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  Topic: Mitt Romney, In which I agree with PZ (shock, horror)< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Louis



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,02:56   

Dear All,

We haven't had a religious war in a while, and I hate to disappoint Lenny!

Ok I'm not entirely serious about desiring a religious war. I don't want one at all.

I'd love someone to explain to me why PZ is wrong because if I'm blunt, I really really REALLY don't think he is.

Romney1

Romney2

Cheers

Louis

P.S. Hopefully this will distract people from dealing with R O'B who is a worthless waste of time.

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Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,09:24   

Theistic evolutionists don't think their ideas are science, which to me seems like a massive difference. I think people could interpret Romney's statement either way but I found this bit quite encouraging  
Quote
In my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed," he said. "If we're going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that's for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies class.
As far as I'm concerned he can believe what he likes as long as he knows what is and isn't science.

That being said I completely agree with him about the next DI tactic and I've read the textbook he refers to, it's basically a 'critical analysis textbook'. What it doesn't explain of cause is why the overwhelming majority of mostly theistic scientists in the world disagree with it's analysis.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,09:25   

The supposed DI lawyer stumper question for Nick Matzke is nothing of the sort.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:05   

Hi Wesley,

Don't take me the wrong way (heaven forfend) I prefer a legion of Mitt Romneys to an equal legion of Pat Robertsons and I'd take one Ken Miller over the lot of them combined. As PZ notes when it comes to election time, he's going to have to vote for a Democratic version of Romney's views rather than views that coincide precisely with his own (but hey, that's democracy! ;-) ) This is a vague step in the right direction perhaps, nothing more.

I think PZ's point in this is not that the "stumper question" etc illustrate that the Ken Millers of this world would try to insert their religious views as science into science classes (they won't), but that the DI (and their ilk) are retreating ever further behind harder to penetrate screens of obfuscation. This means that sometimes we must be a little careful just how we phrase our religious ideas in relation to science because they might give IDCists (or whatever they morph into next) more cover than we might like. In addition quietly supporting TE's because one has little choice is insufficient. I don't really think your post deals with (admittedly what I perceive to be) the thrust of PZ's comments. And I really don't think PZ is suggesting that Miller et al are interested in inserting their faith into science classes as science.

Granted, I completely agree that the TE of Miller et al as a set of ideas does not pose the antiscience threat that IDC does, but it is in essence the same kind of god of the gaps reasoning that is profoundly unscientific at its core. The reasons it doesn't pose a threat are political/theological as opposed to scientific.

ID has successfully fooled (See FTK for a great example of a combination of ignorance and snake oil swallowing) many by leaving the G word out of the equation, and yes we all know it's come a cropper due in no small part to your (singular and plural) efforts at highlighting not only the scientific flaws ID has, but also the fact that they are merely covering the G word with the D word. All the IDCist efforts are geared to disguising their religious motivations. Whilst I am happy that there are Mitt Romneys on the political stand who are further in the right direction along that pro-science----antiscience continuum than is a Dembski or a Behe, I'm with PZ on the fact that this is pretty small beer and barely worth the celebration it's getting.

I certainly wouldn't describe Romney's comments as a "pro science sentiment" any more than I'd describe a baby's first steps as a marathon, it's a move in roughly the right direction but it still isn't all the way there. And to continue that analogy, no, one doesn't scream and yell at the child for failing to complete a marathon on its first attempts at walking, but then one doesn't pick it for the England Rugby squad either. It's a positive step but like PZ said, we want MORE and the way to do that is not to be satisfied with small positives like this but to acknowledge it and lobby for MORE MORE MORE!

Louis

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:13   

And I have a few words concerning PZ's note about legal strategy.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:14   

Obviously, Louis, I am missing something in PZ's argumentation that you see. Can you take a pass at expressing the argument in your own terms so that I can see what's up?

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:17   

Quote
Obviously, Louis, I am missing something in PZ's argumentation that you see. Can you take a pass at expressing the argument in your own terms so that I can see what's up?


LOL I'm probably seeing things that aren't there rather than you missing things that are! I'll re-read it and write a "Louis-ese" summary for you.

Cheers

Louis

P.S. Added in edit. I think the argument is about the one controversial issue in this whole thing: tactics. I find a certain degree of irony in this situation which I may explain later!

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:19   

Louis:

Quote

Granted, I completely agree that the TE of Miller et al as a set of ideas does not pose the antiscience threat that IDC does, but it is in essence the same kind of god of the gaps reasoning that is profoundly unscientific at its core.


