at odds, due to the fact that resurrection goes against everything that we currently believe to be scientifically accurate in terms of known verifiable knowledge with regard to human existence.

    Please note, I’m not saying that it didn’t happen, although I personally don’t believe it did, just that from what we understand from the Scientific view of the world, such an event would have been impossible to take place.

  • Please note, I’m not saying that it didn’t happen, although I personally don’t believe it did, just that from what we understand from the Scientific view of the world, such an event would have been impossible to take place. Err actually No,

    There is no scientific finding I know of which states God can’t rise people from the dead.

  • @Paul
    by definition miracles go against the normal understanding of science.
    Simple definition. Miracle=wonderful supernatural event.
    If God the Father intervening to raise Jesus the Son from death wasnt a miracle [wonderful supernatural event] then i guess there would be a good possibility none of these arguments would take place.
    So no, its not remotely at odds with modern science [ it is at odds with normal experience and human understanding] but thats the whole point.

  • Paul –
    I agree with your point.
    It all depends on what people mean by “science.”

    If the term science is used to mean “methodological naturalism” then that by definition excludes God.

    By this definition any act of God is unscientific.

  • @ Matt & Jeremy

    I refer you to Reed’s comment at 11.01pm

  • “you throw your ‘strawman’ and ‘caricature’ stuff at me?”
    Thats because you keep commiting this fallacy, stop doing it and I wont have to point it out.

    “It is my opinion that most Christians take it on faith that there has been an ongoing battle between science and religion where science is, as part of doing what it does, incidentally explain the workings of the universe more and more to have no need of gods.

    List for yourselves the number of things that once gods were given credit for and worshipped for.”

    Well perhaps you can verify from the historical evidence this picture of theologians proposing the existence of God as true on the basis that it explained X, and then science gradually replacing each explanation with a naturalistic one.

    We actually have copies of what medieval theologians wrote, and what phenomena they appealed to argue for the existence of God, so this should be an easy task.

  • Paul, you wrote: “Resurrection goes against everything that we currently believe to be scientifically accurate in terms of known verifiable knowledge with regard to human existence.”

    Here you suggested that verfiable scientific knowlege contradicts the claim God rose Jesus from the dead

    However, when I asked for evidence of this, you simply noted that you “define” science as methodological naturalism. This is not “verified evidence” its a stipulative definition.

    Moreover, if you accept methodological naturalism (MN) then any argument against miracles is actually circular, MN is a rule governing how one tests hypothesis. If you start with a rule that excludes God as a hypothesis, and then on the basis of that rule come to the conclusion God does not do X, you have reasoned in a circle.

  • Matt

    And you wonder why atheists get so frustrated with theists!

    Goodnight & god bless!!!

  • Not sure what the frustration is, you adopt a methodology that rules out the supernatural as a hypothesis and then claim that you have proven by that methodology that the supernatural does not occur, when the obvious flaw is pointed out, you say its frustrating.

  • Matt

    The frustration comes from the fact that, rationally speaking, the natural world is all that we can detect with our 5 senses and instruments used to interact with those senses.

    When the scale of perception surpasses their limitations, then the supernatural world would be that which we cannot detect with senses or instruments (at the present time). This means that to date there is no evidence which we can discern supporting the supernatural and hence my rejection, on rational grounds, as to the proof of any existence of god or gods.

    However, as you and Jeremy argued earlier, that from a purely philosophical perspective, an omnipotent god existing in such a supernatural realm would be undetectable, which means for me to believe I would have to adopt an irrational “faith” position, as all religious people have to do.

    Namely, a belief “not resting on logical proof or material evidence.” Because of this requirement I reject such a belief, but I’m quite willing to alter this stance if anyone can convince me through the provision of logical proof or material evidence, until that time, I see no reason to change my position of atheism.

    Finally, what really amazes me, is that you apply your obvious intelligence and expertise with logic to argue against that which is rationally and patently illogical!

    As long as you support this position, then Religion and Science will remain at odds with each other.

  • “Ignorance of science does not apply *only* to random Christians.”

    Of course not.

    ” Why not stick to the actual historical arguments and what the scholars say instead of using taxi drivers or random passers by as the basis of your critique.”

    Well, essentially I’m not accusing Lennox of being wrong here. I’m saying that this framed argument gives an impression that there never was an ongoing debate, an ongoing conflict of worldviews(conflict thesis) about how much the gods can/will/did interfere with natural ongoing processes.

    ” Not sure exactly why you think theists should never make mistakes..”

    When theists ‘make mistakes’ they are sometimes using their supposed historical divine knowledge of the Bible to back them up.

    We can read that, of course God invokes bad weather for a reason, and of course God allows divination of why, using chance games and so on.(Jonah)

    ” but do not apply the same demand to others (for example read some of the history of science)”

    But we’re never going to hear about students being taught about ‘the caloric’ or phlogistene nowadays unless it is to show how scientific hypotheses can be wrong.

    But I’ve had the argument about the truth in the Bible, myself, over whether we’re expected to believe that God influences weather and whether we can deduce the cause of this influence by chance games, from BIblical historical divinely inspired truth!

    There are many examples of this which can be taken from the Bible. The demon theory of disease, sickness and bad fortune.

    The General Mills theory, “White Fluffy Frosted Lucky Charms, They’re magically delicious! ”

    And so on.

    This conflict thesis seems to be an attempt to cut the legs off every anti-woo argument, by implying that a single framed argument covers it as it shifts from the general to the specific.

    Can we not say that, in general, theists do tend to have antipathy towards science, and that it is generally based on their interpretation of their book of divinely inspired truth?

    What Lennox seems to be implying is that this generally accepted view is wrong because he feels he can defeat a specific instance of it.

    But how many Christian thinkers frame their anti-science rhetoric using the authority of the Bible? How many debaters are in the business of framing their pro-God postion in terms of anti-science?

    As in, “All atheists say this about some science, but the overpowering authority of our Bible says that.” This while at the exact same time fervently believing that science has nothing at all to say about religion, except, of course, that the simple literal readings of specific passages in the Bible are nonsense.

    This ‘debunking’ of the Conflict Thesis is going to be understood by most as yet one more block to pro-atheist argument while doing nothing to prevent the avalanche of anti-science reasoning.

    I think that we could agree on this, but at heart, some of you want this to to be ‘yet another reason why we are right and they are wrong’.

  • Paul, that’s interesting let me make two points.

    First, your original claim was that the claim God rose Jesus from the dead contradicted what we know from science, when I asked for reasons you then did not appeal to something we know from science and show it contradicted this claim, instead defined science as “methodologically naturalistic”. I then pointed out you can’t establish a metaphysical claim merely by defining science a certain way, and pointed you to some arguments against this definition, now your claim has changed to we lack scientific evidence for Gods existence, which is a different and weaker claim.

    Second, your key argument seems to be this “ rationally speaking, the natural world is all that we can detect with our 5 senses and instruments used to interact with those senses….
    When the scale of perception surpasses their limitations, then the supernatural world would be that which we cannot detect with senses or instruments (at the present time). This means that to date there is no evidence which we can discern supporting the supernatural and hence my rejection, on rational grounds, as to the proof of any existence of god or gods.”

    There is however a logic leap here, you note we cannot detect “the supernatural” through “our five senses or instruments used to interact with those senses” and conclude from this that there is no evidence supporting the supernatural. This however does not follow unless you assume that the “five senses and our instruments” are our only sources of knowledge about the world and hence the only thing that would count as evidence.

    This is an epistemological view, we certainly cannot discern the truth of this epistemological claims like this with the five senses, we cannot interact with them, so what’s the basis of this claim? Is it “irrational faith”?

    Moreover, there seem to me plenty of things we know which we can’t perceive with the five senses or instruments. That other people exist. That the world including all the apparent signs of age did not pop into existence six seconds ago. That the external world exists and we are not plugged into a virtual reality matrix which is giving us this information. That laws of nature exist, that certain things cause other things to happen. Basic axioms of logic which are presupposed in our theorising, that the future tends to resemble the past, an assumption behind inductive reasoning. Moral truths such as its wrong to torture children as much as possible purely for our amusement, this is not something we see with our five senses or can detect with our scientific instruments yet I put to you that any view that denies it is highly implausible. I could go on. With respect what I find “frustrating” is how some atheists, often with an enthusiasm for science assume highly implausible “philosophical and epistemological” views often uncritically.

  • Pboy, suppose a person X says that the weather is caused by certain natural laws. Person Y says God causes and controls the weather. Why do you assume these are rival or incompatible claims?

  • “Pboy, suppose a person X says that the weather is caused by certain natural laws. Person Y says God causes and controls the weather.”

    Why do I assume these are rival or incompatible claims?

    If the first question were on a test and they asked me to highlight any rival or incompatible claims I could see, I would highlight, “person X says that the weather is caused by certain natural laws. Person Y says God causes and controls the weather.”

  • Having said that, I would say that person X is wrong because natural laws don’t cause anything, they describe phenomena.

    I think person Y is wrong because weather isn’t prescribed by a supernatural being, Furthermore weather is a description of a global phenomena, what happens to the atmosphere as it is heated and cooled depending on exposure to sunlight.

    Asking a supernatural being to intervene would be like asking a supernatural being to change the rotation of one cog in a watch while expecting the watch to still function properly.

  • Pboy that doesn’t answer my question, while you ponder how to actually give one. Here is a second question,

    which claim is better supported by the historical evidence?

    1. That people believed various natural phenomena was caused by God, science discovered it was caused by natural laws and so a more “deistic” conception of God as the creator and sustainer of natural laws was adopted to accomodate this.

    Or

    2. Theologians already had for centuries had a conception of God as the creator and sustainer of laws of nature and this theological context mean’t scientists implictly looked for explanations in terms of natural laws and discovered them.

  • I would say that person X is wrong because natural laws don’t cause anything, they describe phenomena.

    Do you have any arguments for this Humean ( actually it goes back to Occasionalist theologians) conception of laws of nature?

  • Matt, again you ignore the extremism of Madeleine’s “is and always” claim. No one makes that charge. It’s a straw man. Just that there are irreconcilable differences in the belief and faith of science and the doubt and testing of science. Different methods.

    The conflict arises when religion attempts to invade the realm of science to provide “answers” without evaluation and testing.

    Region does not always do that so it is not “is and always” in conflict with science.

    You guys don’t represent religion as a whole. Just a small conservate and anti-science group within a more accepting body.

    You did not understand my cartoon which was about the inherent inability if religion to answer questions about reality. Not about conflict.

  • Ken, “Matt, again you ignore the extremism of Madeleine’s “is and always” claim. No one makes that charge. It’s a straw man.

    Actually the conflict thesis did claim something like this consider wikipedia’s summary. “The conflict thesis proposes an intrinsic intellectual conflict between religion and science. The original historical usage of the term denoted that the historical record indicates religion’s perpetual opposition to science. Later uses of the term denote religion’s epistemological opposition to science. Also denominated as the Draper–White Thesis, the Warfare Thesis, and the Warfare Model, the conflict thesis interprets the relationship between religion and science as inevitably leading to public hostility, when religion aggressively challenges new scientific ideas — as in the Galileo Affair (1614–15).
    The historical conflict thesis was a popular historiographical approach in the history of science during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but in its early form is mostly discarded.Despite that, the conflict thesis remains a popular view among the general public[4] and has been recently publicized by the success of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and other popular books associated with the “New Atheist” movement “
    .

    There are whole books such as “the History of the warfare of science and religion” devoted to defending the conflict thesis, most historical discussions on science and religion mention this thesis, so the insinuation its an invention of some extremists is not really supported by the evidence, though it is a good ad hominen way of dismissing a view you disagree with.

    “You did not understand my cartoon which was about the inherent inability if religion to answer questions about reality. Not about conflict.”

    This is the cartoon which you gave the title “The nature of the science-religion conflict

    “The conflict arises when religion attempts to invade the realm of science to provide “answers” without evaluation and testing.”

    Yes when people provide answers to questions without testing that can be a problem, for example when I said on your blog that “heliocentricism originated in late medieval theological writings as a critique of the scientific consensus.” You responded with “Didn’t the Stalinists and Maoists resort to similar rewriting?”

    Wether late heliocentricism originates in late medieval writers who were critiquing the Aristotelian consensus, is a testable claim all one needs to do is examine the manuscripts we have of late medieval theologians, such as fourteenth century theologians Burdian and Nicolas d’Oresme, and compare there ideas with those of Copernicus.

    When your accusation of “rewriting history” alongside the standard ad hominen of comparing me to Stalin, you’ll find your claim fails the empirical tests. Copernicus pretty much repeats the arguments of medieval theologians from centuries earlier.

    These manuscripts were written centuries ago, I did not rewrite history you did.

    No doubt you will continue to make the claims you do, you will continue to claim no one defended the conflict thesis when we have whole books from 19th century rationalists doing so. You will continue to claim a cartoon you entitled “the nature of the conflict between science and religion” was not about a conflict between science and religion.

    and you will continue to claim that medieval theologians did not offer arguments which there writings show they did. But when you do, please don’t pretend you only accept claims which pass empirical testing.

  • And again, Matt, instead of just acknowledging how stupidly wrong Madeline’s straw man of a “historically ignorant myth that religion is and always has been at odds with science” you go off at a tangent. Another theological trick – avoid the point if at all possible.

    Who the hell is saying that “religion is and always has been at odds with science?”

    No-one at all!

    But never mind, that won’t stop you. You will now proceed to label anyone who points out the painfully obvious differences between science and religion, and the fact that religion is not a way of understanding reality, as proposing the “conflict theory.”

    A simple clarification of your attitude towards Madeleine’s extreme statemen, like a simple yes or no, would be appreciated.

    But we know you aren’t capable of such clarity, don’t we?

  • Question for Matt: Given that early science proceeded with a philosophical underpinning of a rational Lawgiver, are there philosophical implications of weird discoveries such as relativistic spacetime dilation, quantum entanglement, heisenberg uncertainty, or dark matter?

  • Ken, I pointed you to people who make the claim that religion has consistently throughout history opposed science. I pointed you to a influential historical thesis to this effect, I also mentioned several books defending it, and I mentioned the fact that this positions existence had been noted in numerous history texts. Your response was to state that no one has ever proposed this.

    I then pointed out several overtly false statements you made which rebutted the comments in your previous post.

    Your response was to change the subject and start saying there are epistemological differences between science and religion, asserting that theology does not give us knowledge and claim I said anyone who held “that” supported the conflict thesis.

    Of course I never said this at all,

    I am not interested in your stupid game Ken where you come in here. make accusations of “evasion” and “dishonesty” and then when the points you make are rebutted you start changing the subject.

    the thread is on a lecture by John Lennox that the historical thesis, known as the conflict thesis is false.

    If you think the conflict thesis is true, or something like it is true, you are free to offer historical evidence to show this. Cartoons don’t count as historical evidence. Nor does accusing people of “rewriting history” like Mao or Stalin.

    Perhaps in physics people base there history on cartoons, but in other disciplines we are bit more rigorous, and require things like evidence.

  • PS: Ken I find it very strange that you now deny the thesis of ongoing science religion conflict as that seems to be a major theme of your blog. I think you’re just trying to confuse everybody :D

  • Ropata, from memory the cartoon Ken endorsed on his blog suggests people prior to the renaissance believed the world was flat and also provided theological justification for this.

    This of course is totally false as I have documented http://www.mandm.org.nz/2009/12/contra-mundum-the-flat-earth-myth.html and http://www.mandm.org.nz/2007/07/the-flat-earth-myth.html. I noted also above the work of Buridan and others who developed the arguments for heliocentricism centuries before Copernicus. Which Ken said was “rewriting history”.

    Ken seems quite Ken to defend ideas commonly associated with the conflict thesis, yet when he is asked for evidence the subject is quickly changed.

    All that talk about testable hypothesises and evidence is strangely gone.

  • Unsurprisingly Matt, you have not done what you claim. At least to my knowledge. Perhaps in your mind.

    I don’t know of anyone who could be described in the way way Madeliene does – as claiming “that religion is and always has been at odds with science.” Significantly you don’t provide names either.

    There isn’t anyone – reality is always far more nuanced  than such a naive story.

    My little cartoon did seem to upset you, didn’t it. You are attempting to read your own hang ups into it. Lighten up and have a laugh.

    Ropata, can you not distinguish between the naive absolutist claim made by Madeleine and the reality I present? Of course there is not always a conflict as she portrays it. As a scientist I have worked with a number of religious people without a single conflict.

    Such conflicts only arise when religious people attempt to impose their own beliefs into science.  (or history as Matt is doing with his attempt to rewrite the Galileo affair). Creationists and young earth people are an example. As are people who insist that gods must be incorporated into cosmology and therefore get there knickers in a twist over books like “The Grand Design.”

    Fortunately my religious work mates have not been that silly.

