Where the Battle Should Be Fought


In recent years, the media has been giving substantial play to the Intelligent-Design-Should-Be-Taught-in-Science-Classrooms-Alongside-Evolution debate.  I don’t know all the details, and currently I’m too lazy to research the specifics of what has happened.  What I do understand, however, the strongest objection against the ID movement is the argument it’s not science and therefore has no place in the science room.  Funny, I agree.

*Gasp!*  A theist who isn’t a proponent of ID.  I’m somewhat ambivalent towards teleological arguments for God’s existence.  They might have some merit, but after reading David Hume’s critique of them, I feel that there are stronger lines of reasoning for God’s existence.  Whether or not God exists is a metaphysical question, and those sort of inquiries are better investigated deductively rather than inductively.  I do hope modern theistic philosophers have effectively responded to Hume and revved up design arguments, but as of now, I have not been exposed to anything too provocative.  Alas, I digress…

Anywhoozle, I’m not the only theist who believes ID should not be taught in the classroom.  Philosopher Keith Ward gave a lecture on this issue.  It’s a bit long, but if you have the time, watch it.  He’s definitely of a caliber worth consideration and way beyond anything Ray ‘the Banana Man’ Comfort or Ken Hovind can muster.

If you didn’t watch it, I’ll spoon-feed you the point I want you to take away from this video, so open wide.  ID is both a part of theology and on a larger scale, philosophy.  It’s not science as science is descriptive and not a worldview like ID.  This, however, does not mean ID and other teleological arguments shouldn’t be discussed in school — quite the contrary actually.  I’ve felt for a while now philosophy should be introduced earlier than it is to students, and this would be a solid topic for the curriculum of a basic high school philosophy class.  And the opposing view, materialism, should also be explored, but only in the philosophy classrooms.  Laboratories are off-limits to both.

You see, although science is ultimately rooted in philosophical thinking, it’s an enterprise, not an ideology.  Sure, it can support worldviews, but it isn’t one itself.  Neither ID nor materialism belong in there.  Materialists are correct in crying foul with the ID movement attempting to smuggle its worldview into science, but are they not guilty of the same crime?  It seems to me Darwin’s theory of evolution is often taught with a materialist/naturalist bias.  That, the unscientific is being taught in the science classroom.  Hmmm…something’s rotten in Denmark.

The battle for God’s existence is fought in philosophy, and the two sides pertinent to the conflict need to be exclusively there.  I’m just trying to ensure that’s the case and the fight is fair.

Modus Pownens

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11 thoughts on “Where the Battle Should Be Fought

  1. Why is there a need for a battle? Philosophies and ideologies not to mention different religions combat each other often, but what is the result of those competitions? If humans collectively decide there is no god or that the only god is Allah, does that make it so?

    If the mechanics of a religion mean that by choosing so a group of people have condemned their offspring and other people of the same society into eternal anguish in Hell, it tells us more about the particular religion, than the existance of gods. Therefore I find it strange that a god would require faith from humans.

    In accepting philosophies, ideologies or religions as basis for legal system in a society, humans set the measure what is the relative reality in which members of the society live in. The ideals of the leading world view are rarely materialized in a human society.

    I agree whiht you in that science is a completely separate and different issue from religions. All religions are based on a naturalistic view of the world. However religions hold explanations to phenomenon not yet explained by science. As we know from history, those mythical explanations are usually later proven to be poor guesses by science.

    Science may be used as a propaganda weapon between ideologies , religions or philosophies, but ID has nothing to do whith science. It is pure propaganda.

  2. rautakky,

    “Why is there a need for a battle? Philosophies and ideologies not to mention different religions combat each other often, but what is the result of those competitions?”

    I was using battle more figuratively, but there is a confrontation going on with this issue between theism and atheism. The result? It’s the Marketplace of Ideas. Ideologies are discussed and evaluated. That’s how are Western society works.

    Your second paragraph is relevant how? I made no mention of any particular religion and I didn’t talk about faith. It’s not required, you can choose not to believe. Many religious traditions allow for freedom of the will.