What gap did Miller put God into? I seem not to recall that.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:23   

Quote
What gap did Miller put God into?


The big one right at the start IIRC.

Louis

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:31   

It has been a while since I read "Finding Darwin's God"; I may need to check out a copy and have another look.

I certainly didn't get the impression in talking with Ken that he felt abiogenesis research was going to forever leave the mechanisms uncertain.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:35   

Quote
Granted, I completely agree that the TE of Miller et al as a set of ideas does not pose the antiscience threat that IDC does, but it is in essence the same kind of god of the gaps reasoning that is profoundly unscientific at its core.
I don't think they are claiming that it is scientific.

  
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:40   

Wes,

Quote
I certainly didn't get the impression in talking with Ken that he felt abiogenesis research was going to forever leave the mechanisms uncertain.


Not that gap, the really really big one before 13.7 billion years ago.

Chris,

Quote
I don't think they are claiming that it is scientific.


You're right, I didn't mean to imply that they were, my bad if I did.

Louis

P.S. I have printed out the relevant articles and I'm having a proper read so I can restate them, or at least what I got from them. Gimme a minute or two!

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:52   

Louis:

Quote

I don't really think your post deals with (admittedly what I perceive to be) the thrust of PZ's comments.


I have to admit that this bothers me.

PZ's thrust, as I see it, is that theistic evolution is, well, theistic and therefore wrong; IDC is theistic and therefore wrong; and that somehow there is no legal distinction to be made between the two.

I agree with PZ that theistic evolution is theistic. I disagree with PZ over whether theistic evolution is wrong, but I'm not going to expend any of my time arguing about that point; for one thing, it is not relevant to the legal issues raised. I disagree that the legal situation in any way is made more dangerous by the existence of theistic evolutionists or the reliance on theistic evolutionist experts in future court cases. What the personal beliefs of the experts testifying against IDC are does make a difference, but in the direction opposite what PZ argues: the fact that fellow theists oppose IDC (and whatever it morphs into) is a point that makes it less likely that IDC will prevail in a court case on church-state separation grounds.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,10:54   

Louis:

Quote

Not that gap, the really really big one before 13.7 billion years ago.


I'm confused; Ken Miller is not a deist.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Paul Flocken



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,11:05   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ May 14 2007,10:19)
Louis:

 
Quote

Granted, I completely agree that the TE of Miller et al as a set of ideas does not pose the antiscience threat that IDC does, but it is in essence the same kind of god of the gaps reasoning that is profoundly unscientific at its core.


What gap did Miller put God into? I seem not to recall that.

Ditto on too much time since reading FDG but I well remember my impression of Miller studiously not placing god into any gap.  He repeatedly said (I can only paraphrase) in different ways that nothing rules god out of the processes of history and that god could have done anything that was necessary to arrive at us as products but he never indicated anything specific that god was supposed to have done(if my paraphrasing is inaccurate I apologise and promise penance by rereading FDG).  This was frustrating to me as a reader and I saw it as ever so slightly dishonest.  Yet I also view that as being a necessary kind of dishonesty because of the pigeonhole Miller chose to place himself into.  If he made any kind of specific claim for god then the atheist-religion bashers like me would call him on it, but his whole purpose in writing the book was to allow TE leaning christians to have peace of mind over the issue.  I don't think he could take any other kind of position.

Sincerely,
Paul

edited for spelling and an added phrase.

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"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.  Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."-John F. Kennedy

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,12:30   

OK, I have another weblog post up taking up PZ's arguments in his second post about Romney.

I do agree with PZ on some things, as I note in that, but disagree on others.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,12:57   

Wes,

Quote
I have to admit that this bothers me.


Please don't let it! Focus on the fact that I have acknowledged I might have the wrong end of the stick a couple of times ;-) Maybe I am picking up on one emphasis and you another. Hell, maybe I'm just plumb wrong!

Anyway:

First and foremost I think PZ is lamenting in part one thing you (and I) lament: the lack of legal protection of the accuracy of scientific content on school curricula.

Second, I think he is in part tilting his lance at the wrongness of theistic evolution as a set of ideas (he and I are atheists, of course we think it's wrong!;).