    There is a basic conflict between the epistemologies of course. Just as there is between science and any mythology. But providing religion is treated as a private hobby like knitting and doesn’t attempt to disrupt the normal process of understanding reality why should there be a conflict.

    Each to their own.

  • Unsurprisingly Matt, you have not done what you claim. At least to my knowledge. Perhaps in your mind.
    Unsuprisingly you have ignored my giving you several answers and simply repeated yourself.
    I don’t know of anyone who could be described in the way way Madeliene does – as claiming “that religion is and always has been at odds with science.” Significantly you don’t provide names either.
    No I provided an article which links to several names and includes citations from them. Again you simply ignore what I write and assert.
    “There isn’t anyone – reality is always far more nuanced than such a naive story.
    I provided links to an article documenting several people who have defended the conflict thesis. Here are just two from the link.
    “The history of Science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other. J ohn William Draper, History of the Conflict Religion, D. Appleton and Co. (1881)
    ^ Shapin, S. (1996). The Scientific Revolution. University of Chicago Press. p. 195. “In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the ‘warfare between science and religion’ and to presume that the two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict. “
    Again you ignore and assert,
    “My little cartoon did seem to upset you, didn’t it. You are attempting to read your own hang ups into it. Lighten up and have a laugh.”
    That’s disengenious, Max ( and I) both said that it was amuzing but historically false. You then claimed it was accurate and we were not facing reality. To now say “it was just a joke” is not adequate.
    I note you have ignored my challenge, please provide the evidence for the claim ( expressed in the cartoon) that prior to the reinasasance Theologians taught the world was flat, your welcome to rebut the two blog posts I gave you documenting the evidence?
    You also have failed to respond to the evidence I mentioned regarding Heliocentricism, you claimed I was rewriting history when I said 14 century theologians originated Copernicus theory. I provided the names above, are you willing to check and test your claims.
    All this huff and puff about testability goes out the window everytime.

    There is a basic conflict between the epistemologies of course. Just as there is between science and any mythology.
    Please justify your claim that religion is like “mythology” in its epistemology. Perhaps some samples from the epistemologies advocated by theologians or Christian philosophers to demonstrate this?
    Again Ken, you claim to make testable claims, why can’t you commit to testing.
    I look forward to your next instalment where you (a) ignore my counter arguments (b) assert I am wrong (c) fail to provide evidence for your claims and (d) castigate me or theology and make claims about evasion bad motives and so on.

  • It’s really hard for atheists to swallow that bit of truth, that Christianity gave rise to the modern science. That’s why they keep on barking the Galileo case.

  • Anon, the Galileo case is cited because its only one in history where a person was prosecuted by the church for scientific belief. And hence is the only evidence for the conflict thesis that can be cited.

    Why the one case does not establish a trend, point is lost on people who are apparently trained in the sciences is something of a mystery.

  • “Do you have any arguments for this Humean ( actually it goes back to Occasionalist theologians) conception of laws of nature?”

    Not sure what you’re asking here Matt.

    Don’t you think that natural laws are scientific descriptions of natural phenomena?

  • Matt you have not provided any support for Madelaine’s claims that people actually advocate “that religion is and always has been at odds with science.”

    It is a naive claim and obviously can’t be supported at all.

    Anyone of any scholarship recognises that history and intellectual thought is never that extreme.

    However, it provides an easy straw man to knock down, doesn’t it?

    Theological logic anyone?

  • Ken, in my first response I provided an article which mentioned the thesis and linked to examples, I then provided some specific quotes in my last response.

    I concluded with “I look forward to your next instalment where you (a) ignore my counter arguments (b) assert I am wrong (c) fail to provide evidence for your claims and (d) castigate me or theology and make claims about evasion bad motives and so on.”

    Thanks for verifying my claim.

  • Ken,
    Ken, you have strongly asserted a conflict thesis many times. Perhaps not Madeleine’s exact words but the meaning is the same. Your denials are simply an evasion tactic.

    Ever heard of Andrew Dickson White or John William Draper?

    White:
    “theological views of science,” he wrote, have “without exception…forced mankind away from the truth, and have caused Christendom to stumble for centuries into abysses of error and sorrow.”8 The coming of Christianity thus “arrested the normal development of the physical sciences for over fifteen hundred years,” imposing a tyranny of ignorance and superstition that perverted and crushed true science.

    No work-not even John William Draper’s best- selling History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874)-has done more than White’s to instill in the public mind a sense of the adversarial relationship between science and religion. His Warfare remains in print to the present day, having appeared also in German, French, Italian, Swedish, and Japanese translations. His military rhetoric has captured the imagination of generations of readers, and his copious references, still impressive, have given his work the appearance of sound scholarship, bedazzling even twentieth-century historians who should know better.

    Therefore these comments were incorrect:
    It is a naive claim and obviously can’t be supported at all.

    Anyone of any scholarship recognises that history and intellectual thought is never that extreme.

    However, it provides an easy straw man to knock down, doesn’t it?

  • Ropata you could add Thomas Huxley who also advocated the conflict thesis, he wrote

    “Extinguished theologians lie about the craddle of every science as the strangled snakes besides that of Herkules; and history records that wherever science and orthodoxy has been fairly opposed, the latter have been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed if not annihalated, scotched if not slain.”

  • Ropata: “Perhaps not Madeleine’s exact words but the meaning is the same. Your denials are simply an evasion tactic. “

    That is just disingenuous, Ropata. Madeleine’s exact words are important because they are absolute. (Which is the tactic of the straw man – it’s easy top p[rove that idea is wrong)

    “religion is and always has been at odds with science.”

    Now I have never advocated that, and don’t know anyone who has. Matt is unable to find anyone who will make that absolute statement (except Madeleine!).

    Matt has purely attempted to confuse the issue by quoting people who point to a conflict – not the same thing.

    I am happy to confirm that there have been conflicts between science and religion and there always will be. They have completely different epistemologies. It’s to be expected.

    But that is not what Madeleine is saying – at all.

    Saying “sometimes” or “in principle” is not the same as “is and always has been”.

    Is it?

  • Ken –
    Yes or no.

    Is religion at odds with science?

  • Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

    Welcome to the real world.

    Is your child good or bad?

  • Is religion at odds with science now?

  • Reed, regarding Ken’s analogy, one can still ask the question of wether you have a well behaved child. The fact that sometimes the child is good does not stop a parent giving a negative answer to this question, as it might be that the predominate attitude of the child is disobedience, or that majority of the time it engages in bad behavour.

    The conflict thesis maintains that through out history the church has repeatedly suppressed science, its predominate stance has been negative. ken on his own blog has endorsed this view in the Cartoon he cited, which he in response to Max said was accurate history. He also has accused me of rewriting history when I made critical comments about this claim.

    The question is what evidence does Ken base his historical claims on.

    Instead of addressing this, he wants to take the “always” comment of Madeleine excessively literally and ignore the evidential problems with his own pronouncements.

  • Matt, what a joke and what a portrayal of mental gymnastics. So now I am taking Madeleine’s use of “always” “excessively literally.”

    Might have just been simpler to acknowledge that Madeleine’s description was inappropriate. Mind you such an acknowledgment would take away your straw man, wouldn’t it?

    Reed, what is the point if such absolutist questioning. There are clear historical examples of conflict between science and religion. The Galileo and Bruno affairs. Today there are examples like the Wedge strategists of the Discovery institute misrepresenting and attacking science. Attempts to replace the science in education by religious myths.

    Historically there are plenty of example of cooperation between science and religion. Medieval Islam promoted astronomy as a way of deriving times of prayers. A lot of science took place in religious institutions before science broke away from religion in the scientific revolution. Today most sensible religion refrains from imposing their own myths on science. Many churches even promote science as in for example the sermons of Darwin weekend. Pro science religious people will often combat the politics and propaganda if the anti science religious people.

    And there are plenty of example if religious people doing good science.

    However, we would probably all acknowledge that the basic epistemologies of science and religion are different. In that sense there is an inevitable conflict when religion attempts to impose it’s epistemology onto science. Onto describing and understanding the real world. That is where the modern conflict comes from. It happens. But not all religious people are guilty of this.

  • Ken note the examples I gave ( you know the ones you repeatedly above said I never gave) especially the parts I highlighted.

    The conflict thesis proposes an intrinsic intellectual conflict between religion and science. The original historical usage of the term denoted that the historical record indicates religion’s perpetual opposition to science.

    Shapin, S. (1996). The Scientific Revolution. University of Chicago Press. p. 195. “In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the ‘warfare between science and religion’ and to presume that the two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict.”

    “theological views of science,” have “without exception…forced mankind away from the truth, and have caused Christendom to stumble for centuries into abysses of error and sorrow.” Andrew Dickson White

    “Extinguished theologians lie about the craddle of every science as the strangled snakes besides that of Herkules; and history records that wherever science and orthodoxy has been fairly opposed, the latter have been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed if not annihalated, scotched if not slain.”

    These are several representative examples of the conflict thesis, note they all use the same type of language Madeleine does.

    You can continue to claim Madeleine is dishonestly attacked a straw man and I have not provided any evidence that anyone has defended this view. But if you do you are clearly lying.

    Moreover, I also noted the claims you made about the flat earth on your blog are false. You have not offered any counter evidence.

    I noted your claims about the origins heliocentricism are false you have not responded. Despite the fact that you suggested I was like Mao and Stalin for asserting this.

    Despite making these claims on your blog you now try and ignore these points, and instead and suggest the examples of Galileo and Bruno. Again however you are mistaken, The evidence does not support the claim ( commonly made by atheist bloggers) that Bruno was tried or condemned for his scientific beliefs. Again you are welcome to look at the historical documents to dispute this if you want.

  • Matt – this us silly: “I noted your claims about the origins heliocentricism are false you have not responded. Despite the fact that you suggested I was like Mao and Stalin for asserting this.”

    You are the one claiming that theology is responsible for advocating heliocentricism (ignore the Greehs, why don’t you) and science opposing it. Ignoring the facts of the Galileo affair.

    And all without any supporting evidence. Simply a wild statement do of house you don’t want your “evidence” to be exposed.

    This is the sort of re-writing of history that Stalin and Mao did. Hence my description. And you still refuse up resins with Ny evidence for your claim – simply claiming I have no evidence for my presentation of well accepted history.

    Strange logic -perhaps it’s how theology works.

  • And Matt, what “false” claims have I ever made about flat earths no my blog?

    Come on. I don’t think I have ever covered the subject.

    You are emotively attributing falsehoods to me, aren’t you?

    Now what ethical position does theology advocate on honesty?

  • Ken:

    What exactly do you mean by:

    “when religion attempts to impose it’s epistemology onto science”

    What exactly do you mean by religion’s epistemology when you use this phrase?

  • In vague terms – whereas scientific epistemology is based on doubt and evidence religious epistemology is based on faith and authority.

    Classically in the Galileo affair scriptural authority was defined as the “truth” and astronomical evidence as heresy.

    Today creationists attempt to impose biblical origins mythology (authority) on science and oppose the facts, evidence and structure of evolutionary science.

    When this happens their is an inevitable conflict. And one that religion can never win.

    Most sensible Christians accept this.

  • “In vague terms – whereas scientific epistemology is based on doubt and evidence religious epistemology is based on faith and authority.”

    You may want to use the term Ecclesiastical epistemology ?

    “Today creationists attempt to impose biblical origins mythology (authority) on science and oppose the facts, evidence and structure of evolutionary science.”

    This is true – but the conflict here is between faith in reason and faith in idolatry (in the form of a book). This is not really a conflict between science and religion as such.

    “When this happens their is an inevitable conflict. And one that religion can never win.”

    One which protestant book-worshiping can never win I agree… But you are putting all religion into a very small category… I think you need to be clearer that you are talking about a conflict between scientific methodology and a small number of protestant sects. Then I am in total agreement.

    “Most sensible Christians accept this.”

    Indeed. With the rephrasing I have done above I do. ;)

  • No Max, the conflict isn’t just with a small number of sects. It’s a basic epistemological difference. And we should not be at all surprised about this. Scientific epistemology irequires a high level of training, expertise and scepticism. It really only occurs in educated and advanced societies. It is counter-intuitive.

    In contrast most people get by with an intuitive approach and this is accessible, but not necessarily satisfying, to almost everyone. This is why religious ideas are easily acquired and can be satisfying to the uncritical.

    I think the non scientific epistemology of religion is not restricted to biblical literalism at all. After all you talk about “faith in reason”
    – a bit of an oxymoron to the scientific mind but it does describe the more liberal Chritian approach.

    Faith is a real bugger when it cones to really objectively undersranding non-intuitive reality. It has no place in science. So there you have a basic source of conflict.

  • “It’s a basic epistemological difference. ”

    OK – well you will have to clarify this more – because your last attempt was far too narrow.

    I notice you picked up on the keyword “faith”. don’t let this word scare you. In the way i was using it you can merely rephrase it as: “uses as one’s epistemological starting point”

    ie. the bibliophiles use a literalistic reading of ancient texts as their starting point etc.

  • Oddly one of the main criticisms of Christianity in particular is precicely that it is NOT intuitive and obvious. The idea that an infinite, all powerful being is killed after praying to itself for this not to happen is offensive not only to the “scientific” mind, but also to traditional theism.

    You can’t have it both ways.

  • Max, my reference to intuitive was to religious behaviors and thinking. Not to Christisn dogma. Pascal Boyer (who i recently reviewed) finds a big difference between the naturally occurring religious thinking and behaviors and the teachings of established churches, which are not necessarily intuitive. Hence we often see conflict between the “common sense” religiosity of adherents and the high faluting abstractions of the clergy and theologians.

  • The sort of non scientific mind that says “light can’t bend around a heavy object – that goes against my intuitive world view” is the same sort of non scientific mind that says “god can not become a man and die – that goes against my intuitive world view”

    Both Physics and Christology are fields that defy our every day expectations, and require a high level of training, expertise and scepticism. Have you considered a career in Theology Ken? I think that if you ever read beyond a shallow surface reading you would find it a fascinating topic that would stretch your skilled mind.

  • Ken again simply ignoring counter evidence and repeating points already addressed does not count as a rebuttal

    1.”You are the one claiming that theology is responsible for advocating heliocentricism (ignore the Greehs, why don’t you) and science opposing it. Ignoring the facts of the Galileo affair.” I have already answered this repeatedly, I claim that heliocentricism that was latter advocated by Copernicus originated in the arguments of late medieval theologians such as Burdian and Nicolas d’Oresme. These thinkers wrote in the 14th century several hundred years before Galileo. Yes some ancient greek thinkers supported heliocentricism, but Copernicus’s source was the late medieval theologians who were criticising the scientific consensus after the condemnation of Paris.

    2.“And all without any supporting evidence. Simply a wild statement do of house you don’t want your “evidence” to be exposed.” Actually I provided evidence, I said at Feb 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm that this was a testable claim all one needs to do is examine the manuscripts we have of late medieval theologians, such as fourteenth century theologians Burdian and Nicolas d’Oresme, and compare there ideas with those of Copernicus. I challenged you repeatedly to do this. So ken I have provided evidence, and refered you to it. Your welcome to keep repeating that this claim is false, absurd and there is no evidence for it, but if you do anyone who reads this thread can see you are ignoring the facts.

    3.”This is the sort of re-writing of history that Stalin and Mao did. Hence my description. And you still refuse up resins with Ny evidence for your claim – simply claiming I have no evidence for my presentation of well accepted history.” Actually this is false, almost any text on medieval natural philosophy will tell you about Burdian and Nicolas d’Oresme, the fact is we know what medieval theologians write, and when atheist propagandists make claims about the middleages we can check it.

    I challenge you to examine the evidence and stop asserting dogmatically things which are demonstrably false.

    4. Strange logic -perhaps it’s how theology works.
    Is this supposed to be irony? I made a claim about the origins of heliocentricism. You engaged in an ad hominen argument suggesting I was rewriting history like stalin. I then pointed you to the evidence form existing sources that verified my claims. You ignored this and repeated the ad hominen. I strongly suggest you don’t comment about logic until you learn to actually use it.

  • Ken you wrote “And Matt, what “false” claims have I ever made about flat earths no my blog? Come on. I don’t think I have ever covered the subject.You are emotively attributing falsehoods to me, aren’t you?”

    What I said is clear from the comment at Feb 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm I said the cartoon you published on your blog at http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/the-nature-of-the-science-religion-conflict/
    suggests people prior to the renaissance believed the world was flat and also provided theological justification for this. This is clearly seen in the 3rd panel of the Cartoon.

    You of course know this because when you published it Ropata wrote in the comments thread

    ropata | January 24, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    So you’re now resorting to silly cartoons to perpetuate false impressions of the science-religion debate. Nice.

    Your response was.

    Ken | January 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    Cartoons are great for getting a message across, aren’t they. And the issue won’t go away just because you close your eyes and block your ears.