    “I agree whiht you in that science is a completely separate and different issue from religions. All religions are based on a naturalistic view of the world. However religions hold explanations to phenomenon not yet explained by science. As we know from history, those mythical explanations are usually later proven to be poor guesses by science.”

    That’s a big, bold assertion you have in the fourth paragraph. You really have given me no reason to accept that as true. There’s major problems with that line of reasoning. Really? You’re going to claim every religious belief system is based on unexplained phenomenon? That’s pretty substantial burden of proof you’re bearing there. And science is going to give us an explanation to everything eventually? How is that any better than a God-of-a-gaps argument?

    ID is a conclusion arrived from looking at the world around us. Maybe it’s being used as propaganda now, but so is materialism and naturalism in science class rooms. All three are philosophical positions and therefore should be discussed in philosophy class rooms. They ought not be smuggled as prepackaged worldviews in something that is descriptive and neutral in the context of ideology like science is.

  3. Sorry. I got a bit carried away. I try to be more precise here. Bear with me, english is not my mothers tongue.

    I agree with you on the argument that as religions deal with philosphical questions they should be argued in philosophical terms. Yet, if people find the philosophical and spiritual to influence the material world, those are arguments that should be met on the level of natural sciences. That is the most verifiable information we have. Everything outside scientific theories is hypothetical. A theory is a tested guess, but hypothesis is just a wild guess. Like all spiritual explanations.

    Inteliligent design is not a philosophy, but an attempt to make science bend to the will of a particular religion. Science does not work so. So, ID is propaganda meant to reanimate a dying world view. Atheism is a world view which is a result of the scientific evidence. Wether it is the correct interpretation or not is a nother matter. However it is not philosophically comparable to the world view the ID is defending. You see, if the world view the ID is designed to defend could stand the scientific approach and testing, no ID- “theory” would have been required to manipulate simple and uneducated people.

    Some questions may never be answered by science, but that does not make supernatural answers any more valid then the pure guesses they are. History has shown us, how truths religions have given about the material world, were not truths at all in scientific terms.

  4. rautakyy,

    You’re fine language wise, so no worries there. Where I take issue is your epistemology or theory of knowledge. I would disagree that science is always our most reliable or verifiable form of knowledge we have. For instance, I would argue we’re more sure of 2+2=4 than gravity holding our planet in orbit. To further illustrate my point lets take your statement “Everything outside scientific theories is hypothetical.” By that claim’s nature it’s inaccessible by the scientific method. You can’t taste, see, smell, hear or touch the truth value of it. That’s quite an issue for science, don’t you think? Something has to aid it along. Also many spiritual explanations aren’t just empty appeals or idle speculation. They’re more along the lines of 2+2=4 forms of reasoning.

    Intelligent design is a part of theism or the belief an entity created and sustains the universe and is opposed to materialism and metaphysical naturalism. Those are all philosophical positions. Is ID being co-opted as propaganda nowadays? That’s regrettably and probably true. ID itself has been around a lot longer than this whole current debate about putting it in science class rooms. Try the ancient Greeks.

    “You see, if the world view the ID is designed to defend could stand the scientific approach and testing, no ID- “theory” would have been required to manipulate simple and uneducated people.” But I think I’ve already demonstrated scientific testing can’t sustain itself or get itself off the ground unless it’s founded in something else. ID has philosophical problems, not so much scientific. And I also hope I’ve shown I’m more sophisticated than those you dub as “simple and uneducated” just because they hold a belief in God who created the universe due to the fact I’m in total agreement with them there.

    Your last paragraph ignores the fact there are only two possible options in this debate. Either theism or atheism is true. They both can’t be. Therefore, if either was proven false, the other must be true by logical necessity. Yes, science has debunked many polytheistic beliefs who purported lightning was Zeus throwing lightning bolts or Thor swinging his hammer, but it does not follow all religions are therefore false and the phenomena they explain are reducible to natural explanations. Just because every swan you’ve seen is white it does not mean you can predict the next swan you see as white. There is no logical contradiction if it’s black.