Thirdly, I think PZ is envisioning a future court case where we have inadvertently provided a hiding place for "Whatever  ID morphs into". Granted, if ID and "Whatever it morphs into" (hereafter: WIMI, pronounced "Why me?" ;-) ) continues down the same old road then as you rightly note the separation of church and state laws in the USA* will protect you, and as you also mention although the legal situation has changed a bit, this is still our best recourse. I think PZ is envisioning a future case in which ID and WIMI have not continued down the same old road.

This, I think, stems from the fact that PZ (and I) think that at their core the very processes of religious faith and science are mutually incompatible. Whilst I, and I would hope PZ, openly acknowledge that in previous court cases (and future ones if ID morphs into a WIMI that is of similar vein to old strains) the addition of religious pro science people has been a bonus, there are possible future circumstances under which they could be a disadvantage (this is the irony I mentioned earlier: strident atheists are chastised as being potential sources of disadvantage, now the accommodating theists are! Yes, I have a warped sense of humour, I know).

PZ is envisaging a future case where our convenient, perhaps only implicit, pretence (in his and my view) that religion and science are compatible shoots us pro science folk in the foot. This doesn't mean that Miller and you and all TEs or theist pro science people are promoting religion as science or anything like it btw. What it does mean is that PZ thinks the caricature "militant atheist vs pretty much everyone else" conflict may come to court over science class curricula and as the militant atheists have sided with religious people for (very successful) political reasons to date the pro science side might be shorn of its best (to date) defence, i.e. the separation of church and state.

So I agree with your "Legalities and TE" post at the Austringer to an extent. I agree that if things continue in a similar vein that the separation of church and state and related legal lines the NCSE has pursued, is pursuing and will pursue are the best way to proceed. I think PZ would agree with that too. I don't think this is incompatible with PZ's comment that should things diverge from that precedented vein that the SOCAS defence will be nullified and perhaps in certain circumstances the pro science case will be "harmed by association" with some of its supporters.

Your comments about the lack of legal regulation of the accuracy of material in science curricula play into this also. If a judge is faced with PZ's fictional two apparently equally godless textbooks and two sets of proponents who are both religious at least in part, if the judge examines intent, as has been done before, it could be argued (perhaps not very well) that the side with the **honest** religious participants is the "more religiously motivated" side. This is only the case of course if the accuracy of the content is not in anyway judged. Obviously the willingness of the IDCists, and possibly the future WIMIists, to be bloody dishonest is also part of this equation. I agree that if current IDC trends persist, we have nothing to worry about, however one trend down the "critical examination" line could have potential problems.

PZ (and I) fear a bowdlerised science curriculum. A pablum that appeases religious sensibilities by reducing the teaching of evolutionary biology and the scientific method to insignificance (the UK method I shamefacedly note), that allows room for religious interpretations to be tacitly or implicitly supported contrary to the evidence, and which arises in part precisely because we have pretended in court, either by association or implication, that religion and science are compatible.

One trend  creationists have followed is this progressive watering down of their claims for nefarious purposes: once it was Noah's ark and 6000 year old earth, next it was  god intervenes all over the shop and we can detect it, then it was the watchmaker arguments and anthropic principles, then it was "teach the controversy" and now it's "critical examination". At all stages before "critical examination" the SOCAS defence worked really well because it was so obvious that these things were religion or religiously inspired. As it becomes less and less obvious that these things are religiously inspired it obviously becomes more and more difficult to use that defence (LOL who am I telling!;).

Having theists on the pro science side is great for protecting against the "they're all a bunch of god hating atheists" accusation, but that accusation is a red herring. The correct answer is "so what if they are atheists or not? This is about science not religion, right?". That religious diversity has served us well because it demonstrates the fact that one specific religious interpretation isn't required for science. However, it also sends the message that science has nothing to say about religious topics which in SOME cases isn't true.

We've wheeled out Ken Miller et al not only because they are bloody brilliant defenders of GREAT science (and they are) but also in part because they are  figurehead theists that show (wrongly) science isn't anathema to religion. That insinuation can be used as a rod against us. We've tried to show the irrelevance of personal religious convictions to good science (true) by implying that religious claims/ideas are untouched by science (false).

The worry is that we'll have a court case which pits WIMIist against TEist, and since both sides are apparently promoting religion-free science books the religiosity and intent of the authors will be called into question, both are openly religious, both claim their faith is nothing to do with their science (as has been done before) and because the TEist is the more honest person the case is thrown out and the WIMIist is allowed to promote their crypto-teleological drivel in a bad textbook.

