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Tag Archives: science
It was pointed out 11 years ago how time and again scientists have claimed that particular genes or chromosomal regions are associated with behavioral traits, only to withdraw their findings when they were not replicated. Findings linking specific genes to complex human behaviors all were announced with great fanfare; all were greetedwithout skepticismin the popular press; all are now in disrepute. Nevertheless, considerable grant money has been available in this country for research seeking to show a genetic basis for homosexuality. Researchers now openly admit that after searching for more than 20 years, they are still unable to find the gay gene.
Here is a textbook example of how to discuss what it means to “teach the controversy”. Casey Luskin does a great job of diffusing the “anything other than accepted Darwinist dogma is religious in nature!” argument that is rather common among the high priests of Darwinism.
On Quora I was invited to help answer the question “Is God the only possible foundation for objective morality?”. The following is my contribution.
Yes, without an objective moral lawgiver the notion of an objective moral law is absurd.
The fundamental question when it comes to the establishment of any moral system is where obligation is derived. From a naturalistic perspective it appears that the best we can do is describe what is and can consequently never arrive at an obligatory ought. For that, it seems that a competent moral authority is required.
The formula goes like this (borrowed from notes on a recent debate):
- if God exists, then we have a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties
- if God does not exist, then we do not have a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties
To further expand on the above two points:
- Theism provides a rational ground for morality in the character of God who, properly defined, is the maximal being who is worthy of worship.
- Atheism does not provide a sound foundation for objective morality and further fails to provide the ability to ground moral duty since it provides no rational basis for human freedom.
This topic has the propensity to produce many rabbit trails on related topics so to remain on this topic we need to keep in mind that the scope of this question is limited to moral ontology. What makes something good or bad. Not moral epistemology or how we know whether something is good or not. In a recent debate with Sam Harris, Bill Craig used the example that ancient persons knew what light and darkness was even though they had no knowledge of the physical properties of light.
Many times altruism is posited as a possible secular source for morality. The problem with that theory, though, is that nature’s propensity for cruelty and suffering shows that secular morality is a myth. In order for an appeal to altruism to be credible on a naturalistic account of the universe, the existence of a selfless gene would need to be established.
While it is possible for all humans to know, intrinsically, certain moral truths, the question of foundation requires that we not care so much about the specifics of morality and, instead, focus on whence they are derived.
Here are a few excellent resources on this topic:
The most articulate priests and prophets were unable to persuade me of the validity of their position. And they were wholly unable to answer the serious questions I had about the sacred texts. Even in the original languages its plain that the texts are hopelessly riddled with errors and omissions.
If I had to pinpoint what tipped me over the edge, though, I suppose it would have to be the dismal performance of one of the faithful’s most ardent defenders in a recent debate.
If I’ve throughly unnerved you by this point then my post has Happy April fools day! And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, my post is about scientism with the priests and prophets being the new atheists and the sacred texts being their books and others including Darwin’s classic, Origin of Species.
My posts on positive feedback loops (here and here) have engendered some interesting discussions, particularly at Collide-a-scape and Die Klimazweibel. While many are pondering the points I raise, most of the “insiders” don’t like the idea of “IPCC dogma.”
What did I mean by dogma? As per the Wikipedia, “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practioner or believers. . . The term “dogmatic” is often used disparagingly to refer to any belief that is held stubbornly.” The issue of dogma is tied to how dissent is dealt with.
(new text) Dogma refers to “belief”, it does not refer to the source of the belief. The Christian Bible is not dogma, but it can provide the source material for dogma. In same way, the IPCC Reports are not dogma, but can provide the source material for dogma. Dogma is in the eye of the beholder: both the person that holds the belief and is intolerant of dissent, and in the eyes of the dissenter, who perceives dogmatic intolerance. This is not something that you objectively prove.
And further down in her post she gives some examples of what we should expect if climate science were not plagued by the sort of dogmatic beliefs that are elsewhere decried (and rightly so) as being anti-scientific.
Well, lets try this. In 2010, lets assume that there are very very few climate scientists left that regard the IPCC as dogma. What might this look like?
- no petitions signed by members of the IPCC or national academy members
- Nature and Science not writing op-eds that decry “deniers”
- no climate scientists writing op-eds that decry the “deniers”
- no climate scientists talking about “consensus” as an argument against disagreement (argumentum ad populam, h/t Nullius in Verba)
- IPCC scientists debating skeptics about the science
- climate scientists stop talking about cap and trade and UNFCCC policies because the science demands that we do this
- no more professional society statements supporting the IPCC
One of the great things that happened as a result of climategate is that many people started waking up to the fact that scientists have cognitive biases too and that they are not immune to the same sort of group-think and cultish attitudes that plagues all areas of human existence.
Christians in particular should pay careful attention to the climate change fiasco and take careful notes. The same sort cognitive biases which have led many nations (including the US) down a path of spending billions on dubious (at best) “fixes” for an imaginary problem have also been at play when it comes to other issues like Darwinian evolution. Like anthropogenic global warming, proponents of Darwinian evolution, “deniers” of Darwinian evolution are not treated to facts, and their doubts are not taken seriously. Instead, they are ostracized, ridiculed, and expelled.