  5. 2+2 = 4 is a scientific measure of the reality. Mathematics are natural sciences.

    What is it that the scientific testing should be founded on? On moral values perhaps? The moral values of ancient Greeks? The moral values of Gonfutse, maybe? On the spiritual truth as Buddha explains it?

    What religion does not have stories, that have been debunked by scientific knowledge? The Bible tells us Jonah lived inside a fish. This could not be. It tells us also about the Ark landing on mount Ararat as a result of a flood. In scientific terms this is an impossible suggestion. These are minor details and I know there are scientists who know these things, but have not abandoned their christian faith.

    On the other hand how can we be sure it is not Zeus or Thor who makes the electricity in our athmosphere. To me Zeus is as likely suggestion as Allah or Jahve. They all seem fairytales as all the scientific knowledge aroun them is as valid as the story about Santa Claus. But the good thing about Zeus and Thor is that their worshippers (and you know there are some) are not trying to impose the rules their fancifull gods have alledgedly made on the modern society.

    The question is not about gods, but about people. Gods usually present themselves only just barely enough for demagogues to use them to lead people to what ever end.
    If gods are really gods they do not need us humans, but regardles, if they are true or not, or whose god is more true then others, we humans need to behave. For that we need no gods. And if any of the gods is truly benevolent, they would wellcome us to grow up, and take responsibility for our own actions.

  6. “2+2 = 4 is a scientific measure of the reality. Mathematics are natural sciences.”

    Yes, mathematics are applicable to science, but they are assumed to be true in scientific enquiry, so to use science to prove something it uses in its own enterprise is reasoning in a circle.

    Although I think there must be ethics in science, the foundation I’m referring to is not normative, but epistemic. Rene Descartes argued “I think, therefore I am” as the foundation for all knowledge. I sympathize with Descartes, but I’m still learning philosophy and epistemology. Opposed to Descartes’ foundationalism is coherentism and honestly I haven’t been exposed to it. I’m still trying to feel out all my position. My point is science isn’t the starting point, but it is grounded in something. It logically can’t affirm itself, hence science isn’t the sole harbinger of knowledge.

    Regarding your third paragraph, Christian scientists believe in the possibility of miracles, and therefore Jonah and the whale, Daniel and the lions and also Jesus’ resurrection. I infer there is no such thing as miracles in your worldview while for Christian scientists allow for it. I don’t see an incompatibility between science being true and the logical possibility of the laws governing the natural order to be bent.

    The Christian God is not the same as Thor or Zeus. Both Thor and Zeus have material bodies and are contingent and therefore, had causes. The Christian God is described to be non-corporeal or without a body and is necessary and without cause. The comparison between the deities is essentially comparing apples with oranges.

    Should Christians try to impose their worldview on us? I believe they have the right to try. It’s true; I don’t agree how they go about doing this. In their defense, they believe they have the truth morality and therefore accountable for everyone.

  7. Well, I think we can agree on the fact, that science needs to be conrolled and defined by some form of ethics. For example testing drugs on human specimen is a complicated field, where finding the proper conduct is allways difficult. Ethical process is a method of finding out wether if some form of science is right or wrong. History has proven, that if science is confined within the moral codes the organized religions give, nothing will be achieved. Religions allready give all the answers of the nature of the universe, so they do not like competition. This is not to say that there have been great scientific minds within religions, but religion is about power. And religious leaders do not like to share powernor risk their absolutist power to be undermined by the posssible results of scientific testing.

    Miracle as a word describes a logical incoherency. It is not logically coherent that a man should die and then become alive again. There are dozens of more logical explanations to such an event than “deus ex machina”, that a god did it. Much more likelier explanations are, that the people who claim this happened, only thought he died while he was actually in a coma, or they simply lied, or they were under mass suggestion, or they invented the whole story and then decided to believe in it to prove a point. Some of these explanations are quite unplausible, but they are still more logically coherent than the possibility that a god did it.