    Max then stated called its accuracy into question

    I understood its propaganda message yes. It was hardly a complex message. I tend to understand political cartoons from all persuasions too – it does not mean that there is actually any truth contained in the message, or that I agree with it. But yes the (ill informed simplistic) opinion of the cartoon drawer was not exactly hidden.

    You responded

    Ken | January 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    Congratulations, Max.
    I get the fact that it irks you a bit. But I think that is the problem with your ideological filter.
    It seemed very apt to me.

    So, twice when the inaccuracy was pointed out to you you stood by it

    Then I pointed the inaccuracy out to you I said

    “The third, (panel) suggests that people just before the reniassance believed the world was flat for religious reasons, this in fact is totally false history, i have noted on my blog repeatedly that the consensus of theologians for pretty much the last 2000 years is the world is round. The claim they believed the world is flat is a myth. So this is again falsified by the evidence.”

    You clearly read this comment because you responded to it with

    “The cartoon is apt, shows the emptiness of “god concepts” and illustrates reality. That is the nature of good cartoons. They don’t aim to get costumes and colours correct. They aim to convey a message.”

    Anyone who wants to verify this can read the thread on the aforementioned link.

    So Ken, you did endorse this, its inaccuracy was pointed out to you on numerous occasions, on each case you continued to endorse it. I pointed out the flat earth part was inaccurate and you responded with the claim the cartoon “illustrates reality” .

    Now you come in here and state “, what “false” claims have I ever made about flat earths no my blog? Come on. I don’t think I have ever covered the subject.You are emotively attributing falsehoods to me, aren’t you?”

    I think its pretty clear who is making false claims here. You ask

    “Now what ethical position does theology advocate on honesty?

    Very good question, try pondering it and applying it to your own conduct.

  • Max, sure some religious dogma may be non-intuitive. But the big difference is that physics is based on evidence and reason and is validated by testing against reality.

    No I have never been attracted to theology. It’s always struck me as basically dishonest. And of course it is never validated against reality.

    Matt, you have a strange concept of “evidence”. You probably wouldn’t recognize it if it bit you on the bum. Stating all “one needs to do is examine the manuscripts we have of late medieval theologians” is not evidence. Not at all.

    By the way re Copernicus, there is evidence that some of the diagrams in his text were lifted from medieval Islamic sources. With the new interest in Science and Islam be prepared to find further such undermining if Christian chauvinistic claims line this. 

     Certainly Galileo in his writing is clear in attributing heliocentric models to the Greeks. He attributes it to the Greek Anistarchus as well as Copernicus and contrasts it with the geocentric model of Aristotle and Ptolemy.

    Of course Galileo brought empirical evidence to the table in the form of his astronomical observations. Here was a classic conflict between the validated evidence of science and the authoritative “truth” of religion based on scriptural and revelation and infallible pronouncement. No amount of your desperate rewriting of history changes the facts of the Galileo affair or it’s lessons for scientific epistemology at the dawn of the scientific revolution

  • Matt, you are obviously emotively primed to see things that don’t exist. Readers should have a look at that cartoon and make their mind up. It says nothing about theological justification for a flat earth or the reaissance at all. You have projected your own fevered imagination into it.

    The particular frame has the exchange. The “sciency” looking guy saying “yep the earth is flat alright.” and his mate replying “god loves flat stuff.”

    Obviously it was relating to a time when that was the common understanding (flat earth) which it was well before the renaissance. And the whole point of the cartoon was just the justification of scientific knowledge by appealing to a god – rather than evidence.

    Christ you theologians waste such a lot of your time on non existent and imagined offenses. Surely it would be more sensible (if still naive) for me to object to the portrayal of science believing the world was flat.

  • By the way I must stress I am not a cartoonist, that was not my cartoon, it didn’t portray what Matt claims. I have never made the claims Matt naively attributes to me.

    But the cartoon did portray the difference between scientific and religious epistemology. As I stress that is ehere the inevitable conflict between religion and science resides.

  • No I have never been attracted to theology. It’s always struck me as basically dishonest. And of course it is never validated against reality.

    Which you know from having studied Theology in depth? I mean an illiterate ignoramus could say:

    “No I have never been attracted to physics. It’s always struck me as basically dishonest. And of course it is never validated against reality.”

    And then when you asked this ignoramus what physics they have studied they might just repeat something like:

    “I don’t need to study it because it does not line up with reality”

  • But, of course, Max physics is validated against reality – that is why it works.

    Theology is basically circular – starting with an assumption (existence of a god) and then arguing to “prove” it.

    I have the same problem with fairyology and leprachaunology.

    As for honesty – that’s based on my experience of being subjected to theological arguments.

  • Ken and your response to Max’s claim of circularity simply illustrates his point.

  • From Plantinga’s article in “The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Religion and Science

    “Still a third area of alleged conflict between religious belief and science has to do with the different epistemic attitudes associated with each. Thus, for example, John Worrall:

    Science, or rather a scientific attitude, is incompatible with religious belief. Science and religion are in irreconcilable conflict … There is no way in which you can be both properly scientifically minded and a true religious believer (Worrall 2004, p. 60).
    In science, the dominant epistemic attitude (so the claim goes) is one of critical empirical investigation, issuing in theories which are held tentatively and provisionally; one is always prepared to give up a theory in favor of a more satisfactory successor. In religious (e.g., Christian) belief, the epistemic attitude of faith plays an important role, an attitude which differs both in the source of the belief in question, and in the readiness to give it up.

    Others (Ratzsch, 2004), however, point out that there isn’t obviously a conflict here. Clearly those two attitudes are indeed different, and perhaps they can’t be taken simultaneously with respect to the same proposition. Does that show a conflict between science and religious belief? Perhaps some ways of forming belief are appropriate in one area and others in other areas. To get a conflict, we must add that the scientific epistemic attitude is the only one appropriate to any area of cognitive endeavor. That claim, however, is not itself part of the scientific attitude; it is an epistemological declaration for which substantial argument is required (but not so far in evidence). Furthermore, scientists themselves don’t seem to take the scientific epistemic attitude (as characterized above) to all of what they believe, or even all of what they believe as scientists. Thus it is common for scientists to believe that there has been a past, and indeed they sometimes tell us how long ago the earth, or our galaxy, or even the entire universe, was formed. Scientists seldom hold this belief—that there has been a past—as a result of empirical investigation; nor do they ordinarily hold it in that tentative, critical way, always looking for a better alternative.

    In short things are not a simple as Ken claims.

  • But, of course, Ken Christian Theology validated against reality – that is why it works.

    Oh its soo easy!

  • “Theology is basically circular – starting with an assumption (existence of a god) and then arguing to “prove” it.”

    Is that what you think Theology is Ken? Arguments attempting to prove God? So can I assume that all the times in the past when you used the word “Theology” you were under the impression it menat “arguing to prove the existence of God”?

  • Max, it’s also a pretty uniformed assessment of the arguments in question. Is Ken claiming that all or majority of cosmological, telelogical, ontological, moral arguments for Gods existence commit the informal fallacy of begging the question. Thats a pretty big call, one that needs to be substantiated not asserted.

  • It shows an astounding level of ignorance. I will be very surprised if Ken dares post on here again after that one. Now knowing the difference between philosophy of religion and theology, and then – as you say – being entirely ignorant of any of the traditional arguments! Shame Ken!

  • Max – that’s a laugh isn’t it “Christian Theology validated against reality”..

    I have noticed a tendency here to claim “proof” or “evidence” purely on the basis of a claim. (Think back to Matt’s “proof” that science was promoting geocentrism against theological support for heliocentrism during the Galileo affair).

    Would you get on an aeroplane where validation of the construction and flying methods relied only a claim. That no connection with reality was made.

    Validation involves getting one’s hands dirty – not sermonising.

    This is why physics institutes have huge and expensive laboratories.

    Churches and theological departments have old books.

  • I shouldn’t be too sweeping in my criticism of theology. After all I think Lloyd Geering is a well respected theologian and he certainly impresses me. I guess there is room for some honesty in that field (although I understand this honesty really upsets some other NZ theologians).

    However, Matt illustrates my point by quoting Plantinga at length. really what he says is rubbish.

    To claim:

    “it is common for scientists to believe that there has been a past, and indeed they sometimes tell us how long ago the earth, or our galaxy, or even the entire universe, was formed. Scientists seldom hold this belief—that there has been a past—as a result of empirical investigation “

    What a load of bollocks! There is plenty of empirical investigation of the age and history of the earth and the universe.

    This is typical theological jelly wrestling to try and make place for a dishonest approach to reality.

    This is the sort of argument which can be used to “prove” the existence of leprechauns and fairies. Or whatever.

  • Max – that’s a laugh isn’t it “Christian Theology validated against reality”..

    Well done. It was indeed a laugh. ie. a parody of your circular reasoning. But it seems I was wrong about you! YOu have no shame!

  • I don’t think you actually know what theology is Ken! Which is not surprising since you have no training in the area – but it is amusing that you keep showing your ignorance over and over.

  • Ken you really should not attribute dishonesty to people simply because you do not understand their position.

    “it is common for scientists to believe that there has been a past, and indeed they sometimes tell us how long ago the earth, or our galaxy, or even the entire universe, was formed. Scientists seldom hold this belief—that there has been a past—as a result of empirical investigation “
    What a load of bollocks! There is plenty of empirical investigation of the age and history of the earth and the universe.This is typical theological jelly wrestling to try and make place for a dishonest approach to reality.

    First, the claim you can’t prove the existence of the past, is not part of “theology” it comes out of the sceptical tradition of philosophy which is higher secular and opposed to theology. Skeptics for centuries have provided arguments that we cannot prove the past exists. Those with a philosophical background ( who read the Standford Encycolpedia) are aware of this. You don’t refute these arguments by stating “bollocks” anymore than I could refute relativity theory by simply asserting its “bollocks”
    Second, your comment that ”There is plenty of empirical investigation of the age and history of the earth and the universe” Simply shows you fail to understand the skeptic tradition. Here you note people investigate the history and age of the earth. Indeed they do, but this is beside the point, its true people assume there is a past and then use empirical methods to investigate it and determine how far back it goes, but that’s not what the sceptical tradition denies. What they deny is that anyone can demonstrate the existence of the past with a non circular proof.
    Not the reference to non circular here, to provide a non circular case for the past one cannot assume in the premises that there is a past. One can’t therefore rely on anything I remember reading yesterday, or I learnt when I was a child, nor can one assume that the geological process we see have taken place over time and so forth. Or that carbon decays at a certain rate ( saying it decays assumes a process that takes place over time)
    If one discards such premises one cannot prove the past exists
    ”This is the sort of argument which can be used to “prove” the existence of leprechauns and fairies. Or whatever.” this is false, how does the claim
    [1] We cannot prove there exists a past.
    Entail
    [2] there are fairies
    This simply does not follow, once again you show you don’t know what you are talking about.

  • No Max, I have no training in theology (or leprechaunology, etc). Consequently I am ignorant of the finer points of such subjects ( we are all ignorant of many things).

    But then again I have absolutely no interests in those subjects. I don’t venture opinions on their theories, etc. My only interaction with this areas (as you will have noted here) is on my defense of scientific ethos and epistemology when it is attacked or misrepresented by theologians.

    Now if people like Matt restricted themselves to debating amongst themselves about their theological ideas and theories I would leave them to their devices. But when they misrepresent science or attack it then I am prepared to interact. And this interaction does involve my expertise I’m scientific/philosophical areas – not theology.

    Now I have expressed my view that leprechaunology, theology, etc., are basically useless and their arguments less than honest (this us certainly shown by their attacks on scientific ideas and history). Probably many people think the same way. I certainly have heard academics complain about theology being treated as a serious subject at universities.
    But these are my personal views. I don’t like car racing, horse racing, and many other sports. Politics sickens me. Should racing fans and politicians be offended? No, they couldn’t give a stuff. Part if the fascinating variety if human expression.

    So Max, why are you offended? Do you have doubts? Is my lack of veneration a threat to you?

  • So Matt, you feel unable to provide a “non circular case for the past one cannot assume in the premises that there is a past.”

    Do de you accept that we all have a past?
    If so why? I am picking that you do. But does it worry you that you can’t prove it to your own philosophical satisfaction?

    The fact is that only idiots will stand around doing nothing because they can’t prove a past. The rest of us get on with life and in the process our experience provides us with ample empirical evidence of the fact. 

  • Ken, your response illustrates my point (and Plantinga’s) quite nicely, one can’t prove in a non circular fashion that the past exists, despite this we are not bothered correctly dismiss anyone who denied the existence of the past as an idiot.

    What does this show? it shows that there are certain things that cannot prove to be true, believe and do not entertain serious doubts about or take a sceptical attitude towards.

    (Btw we do not experience the past, we can only experience the present, we remember past experiences we are selves were witness to, and everything else we infer from items in the present which we assume are left over from a past time.)

  • Max, have a think about your phrase “cannot prove to be true”.

    What do you mean by that? What standards of proof do you insist on? What methods of knowing are acceptable.

    The fact is that you don’t believe that the past didn’t happen (do you?). And your confidence in this us based in your experience. And you are extremely confident – you are sure it’s not an illusion.

    There is am epistilogical lesson in this which, I think, helps define the two basic schools of philosophy. Separates the sheep from the goats if you like.

    So why raise this as sn issue?

    What value is a statement claiming you can’t prove the past happened if you tte going to ignore the very idea – except when you want to play philosophical games.

    Neither you, not Matt doubts the past happened one little bit. Plantinga might but I doubt it. He is only going to use this silly argument to have a bash at science. He will never raise it as an objection to any if his theological claims, will he?

  • “Max, have a think about your phrase “cannot prove to be true”.

    What do you mean by that? What standards of proof do you insist on? What methods of knowing are acceptable.

    The fact is that you don’t believe that the past didn’t happen (do you?). ….”

    Huh????? When did I say the past did not happen exactly Ken???? Um… huh????

  • “No Max, I have no training in theology”

    Good. An admission. They you would be wise (or at least would appear less foolish) if you stopped pretending to understand things beyond your ken.

    “But then again I have absolutely no interests in those subjects.”

    Then why do you go on about them all the time? A person with no interest in something tends to not criticize it every second word. Make up your mind Ken!

    “My only interaction with this areas (as you will have noted here) is on my defense of scientific ethos and epistemology when it is attacked or misrepresented by theologians.”

    This is just plain not true. And you have yet to demonstrate that you have the vaguest understanding of what a theological epistemology is – or indeed what theology is.

    “Now I have expressed my view that leprechaunology, theology, etc., are basically useless and their arguments less than honest …”

    Thereby contradicting what you said only moments ago… you should really proof read these things Ken!

    “So Max, why are you offended?”

    I am unsure what you mean by this – when was I offended?

    “Is my lack of veneration a threat to you?”

    I am confused Ken. Where are these odd questions coming from?

  • Max, you make broad accusations with no substance or specificity.
    The reality is that you can’t find an example of my debating the finer issues of theology . But just because I declare that it doesn’t interest me and that I personally find the arguments of theologians dishonest you declare that I am not allowed to comment on the false claims being made here.

    Claims about scientific issues and history, about simple logic (Madeleine’s “always”), scientific philosophy, etc.

    Or do you define “theology” so widely that it encompasses such issues and you therefore deny others a right to a view without first attaining a Ph.D. in theology?

    Come off it. That’s just a way of avoiding the real
    Issues.

  • , you make broad accusations with no substance or specificity.

    Like the claim all theological arguments are circular?

  • Ah, Matt – you missed out the important bit: “starting with an assumption (existence of a god) and then arguing to “prove” it.”

    One of my dictionary definitions defines theology as “a religious theory, school of thought, or system of belief” and “the study of religion, especially the Christian faith and God’s relation to the world’.

    Seems to me that theology takes the existence of a god as a starting point – as a given. Then looks for arguments to justify that.

    But then again that is not my specialty – I am happy for you to show me otherwise.

  • “One of my dictionary definitions defines theology as “a religious theory, school of thought, or system of belief” and “the study of religion, especially the Christian faith and God’s relation to the world’.”

    If you rely on the dictionary to learn about a subject its unspurising you go wrong.

    “Seems to me that theology takes the existence of a god as a starting point – as a given. Then looks for arguments to justify that.”

    that does not follow from the definition you cite, its states its the study of God, not that theology argues to God.

    But I could point out that one can make the same argument about science. The natural sciences study the physical world, therefore by your reasoning the sciences are circular, you assume there exists an external physical world and then argue for its existence.

    Similary history studies the past, people assume the past and then try and argue for it, and so forth.

    Logicans study logic, so by your reasoning logic is circular people assume logic exists and then argue for it.

    The fact is that the arguments for the existence of the past or the existence of an external world, or the reliability of logic, probably fair worse in the skeptical literature than arguments for Gods existence, especially when you try and avoid being circular and offer an argument for the existence of the external world or the past, without assuming there is one from the outset.