Louis

*Incidentally, whilst I am concerned bout my chums across the waters, I am more concerned about we Brits. We lack some of your protections. We have others, but that lack is still keenly felt.

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,13:05   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ May 14 2007,17:54)
I'm confused; Ken Miller is not a deist.

Then I've made two mistakes!

1) I don't think Ken Miller is a deist (I said nothing about his ideas about an interventionist god), sorry for implying it inadvertently.

2) I've apparently given him too much credit as a TEist. If he's promoting unspecified interventions throughout evolutionary history then (as Paul notes) then he's making a claim that is in principle mechanistically detectable. It's a supernatural entity mucking about in the natural world, that's going to leave finger prints, or is at least open to the obvious mechanistic and epistemological questions.

Louis

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,13:13   

Wes,

Actually, whilst I'm admitting mistakes I'll add a third at least potential one!

I am not by any stretch of the imagination a lawyer. Obviously! However:

Quote
As I put it elsewhere recently, what the antievolutionists have to offer is demonstrably a body of erroneous arguments taken from past antievolution sources. They cannot establish a secular purpose for teaching students falsehoods. They can be found to be pursuing religiously-motivated antievolution because that’s what the content of what they offer is comprised of. Church-state separation still applies forcefully to these circumstances. Sure, it will be harder to demonstrate what is going on if there aren’t folks dropping handy lines like, “Evolution is okay to be taught if it is balanced by something else, like creationism”, but it is certainly feasible to build a case even if the DI gets a perfectly implemented version of their game plan. A problem with this would be if, as I describe elsewhere, the courts establish new case law that substantially makes demonstrating a violation of church-state separation harder. That, though, has not happened yet.


I actually agree with this to a massive extent. I have been racking my brain trying to think of exactly what you mention: a secular purpose for teaching falsehoods. I admit I haven't (yet?) been able to think of a good one (apart from po-mo style relativism and tortured epistemology like Fuller's stuff). I think the best I could come up with above is judicial bias which you've already mentioned, or a kind of weird stalemate effected by the WIMIist not having a DI based, or similar, history and advancing very weaseled versions of old ideas that sound sufficiently similar to science or are such poor versions of it that they are merely a bad example that clever use can twist to their hidden ends. And I'm not sure that last one's very good.

Louis

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Chris Hyland



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,13:14   

Quote
The worry is that we'll have a court case which pits WIMIist against TEist, and since both sides are apparently promoting religion-free science books the religiosity and intent of the authors will be called into question, both are openly religious, both claim their faith is nothing to do with their science (as has been done before) and because the TEist is the more honest person the case is thrown out and the WIMIist is allowed to promote their crypto-teleological drivel in a bad textbook.
I don't quite understand the point. Is it that in this case it would be better to say look the pro-science people are not religious but the anti-science people are, and that saying TE is ok is basically saying WIMI is no more religious than evolution?

Quote
2) I've apparently given him too much credit as a TEist. If he's promoting unspecified interventions throughout evolutionary history then (as Paul notes) then he's making a claim that is in principle mechanistically detectable.
I agree. It's a difficult line to draw really but if someone thinks that God's action may be mechanistically detectable then good luck to them as far as I'm concerned. Where the line would be crossed for me is if they thought it already had been detected, or if they thought it would be a scientific inference to attribute the action to God if it were discovered. If it was aliens for example then I see now reason that couldn't be detected, so really it would depend on what form the intervention would take.

  
blipey



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,13:44   

Louis and Wes,

I find this discussion fascinating and AtBC is maybe the only place it could remain this civil.  Very nice.  I have a couple very small (possibly insignificant) things to add.

While I can wrap my brain around PZ's argument of religion on both sides blurring the line between plaitiff and defendant, I find it hard to picture exactly what that court case might be about.  Of course, I'm not an employee of some think tank whose only job is to come up with said court case.

Also, as PZ says in Romney II, he isn't aware of the religious positions of most of the text authors on his shelf and it doesn't matter.  What matters is the quality of the textbook.  I think it is mostly irrelevant what a person's theological bent is.  As you stated, Louis, science can answer some religious questions (6,000 yo earth, etc), but certainly not all of them.  While most, if not all, of these unanswerable questions boil down to the necessity (or irrelevancy) of a supernatural causation, I don't believe that they necessarily interfere with good science.