    It requires faith to believe in something medically impossible written in an era when scientific explanations were not widely known, but all sorts of gods were the explanation to just about to everything not known or understood, and by people who had no medical knowledge. Especially so, if there are so many possibilities why those people could have been mistaken about the actual events. Yet, many people, even scientists and doctors choose to believe in it.

    A democratic society is the dictatorship of the majority over the minorities. We can only hope the majority is well educated, and acts in a civil way towards the minorities. Christians have the same right as any people who hold an ideology to impose their ideals on the society. Yet, any ideology may be used as a tool by the demagogue to lead people. The more the ideology is based on blind faith in authority, the less people will concern themselves in ethical thinking.

    The non-corporeal form of the god of the Christians does really not make it any more likely than any other gods. Most patheistic gods also are non corporeal and even the Judeo Christian god is andropomorphic. It did make man into its own image. What do you mean it is necessary and without a cause?

    1. History has proven, that if science is confined within the moral codes the organized religions give, nothing will be achieved. Religions allready give all the answers of the nature of the universe, so they do not like competition. This is not to say that there have been great scientific minds within religions, but religion is about power. And religious leaders do not like to share powernor risk their absolutist power to be undermined by the posssible results of scientific testing.

      rautakyy, it seems to me that your animosity towards the institution of religion is misdirected. The institution itself is not guilty, but rather the people who pervert it. You’re criticisms are reminiscent of someone who argues guns are evil because they have been used malevolently. Remember, don’t judge a philosophy by its abuse. It’s arguable that even if Christianity had not had risen that whoever was in power would have suppressed knowledge and attempted to keep the populace ignorant. It’s just human nature to do so.

      Miracle as a word describes a logical incoherency. It is not logically coherent that a man should die and then become alive again.

      Not so, my friend. The temporary suspension of the governing physical laws does violate the laws of logic.

      There are dozens of more logical explanations to such an event than “deus ex machina”, that a god did it. Much more likelier explanations are, that the people who claim this happened, only thought he died while he was actually in a coma, or they simply lied, or they were under mass suggestion, or they invented the whole story and then decided to believe in it to prove a point. Some of these explanations are quite unplausible, but they are still more logically coherent than the possibility that a god did it.

      The problem with those explanations is that they don’t have the scope nor the power to explain Jesus’ disciples sudden, unequivocal change of heart and the rapid rise of Christianity. It appears highly unlikely the disciples would have died the violent deaths they did for something they knew to be a lie. There also is surprisingly good evidence for the factuality of Jesus’ death and empty tomb. Roman crucifixion was always lethal, and one of the early objections to Jesus’ resurrection was his body was stolen, which acknowledged the tomb as vacant.

      A democratic society is the dictatorship of the majority over the minorities. We can only hope the majority is well educated, and acts in a civil way towards the minorities. Christians have the same right as any people who hold an ideology to impose their ideals on the society. Yet, any ideology may be used as a tool by the demagogue to lead people. The more the ideology is based on blind faith in authority, the less people will concern themselves in ethical thinking.

      I agree with you mostly here. There are precautions in democratic societies to prevent a total juggernaut my the majority. For instance, the First Amendment exists to protect unpopular speech. You recognize that charismatic leaders can co-opt ideas and notions to manipulate the masses. It can range from God to the people as justification for their actions.

      The non-corporeal form of the god of the Christians does really not make it any more likely than any other gods. Most patheistic gods also are non corporeal and even the Judeo Christian god is andropomorphic. It did make man into its own image. What do you mean it is necessary and without a cause

      I reject pantheism because its deity lacks free will to cause the universe to exist. Theism, on the other hand, maintains the universe has a cause created by an agent with free will. When I write necessary and without a cause, I mean has always existed. It’s impossible for God not to exist. When God revealed his name to Moses in the Old Testament, it literally meant “I am.” God just is. He is not dependent on anything for his existence and therefore without a cause.