    “But then again that is not my specialty – I am happy for you to show me otherwise.”,/i>

    Great, then you offer me a non circular argument for the existence of the past or the physical world which does not assume that such things exist from the outset, and then we’ll discuss the evidence for Gods existence.

  • So Matt, what are you hiding?

    I offered a dictionary definition which agrees with my observation. I offer you the opportunity to clarify if I am mistaken.

    And your reply:

    “you offer me a non circular argument for the existence of the past or the physical world which does not assume that such things exist from the outset, and then we’ll discuss the evidence for Gods existence.”

    No, I am not interested in the arguments for the existence of your god. Not one little bit. I have often, very often, said – those sort of debates are a mug’s game.

    I am not going to play such a childish game.

    All I want from you is your description, understanding, of what theology is.

    As for whether the past happened or the existence of the external world I have already asked. Do you doubt these? (I am sure you don’t). If not, why not? If it was just a matter of personal choice why do you choose one rather than another.

    Could I suggest you have “other ways of knowing” aside from formal deductive logic?

    But meantime – surely it isn’t hard for someone with your training.

    WTF do you mean by “theology?”

  • WTF do you mean by theology?
    Theology : a discipline of Christian theology that attempts to formulate an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the Christian faith and beliefs. Systematic theology draws on the foundational sacred texts of Christianity, while simultaneously investigating the development of Christian doctrine over the course of history, particularly through philosophy, science and ethics. Systematic theology will typically explore: God, the Trinity, Revelation, Creation, Divine providence, Theodicy, Christology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Christian living, the afterlife, and statements on other religions.

    Theology differs from apologetics and philosophy of religion, but there is some overlap.

    Christian Apologetics : a field of Christian theology that presents a rational basis for the Christian faith, to defend the faith against objections and misrepresentation, and to expose error. Apologists base their defense of Christianity on historical and archaeological evidence, theological and philosophical arguments and scientific investigation. While there are various types of arguments including ontological, cosmological and teleological, it is the opinion of many Christian apologists that the Gospel is the best defense and living a life according to the tenets of Jesus’ teachings is the best argument.

    Philosophy of Religion : a branch of philosophy concerned with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science.

  • So ropata, your definitions (which of course Matt may not accept) seem to assume Christian beliefs and faith, including god beliefs.
    There may be different trends debating details but there is a definite assumed starting point.

    So theologians who then set out to use theology to “prove” the existence if their god would be using circular arguments. On the other hand science does not have such a starting point so could more honestly approach the question.

    Mind you theology still has the huge problems identified by Matt. It cannot prove that the past occurred or that the external world exists!

    Mind you, why not assume these (which raises the question why should you) alongside assuming the god you are going to prove?

  • The question of God’s existence is more the domain of apologetics and particularly the philosophy of religion. Your characterization of theology shows a basic lack of understanding. Matt’s arguments about the past and the existence of the external world are classic questions of philosophy not theology.

    On the other hand science does not have such a starting point so could more honestly approach the question.
    This is not so, science proceeds with axiomatic reasoning, I am surprised that you have not heard of the philosophy of science.

  • I think what Ken has discovered – or SHOULD have discovered is that in actual fact he does not know what Theology is… but he thinks that philosophy is nonsense…. but I expect he will not change his rhetoric.

    “Philosophical Logic” is just not as as good of a put down as “Theological logic” is it?

  • OK Max – give us your brief definition of theology. So far only ropata and I have (and I used the dictionary definition which Matt rejects). Despite your lectures about me being involved in theogical arguments (which I reject) neither you or Matt seem willing to provide a definition which would provide evidence of my offence.

    I detect meaningless bafflegab.

  • “So theologians who then set out to use theology to “prove” the existence if their god would be using circular arguments.”

    This is an almost meaningless statement. Philosophy of religion addresses the question of whether God exists or not… Christian Theology uses the idea that God exists as a starting point. What is it that you don’t understand about this Ken?

    “So chemists who then set out to use chemistry to “prove” that chemicals exist would be using circular arguments.”

    Also a meaningless sentence – because it is philosophy which debates whether physical matter exists… not chemistry… there is no chemistry class at university which asks the question: “is there a physical universe….” and Ken – it may surprise you to know that theology departments don’t have a class that asks the question “Does god exist?” – such questions are debated in the philosophy department…. so to repeat myself – you actually think Philosophy is a load of cr*p and I expect to hear the expression “philosophical jelly wrestling” coming from you in future.

  • Ropata, read what I said: my refernce to “starting pointt” was the assumption of a god. Theology has that, science doesn’t. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

    But, specifically it does sort of rule out theology from the investigation of whether a god exists it not. Well af least an honest investigation.

  • Max, I think you have just supported my point about theology assuming the existence of a god as a starting point. It’s not a matter of me misunderstanding but you confirming that I got it right. With that starting point of course theological arguments for existence of gods become circular.

    No I don’t think philosophy is a load if crap by any means. That should be clear. (I don’t know where you get such silly ideas from). As I have always pointed out there is not one “philosophy” – there are different trends or schools. Some of them are obviously rubbish. Others are brilliant. I prefer the latter.

  • This thread amply demonstrates that the conflict thesis is perpetuated by atheists hostile to religion and unwilling to admit its vast history, its philosophical rigour, and especially its vital role motivating the scientific enterprise.

  • “Max, I think you have just supported my point about theology assuming the existence of a god as a starting point.”

    Yes Ken. Well done. The name “Theology” should have given this away… its kinda like “Biology” assumes life exists and “Geology” assumes earth exists. This is a no-brainer – and no one disagrees upon this issue.

    “It’s not a matter of me misunderstanding but you confirming that I got it right. With that starting point of course theological arguments for existence of gods become circular.”

    And then like a broken record you drone out the same mantra without listening to what people keep telling you. There ARE NO theological arguments for the existence of God. As there are no biological arguments for the existence of life, or geological arguments for the existence of earth… this seems so simple that I can only assume you are pretending not to understand.

    “No I don’t think philosophy is a load if crap by any means.”

    Perhaps you only think that some areas of philosophy are a load of crap then? Philosophy of religion in particular – and its retarded cousin Apologetics perhaps? But it is philosophy which you are worried about – not theology.

  • “But it is philosophy which you are worried about.”

    Actually no, Max. But don’t let me stop you – develop your idea.

    But I think we agree about theology and why I have no interest in it.

  • Given you have demonstrated that you have no idea what theology is I doubt it.

    You have an issue with some areas of the philosophy of religion – but presumably only those areas which argue against your personal beliefs.

  • Max, I thought we agreed on the nature of theology.

    It’s Matt who rejected the definition I offered – not you. (And Matt seems unwilling to offer an alternative definition).

    You don’t explain yourself with respect to philosophy. Perhaps you should concentrate on what you youself believe instead of trying to speak for me. You clearly are not able to do that with any accuracy.

  • “Max, I thought we agreed on the nature of theology.”

    As long as you persist on making stupid comments like “theology assumes God exists and then using this to argue that God exists” you have demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of both the disciplines of philosophy and theology.

  • OK Max – we agree that theology assumes that a god exists. Perhaps it is only some theologians who then go on to justify that. Matt is certainly one of them. (And he appears to be fans of people like Craig who do the same).

    But you can see clearly with that starting point theology can only attract those with that belief. Otherwise what is the bloody point?

    So it seems silly to deny someone who doesn’t have that belief, the right to their beliefs and to write books about then, just because they aren’t theologians.

    Now, I am not saying you do that but certain people around here fall for that argument. Along the lines that because Dawkins is not a theologian (or a leprachaunin) they have no right to write the books they do.

    Mind you, you did suggest that because I have an interest in science and that the real world was non-intuitive, then I should be interested in theology which can be non-intuitive.

    Perhaps you can see why there is no reason at all for me to have an interest in theology – I just don’t have what it takes – a belief in a god.

    Sure – it was a tongue in cheek suggestion on your part. And so have been much of my replies. But it has elucidated this significant agreement about starting points.

  • @ Ken

    “OK Max – we agree that theology assumes that a god exists. Perhaps it is only some theologians who then go on to justify that. Matt is certainly one of them. (And he appears to be fans of people like Craig who do the same).”

    This site says of itself: “The MandM blog addresses philosophy of religion, ethics, theology, jurisprudence and social commentary from a Christian perspective, with a distinctly kiwi twist.”

    You seem to suggest that, Matt needs to specifically say during an argument or comment whether the argument or comment is of philosophical, theological or social nature.

    I think it is a good idea, else the audience gets confused about the starting point ;-)

  • I don’t know where you got that idea from cj_nza.

    I am simply pointing out that Matt’s argument that people should not write books related to god beliefs if they aren’t theologians are guilty of circular arguments. Or of telling atheists to STFU. (probably closer to their desires).

  • OK, circular like saying you can only publish a science paper once you”ve done the science.

  • “OK Max – we agree that theology assumes that a god exists. Perhaps it is only some theologians who then go on to justify that. Matt is certainly one of them. (And he appears to be fans of people like Craig who do the same).”

    Yes – but when Matt does that he is doing philosophy. Some chemists probably get into philosophical debates about whether matter exists or whether Berkley was right… but at this time they are not doing chemistry! Are the!?

    “But you can see clearly with that starting point theology can only attract those with that belief. Otherwise what is the bloody point?”

    Are you saying that you can’t find a subject area interesting or intellectually stimulating unless you have a personal belief in it? What of the people who study classics – and do not really believe that Athene intervened to help Odysseus. What indeed of people who study the Lord of The Rings – must they believe in Gandalf before they begin? You personally do not find Theology interesting perhaps – but this alone does not make it worthless even if there is not a God.

    “So it seems silly to deny someone who doesn’t have that belief, the right to their beliefs and to write books about then, just because they aren’t theologians.”

    Never said anything of the sort. In fact I said the opposite.

    “Now, I am not saying you do that but certain people around here fall for that argument. Along the lines that because Dawkins is not a theologian (or a leprachaunin) they have no right to write the books they do.”

    No one says he does not have the “right” to write a book about philosophy. I think people do (rightly) say he does not have the knowledge or the intelligence to write a book on the philosophy of religion – but he is of course free to do so.

    “Mind you, you did suggest that because I have an interest in science and that the real world was non-intuitive, then I should be interested in theology which can be non-intuitive. Perhaps you can see why there is no reason at all for me to have an interest in theology – I just don’t have what it takes – a belief in a god.”

    You could nevertheless find it an interesting topic area.

  • CJNZ, to determine wether an argument is “:circular” or not, one does not need to know if its philosophical theological or whatever, one simply needs to see if its premises explictly or implictly assume the conclusion.

  • Thanks Matt.

    I thought the smiley face would help with my communication.

    Obviously not.

  • Max  you are trying to teach me to suck eggs. I am not a philistine. I used to enjoy myths and fairy tales, and indeed there are great ideas and lessons in them. This did not require me to believe them. The Fin Family Moomintrol books are delightful and my family has enjoyed them over several generations. Without believing in them.

    Same with religion. I enjoy Russian Orthodox chants. I enjoy choral music. One of my favorite pieces is Verdi’s Requiem. Now I don’t have to believe in gods to appreciate the music. (Incidentally, neither did Verdi to write it).

    You get my point. So I can appreciate why people can have a literary or cultural interest in the Christian bible or Muslim Quuran and can appreciate these without believing the mythology within them.

    Theology is different though because it basically involves a starting belief – how many theologians do you know who are atheist? You have to believe in at least done if the mythology. It’s not line a sensible, cultural or intellectual appreciation. After all I would consider someone who found the Moomintrol books sacred because they actual believed in the animals rather bizarre. Same thing.

    Theology is also compromised by the fact that it attempts to justify this belief – by any means possible. The usual human approach when you start with a preconceived idea. (Just imagine the weird arguments if a Moomintrol believer trying to justify those books as factual. Same thing.

    That is not acceptable to me. For me knowledge must be obtained from reality. So while I can indeed be interested in theology as yet another example of how our species is not rational, rather rationalising, it certainly doesn’t appeal to me as way of thinking. In fact, as a way of thinking I find such dogmatism sickening.

    I actually do find the mental gymnastics of people like Matt interesting, if rather tiring after a while. You may have noticed the comparison I make with Maoists and Stalinists. No accident as the thought processes are so similar and I have experienced those as well.

    So in a sense theology is of academic interest to me in the same way Maoism and Stalinism was.

  • Cj-NSA – weird you compare the circular logic of theology to science. Sure, to produce a scientific paper you first do the science. This whole process helps to overcome the natural confirmation bias so common on theology. Doing science involves placing one’s most firmly held convictions to scrutiny and testing. One has to validate them against reality. That’s why scientific instituted have expensive equipment and laboratories. Significantly theological departments rely on old books and shonky logic.   Often seeing this as a virtue!

  • kNe, no I normally don’t compare science with much at all.

    A throwaway comment on your comment, suggesting that it is rather silly to expect authors to understand an argument before they attempt to address that argument in writing.

    As you say if you want to publish science, you do science, likewise if you want to publish on specific religious views, you at least should make an effort to know what the views are.

  • Ken:

    Good to hear that you appreciate these things. The way you were talking led me to think that you thought someone without a belief in God could not possibly have an interest in Theology. I think what led me to believe you meant this is because this is what you said… but thanks for clarifying.

    “Theology is different though because it basically involves a starting belief”

    It involves a starting PREMISE.. which you are free to believe or not while still appreciating and enjoying the arguments and ideas involved. For instance does Docetism fit with a trinitarian understanding of God? You could find this an interesting question whether or not you thought there was a God – in the same way I might find the question of whether the Greeks believed their Gods had solid bodies is an interesting question despite the fact I think the Greeks were mistaken about their pantheon… so I don’t think Christian Theology is the exception you make it out to be… why would it be? What is so special about Christian beliefs that you think they fall into a separate category?

    “how many theologians do you know who are atheist?”

    Actually, Ken, quite a few! Several in person.

    “You have to believe in at least done if the mythology. It’s not line a sensible, cultural or intellectual appreciation.”

    Huh? Not sure what this means EXACTLY – but I think I addressed this point above… rewrite it in English to clarify though!

    “Theology is also compromised by the fact that it attempts to justify this belief – by any means possible.”

    Again you are slipping into confusing Theology with philosophy of religion or apologetics I think.

  • Max, it is a bit pointless classifying theology, philosophy of religion, apologetics, etc. Most of us can’t give a stuff about classification. We have to dela with real situations.

    The reality is that one faces a discussion like this where“attempts [are made] to justify this belief – by any means possible.” For example Matt’s attempt to present an extreme conflict thesis, and this post from Madeleine: Matt attributes my criticism of “that religion is and always has been at odds with science.” as absolutist and just not true – to me taking the word “always” literally!

    I know – its childish – it would have been simpler to acknowledge that the statement should have been better qualified. But it seems to be typical of his method of discussion, whether he justifies it as theology, philosophy of religion or apologetics.

    Sometimes it feels like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Interesting you know theologians who are atheists. But I suppose the Lloyd Geering qualifies too.

    I wonder how they get to this position?

    I have heard that one of the ways of quickly losing christian beliefs is to attend a seminary college or similar. So I guess many people do end up atheist from this experience but retain an interest in the subject.

    Fortunately I have been able to develop my own philosophy without that sort of religious deviation. Although I have probably made other sorts of deviations in my time. Probably inevitable.

  • “Max, it is a bit pointless classifying theology, philosophy of religion, apologetics, etc. Most of us can’t give a stuff about classification. We have to dela with real situations.”

    Can you imagine how confusing it would be if someone who was ignorant about science through around terms like Biology (when they meant Geology) or Physics (when they meant Evolution) – wouldn’t you want to correct them so (i) they did not seem so foolish (ii) you could understand what they were trying to say (iii) to help the person understand what other people were saying. And if the scientifically illiterate person said something like “well I don’t see any point in classifying science” you would think they were being a little silly? This is how you come across Ken.

    “Interesting you know theologians who are atheists. But I suppose the Lloyd Geering qualifies too.”

    Indeed. They are very common. In fact a surprising number of clergy are probably atheists…

    “I have heard that one of the ways of quickly losing christian beliefs is to attend a seminary college or similar. So I guess many people do end up atheist from this experience but retain an interest in the subject.”

    I suspect this does happen quite a lot. I think what happens is people with a simplistic literal belief go to college and rather than change the fundamentalist viewpoint – they reject the whole of Christianity. What results is someone who still has a simplistic understanding of religion – but they are antagonistic to it rather than supportive of it.

  • Well, Max, no one here sensibly classifies my comments on scientific issues (except to claim I have a mythical PhD in soil science – I think it’s called ad hominem or straw man!). Similarly I see no point in classifying the theist cobtibutions – more important to point out the logical errors and confirmation bias.

    Re the effect of religious education. Dan Dennett has a ongoing project covering a number of atheist clergy – people who “lost their faith” and are now trapped in a profession which they probably would like to get out if. I think this sometimes (often) also happens with people who take up professional political positions.