It seems to me that a suernatural being could remain undetected even if he were interfering with the natural world.  Is it necessary for that being to exist?  No.  But how does that necessarily interfere with people seeking the truth?

I think the happy place for TEs (and others fighting for education) is to rephrase what you wrote above:

Quote
We've tried to show the irrelevance of personal religious convictions to good science (true) by implying that religious claims/ideas are sometimes untouched by science (true).


emphasis mine.

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,13:49   

I don't think Ken Miller has argued for mechanistically detectible intervention by God, either.

Look, I understand that you don't agree with his position, but could we base the criticism of his position on what he actually argues rather than sketchy remembrance of what he argues?

Edit: Looking back, I see that your claim wasn't that Miller said it was detectible, but that an intervening designer would have to be detectible. There are lots of ways that could be true, but I don't know that I can sign off on the notion that intervention must be detectible. My own sketchy remembrance of "Finding Darwin's God" was that Miller did talk about God intervening via quantum-level events. If God were able to collapse wave-functions in preferred ways, that would be, to my mind, an instance of an undetectible means of intervention.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on May 14 2007,13:56

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,14:40   

Louis:

 
Quote

First and foremost I think PZ is lamenting in part one thing you (and I) lament: the lack of legal protection of the accuracy of scientific content on school curricula.


This is a big deal. In the USA, there essentially is no legal problem, per se, with teaching bad science. The question is, will attempting to get the legislature to consider passing a law that would protect science content improve or worsen the situation? In Texas, people used to joke (ha-ha only serious) that while the legislature was in session, nothing and no one was safe. Couple that with the third-rail of educational politics, that curricula must be under local control, and there is cause to worry that attempting to fix the problem at its source could well backfire.

 
Quote

Your comments about the lack of legal regulation of the accuracy of material in science curricula play into this also. If a judge is faced with PZ's fictional two apparently equally godless textbooks and two sets of proponents who are both religious at least in part, if the judge examines intent, as has been done before, it could be argued (perhaps not very well) that the side with the **honest** religious participants is the "more religiously motivated" side. This is only the case of course if the accuracy of the content is not in anyway judged. Obviously the willingness of the IDCists, and possibly the future WIMIists, to be bloody dishonest is also part of this equation. I agree that if current IDC trends persist, we have nothing to worry about, however one trend down the "critical examination" line could have potential problems.


If that's the real argument made by PZ that I wasn't getting, there is a reason I wasn't getting it. It simply does not fit with the relevant law here in the USA. Judges don't decide SOCAS cases by relative comparisons of which party is "more religious" than the other. As I noted in my latest blog post on this:

 
Quote

Second, applying the church-state separation objection is not a relative matter; it doesn’t matter in the least that a plaintiff is more religious than a defendant. What matters is the action and intent of the defendant in doing whatever it is that they did. Earlier in its history, the Southern Baptist Church was a frequent plaintiff using church-state separation to keep other doctrinal materials out of official government activities and policies, and they were successful in doing so. One of the plaintiffs in the McLean v. Arkansas case was a United Methodist bishop, IIRC, and that did not in any way jeopardize the legal effort there. This objection, that the relative religiosity of plaintiffs and defendant makes a difference, is a complete non-starter.


The examination of intent proceeds with respect to the intent of the putative infringing party, not with respect to or in contrast to the putative injured party. Yes, this is an asymmetry, and it means that the basis of PZ's argument simply is not true.

Edit: BTW, Louis, thanks for taking the time to restate the argument.

Edited by Wesley R. Elsberry on May 14 2007,14:47

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Wesley R. Elsberry



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,14:44   

Quote

I find this discussion fascinating and AtBC is maybe the only place it could remain this civil.  Very nice.


I think it helps tremendously if the people discussing something respect each other's position, even if they disagree. I see tolerance as being the core issue in the whole science/religion discussion.

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Louis



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(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,15:45   

Wes,

In no specific order:

Quote
I think it helps tremendously if the people discussing something respect each other's position, even if they disagree.


I agree wholeheartedly.

Quote
I see tolerance as being the core issue in the whole science/religion discussion.


WHHAAAAATTTT????? How dare you! Oh all right then! ;-)

I think it's incredibly easy to tolerate, respect and be civil with intelligent honest people no matter how much you might disagree.

Unless they are Welsh or Scientologists. There are limits. (perhaps I'm not being entirely serious about this bit)

Quote
...could we base the criticism of his position on what he actually argues rather than sketchy remembrance of what he argues?