  8. Yes, any people holding the power might be against new scientific information. Like the Chinese emperors, who stopped funding exploration of the world. But there is a special reason why religious leaders are more affraid of the information given by scientific research. It may challenge the absolutist knowledge given in the religious dogmas. For example if a scientific research team would come into a conclusion that the idea of the afterlife is very unlikely, as there is no proof of it, what religion would allow this result to be published, if they had the power to stop it? As it is a religious dogma, that god made man, it has been very difficult for the religious organistations to accept that we have been developed from the same ancestors as the rest of the apes. This was a sound scientific theory even before it was proven by the fact that we share most genes with apes. All the while the explanation of “god created us” has never had any proof to back it up. It has been and remains a question of faith.

    Do you think a god is not responsible for the evil done in the name of said god by men? Even though it was in the power of the particular god to stop men from doing that evil? Even though the evil deeds done in the name of this god would lead people away from this god and salvation promised by such a god? Even though the evil men could recieve the salvation by repenting, while ordinary people who have not ever even heard of the salvation would end up in eternal pain? Does that sound like the work of a moral entity to you?
    ***

    The very different accounts of the events after the crucifixion and the acts of the diceples raise more questions than they answer. Why is it only one of the diciples bothers to mention, that the dead were rising from their graves in Jerusalem, while Jesus was crucified? That does not make their testament of the events very plausible. The fact that a group of people is ready to die for an ideology does not make that true. Almost all the major ideologies have had people throwing their lives willingly to the line in the defence of what they believed in. The fact that people believe something (how ever cincerily or fanatically) does not make it so.

    The crucifiction by the Roman empire usually lasted for siveral days, not one evening, and even after that the victims knees were usually broken before they were put to a mass grave, so they would not get away with it, if they had survived the “treatment”. We really do not know what happened in the crucifiction of Jesus as we have no reliable eyewitnes accounts of it, but if everything went as described, it is more likely that he did not actually die, than that he did. However it is quite obvious why his followers, the uneducated peasants, would have actually thought him dead. In them days, miracle was the “natural” explanation to anything most people did not understand.

    Does rapid rise of a particular religion make it more plausible than the others? If so, then Islam is the most plausible one. Monotheistic religions have risen fast, and are dominant because they often do not allow other religions. They do not suffer other truths. In competition an animistic, an ancestral or a pantheistic religion will often loose, because they have no evangelical calling nor do they question the possibility of the other gods, spirits and what have you in a religion. The rise of a particular religion is usually connected to how power is divided and if the religion, or ideology for that matter, answers a need of the masses in the societies they rise. Not by any gods interfering in any way in the process.
    ***

    Constantly most events in the world happen without a reason, without a plan, without any will behind them. They simply happen. Yes, there is allways a reason, but most often it has nothing to do with any sort of purpose. A chain of events that happen because one event leads to a nother one is the most natural phenomenon. Why would there be a need for a mind and will behind the creation of the universe? It is very andropocentric to think there has to have been a being that acts for reasons such as us in the beginning of all the chains of events, when it is more obvious our mind and reasoning are the results of a chain of natural events. Or more like a short link in the ever continuing chain on this one small planet in the vast universe.

    We could say a god acts in mysterious ways, as that is the same as accepting that god is only a synonym for nature. Nature is eternal, as it has been as long as there has been time. Nature defines our freedom and limits. It is impossible to understand nature in andropocentric terms and nature is not subject to any particular morals. It simply is. Nature has no purpose, a dead piece of rock like and asteroid in the void is as much part of nature as a whale in the sea filled of plancton. We can only understand nature through scientific research and it does not require us to worship it. It is not indifferent to us as our actions may have a profound effect of the nature of this one small planet, and in the end if we do not treat it ethically, it is us or our offspring who will suffer from our actions.