  • I guess my only point Ken is that “Theology” is a specific discipline… and most of what Matt talks about does not fall into that discipline – mostly because it would be too esoteric/complex for the lay audience. Most of what he talks about is a watered down version of philosophy of religion.

    A lot of atheist clergy justify their position because they still see themselves as filling a social need – ie. a sort of community organizer or social worker. But I suspect some do just see it as a career path with a pension – depends a lot on the church I guess. Personally I think they lack integrity.

  • Also the other reason to classify the disciplines is to explain to you why your charge of circularity is unjustified.

    Let me explain:

    Philosophy of Religion: (of a pro-God nature)

    DOES argue for the existence of God
    DOES NOT assume God exists as a premise

    Theology:

    DOES NOT argue for the existence of God
    DOES assume God exists as a premise

    Naturally the same person may at times dabble in both of these areas – but this is not circular!

  • Edward Feser: Why are (some) physicists so bad at philosophy?
    Philosophers and theologians are constantly told that they need to “learn the science” before commenting on quantum mechanics, relativity, or evolution. And rightly so. Yet too many scientists refuse to “learn the philosophy” before pontificating on the subject. The results are predictably sophomoric. Yet the reaction from clueless editors is: “Gee, he’s a scientist! He’s good at math and stuff. He must know what he’s talking about!”

    Contemporary philosophers are certainly not guilty of ignorance of science, especially where science touches on their areas of philosophical specialization. Hawking and Mlodinow are guilty of just the sort of ignorance of which they falsely accuse philosophers. But they are unlikely ever to know it. Until this childishness is universally treated with the sort of contempt it deserves, we will not have a sane intellectual culture, one in which the deepest philosophical, theological – and, indeed, scientific – questions can be fruitfully debated.
    Read the rest .. it applies directly to this discussion!

  • Yes ropata, I am familiar with Freser’s rantings. He makes some rather extreme attacks on well respected scientists. Only because they don’t have the same god beliefs he has. Because of your own god beliefs you would rather accept his sillines than read the actual books, wouldn’t you? The old apologetics ghetto problem.

    (By the way Hawking’s book is sn excellent overview. No specifics, it’s not a text book, but extremrly easy to read. Don’t be taken in by the hostile reviews based solely on one sntence in a newspaper which offended the “reviewer.”)

    Freser is the sort of person who gives “philosophy” a bad name because of his extremism. Unfortunately common for “philosophers of religion.” perhaps there is scope for a subject called “psychology of religion?”

  • Max, you aren’t a stamp collector, are you? Your desire to impose a naive classification on a real situation hints at this attitude.

    In my experience the sorts of arguments people like Matt deliver do often resolve into circular ones. I am not interested in classifying each stage of them in the way you desire.

    But here are some comments from Peter Ellerton, who teaches secondary school philosophy in Australia, describing problems theological interference creates. (I reviewed the book which included his article in Aussie wisdom). Here, of course, he is referring to his experience of attempts by religious bodies to intrude into his teaching.

    In teaching critical thinking and reasoning skills to students:

    “theology is not capable of delivering those skills. Rather, theology promotes an acceptance of avoiding, minimising, or otherwise refashioning philosophical analysis, inductive reasoning, and deductive logic, while dishonestly brandishing them as legitimate tools of its trade.”

    “One of the major fault lines that runs through theology as a discipline, at least in any attempt to present it as a philosophy, is how difficult it is to avoid circular reasoning within a teleological framework.”

    “It’s one thing to be unclear about your subject matter, but it is quite another to be seeing obfuscation as an end point. This smearing, or dilution, of meaning is a dangerous educational message for students, and one that teachers of all disciplines strive to dispel.”

    “Theologians … wave a toy sword of reason while undermining much of the etiquette and protocol of philosophical thinking, all the while claiming to toil under the banner of true philosophy.”

    Boy, does this describe my impressions after debating with theologians/philosophers of religion here and elsewhere!

    I will put a disclaimer here. In no way am I claiming this attitude is restricted to the theologically inclined. I think it arises naturally out of our cognitive processes – the fact that we are not a rational species, more a rationalising one. And the inevitable involvement of emotion in our reasoning and decisions. This is why I draw out the similarities, from my own experience, between the theological thinking I encounter and that of Maoists and Stalinists I used to encounter. Many of Ellerton’s comments apply also to them.

  • “Max, you aren’t a stamp collector, are you? Your desire to impose a naive classification on a real situation hints at this attitude.”

    Perhaps he is a paleontologist. ;-)

    Or perhaps Ken you need to refine your definition of reality. (We know that a scientist, you are never wrong or mistaken you simply need to refine your knowledge or position.)

    The real situation is that there is a distinction between Theology and the Philosophy of Religion.

    You do not acknowledge that distinction; your view is noted, was tested against reality and found wanting.

    Moving on …

  • Yeah Ken, pointing out that when Hawking’s makes sweeping claims about another discipline ( philosophy) he is mistaken, is to “attack scientists” and makes one an extremist

    That says it all,

  • Matt – have you read Hawking’s book? Or is you attribution of “sweeping claims” based purely on the apologetics ghetto response to a news report?

    I actually find Hawking’s comment quite relevant – even if they have upset some religious philosophers’ arrogance. I certainly have no problem seeing their relevance.

  • You’re flagging behind the field a little here Madeleine after Jackie got all her blog readers to vote for her Hottest Kiwi Female Blogger contest.

  • Ken, are you saying one has to actually read a work before criticising it. Isn’t this precisely what you have denied with regards to theology and philosophy repeatedly in discussion.

  • I really couldn’t care less Scalia.

  • Matt, I haven’t criticized any book here that I haven’t read. I held back my criticisms of Hawking’s book until I had read the specific sections. My critiques if your comments relate to your comments.

    It is you that thinks you can critique an author, even defame one, without reading their book.

    Is that the usual theological approach?

    It is rather pathetic. As is your obvious attempt to divert my comment.

    However, I will take from your refusal to specifically answer me that you have not read the book in question at all.

    Rather illuminating, isn’t it?

  • Ken, actually you have defended this logic many times, now to call it the standard “theological logic” is just dishonest.

    I don’t write critiques of books I don’t read, though I also don’t accuse people who write reviews in peer reviewed journals of being extremist or anti science when they make claims about a physicist commenting on philosophy.

    I have pointed out that P Z Myers criticises Plantinga without reading him. Dawkins attacks arguments in philosophy of religion without reading the books or works in question, and on each occasion you have defended this as acceptable.

    Your continual contradicting your self is becoming humorous. Try some honesty.

  • Ken writes

    ”It is you that thinks you can critique an author, even defame one, without reading their book.
    Is that the usual theological approach?

    This is interesting because in the thread http://www.mandm.org.nz/2009/10/guest-post-dan-brown%E2%80%99s-history-of-science.html#comment-9136 on Oct 31, 2009 at 11:14 pm (
    I said the following about Dawkins

    “(a) he does not address any of the serious scholarly arguments or positions advocated by Christian theologians for the doctrines he rejects (b) he caricatures his opponents and (c) his lack caricature and lack of argument is backed up by sarcasm and insults. “

    Ken responded at
    Nov 1, 2009 at 11:28 am with

    “I agree – and his book is better for it. In general I find theological tracts quite dishonest. My comment – The Naked Emperor”. Dan Dennett has an interesting talk on this based on research he has done on covert atheist ministers. Fascinating (“The Evolution of Confusion.”).”

    Here Ken, says its OK to critique anothers position without reading it, in fact Dawkins work is said to be better for it.

    I clarified this at
    Nov 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    ”What I suggest is that if you write a book putting forward a conclusion on a topic you have to (a) be familiar with the issues involved in the discussion and (b) address those authors who have offered arguments against the conclusions you propose.
    For example if I was going to write something critical of the big bang I would need to have read enough to understand what the big bang theory stated and would have to have read those authors who argue for it, be familiar with there arguments and actually address them. To ignore there arguments and simply assert things they have addressed would not be adequate. Especially if what I asserted had been addressed by my critics or involved misunderstanding the theory.”

    Ken responded at Nov 3, 2009 at 9:48 am

    ”I’ll just finish with some comments on theology – because like a child with a hammer who sees everything as a nail, Matt, you choose to see everything in terms of religious philosophy – because you have a wand…. You criticise Dawkins as a bad “philosopher of religion” – something he never claims to be or aspire to be. Why should he. He is a scientist and surely science is the appropriate response to reality. You are actually flattering him. (Have a look at Dan Dennetts lecture inPromoting confusion . I think that his position is very similar to Dawkins and mine).
    I have no time for theology and am glad Dawkins doesn’t either. His book would have been a complete failure if it had fallen into that jelly wrestling trap.”

    Here Ken again makes it clear that if you are a scientist you can criticise other peoples arguments and position without being familiar with them, to be familiar with the arguments is simply “jelly wrestling” and to actually read the position you are criticising is to make your work a complete failure
    So what Ken mocks as “the usual theological approach” is in fact the approach he admits Dawkins engages in, he endorses Dawkins engaging in, cites Myers to defend and says is appropriate.

    Like I said Ken try to behave honestly, when you have repeatedly defended thins like the coutier’s reply don’t turn around and pretend this is bad “theological logic” when it suits you.

  • Well, Matt, loads of excuses from you. All the time refusing to acknowledge you have not read the book in question which you are making wild claims about.

    As I said;
    “It is rather pathetic. As is your obvious attempt to divert my comment.

    However, I will take from your refusal to specifically answer me that you have not read the book in question at all.

    Rather illuminating, isn’t it?”

    This dirt of childish response is rather typical of you.

  • Ken keep ignoring the fact you constantly contradict your self, keep calling people names, that’s what ideologues do.

  • Matt, you still refuse to acknowledge you have not read the book you criticize. You still try to divert attention away from that by attacking me. That is an admission of defeat on your part.

    It would be simpler, more honest, and more mature to acknowledge your mistake and deal with it. Make yourself familiar with what thebook really says and discuus the real issues.

    Remember your blaming me for taking Madelrine “literally” with her “always?”

    You must have very little confidence in your claims to gave to resort to such childish diversions.

  • Ken, try reading I did not criticise Hawking, I would not do so without reading his book. I criticised you for suggesting that philosophers who had read his book and criticised philosophical claims in it were “attacking scientists” .

    You however evade my point which is that you have repeatedly said one does not have to read a work or argument to criticise it. You were in fact in the middle of a discussion with Max where you were defending your own stance of criticising theology and not being familar with it at the same time.

    Ken your dishonest tactics are tiresome, here is a hint, if you want to respond to what someone says actually understand their argument, be informed about it and offer an argument against it, not an ad hominen attack, not an accusation of evasion and so forth, and when you have a discussion don’t continually contradict yourself saying one thing when it suits your point and then denying it when it doesn’t.

  • “You must have very little confidence in your claims to gave to resort to such childish diversions.” This is the funniest thing Ken has said yet.

  • By the way Ken, when I read numerous reviews of a book, by professional philosophers from different persuasions all noting the same comments about philosophy and philosophical mistakes by Hawking and these reviews get into the peer reviewed journals I do have confidence that what they say is probably not a distortion.

    Of course I would not myself write a critique of Hawking without reading him. But, that does not mean I lack confidence.

    When the only response from you is to accuse people of “attacking scientists” and claiming that apparently all these authors lied, by attributing to hawking a claim, which can google on amazon and find on the first page of his book. I am even more confident.

    You see in Philosophy we examine arguments we don’t ignore them, change the subject and accuse people of evasion or hating science whenever we hear something we don’t like. Try it some time its called being rational and not a ideologue who repeats a mantra no matter how contradictory or ridiculous it makes you.

  • Well, Matt, I think this discussion (which started with extremely small points) illustrate Peter Ellerton’s descriptions:

    “theology promotes an acceptance of avoiding, minimising, or otherwise refashioning philosophical analysis, inductive reasoning, and deductive logic, while dishonestly brandishing them as legitimate tools of its trade.”

    And

    “It’s one thing to be unclear about your subject matter, but it is quite another to be seeing obfuscation as an end point. This smearing, or dilution, of meaning is a dangerous educational message for students, and one that teachers of all disciplines strive to dispel.”

    In the end, you justify your refusal to engage with this:

    “when I read numerous reviews of a book, by professional philosophers from different persuasions all noting the same comments about philosophy and philosophical mistakes by Hawking and these reviews get into the peer reviewed journals I do have confidence that what they say is probably not a distortion.”

    Might I suggest that if you listed your sources we would find they are the echo chamber of the apologetics ghetto

    It would be simpler for you to engage with the real issues. And more interesting because Hawking and his co-author make an important judgement of philosophy which is worth considering.

    Because you googled to find the phrase you were after was on the first page of his book I will assume you are referring to this:

    “Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.”

    Yes, that first sentence is provocative (part of their style) but this occurs as part of the first section of this brief book which gives an overall picture of the history of science and philosophy. We can see clearly that whereas philosophy used to consider these questions in the past it no longer does – at least in terms of discovery. Consider all the discoveries made in the area covered by the book over the last 150 years. How many of them were made by philosophers?

    And indeed so much of philosophy is inadequate for even understanding these discoveries, let alone carrying out the investigations. Think for yourself what you find an acceptable definition of the philosophical category of matter. Compare that with the current understanding of matter by physicists involved in particle physics or cosmological research. I believe you will find the common philosophical definition completely inadequate.

    But, I have said repeatedly that philosophy as a discipline is not uniform. There are different schools. And I can produce philosophical descriptions of matter from a modern philosopher which is consistent with the understanding of modern physics.
    There are indeed modern philosophers who keep up with scientific discovery and who advance a scientific philosophy. Interesting Feser prefers to make ad hominem attack on people like the Churchlands who can be described that way. While at the same time authoritatively quoting philosophers like Feyerband who is no friend of modern science! So you can see why I find his writing ideologically driven and anti-science.

    That is the problem of wearing blinkers, Matt. By restricting yourself to the apologetics ghetto you don’t fully appreciate the philosophical arguments involved in Hawking’s book.

    Mind you, I suggest you will shortly be attacking Peter Atkins in a similar way because of his new book On Being: A Scientist’s Exploration of the Great Questions of Existence. he has provocatively suggested that philosophers tend to be pessimists (holding back investigations of reality) while scientists are optimists.

    As I commented in my post On being philosophical about science:
    ‘I guess in a few months the theologians and philosophers will have forgotten about Stephen Hawking. The will instead be accusing Peter Atkins of “scientism.”’

  • “Max, you aren’t a stamp collector, are you? Your desire to impose a naive classification on a real situation hints at this attitude.”

    It just clarifies things and stops sloppy thinking. When you say “theological” and mean “economic recession” it makes it hard to follow your “argument”. I am sure that your own discipline has its own jargon.

  • Max – as you say “I am sure that your own discipline has its own jargon.” So true. And so limiting.

    In practice, especially when discussing things in more philosophical areas, it is best to keep away from jargon. I have often commented here on the different meaning participants may give to words like matter and materialism. Indeed words like “philosophy.” I feel that often theologians and philosophers of religion hide behind the word “philosophy.” It’s a way of pretending their ideas are far more acceptable than they really are.

  • Ken its easy to say a discipline “refashions” deductive logic another to actually show it. Which is why you always make sweeping comments about this and when asked to substantiate it say “thats a mugs game”.

    The fact is you contradicted yourself, you do it all the time, as has often been substainted thats contrary to all forms of deductive logic.

  • Right – we have firmly established what Ken thinks of philosophers. In the future, Ken, you don’t need to re-iterate this point and can relax and concentrate on addressing the actual argument of the day ;)

  • Thanks, Matt your suggestion to ” concentrate on addressing the actual argument of the day” is good advice.

    I thought that was exactly what I was doing in pointing out Madeleine’s mistake in attributing a belief that religion was always in conflict with science to those who point out the fundamental differences between the two.

    Problems like this are inevitable when people attempt to divert attention.

  • Ken, I agree if Madeleine mean’t to claim that religion and science are absolutely always with no exception in conflict historically then I agree with you, no one holds that view.

    If on the other hand she was speaking more colloquially or imprecisely and was talking about a predominate attitude or relationship, then she is referring to a historical thesis known as the conflict thesis and this has been defended by many people in the 19th century, and still widely believed today.

    I tend to think its more sensible to interpret Madeleine in the second of these senses, as Lennox was addressing the conflict thesis.

  • Sorry Max, I was thanking you, not Matt.  A combination of failing eyesight, small iPod keyboard and similar words, maybe even the lousy spell check.

    So, Matt, finally you “agree if Madeleine mean’t to claim that religion and science are absolutely always with no exception in conflict historically then I agree with you, no one holds that view.”

    That is exactly what I said and you argued against. You attempted to pull out quotes and your own assurances that your “conflict thesis” meant conflict was absolute and “always” you were justifying “always.”