Very good point, and edit noted. Thanks.

I haven't got FDG to hand, but I was going to buy a copy anyway to reread it. Amazon...and it's done! :)

Quote
Edit: Looking back, I see that your claim wasn't that Miller said it was detectible, but that an intervening designer would have to be detectible. There are lots of ways that could be true, but I don't know that I can sign off on the notion that intervention must be detectible. My own sketchy remembrance of "Finding Darwin's God" was that Miller did talk about God intervening via quantum-level events. If God were able to collapse wave-functions in preferred ways, that would be, to my mind, an instance of an undetectible means of intervention.


Well I know you know what I'm going to say next!

Undetectable looks a hell of a lot like not there. I agree in principle a deity like that could do anything it likes including  collapsing wavefunctions (wouldn't that mean that certain global outcomes of quantum events were biased towards the deity's preferences and thus there would be an anomalous result in the probability distribution of certain events? Or do you mean the odd single wavefunction here or there that the deity deemed useful to collapse? Either way it's detectable or identical to non existent).

Anyway, the problem I have with this tinkerer god, wherever he tinkers, is that it is fundamentally an interaction with the material world by this deity. There's a pathway, a mechanism, some form of "contact". Whilst (like your collapsing superposition example) we can envisage ways this is so subtle as to be practically undetectable it still requires by definition the natural, material world to be malleable to the supernatural. That's a smoking gun however feeble. As a scientific species we should be able to design experiments to exploit this pathway, this "contact", and thus tease out the mechanism by which the supernatural affects the natural. This is why we get prayer studies, unfortunately (which are almost all badly done from my recollection)!

Argh, bad Louis! We're not talking about that.

____

As for the legal stuff, the mistake (if mistake it is) might be mine rather than PZ's so don't blame the erudite prof for my cock ups! I must confess I didn't know about the legal asymmetry you mention, so I might have read PZ and inserted my own ignorance accidentally.

The situation I was envisaging was one in which we had a textbook being promoted in a school district that was worded cleverly to be poor enough in the right places and on the right issues to allow a religiously motivated teacher to insert their faith based claims as science in the classroom. A sort of weasel word manual. This book was then being promoted by a group of people with no overt or covert DI ties, no Ahmanson cash, and no history of antievolution advocacy. When their religious motives and leanings were questioned they say of course they are religious, but they are religious like the people on the other side of the courtroom, it's not relevant. So we have a situation you thought about with your comments about lack of legal protection for the accuracy of the science in the books. I think this would result in a different battle however, one that could be solved by the textbook reviewers and probably wouldn't need court.

Anyway I hope I got the restatement right.

Oh and in reference to what Blipey, yourself and Chris have said: I really think this is the ONLY genuine controversy the whole issue has. All the religious stuff, the scientific stuff etc really isn't that controversial (oh I know some elements of it are, but you get my drift, there are at least areas of respectful disagreement), HOW we deal with IDCists fairly and HOW we prevent recidivist Dark Age fetishist religious loons from subverting science education is a really tricky issue and genuinely very controversial. Which is why I'm treading softly-ish! Needless to say I think the "quick hide the atheists" and the "quick shoot the religious people" caricatures of the two most entrenched camps are bloody ludicrous.

Louis

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Bye.

  
C.J.O'Brien



Posts: 395
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,16:24   

A TE of my acquaintance put it like this once:

"Saying 'God did it' does not add to the natural explanation, BUT, having a natural explanation doesn't mean that God didn't do it."

And I agree with that, as far as it goes. But it seems to me that (many? most!?) TE's really do want God to add something to the natural explanation. As Louis puts it, "undetectable" starts to sound like "not there," and I suspect it's not just us atheists who can perceive that echo. This whole undetectable, quantum-level tweaking just smacks of "Last Thursdayism" to me. Not trying to be glib, really I'm not. It just seems like too easy of an answer, and one that pays for its facility in one area by giving up theological ground in another...

(not to derail, but, for example, theodicy. If God is such a clever and undetectable manipulator of the gross, biological world, then why not of individuals' psychology? A little shot of extra seratonin here, a bit of oxytocin there, and the would-be murderer's free will has been "undetectably" altered, and an innocent yet lives. Win-win, no?)

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The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4807
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,16:48   

Louis:

Yes, the undetectible-action approach does lend itself to the "not actually there" response. I think that the people who think that science will justify or mandate belief in God and those who think that science will mandate disbelief in God are both doomed to disappointment.