    1. But there is a special reason why religious leaders are more affraid of the information given by scientific research. It may challenge the absolutist knowledge given in the religious dogmas. For example if a scientific research team would come into a conclusion that the idea of the afterlife is very unlikely, as there is no proof of it, what religion would allow this result to be published, if they had the power to stop it? As it is a religious dogma, that god made man, it has been very difficult for the religious organistations to accept that we have been developed from the same ancestors as the rest of the apes. This was a sound scientific theory even before it was proven by the fact that we share most genes with apes. All the while the explanation of “god created us” has never had any proof to back it up. It has been and remains a question of faith.

      It seems to me you hold the ideas of a religion as equally responsible as the people who believe in them. There is an important distinction here. Scientific knowledge, in the sense you’re talking about, undermined their authority not the truth of the religion. The absolutism was a tool they used to be in power. The new evidence you speak of would undermine this means to an end, so like any good Machiavellian, they removed the threat to their authority. And this isn’t a phenomenon exclusive to religious authority. You’re describing a flaw in human nature and not something solely found in religious, theocratic societies.

      Sure, there is plenty of “proof” ( you seem to equate this with evidence). There’s something rather than nothing. You might not fight that as compelling evidence, which is fine, but to claim there is no evidence for God creating man and the universe is patently wrong. Moreover, there is such a concept of theistic evolution, so to say theism is allergic to evolution or science is again false.

      As for your problem of evil, I believe God has sufficient reason for permitting evil, namely free will. According to Christian theology, the world is not how it ought to be. But that’s is a result of our rebellion, and not a fault of God. I also believe a world with no free will that doesn’t allow for evil is worse than a world with free will that allows for the existence of evil. And for the problem of not ever hearing of salvation, that’s why Christians are called to spread the Gospel to everyone. The world is a crap-shoot, but again this is our doing, not God’s. Moreover, you don’t acknowledge that Christianity offers a solution to the problem of evil. That, God will come and set things right, while atheism/metaphysical naturalism can’t even make sense of what is good or bad. I know that’s a loaded statement, but I find it to be true and pertinent to the context at hand.

      For your objections to the Resurrection, I’m not making a deductive case for it. That’s out of logical necessity it must be true. What I’m laying down is that it’s rational to believe that Jesus’ death and Resurrection are historical events. The Gospel accounts agree on the major points: Jesus died and was resurrected in three days. True, plenty of people died for their beliefs, but if you look at how the Disciples were prior to Jesus’ resurrection, you’d see they were cowardly and confused. The transformation of doubting Thomas to someone who died a horrible death in India spreading the Gospel is astonishing. Therefore, it’s plausible to think the Disciples really believed Jesus was the Son of God and really was resurrected from the dead.

      Your appeals to the ignorance of the ancients is misguided. They weren’t stupid. Roman crucifixion was fatal 100% of the time. You also don’t mention, maybe because you’re not aware, but a Roman soldier stabbed Jesus in the side to verify if he was dead. Moreover, Jesus’ body was buried for three days. He was dead and all the eye-witnesses had good reason to think that was the case.

      The rise of Christianity is amazing. From starting as a small Jewish sect and in around 300 years becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire is mind-boggling. It’s likely there was compelling evidence to convince devout Jews there was truth behind this Jesus of Nazareth. No, this doesn’t prove Christianity true, but it adds weight.

      Constantly most events in the world happen without a reason, without a plan, without any will behind them. They simply happen. Yes, there is allways a reason, but most often it has nothing to do with any sort of purpose. A chain of events that happen because one event leads to a nother one is the most natural phenomenon. Why would there be a need for a mind and will behind the creation of the universe? It is very andropocentric to think there has to have been a being that acts for reasons such as us in the beginning of all the chains of events, when it is more obvious our mind and reasoning are the results of a chain of natural events. Or more like a short link in the ever continuing chain on this one small planet in the vast universe.

      Count to infinity and then we’ll talk, lol. Get to the end of this chain, but a quantitative infinity is absurd. Also the latest scientific evidence suggests the universe did have a beginning and therefore a cause. Let me inform you, that many cosmological arguments were made in the mind the universe must have a beginning.

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