    Your approach really does justify Ellerton’s description:

    “theology promotes an acceptance of avoiding, minimising, or otherwise refashioning philosophical analysis, inductive reasoning, and deductive logic, while dishonestly brandishing them as legitimate tools of its trade.”

  • I think what is going on Ken – is that you are using the word theology to refer to the thought patterns of religious people in general – whereas I have been using it to refer to as specific academic discipline. That may be the cause of a lot of disagreement.

  • No Matt – you are wrong to claim I am “using the word theology to refer to the thought patterns of religious people in general.”

    In those situations (religious people in general) I may sometime refer to some attitude of the “theologically inclined” but don’t describe it as theology at all.

    However, it is true I am not really referring to the “academic discipline” of theology as such. How could I it is an area I really have direct experience of (having never studied such a subject at university)? More, I am referring to the thought patterns and behaviour of people with such training (Matt is an example here).

    There does seem to be a consistent pattern to such behaviour which Ellerton described well:

    “theology promotes an acceptance of avoiding, minimising, or otherwise refashioning philosophical analysis, inductive reasoning, and deductive logic, while dishonestly brandishing them as legitimate tools of its trade.”

    Although such behaviour really is very common human behaviour and irrational, it is this sort of default thinking which the scientific method works hard to avoid and overcome.But it seems to almost be actively promoted within theological circles. I do wonder if it is part of theological training. Why else should I get the same behaviour from different theologically trained people I debate?

    For example, Matt has been running a series on logical fallacies – so one assumes he must have some awareness of their nature, maybe even a self awareness. Yet, look back at his comments here and you will recognise he uses many of the fallacies he is describing.

    His most recent (“You did it too”) describes exactly his response to my simple question – had he read the book “The Grand design” which he was criticising. Rather than a simple answer he went into screeds claiming that I advocated and performed critical reviews of books without reading them.

    A common knee-jerk reaction for children. But also, apparently, for trained theologians.

  • Sorry – I aimed the last reply to Max – not Matt.

  • “More, I am referring to the thought patterns and behaviour of people with such training (Matt is an example here).”

    Matt’s training is actually in philosophy not Theology.

    “theology promotes an acceptance of avoiding, minimising, or otherwise refashioning philosophical analysis, inductive reasoning, and deductive logic, while dishonestly brandishing them as legitimate tools of its trade.”

    This quote does not reflect my experience studying in a theology department. The rigour of research and standards expected are equal to those of any other humanities department – eg English, History, Classics, etc etc. This quote probably says more about its writer than the reality of university departments.

    “For example, Matt has been running a series on logical fallacies – so one assumes he must have some awareness of their nature, maybe even a self awareness. Yet, look back at his comments here and you will recognise he uses many of the fallacies he is describing.”

    So your issue is largly with Matt? That is fine. Matt is not theology personified you know right?

    “A common knee-jerk reaction for children. But also, apparently, for trained theologians.”

    Why do you attribute this irrational behavior to this part of his background. It would make MUCH more sense to say it is due to his philosophical training – but it seems you are determined to attribute all negative properties to theology. This again says more about you than Theology perhaps?

  • Max, the quote describes the experience of a high school teacher of philosophy who suffers intrusion from theological groups when he teaches critical thinking.

    Interesting that you now claim to be studying theology. perhaps that explains why you choose to say: “So your issue is largely with Matt? “ Right after I point out “I get the same behaviour from different theologically trained people I debate?”

    “Matt is not theology personified you know right?” – Shock, horror. That’s not the impression he conveys!

    The fact is Max, I often read material written by theologians?”philosophers of religion” because they are attacking science. Raving on about “scientism.” and presenting a stras man caricature of science.

    So my views are derived from a wide range of sources. And I was extremely interested to find that Peter Ellerton describes the c=same experience.

    It’s not personal, you know!

  • “Max, the quote describes the experience of a high school teacher of philosophy who suffers intrusion from theological groups when he teaches critical thinking.”

    OK – that puts it into context. Nuff said.

    “….I get the same behaviour from different theologically trained people I debate…”

    Does not surprise me. But from the viewpoint of an “insider” I would say rather that people say these stupid things DESPITE their theological training – not because of it. The illogical things you see come from their preconceived ideas which SHOULD have been eliminated with a decent theological training.

    ” Shock, horror. That’s not the impression he conveys!”

    ,,,,

    “The fact is Max, I often read material written by theologians?”philosophers of religion” because they are attacking science. Raving on about “scientism.” and presenting a stras man caricature of science.”

    Right – and again I contend that your issue is with bad philosophy and not with theology. They may or may not be a Theologian – this is irrelevant… … as what you find offensive is bad philosophy.

    “It’s not personal, you know!”

    Meh.

  • Max, As an insider your perspective is

    “I would say rather that people say these stupid things DESPITE their theological training “

    As an outsider I notice this effect is very common with theologians/”philosophers of religion” – particularly those of a conservative brand who inevitable come into conflict with science.

    As I have said, confirmation bias and obfuscation where dearly held views are involved is perfectly natural. In science we have ways of linting this – basically because we test our ideas against reality. Reality works to keep us honest.

    In theology their is no reality to test ideas against. More often they are tested against one’s strong wishes and customs of the profession.

    As you claim to be an insider who asserts that such training helps prevent this perhaps you could share the secret. Given the absence of testing against reality what procedures to theologians/”philosophers of religion” have to keep themselves honest? Or claim to?

  • @Ken
    “As I have said, confirmation bias and obfuscation where dearly held views are involved is perfectly natural. In science we have ways of linting this – basically because we test our ideas against reality. Reality works to keep us honest”

    I have noticed Ken, from reading your comments here and reading at Open Parachute that you seem to read material that confirms your bias against things religious or theological, ie you consistently reinforce you already held opinions.

    Another way to avoid confirmation bias is to understand opposing views honestly and listen to the best explainations by adherents rather than just reviews by opponents.
    Strangely before entering these debates you have admitted sufficient disinterest in theological or religious perspectives to the point that you make no effort to read or understand those perspectives.

    It would seem that you are as guilty of confirmation bias as anybody and by your own admission do little or nothing to correct for it when you perceive religion or theology and maybe philosophy to be involved.

  • “In theology their is no reality to test ideas against.”

    And yet you have admitted time after time that you do not know what Theology is or what is studied in Theology departments – so how would you possibly know this? It is just a blanket claim made with no knowledge.

    “More often they are tested against one’s strong wishes and customs of the profession.”

    Again – this statement says more about you that the real situation. Claims made by someone with no knowledge about the subject area – who actually boasts of their ignorance.

    “As you claim to be an insider who asserts that such training helps prevent this perhaps you could share the secret.”

    There is no “secret”. Like any other humanities department there are many tools used to assess ideas and peer reviewing etc. If you ever bothered to investigate the issue it would not be such a mystery to you.

    “Given the absence of testing against reality”

    There is a testing against reality.

    “what procedures to theologians/”philosophers of religion” have to keep themselves honest?”

    Basically you are asking: how do people do research in humanities departments of Universities – if you are completely ignorant of this may I suggest you actually do at least one paper… then maybe you will get some insight into the humanities and will stop making silly blanket statements.

  • Max – I said: “In theology there is no reality to test ideas against. More often they are tested against one’s strong wishes and customs of the profession.” It is my opinion – based on my experience of discussing issues with people adhering to a position of theology/”philosophy of religion.” I made that very clear. But, of course, I am happy to be presented with evidence that I am wrong. And I will consider that evidence.

    I notice you don’t bother with providing evidence – just with attempting to ridicule me. As does Jeremy. Verging on the ad hominem perhaps.

    But seriously, you state for these subjects “There is a testing against reality.” Will come on, provide some evidence. Provide some examples. I want to see you explain how this is done specifically.

    I am not oblivious to the humanities, or to their methods. And, yes, I recognise the problems that “soft sciences” have with testing against reality (and how this does encourage approaches which are less than objective). (It may be a surprise to you that in today’s world where science must communicate with and understand people in their day-to-day lives that such specialties are often important components of research teams).

    But, really, you are still hiding this support for your claims of objectivity in these subjects. Attacking me is just a diversion – a refusal to answer my question.

    Is this the theological method of discussion that is taught, perhaps?

  • OK Ken – so finally we get to the meat of the situation… your opinion of Theology and philosophy of religion is based on (wait for it) discussions with people largely online… now what would your opinion be of Darwinism if you had to rely on online chats to inform yourself? Would you ever even consider trying to educate yourself in this way for any other topic.

    My last work on this: GO AND READ A F*CKING BOOK!

  • @Ken
    i’m reasonably sure its not ad hominen when quoting your own words back to you [even in paraphrase] and i wasnt trying for ridicule, rather pointing out some glaring inconsistancies in between your arguments and your actions.
    You know what they say, actions speak louder than words.

  • When you are reading a book, dont just pick one that will give youthe answers you want. Choose one by a reputable author and acknowledged authority whose views you may not like.

    There is a fundamental piece of advice often given to Christians to help with checking against reality. ‘Dont seek advice/guidance from people who you know will tell you what you want to hear, instead listen to those who will tell you the truth even if it hurts”

  • Max – you ignored my question. And again you are using the diversion method.

  • Jeremy – you are aiming your advice in the wrong direction. After all people like Matt and Glenn were spouting off criticisms of “The Grand Design” recently having read no more than a press report (or searched for an offending phrase in google) (See From “Grand Design” to “On Being”). Matt refused to read Galileo’s book on the 2 systems you has been busy re-wring the history of the Galileo affair.

    As I have said confirmation bias is a common human problem and I certainly admit to having suffered from that – we all have (see my article Dealing with Dawkins – re the fact that my prejudice against Richard Dawkins lasted for 30 years).

    Your advice “When you are reading a book, don’t just pick one that will give you the answers you want. Choose one by a reputable author and acknowledged authority whose views you may not like.” It is of course obvious. But have a look at those who have criticised Dawkins, Hawking, etc., of late – how many of them followed that advice?

    If you have a look through books I have reviewed you will see a number that I have specifically chosen because they offer an alternative view (eg. ID). Mind you I have often found it impossible to get these sort of books. For example Stephen Meyer’s recent book seems to have been specifically kept away from scientific reviewers by the publishers (Discovery Inst).

  • “Max – you ignored my question. And again you are using the diversion method.”

    Indeed I did. There reaches a point where i just realized that you know far too little too actually engage in a real discussion. You are like the fundy who keeps saying “but my Pa wasn’t no monkey!” Over and over and refuses to actually read a single book on Biology. Get back to me in a year.

  • Fine, Max. It is rather pointless. But it does sort of reinforce my point, doesn’t it? Perhaps Jeremy would take it up.

  • Your only point seems to be : I am ignorant of a subject, I am proud of this fact, I am determined to take no steps to reduce my ignorance, but I will make blanket statements about it anyway. Once you have even a tiny bit of knowledge I am happy to discuss it with you – but this seems like an event that will never happen.

  • Max, I was trying to get a little bit of specific knowledge from you. You did claim that theologians/”philosophers of religion” test their ideas against reality. I just want some specific examples. I don’t know if any myself but you made the claim. Hence the question which you have been avoiding.

  • ” I just want some specific examples.”

    OK – one example would be an examination of the human condition. For instance how does a Christian doctrine of Sin and salvation line up with our every day experience of human suffering. Now since you have no idea what Christianity says about such issues – feel free to give your ill informed opinion:

  • And how does it, Max?

    Seems to me that we have developed a number of ways of understanding and dealing with human suffering. I personally don’t see how “sin and salvation” adds anything. My only contact with these ideas has been as a child being condemned (terrirised) by a Christian.

    But be specific Max. At the moment I see these concepts as being unconnected with reality (your use of “doctrine” was a bit of a give away) but really useful for judgementalism and waffle.

  • And how does it, Max?

    “Seems to me that we have developed a number of ways of understanding and dealing with human suffering. I personally don’t see how “sin and salvation” adds anything.”

    Well that is fine – but again you are not really understanding the starting off point of theology.

    “My only contact with these ideas has been as a child being condemned (terrirised) by a Christian.”

    Yeah yeah. You had a nutty next door neighbor and it is still clouding your judgment decades later. Get over it!

    “But be specific Max. At the moment I see these concepts as being unconnected with reality”

    What concepts? Do you have an understanding of these docrines?

    “(your use of “doctrine” was a bit of a give away)”

    Do you understand what this word means?

    “but really useful for judgementalism and waffle.”

    Sigh. Back to mantras I see.

  • Max, your theological training is showing. Avoidance by mental gymnastics. Refusal to be specific. And making sweeping judgements about tbe questioners experience.

    I can only conclude that you are unable to support your claim of theological/”philosophy of religion” ideas being tested against reality.

  • Ken you just admitted that your ONLY knowledge of the Christian ideas of sin and salvation comes from your encounter with an irate neighbour several decades ago. Do you feel ready from this intensive training to debate whether a Christian doctrine of sin lines up with the observable world… or would you like to do a little more research.

    You know those “my pa ain’t no monkey” anti-evolutionists Ken? You realize this is what you sound like right? Just letting you know.

    But feel free to tell us all why the Chrisitian doctrine of Sin does not line up with reality. And please try to get beyond the “my pa ain’t no monkey” stage Ken.

  • Max – having made an assertion you back away from it, reinterpret my comments to childishly put me down and then pass the buck with: “But feel free to tell us all why the Chrisitian doctrine of Sin does not line up with reality.”

    Now where have I seen that before?

    I have yet to see any evidence that theologians/”philosophers of region” validate their ideas against reality in the way that science does.

    But, as I said, I am open to evidence. We are all wrong sometimes!

  • Max, your theological training is showing. Avoidance by mental gymnastics. Refusal to be specific. And making sweeping judgements about tbe questioners experience.

    Are you looking trying to win the ironic joke of the year award.

  • Ken – you have made an assertion that no Theological claims are related to reality. If you want a real discussion on this you are required to actually demonstrate you understand what the claim is. You said yourself that your only knowledge comes from a neighbor shouting at you several decades ago. Seems like that puts the discussion to an end to me.

  • Max, this is what I said: “I have yet to see any evidence that theologians/”philosophers of religion” validate their ideas against reality in the way that science does.”

    Hence my conclusion. And it is of course provisional – I am open minded on this.

    I have asked you to provide examples of validation against reality as you had claimed.

    Your response has been evasion, diversion, misrepresentation, etc. All things I find quite common for you guys. Everything but a simple provision of evidence for your claim.

    And now you run away.

    Where have we seen this sort of behavior before?

  • You have seen no evidence Ken because your entire knowledge is based on a shouting neighbor when you were a child…. does this surprise you. Go read a bit.

  • I have seen no evidence because you refuse to provide any to back up your claim Max. Nothing to do with shouting neighbors – they are a figment of your imagination.

    And a diversion. What’s the bet you will continue to refuse evidence but go on about shouting neighbors in another diversion attempt?

  • “I have seen no evidence because you refuse to provide any to back up your claim Max. ”

    Hey Ken: Explain Quantum physics to me in this little box. If you don’t prove quantum physics to me in the next hour or so i will assume you have run off and all Physics and indeed all science in nonsense and that you are basically a dishonest snake like individual.

    Or should I go get a text book and try to educate myself? Which would you advise Ken?

  • I see Ken has run off. Seems that THEREFORE all science is nonsense as I expected.

  • Is Ken asking for a Bible study? Happy to oblige :)

    Ecclesiastes (ESV):
    1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
    [...]
    11:11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

    The Bible has become Holy Scripture for so many millions because of its accurate and authentic portrayal of human nature. In its pages we see our recognizably human sensibilities, our struggles, our deceptions and our victories, the manifold expression of the epigenetic rules that guide and direct our lives in a manner so universal that we have come to call it the “human condition.” Such biblical stories as the Fall, Joseph and his brothers, Ruth, David and Jonathan, Mary and Martha, Zachaeus, the Prodigal Son comment pointedly and accurately on our own internal experiences. We recognize the characters portrayed there as ourselves. So powerful is the self-recognition readers have experienced as they read and reflected on those stories that they came to view the book that contained them as profoundly truthful, infallible, perhaps even inerrant in its descriptions and proposals.
    http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/bible.htm

  • Max, I could give you a brief outline of quantum mechanics. More important, I could give examples of evidence, how the ideas have been validated against reality.

    However, that is another diversion, isn’t it?

    No matter what I do you are not going to support your claim that the ideas of theology/”philosophy of religion” are validated against reality in the manner that scientific ideas are.

    And ropata! WTF use is your little bible lesson? WTF dies this have to do with reality?

  • Ken, but I have given you examples many times before as has Glenn. Here is one, the theory of creation ex nihilo has the implication that the universe is finite in time. This can be tested.

    Fundamentalist views that God flooded the world with a worldwide flood can be tested

    Theories of the trinity, can be tested by examing wether they are logically coherent, and fit with other things we acknowlege and so forth.