 
Quote

wouldn't that mean that certain global outcomes of quantum events were biased towards the deity's preferences and thus there would be an anomalous result in the probability distribution of certain events?


Essentially, though, this is a procedure much like Dembski's "design inference", which would be to infer the presence of the designer from the pattern of the outcome.

 
Quote

The situation I was envisaging was one in which we had a textbook being promoted in a school district that was worded cleverly to be poor enough in the right places and on the right issues to allow a religiously motivated teacher to insert their faith based claims as science in the classroom. A sort of weasel word manual. This book was then being promoted by a group of people with no overt or covert DI ties, no Ahmanson cash, and no history of antievolution advocacy. When their religious motives and leanings were questioned they say of course they are religious, but they are religious like the people on the other side of the courtroom, it's not relevant. So we have a situation you thought about with your comments about lack of legal protection for the accuracy of the science in the books. I think this would result in a different battle however, one that could be solved by the textbook reviewers and probably wouldn't need court.


The essential disconnect is that the infringers cannot point to the injured party and claim to be religious like those people, therefore everything is OK. It doesn't work that way. It has never worked that way, and believe me, there have been plenty of instances of separation cases played out with religious people on both sides. Even without the funding evidence or an explicit past history, if the infringers are using a textbook that presents 1) erroneous arguments that 2) have their clear provenance in religious antievolution, my read on this is that they are going down. Edwards v. Aguillard plainly warns against efforts that are a sham, and certainly the situation around the DI's "Explore Evolution" text cries out for an extended demonstration that it is all a sham. That doesn't depend on whether you have Pennock, Miller, and Haught testifying against them or not, or theists like them. If anything, having theists testify who object to the implicit doctrinal intrusion of the hypothetical textbook would, if anything, make the case stronger.

If you have a situation with a clean group with no religious baggage pushing a textbook that has erroneous arguments that do not have their clear provenance in religious antievolution, then you would have a case where it is simply good science versus bad science, and there would be difficulty in applying the church-state separation protections. But then, that wouldn't be like anything that the DI is doing, nor is it like what I thought of as PZ's hypothetical. PZ did, after all, invoke a DI lawyer confronting Nick Matzke.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,16:55   

Quote
If you have a situation with a clean group with no religious baggage pushing a textbook that has erroneous arguments that do not have their clear provenance in religious antievolution, then you would have a case where it is simply good science versus bad science, and there would be difficulty in applying the church-state separation protections.


I think I was gradually groping towards this!

Quote
But then, that wouldn't be like anything that the DI is doing, nor is it like what I thought of as PZ's hypothetical. PZ did, after all, invoke a DI lawyer confronting Nick Matzke.


True. Me bad!

Quote
I think that the people who think that science will justify or mandate belief in God and those who think that science will mandate disbelief in God are both doomed to disappointment.


I think you're right, with the very small caveat that science can aid that disbelief as far as it can go (insert standard disclaimers about swans, limits of observation, the problem of induction etc etc)

Louis

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Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4807
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,17:31   

I'm going to suggest that the intense and long-running religious antievolution movement may actually make a future case involving less clearly religious antievolution easier to win for the pro-science side. After all, they can point to the many cases dealing with the issue and argue that there should be a presumption that any antievolution effort is religiously motivated. After all, the clear trend has been to obscure the obviously religious parts of efforts, and an effort without any explicit mention is the logical next step in antievolution's, erm, evolution.

Edwards warned against shams and Kitzmiller noted the likely next step, too. It is not going very far to think that making an explicit argument from those points could have some traction in the next case.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,18:07   

Sounds to me as if PZ is just saying the same thing he ALWAYS says --- "A theist is a theist is a theist is a theist; they're all the same, and they're all retarded."

Nothing new there.

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Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
Henry J



Posts: 4565
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,21:50   

Re "The reasons it [TE] doesn't pose a threat are political/theological as opposed to scientific."

And of course, the reasons ID (and its relatives) do pose a threat, are also political/theological as opposed to scientific.

Henry

  
Jkrebs



Posts: 365
Joined: Sep. 2004

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,22:47   

Very interesting discussion, and I wish I had more time to participate. but I'd like to say a few things about my understanding of TE.

Assume an omniscient, omnipotent omnipresent God of Christian theology.  This God already knows all that will ever happen because, in God's view, it has all already been created.  He created it all at once.  God is outside time.