    The doctrine of sin predicts humans will behave certain ways, that no human being will ever consistently live up to their duties, that humans will not create utopian societies, that power will tend to be abused and so on.

    This has all been pointed out to you before.

    Max is not enaging in a diversion he is simply using the very tactics you used, in your discussion. its funny how when he simply repeats to you the arguments you use.

    you call them diversions, this is probably the most honest thing you have said in this thread.

  • @Ken
    Reality includes the lives of people, their tragedies and triumphs, griefs and joys, pain and pleasure, motivations good and bad, their failures and sucesses as people in relationship with other people. The big questions , like, what is the point of it all? Why do bad things happen to good people and why do the assholes of the world so often seem to suceed will hard working honest people struggle to survive?

    Read it carefully and without that WTF attitude and you might be able to see that Ropata’s little bible lesson had everything to do with the reality of the ordinary everyday lives of people.

  • “Max, I could give you a brief outline of quantum mechanics.”

    Easy to claim this – but I see you have provided no evidence and just a waffle filled vague claim. Nice try – but this claim that you COULD is typical of pseudo-scientists. Lets see your evidence. Real facts.

    “More important, I could give examples of evidence, how the ideas have been validated against reality.”

    Yes – but you havn’t have you. THEREFORE it is all nonsense.

    “are validated against reality in the manner that scientific ideas are.”

    Just by the by – no one ever claimed this. Least of all me. Another sill strawman for Ken to practice his feeble punches on?

  • Yes Ken’s knee-jerk WTF response speaks volumes does it not?

  • So Max. Areyoubsvking off. Do you longer claim you guys validate or test your ideas against reality?

    If so, the we agree.

  • Occlude that 3rd word was “are you backing off.”
    Bloody spell check!

  • “test your ideas against reality?”

    No I do claim this. Read more carefully. Be more consistent. Don’t try the bait and switch on me you car sales man!

  • Make up your mind, Max – or is this another theological diversion tactic!

  • Matt, it’s worth responding to you claims because they illustrate a typical theological trick you often resort to.

    The claim was made that that the ideas of theology/”philosophy of religion” are validated against reality in the manner that scientific ideas are. I asked for evidence because I have not come across any such example.
    An honest and simple question which is being avoided.

    So you take the sentence “The ideas of theology etc., are validated against reality.” And you interpret to mean that the ideas “can be tested.”

    Notice that huge jump in logic? You have replaced “are” with “can.” Surely that is not a mistake?

    Taking your examples.

    1: “the theory of creation ex nihilo has the implication that the universe is finite in time.” Rather vague – but tell me which theologian/”philosopher of religion” has done any work along these lines involving interaction with reality? Who is, for example, working on the LHC with appropriate experiments?

    Or do you count the emotional outburst when Hawking declared that a god was not necessary to scientifically explain the origin of the universe as “interacting with reality.”?

    People like Hawking and Penrose do come up with ideas about the formation of the universe and what preceded that. They interact with cosmologists and particle physicists. They propose specific indicators of their ideas and look for them in things like the Cosmic Microwave background.

    Is any theologian doing this? (And no, Craig is not – he simply works to “reinterpret” and deny the scientific findings of cosmologist so as to satisfy his god beliefs).

    2: “Fundamentalist views that God flooded the world” – interesting. Is this what comprises theology?

    Again is any theologian bothering to get their hands dirty on this question.? Aren’t they sitting back and reinterpreting data obtained by geologists (who do interact with reality)?

    I use “re-interpretation” purposely – they are trying to fit any scrap of evidence others find to fit in with a preconceived myth.

    3: “Theories of the trinity” – no connection with the real world, surely?

    4: “The doctrine of sin predicts humans will behave certain ways, that no human being will ever consistently live up to their duties, that humans will not create utopian societies, that power will tend to be abused and so on.”

    Come off it. Do you need such a “doctrine” to understand these things? And which theologian is doing the field work on this issue? I don’t think they give a stuff about real field work.

    Anthropologists, social psychiatrists, and sociologists have done an amazing amount of work on human morality, social organisation, problems of power etc. I have yet to see any of them propose a “doctrine of sin”. They obviously haven’t considered such dogma even worthy of testing against reality.

    The truths are:

    You don’t test your ideas against reality!
    You have preconceived ideas!
    You cherry pick and distort to find evidence from the real world to support your dogma!
    That is not testing.!

    But as a theologian you probably don’t have sufficient practical experience with reality to realise that.

  • Learn to read Ken.

  • “And which theologian is doing the field work on this issue? I don’t think they give a stuff about real field work.”

    hahaha

  • I see you are now into universal truths.

    @ Ken:
    “The truths are:
    You don’t test your ideas against reality!
    You have preconceived ideas!
    You cherry pick and distort to find evidence from the real world to support your dogma!
    That is not testing.!”

    That claim is also true of scientists.

    1) You don’t test your ideas against reality. If the scientists understood or could define reality, scientific endeavour would be unnecessary. Science occurs in an effort to understand and define reality.

    2) In the absence of a specific known quantity “reality” the scientist thus test against a “heaven forbid” formulated preconceived idea (existing literature / framework / hypothesis).

    3) Results that are in line with preconceived ideas are readably accepted, results that turn preconceived ideas on their head are met by resistance. This is a consequence of the scientific process. And yes I do know, “the truth will out”, maybe in 1, 5 or 100 years. But this does not mean that there is not a whole lot of cherry picking.

    Should I now conclude “that it is not testing”, or should I conclude that it is the best available process?

  • cj-nza – look up ther deictionary:

    Reality: “actual being or existence, as opposed to an imaginary, idealized, or false nature”

    Reality is definitely not a “quantity” or a “formulated preconceived idea.”

    You have it arse about face.

  • @Ken
    i think thats cj’s point.
    Your claims to test against reality actually conflict with a simple dictionary definition of what reality is.

    ” Science occurs in an effort to understand and define reality. ”

    This fits in very well with your claims concerning ways of knowing and their validity Why are you objecting?

  • Jeremy – you are confused – surely?

  • “test your ideas against reality?”

    is not the same as

    ““are validated against reality in the manner that scientific ideas are.”

    You need to be consistent and not switch your question half way through – a deceitful trick.

    For a start the latter is not a simple one solution fits all situation. Which science? Theoretical Physics? Psychology? Sociology? Evolutionary Biology? Paleontology? Where is your cut off point. Clearly there is not one “method” which works in all situations. There are multiple tools used in different settings for different purposes.

    You can see how silly a statement like “in the manner that scientific ideas are” when you stop to think for a moment or two. But this is not even the claim which I assented to in any case. There are many ways to test ideas against reality.

  • Max, so true “There are many ways to test ideas against reality.”

    How about giving us one example you guys use though?

    Your qunnling about “validation” and “science” are an excuse and another attempt at diversion.

  • I am merely correcting your niave view of science.

  • Death is the final reality we all face. Does a dry epicurean philosophy that denies any transcendent meaning offer anything useful whatsoever to the human soul?

    Ken you should have some to hear John Lennox on Monday (a brilliant lecturer – similar credentials to Hawking). His little book “God and Stephen Hawking: Whose design is it anyway” examines Hawking’s hubris in claiming that “philosophy is dead” then proceeding to write a book on it. Apparently credentials in pure mathematics and cosmology makes one an expert philosopher also? Has Hawking ever been published in philosophy journals?

    To paraphrase Ken:
    “It just is. It is Reality. If you can’t see it, measure it, put it in a test tube it doesn’t exist” – by this standard Hawking’s conjectures do not exist either.

  • ropata – so true. Conjectures like gods are not reality. They exist, but in people’s minds.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion around here about the relationship between reality and the picture we have of it (be it mythical or scientific) in our minds.

  • But Science does not equal Reality, it is a model. There exist unknowably many inexplicable phenomena, and our finite minds will never grasp the totality of this “Reality”

  • Matt,

    If you have time check out the Answers Research Journal in the Answersingenesis website. Tell me what you think of their published papers. This one is interesting:

    “Beyond Distant Starlight: Next Steps For Creationist Cosmologyby James Upton, Independent Researcher, England, UK
    January 26, 2011″
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v4/n1/distant-starlight-cosmology

  • Ropata – “But Science does not equal Reality, it is a model.” – true again, at least in simple terms. You have been learning from me.

    But read again. In science we do not validate against science – we validate our ideas and hypotheses against reality.

    You guys validate your ideas against your prejudices.

    Confirmation bias.

  • You keep making that assertion, we keep giving you counter examples but your model of religious thought simply does not map to reality. Your faith in empiricism is overly presumptuous and your prejudice against religion is ridiculously simplistic.

  • Conjectures like gods are not reality. They exist, but in people’s minds.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion around here about the relationship between reality and the picture we have of it (be it mythical or scientific) in our minds.

    There is much confusion indeed, and it seems to reside in your comments, Ken.

    Take the above. You say that “gods” actually exist in people’s minds. But objects do not exist in the mind, do they Ken? Only ideas do (which you’re calling “pictures”). You want to sound all clever, saying yes gods do exist, but only in your mind.

    God heavens Ken, you’re as bad as St Anselm.

  • I agree, Glenn. Gods are ideas.

  • “I agree, Glenn. Gods are ideas.”

    So are people if you get right down to it. And tables, dogs, and apple pies…

  • Ropata, I am not making an assertion. I am asking a question. I want examples which support Max’s claim that theologians/”philosophers if religion” test and validate their ideas against reality.

    I kerp asking and Max keeps avoiding. Matt purposely attempted to confuse the issue and then ran away when pulled up on it.

    You resort to quoting bible verses – reminds me of the way the Red Guards used to quote Mao and wave his little red book. Silly!

    I have to conclude that you guys don’t validate your ideas against reality at all. In fact you seem to confuse reality with ideas.

  • People generally can not live up to their own standards and self expectations. Sorted.

  • Ken, Matt gave you 4 specific testable propositions from theology which you dismissed as diversions. I gave you a brief Bible lesson in order to demonstrate its relevance to the human condition. And yet you still claim theology is not tested and we are the ones diverting and confused. Perhaps you need to lay off the port and have a wee lie down.

  • Ropata, when those examples were given Ken prompty rewrote his original claim so that it was the claim theological idea’s are not validated against reality in the manner that scientific ideas are.

    Now he has changed it back to “test against” reality and claimed I did not answer it. The evasion here is with him. He is not honest and never is.

  • I would say it is hard to find a theory which has more empirically verification than original sin. We have six billion empirical proofs walking around right now.

  • Max, I agree, also the question can also be raised as to why “testing against reality” is conflated with “empirical verfication” this conflation assumes that reality is co-extensive with what is empirically verfiable.

    I think one important test of a theological theory is coherence with other things we know, and coherence with itself, another would be that the arguments for a theory follow the rules of logic and not commit fallacies. These are logical tests not empirical tests and they are important. Similarly, it seems to me that theological claims which entail the denial of certain moral claims such as “its for us wrong to torture people for fun” are ones we have reason to reject, yet this does not involve “empirical” testing, its pretty hard to empirically verify moral claims

  • [...] Anyone discussing the conflicts between science and religion is accused of claiming  “religion is and always has been at odds with science.” And the inevitable examples of conflicts, like the above, are blamed on “atheist [...]

  • Matt – this (“He is not honest and never is”) is an ad hominem attack unworthy of any intelligent person participating in such a simple discussion:

    It is, of course, also a diversion. You are trying to ignore, or sweep under the carpet my point:

    “Notice that huge jump in logic? You have replaced “are” with “can.” Surely that is not a mistake?”

    I asked for examples of you guys testing and validating your ideas against reality. You didn’t provide any – purely claims that some ideas can be tested – in your words: “This can be tested.”

    Even ropata acknowledges your claims are only “specific testable propositions” – not indication that any effort is put into testing such ideas at all. None!

    Your attempt to see my use of the word “science” as me rewriting is another ad hominem diversion.

    However, it is clear that you want to introduce another interpretation; of “test and validation against reality” (I guess this is what theologians are trained to doing – confuse meanings).

    Your want to distort the concept of testing against reality to subjective confirmation bias. Incredible.

    So you argue that testing can involve “coherence with itself”, “arguments for a theory follow the rules of logic and not commit fallacies”, “’logical tests not empirical tests”, etc.

    While this might be typical of theological bafflegab it is not testing against reality.

    So I really must conclude that I was correct when I said you guys don’t test or validate your ideas against reality. There has been plenty of opportunity to provide examples and the diversionary tactics used do tend to confirm my conclusion.

    The important word in my question was not “science” (Yes I know Matt that word does tend to cause you knees to twitch) but “reality.” Your attempt to redefine testing into “logical tests” and “coherence with itself” may well be an accurate description of theology. But doesn’t that show how inadequate theology is?

    Here’s a test for you Matt. Write a page of code for a computer programme or a web page. Rely only on the rules and logic for code-writing – no testing against reality.

    In the end you will have a theoretical web page or computer programme. But you would be an idiot to make it live or sell it without testing. I suggest that when you test this code you will find mistakes. Everyone who has ever written code knows this. There are always mistakes and bugs which must be tested for and removed.

    Every research scientist knows the same thing. We can produce the most wonderful hypothesis based on logic, pure maths etc. We can apply logical tests, check for fallacies etc. When we do test these hypotheses against reality we often find them to be wrong. The act of testing enables us to correct and revise.

    Humans are not rational, logical machines.

    If we can make honest mistakes in our logic, etc., when we are working on something like code or scientific hypotheses just imagine how much more likely this is when we are dealing with strongly held ideological views.

    It is this interaction with reality which makes science so powerful. The lack of interaction with reality which makes theology so weak. It is the basic source of the conflict between science and religion.

  • What needs to be clarified is what sort of claims made by Christianity you are talking about.

    Christianity makes claims of several sorts (some may disagree with parts of this list):

    (i) claims about human psychology
    (ii) claims about society and economic systems and justice
    issues.
    (iii) claims about history
    (iv) claims about cosmology
    (v) claims about the supernatural world.

    I am sure there are many more.

    (I) Now the claims made about human psychology can and have been tested – often in psychology departments – and have been found to be reliable – and a lot more empirically verifiable than world views that hold an overly optimistic view of human psychology. This sort of claim is tested using the tools used by psychology departments – a sort of soft science if you like.

    (II) Claims about social justice are the sort of things discussed by political scientists. I think both those on the left and the right claim that Chirstianity backs up their own pet political theories… so I would be reluctant to say that these sort of claims are verified in an conclusive way – but no less so than any other political theory. Can political/economic theories be tested against reality – I would say they are constantly by their very nature.

    (III) Claims about history made by Christians – and particularly those in canonical texts are tested in the same way as any other historical claim. Some are found to be backed up very well by data (ie. reality) – other historical claims made in the canonical texts are less well supported by data. But the fact remains these sort of claims like the others so far ARE tested against reality.

    (IV) Claims about cosmology I think do not fare well. This does not bother me particularly – but it does seem to bother some Christians. I think Ken that it is this category in particular which you are concerned about – possibly rightly so.

    (V) Claims about the supernatural world are difficult to test against data gathered about the natural world for obvious reasons. I am not a huge fan of parapsychology which does attempt to do this – and I think universally fails.

    So… are claims made by Christians backed up by an appeal to “reality” and in particular to scientific methodology… some of them are.. some of them are not. Of course I think Matthew would want to make stronger claims that I do – but even my modest claim exposes Ken’s fundamentalism for the sham it is.

  • At last Max, some sensible response to my question. I am pleased you chose not to follow Matt’s serf-serving re-definition of testing. But you did let yourself down a bit with the ad hominem – “my modest claim exposes Ken’s fundamentalism for the sham it is.

    Trouble is that your arguments are still very vague – nothing specific is mentioned. Therefore how can one evaluate your claims?

    Taking your points in order:

    1: Human psychology. I don’t know what Christian claim has been tested. Is it that all humans are evil? Sinful? You need to specify.

    And you yourself say that the testing is done by psychologists, not theologians.

    I would say that psychologists and social psychologists have made a lot of progress in understanding human psychology. They have used the scientific method which largely repudiates the idea of a doctrine or dogmatic claim like all humans are evil.

    It is the nature of scientific knowledge (despite what your resident jelly bean counter might tell you) that our theories develop and improve over time. Doctrines or dogma inevitably are proven wrong.

    However, perhaps you can be specific about your “Christian claim” that psychologist6s have tested and validated.

    2: Social justice. Again what Christian claims are you referring to? The justification for tyrants, kings and emperors. People like Franco had theological backing. You need to be specific.

    Of course in this area it is not a matter of testing against objective reality but human judgement. Although some Christians do seem to make claims of things like “objective morality” – – they never bother testing such a concept against reality though.

    There is, of course, the problem of what constitutes a “Christian claim” in this sort of area. The usual things is that society takes current standards and applies a religious label to give them authority.

    3: History. This is where “theologians” may actually be doing something useful – as historians. Biblical scholars who treat their documents as evidence rather than holy. But again what specific claim? There are plenty of things in historical documents which claim to describe historical events and historians can apply their scientific methods to evaluating these. But are these “Christian claims.?” It seems to me that Christian claims are really about “miracles”, virgin births, walking on water, raising from the dead.” While many theologians argue for these events I would hardly call their work scientific – rather wishful thinking. They don’t really test them against reality.

    4: Cosmology. Of course this is where many claims can really be tested – and as you say they fail. Nevertheless many theologians place great store in “fine tuning” and “big bang” arguments. Trouble is they usually get caught out distorting the evidence . Letting wishful thinking interfere. Craig is a typical example of a theologian who does this and resorts to manipulative logical arguments. Matt sees these as valid “tests” but even he wouldn’t fly in a plane relying on such methodology.

    5: Terms like supernatural and natural are meaningless. Unless you mean supernatural are things that don’t really occur. When they do we call them natural, whether we understand them or not.

    Nevertheless there are “supernatural;” claims that can be, have been and are being tested. Claims of the effectiveness of prayer, for example. However, the theologically inclined usually resent such things being tested. they prefer to stick with unsubstantiated claims rather than be caught out.

    So, in conclusion. In the absence of specific example I have still had to draw my own conclusions. I will concede that theological areas like biblical studies will involve proper testing and validation (especially of areas which are not religious claims) – although still be open to wishful thinking and manipulation of evidence to support ideological bias.

    But with the exception of that specific area I still can’t see any evidence fort the claim that theologians/”philosophers of religion” test and validate their ideas against reality.

  • With a background of engineering, mathematics, and software I am reasonably able to follow a logical argument, and automated theorem provers have existed in math/philosophy for many years now. There is a fair bit of of overlap between philosophy, mathematical logic, and programming. Your condescending advice is noted.

    I don’t suppose you’ve noticed Ken but you keep shifting the goalposts and whenever someone counters your claims you flatly deny the evidence, and demand more and more “specifics” instead of actually doing any work yourself. It’s incomprehensible to me that you claim “absence of evidence” of testing in theology despite admitting ignorance of the entire academic discipline. Your conclusion is therefore insupportable, drawn only from your personal antagonism. You are not engaging in rational discussion, but indulging in inflammatory rhetoric with no basis in “reality”.

    Feser’s skeptic is alive and well I see.

  • It does get frustrating Ropata. As you say he now has enough information to go do some of his own reading.. but does anyone think he will?

  • Don’t go bush on me again Max. We were getting close. Just need to make the examples specific. Otherwise we are stuck with vague claims which mean nothing.

    Come on – I seem to have gotten the closest with the example of biblical studies. Surely you guys can improve on that.

  • No one is going “bush” Ken. You now have been provided with a framework which I think has clarified your thoughts a bit. Now it is time for you to put in some work and so some of your own reading. You can only do so much in a blog forum.

  • [...] Anyone discussing the conflicts between science and religion is accused of claiming  “religion is and always has been at odds with science.” And the inevitable examples of conflicts, like the above, are blamed on “atheist [...]

  • Max, a less dogmatic person may have noticed that I have indeed put in a lot if work here – persistently asking for specific evidence. There has been no convincing response. While you may have made general claims you did not provide specific examples. Matt typically tried to confuse this issue. And my persistence was a result if a persistent denial and avoidance from you guys.

    So far there has been nothing forthcoming to change my impression of theology/”philosophy of religion.” Consequently they still hold no interest for me and I will devote my linited time instead to things if more relevance and connection to reality.

    As before, though, I will of course continue to challenge these ideologies when they attempt to attack science or present a distorted picture of philosophy.

  • “As before, though, I will of course continue to challenge these ideologies when they attempt to attack science or present a distorted picture of philosophy.”

    Come on, get real. Your persistence on this thread has nothing to do with the defense of science, but everything with the defense of Ken’s world view.

    The post’s contents address the conflict thesis and state that there has not always been conflict between science and religion.

    You get on the band wagon and claim that Madeleine is childish for claiming that “religion is and always has been at odds with science.”

    You claim that the use of the word “always” is false and that science and religion is not at odds and have not always been.

    Then you spend the best part of you posts over a three week period doing your earnest best to demonstrate that theology is in fact irreconcilable with the scientific method.

    And you have done this to fend of an attack on science and philosophy, really? I thank you for you valiant effort Sir Ken.

  • Correction:

    ‘… Madeleine is childish for claiming that “religion is and always has been at odds with science.” ‘

    Should have read

    ‘… Madeleine is childish for claiming that the “Religion v Science” Myth claims that “religion is and always has been at odds with science.” ‘

  • “Max, a less dogmatic person”

    Given you have demonstrated you don’t knw what the word “dogma” means in the past I will assume this was intended as an insult? Hard to tell.

    “I have indeed put in a lot if work here – persistently asking for specific evidence.”

    Ha ha ha ha ha! That is funny Ken. Good one. Oh! You were being serious???

    “While you may have made general claims you did not provide specific examples.”

    Have you heard of libraries Ken – if you are a member of a university library you can now do online article searches and even download the articles without having to leave your armchair. I suggest you do a few searches and find a few papers on this topic yourself. No one is going to spend hours of their lives doing a personal unpaid research project for you Ken. If you are serious and really do have an open mind then get to it! Good luck and enjoy the thrill of learning and being open to new knowledge. It is much more liberating than having to be right all the time.

    ” I will devote my linited time instead to things if more relevance and connection to reality.”

    And therein lies the paradox Ken. You assume that there is nothing worthwhile and so you refuse to go and find out. An ignorant anti-evolutionist hillbilly probably says exactly the same thing: “my Pa ain’t no monkey – and I ain’t gonna read nothing that says he is!” You are not so different.

  • No assumptions, Max. My conclusions are based on actual readings and interaction such as these.

    And remember Madeleine’s claim that Christianity has higher standards than science? Yeah, right. Without validation against reality you guys have absoluty nothing to keep you honest.

    And it shows.

  • “No assumptions, Max. My conclusions are based on actual readings and interaction such as these.”

    Exactly. You base your opinion on what you read on the internet. Just take a moment Ken – and think about what you think about people who try to educate themselves by reading stuff on blogs and refuse to read any books. Laughable ignoramus? Is that what you want to be? Because buddy – that’s what you are.

  • Max – unwarranted conclusions in at least 2 ways:

    1: Don’t judge my Internet reading by my presence on this blog. I am really only here for a bit of fun – slumming it! My standards are usually much higher.

    2: The word “reading” is not limited to the Internet (yeah, I know this might surprise some). If you read my blog you will see I often review books – that means I read them. And you will see the coverage is often philosophical. Actually I will be placing a review up shortly on “The God Debates” which does have detailed consideration of theological arguments.

    Mind you, isn’t this the theological approach. Make sn assumption and select or adjust (or just simply claim as you do) evidence to support your assumption?

  • I note that physicists examine the nature of the physical universe prior to the time when human observers were on the scene.

    This assumes that physical objects exist when no one is observing them.

    Perhaps, Ken can demonstrate specifically in this com box how one “tests” this claim against reality? How does he warrant his assumption that physical things exist even when not observed. We can’t after all start with “unwarranted” or “dogmatic assumptions”. without evidence.

  • So Matt is bringing his theological skill to the problem. Having been unable to find a single example io theology/”philosophy of religion” testing it’s ideas against reality; and being caught out redefining testing as possible rather than actual,”; then had a go at redefining testing where he can ignore reality; he resorts to pragmatic solipsism.

    Matt’s great advance – he doesn’t think that reality really exists!

    That is a desperate form of avoidance often called going nuclear. To be resorted to when all else fails and in final desperation one enforces mutually assured destruction.

    Matt you just removed the ground from under you feet. 

  • Oh dear,
    first it has already pointed out these are philosophical not theological considerations.

    Second, I did provide examples, you then redefined what you mean by being tested by reality. I see no reason to answer questions which change whenever they are answered.

    Its interesting however, that despite demanding Max offer examples of tests, and repeatedly claiming he was being “evasive” or his discipline was flawed because he did not answer you with specificity, you yourself are unwilling to offer examples of how you test these things. Why not? Why does everyone else have to answer your demands for tests and not vice versa.

    Third, I did not deny “reality really exists” you will not find that claim any where in the above comment. What I did do is ask you to show how physicists provide empirical testings for assumptions they make. This is quite reasonable, you have denigrated theology for making assumptions, and demanded they provide evidence these can and have been repeatedly empirically tested, I am just simply asking you to show your discipline conforms to the standard you have said is acceptable.

    Your responding by attributing motives to me does not answer the question, it of course a classic case of the ad hominen, which you ( mistakenly) attributed to me above.

    Why can’t you answer, why the changing of the subject and distorting others views, surely if phycists don’t have “properly basic beliefs” if they don’t make untestable assumptions, and surely if its reasonable to demand a subject provide empirical tests for the assumptions undergirding it, what I ask is perfectly reasonable.

    So where are the empirical tests physicists constantly engage in to show the physical world continues to exist when people are not observing it? They after all don’t make assumptions, thy test there claims.This is a simple question why can’t you answer it?

  • Of course they are “philosophical.” but they are the “philosophical” of theology/”philosophy if religion.” and your “argument” is an example if what people find so false about theology.

    Honest philosophy doesn’t resort to such silliness.

    Going nuclear after attempting to redefine things with “can” and testing which avoids reality! And this constant attempt to divert and to cast your sins onto your discussion partner!.

    You cannot give a single specific example where theology/”philosophy of religion” has tested it’s ideas against reality.
    Not one!

  • “Honest philosophy doesn’t resort to such silliness.”

    Thereby revealing that your profound ignorance is not confined to just theology but to all of philosophy as well.

    “You cannot give a single specific example where theology/”philosophy of religion” has tested it’s ideas against reality.”

    Several have been given Ken. That is the great thing about a blog – anyone can go read up above and see the truth of this matter. When I gave you several examples one of your responses was “yes but that would be psychologists doing the testing not theologians”

    So you changed your claim from “no theological claims are ever tested” to “no theologians ever these claims”.

    For a start someone can be both a theologian and a psychologist – or a theologian and biologist for that matter – so even this diversion tactic fails – but more to the point who cares what label you place on the person doing the testing. Surely it is the claim which is important not the person testing it.

    You have been shown to be wrong over and over – and then when enough time has gone by you pretend to forget (or actually forget???) the whole conversation and revert back to your original claim. Am I supposed to say everything again over and over and if I fail do do so be declared the “loser” because i got exhausted first (which seems to be what you think debate is about)? Fortunately I don’t have to… it is still written above. Bad luck there Ken.

  • Yes, Max, another common theological approach – to demean one’s discussion partner. Play the man rather than the ball.

    Yes, the record of our discussion is here – we can test your claims against reality. Instead of silly put downs.

    There has been no specific evidence, or evidence of specific claims,, that you guys test against reality. Only evidence of how you avoid the issue.

  • I agree, one should not evade the issues, so please show me how physicists test the claim that the physical world exists even when not observed?

    “Yes, the record of our discussion is here – we can test your claims against reality. Instead of silly put downs.

    There has been no specific evidence, or evidence of specific claims,, that you guys test against reality. Only evidence of how you avoid the issue.”

    great so instead of silly put downs such as “dishonest philosophy” and comments about “typical theology” for points made by epistemologists. You can provide me of evidence of how physicists test the claim that the physical world exists independently of observers. So please provide it.

    So please show me how you have tested this and come up with evidence its true.

    Surely Physics is not just a “jelly wrestling” game which does not test its claims against reality?

    Physicists after all don’t rely on unprovable metaphysical claims that’s what theologians do. So again Ken answer the question, please show me how physicists have esthablished by empirical testing that the physical world exists independently of observers?

  • My demeaning of you as a fool – and my pointing out that in fact your question has been answered are two different topics Ken – which can be separated from one another.

    Yet again you manage to entirely ignore what you have been presented with and go back to your default position. Waste of time.

  • Max – you (apparent) failure to see the problem of parroting and repeating vague statements when specific examples are required is tiresome.

    Surely you can see there is absolutely no way for me to evaluate such vague claims – or perhaps that is why you want them to be vague.

    You have done absolutely nothing to indicate my initial judgement of theology/”philosophy of religion” is wrong. Nothing.

    In fact this sort of jelly wrestling makes more convinced I was right.

  • Matt – I repeat “There has been no specific evidence, or evidence of specific claims,, that you guys test against reality. Only evidence of how you avoid the issue.”

    Your continual naive attempts to divert are so obvious I can only conclude that you are admitting defeat. That you are unable to provide a single example of theologians/”philosophers of religion” testing or validating their ideas against reality. Nothing at all.

    If that is the case the honest thing to do is to acknowledge it. After all, it doesn’t change my perception of you theology one biut and I suspect few others.

    If you are happy with that situation I am happy to proceed to any other issue you are raising. I have no problem. After all, you should be aware that we have discussed this issue before and you backed out when I put specific situations to you.

    So have you conceded?

  • I provided several you can see them above, but I am not suprised you repeat your self.

    But as for evasions, I note again you have failed to answer my question. Physicists proceed on the basis that the physical world existed when no one was observing it.

    What empirical testing has been done to verfiy this? Funny how you demand others meet certain epistemic tests but yet are unwilling to show us how physics meets this test.

    Repeated requests and not a single ability to answer.

    Obviously Physics is all jelly wrestling nonsense.

  • “Max – you (apparent) failure to see the problem of parroting and repeating vague statements when specific examples are required is tiresome.”

    You have been provided with specific examples. They are still up there ^ ^ ^ If you have forgotten reread this whole page. You are a waste of time Ken – and the best “Jelly wrestler” out there.

  • Matt, you have not and you know it. It is childishly dishonest of you to pretend that you have.

    You use the word “can” test about some vague concepts. No evidence of any specific test. That, and your seeming desire to remove reality from testing indicates to me that you have conceded the point that you cannot provide any specific example of theologians/”philosophers of religion” testing or validating their ideas against reality.

    In fact you seem willing to argue that such testing is not required. But seem scared of acknowledging this openly becuase it would amount to a concession on your part.

    Be a man, Matt. Acknowledge that you cannot provide any specific examples so that you can then honestly argue for a completely different way of knowing. As you have in the past.

    It’s what you want to do!

  • Matt: If I were you I would stick to just stating two things:

    (1) See above.
    (2) Expand your reading.

    Any other debate with Ken is pointless.

  • I agree with you Max. Matt does tend to paint himself into corners. Best to stick to theological smoke screens.

  • Did you even read what Max wrote? He agreed that I had addressed this issue and suggested it was pointless reasoning with you.

    Your response was to claim you agreed with Max, and then rant about theological smoke screens.

    This simply shows what others in hear note, you refuse to read or listen to anything others say but simply repeat the mantra.

  • You have to be the most hypocritical person I have ever seen on a blog. This is not a personal attack (even in Latin) but an observation backed up by empirical data. You should be happy.

  • (Ken – not Matt who sneaked in a comment before me)

  • Well, I guess sinking to the level of angry ad hominem’s is a way of finishing of a discussion when you only have avoidance as a tactic.

    Pity – I enjoy a good discussion. But I think the exchange does illustrate the points I made (and confirms me in my conclusions – which of course are always open to amendment as new evidence comes in)

  • There’s a long history of critiques of Christian theology, most of them centering around the Bible, Ethics, and Doctrine. Its relationship with Science is just one more. Interestingly Ken’s contention of “testability against science” or whatever is not mentioned on the wiki, probably because it does not qualify as an actual argument. It is overly broad (vague, jellywrestling) and devoid of concrete examples. It pays to be familiar with an academic discipline before making unformed judgements about it, otherwise one may embarrass oneself :)

  • PS: by “devoid of concrete examples” I mean that Ken hasn’t given any examples to support his argument. He likes to make statements and then demand people prove him wrong. That is not how one constructs a valid argument, it is just fishing …

  • “Well, I guess sinking to the level of angry ad hominem’s is a way of finishing of a discussion when you only have avoidance as a tactic.”

    As I said Ken – even in Latin it is supported by the data. This is a scientific fact – not any sort of attack. Don’t take it personally.

    “Pity – I enjoy a good discussion.”

    Then you should try listening. Discussions are more than a rant-ignore-rant-ignore cycle. Try it some time. You might learn something.

    “But I think the exchange does illustrate the points I made”

    It illustrates that there is a fundamentalist in the room…

  • [...] is such a “paradigm”, “hypothesis” or “myth” claiming  “religion is and always has been at odds with science.” If you see what I mean. Think of Russian Matryoshka wooden [...]

  • [...] is such a “paradigm”, “hypothesis” or “myth” claiming  “religion is and always has been at odds with science.” If you see what I mean. Think of Russian Matryoshka wooden [...]

  • Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!