All of these attempts to understand God as if he were a being that passes through time like we do are futile.  As we pass through time, each and every moment is a complete act of creation, not because it is being created moment by moment, but because it's already been holistically created as part of the entire creation of the universe throughout all space and time.

We cannot comprehend this.  Again, all these attempts that people make to somehow logically work out what God does and how and when he does it all miss the mark - they are hopeless anthropomorphisms that are really sort of spiritually arrogant in that they suppose that we can see the world as it looks to God.

From this point of view, every single event, from the most certain regularity to the most improbable coincidence, are all equally creative acts of God.  There are no "interventions", and no distinctions between things that happen "naturally" and things that happen because of God.  It's all a created whole.

This is entirely a faith position.  There is absolutely no evidence that it is true or not, anymore than there is evidence for similar mystical views that are part of other religions, because it is so comprehensive.  To the TE, every moment of the world "detects" the existence and nature of God.  The very idea of detecting some acts as special (supernatural, or interventions in nature) is antithetical to this comprehensive view of God's creative presence.

This is why TE are not special creationists.  They don't believe in a God that sometimes supernaturally intervenes.  They believe, if you will, in a God who never has to make a supernatural intervention because in fact he already completely "intervened" through his creation of the universe as a spatio-temporal whole.
Last point: "theistic evolutionists" is a misleading name, because it makes it sound like this is a position that focuses on evolution, and that is not the case.  TE is a theological position that applies to every sequence of events, from the events of a person's day to the whole history of the universe, and everything in between.  The fact that it applies to evolution is important only because the of the controversy caused by the anti-evolutionists.

Let me make it clear that I am not trying to argue for TE (even if such a thing were possible, because, as I said, it is entirely a faith position.)  What I am trying to do keep us from having misconceptions about TE.

  
Henry J



Posts: 4565
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 14 2007,23:11   

Jkrebs,

I wonder what fraction of TE's believe that particular version of it?

Henry

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,02:51   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ May 15 2007,00:31)
I'm going to suggest that the intense and long-running religious antievolution movement may actually make a future case involving less clearly religious antievolution easier to win for the pro-science side. After all, they can point to the many cases dealing with the issue and argue that there should be a presumption that any antievolution effort is religiously motivated. After all, the clear trend has been to obscure the obviously religious parts of efforts, and an effort without any explicit mention is the logical next step in antievolution's, erm, evolution.

Edwards warned against shams and Kitzmiller noted the likely next step, too. It is not going very far to think that making an explicit argument from those points could have some traction in the next case.

That's a good point.

Louis

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Bye.

  
Jkrebs



Posts: 365
Joined: Sep. 2004

(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,06:40   

My guess is that many TE's wouldn't articulate things as I did, but their general view is that God is involved in everything, and his involvement is in ways and through means that are beyond our comprehension.  I don't think TE is deism (which is a view that, in my opinion, doesn't "get" the time angle either), and I don't think that TE is a disguised interventionist oldmaninthesky view at the quantum level.

  
George



Posts: 314
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,16:39   

My theobiological (ooo, scary) position would be very much like Jkrebs.  I don't know whether the majority of TEs would have the same conceptualisation, but I believe that most would have the idea of God being above and beyond piddly things like natural selection.

I also have to agree with Lenny that I think the main motivation behind PZ's threads is his dislike of theism entirely.

And Louis:
Quote
one doesn't scream and yell at the child for failing to complete a marathon on its first attempts at walking, but then one doesn't pick it for the England Rugby squad either.


Really?  Croke Park?  (Have to get in some dig as I've no one to support for the rest of the Heino <sob> and Leinster lost the Magner's league last weekend <double sob>.)

  
Louis



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,16:56   

LOL George.

i'm glad you beat us in a very well deserved win at Croke Park. I couln't have coped with all the Celtic whinging if we'd won it! ;-)

Louis

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George



Posts: 314
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,17:00   

The political repercussions of an England win in their first match at Croke Park don't bear thinking about.  Seriously.

P.S.  Here's one reason why the match was significant.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 15 2007,17:33   

All joking and general rugby humour aside: I am well aware of why winning at Croke Park would have been a political nightmare.

Never think for a second I am proud of some of English history esp including Bloody Sunday. Just goes to show that it really ain't them and us, it's just all us and we have to bloody deal with it.

Louis

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Bye.

  
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